10 Things entrepreneurs can learn from HBO’s Silicon Valley
Besides being one of the funniest shows, Silicon Valley makes a lot of great points regarding what it’s actually like to work at a startup. There aren’t many people like Bachmann, Russ Hanneman, or Jared (Original Jared) in the world, but there are a ton of startups trying their hardest to navigate the startup maze.
What’s great about Silicon Valley is that it draws its comedy from a lot of real life startup anecdotes. Things like what it’s like to raise a round of funding, how to negotiate a salary, and the ways a company’s board can have a huge impact on operations.
For the uninitiated, Silicon Valley is a show about a bunch of young entrepreneurs who runs a startup called Pied Piper in Silicon Valley.
Geek or not, the show is good fodder for anyone who appreciates good humour. Alternatively, it can work as a fun lesson for entrepreneurs. So, here are 10 things that we can learn from the show.
1. Choose your investors wisely
You don’t have to be good at sports to swing for the fences, but you’ll need good investors on your team if you really want to play ball. Some investors might offer you nice gifts or throw flashy parties, but it might be wise to pick them last. It’s more important to have investors that care about your company and the overarching mission, even as cool as it might be to hang out with the Winklevoss twins.
2. Always maintain professional relationships
All relationships are valuable and important. You don’t want to tarnish any friendships when you might need those people in the future. Maybe Pied Piper wouldn’t have had to raise funding from Russ Hanneman if Bachman hadn’t dissed every VC firm in town (including making rude comments about their muffins).
3. Don’t celebrate too soon
Not too fast! No deal is ever actually complete until you have it in writing. Paul Craig, from ArenaVC just wrote about how his investment in Airbnb fell through in the last minutes. Negotiations can always break down and you never know when Gavin Belson might try and sue you for everything you’ve got. Even the best of “Bros” might have hidden motivations.
4. Be resourceful
Use the extra space to start a company. It seems that launching a startup out of your garage is the equivalent to starting a garage band back in the 80s. Besides Pied Piper, Apple, Google, Hewlett Packard, and Facebook were started in garages and living rooms. Just make sure that your old, crazy, ferret raising neighbour doesn’t report you.
5. Don’t compare salaries
Silicon Valley showed us how important it is to keep your compensation details private. Just like your credit card number, your mother’s maiden name, and the amount of times you’ve seen Pitch Perfect, that information is for you and you alone. At the same time, you shouldn’t go around snooping for info about what your colleagues are making. Comparing salaries and equity can cause unneeded workplace stress and competition, two things that are toxic to any small company. Dinesh and Gilfoyle learned this the hard way when Carla tricked them for assuming she was getting paid a higher salary.
6. Don’t forget to take care of yourself
Looks like you have a case of the night sweats. It’s important to look after your own personal and mental management, or those night sweats might turn into bed-wetting. Personal health, nutrition, and sleep are crucial to making the best middle out algorithm on the market.
7. Quality first
Sucks to suck Gavin Belson. Nucleus wasn’t Windows Vista bad, it was Apple Maps bad. When Apple launched the (highly anticipated) Apple Maps back in 2012, you were more likely to be guided off the side of a bridge than to your destination. By the way, if you have a friend that still uses Apple Maps, please introduce them to a thing called Google Maps. Friends don’t lets friends use Apple Maps. Make sure your product is ready and tested before you launch.
8. SWOT It Out
A SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) analysis is always helpful when making the hard choices. SWOT can be crucial when deciding how much equity to give out, how many engineers to hire, or whether an acquisition is truly worth it. But, it might cross the line when you’re trying to determine whether or not it’s okay to let someone die.
9. Read those contracts
Make sure to perform proper due diligence. Had it not been for Hooli’s negligence when preparing their employee’s contracts, they may have actually won the case against Pied Piper. Now, Richard gets to keep Pied Piper, even if he does refer to his computer as his girlfriend. If you don’t read the fine writing, you may end up like this:
10. Return On Investment
No. Not radio on the internet. Return On Investment. It’s important to be wise when choosing between potential investors as board members for your company. Radio on the internet may be great, but you don’t want an investor that cares more about billboards, “Shwag”, commas, and cars than running a successful company.