Friday, October 29, 2010

Ten Lessons From "The Social Network"

O.K. I'm a little late, but I finally saw "The Social Network", and my head has been spinning ever since. Plus, I can't get Trent Reznor's version of Grieg's "The Hall of the Mountain King" out of my head (the music over the rowing scene). The screenplay was so good, as was the editing, the art direction, direction, acting and the music. Overall, it was fine film making about people who intrigued me and repulsed me at the same time.

How much of the movie was true? Was Mark Zuckerberg motivated by a desire to be disruptive and accepted at the same time? I've been reading articles and Web sites like crazy, searching for clues. The movie seems to be pretty real. It's also real for me because I've been doing business plans for dot-coms and other businesses since 1999. My current client said he was chilled by how Zuckerberg pushed out and diluted his partner Saverin.

That's when I realized that "The Social Network" is chock-full of advice for anyone who wants to start a business. Here are Ten Lessons to be Learned from "The Social Network".

1. Be passionate. Allow the idea to consume you.
2. Open up your eyes and ears, and the ideas to help you fine tune your concept will jump out at you.
3. Be careful of whom you have as partners.
4. Get a good lawyer to advise you. Read all contracts carefully.
5. The best way to raise your seed capital is friends and family.
6. The only way to really get off the ground and grow is to make a working model of what you want in a small, exclusive market. Test it out. (That's called a proof of concept.)
7. If your proof of concept takes off, then it's easy to raise more money from angels &/or VCs.
8. Networking can get you in the right doors.
9. Be bold in your thinking. Disruptive technology really does change things.
10. Understand what needs people really have, and fill that need. (People want to be cool. People want to be exclusive.)

 If you haven't seen the movie yet, go see it. And take these 10 pieces of advice with you in your mind. You'll see them all illustrated over the course of the film. "The Social Network" is essentially a true story. Breaking up with a girl may not have been Zuckerberg's real reason for creating FaceMash at Harvard and then The Facebook. But all the main characters in the film are real. The lawsuits are real. The lessons are real.

If you don't believe me, go do your own research.