The Startup Kids Say: Just do it
In March 2013, The Startup Kids, a documentary about young entrepreneurs in the US and Europe will become available online. The film, directed by Icelanders Vala Halldorsdottir and Sesselja Vilhjalmsdottir, contains interviews with the founders of Vimeo, Soundcloud, Kiip, InDinero, Dropbox, Foodspotting, and a number of other companies that began their lives with the help of digital technologies.
Recently, the film was screened in North America and Europe. Its Belgrade premiere was attended by more than 600 people who gathered to hear stories about hard work, persistence, enthusiasm, and success, followed by a discussion on local conditions and possibilities for this type of entrepreneurship.
One could feel the atmosphere being energised by the inspiring stories. Perhaps new great ideas were born that day, too. The fact that the documentary was financed, among others, by the online funding platform Kickstarter, could be an encouraging sign that the online community is ready to help creative projects, and that financial challenges could be overcome creatively.
One of film’s director Vala Halldorsdottir talks to Think Brigade about the documentary, lessons learned while making it, the people they got to know, and their future plans.
How did you come up with the idea of making the film?
Sesselja and I started our first company together in 2008 when we created a board game Heilaspuni which was a great success in Iceland where we are from. We were so motivated after our success that we wanted to motivate others to do the same. A documentary would be a great way to do that, we would learn ourselves and hopefully motivate others to do the same. The main aim of the movie is to motivate people to become entrepreneurs.
What have you been most impressed by when taking to young entrepreneurs?
I think it was how hard-working the entrepreneurs are. Of course we knew they were hard-working … but not THAT hard-working. I mean most of them worked literally 24/7, thought about their company ALL the time, some of them had put their personal life completely on hold.
Do you find some common feature in thinking/working/living among them?
The most obvious common characteristics is how ambitious all of them are and determined that they will do anything to make their company work, and then I mean anything !
Along with being film-makers, you are entrepreneurs. Has anything changed in the way you do/think about business after talking to all these people?
Wow, we learnt so many things making this documentary. The biggest lesson is maybe that building a company is a hands-on job, you have to just do it, you can’t read about it in books or learn how do it in school.
Have you noticed any differences among European and US entrepreneurs?
We didn’t see any difference in the entrepreneurs themselves, they were as ambitious, excited and hard-working everywhere. Unfortunately though we saw a big difference between the eco-systems, even though the entrepreneurship eco-system in Europe is really growing you can’t beat the US system which has been around for years and years. The difference was for example easier access to funding in the US than in Europe.
What would be the biggest challenges and chances for today’s young entrepreneurs, as opposed to those in the past (15-20 years ago)?
The chances today if obviously all the new technology, it’s cheap to create stuff today, all you need really is a laptop and a wi-fi connection. The challenge is perhaps that there is more competition because it’s getting so cheap to create stuff.
Can you sum up the feedback you’ve got so far (through social and traditional media and individuals)?
JUST DO IT. We should be sponsored by Nike, all the successful entrepreneurs we asked for recommendation about how to become an entrepreneur this is what they told us: Just do it.
What are you working on now? Back to business, or some follow-up related to the film?
Along with promoting the movie we’re working on our own startup Kinwins which is a motivation game that turns your whole life into a game, kind of like The Sims for the real life. Then we want to create more documentaries/video series under The Startup Kids brand.
Photo credit: The Startup Kids