To recap: In the final episode of Silicon Valley’s second season, the Internet startup Pied Piper finally got its big break. In an outrageously clichéd turn of events, its founder’s success is found to be ephemeral, as the only reward he gets after securing millions of startup funding is being immediately ousted as CEO. The delights of each episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley is in its crudest, verisimilitude imagery of startup success and startup success stories. The show navigates through the challenges and SNAFUs over the course of eight episodes-per-season. It may have been produced for entertainment purposes, but there are a lot of insights it can provide to entrepreneurs about startups. Let’s delve into lessons you can learn from show that accurately satirizes Silicon Valley and the Sisyphean struggles of a young startup.
INVESTORS ARE YOUR SAVING GRACE
Investors help with both, funding and mentoring. Choose your investors wisely – people who genuinely care about your vision and mission. In season one, Richard Hendricks, Pied Piper CEO, turns down a $10 million buyout from a company and goes on to secure funding from a VC who also offers business guidance. Rather than trying to make quick moolah, he decided to learn and take startup success tips under the mentorship of an experienced VC.
ALWAYS EXCEED EXPECTATIONS
The key to startup success is to be realistic about what you can offer. Your product could change the world, but so would a million others. A lot of startups make promises based on something they have planned out for the future, and yet time and again they fail to deliver. No matter how ambitious your plan is, you cannot make ill-judged statements about what your company will do in the future until everything works out as planned 99/100 times. Gavin Belson, the main antagonist of the series, goes on stage rattling bold statements about a product that is as bad as Windows 10 and ends up losing an entire division. Your company’s future depends on how the trial-and-testing of your product/service pans out. If your startup says it’s going to rake five billion dollars and it ends up high-fiving two billion dollars, you will immediately be tagged as a failure and lose the interest of potential investors.
KEEP IT MATURE AND PROFESSIONAL
Had Richard’s pigheaded advisor Erlich Bachman not upset the entire VC community by making brash comments about them, things would have been different for Pied Piper and its founder. Richard would have never turned to the unstable, self-made billionaire Russ Hanneman for funding and would never have tarnished his company's reputation in the tech world. You never know when you may need someone’s help again. No matter how much you dislike someone, the thoroughbreds’ principles or guts, you cannot insult them. Similarly, networking is important, and so is keeping it professional at all times, as mentioned earlier. For when the time comes when you need them, you will be left handcuffed to a situation you never wanted.
YOUR HEALTH IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT
Most entrepreneurs in the early months of seeking out capital live in a ragged, disheveled state. It’s not just physical appearance we’re talking about, most entrepreneurs are so obsessed with their work that they lose track of personal health. Remember when Richard started sweating and getting anxiety attacks? This may work out fine, but in the long-term if you don’t take care of yourself, you will definitely crash. If you don’t have time to think about exercise, nutrition, and personal and mental health, you must start taking some out now.
From getting noticed at a major tech event to mulling over life-changing decisions, from hiring new engineers to growing the team, from accepting funding to refusing acquisition, from warding off fake intellectual property lawsuits to keeping employee morale high, HBO’s Silicon Valley seems to be a satiric reflection of startup stories. Which of this lesson do you think is the most important?