2 Weeks back on the 16th March 2012, I was invited to a screening of a documentary on startup titled “Ctrl- Alt-Compete” at Plug-In@Blk 71. Roughly 60 minutes, this documentary touched on 5 startups namely Guardly, AboutOne.com, LiquidSpace, POPVOC and SuperGiant Games in the United States. Throughout the documentary, there was coverage on pitches done at Demo Conference by Guardly and AboutOne.com, networking sessions at South by SouthWest held in Austin Texas, and interviews done with LiquidSpace, POPVoc and SuperGiant Games. In addition there were interview done with high profile individuals such as Simon Sinek (Start With Why), Ben Huh (Cheezburger), Brian Wong (Kiip), Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media, Web 2.0 Summit), Gary Kremen (Match.com), Adam Ostrow (Mashable) and more…
I was particularly interested when Guardly and AboutOne.com were practicing for their speech for Demo Conference. During Rehearsals, there was excitement, nervousness, and a little breakdown knowing so much importance placed on just one single pitch. Going more into details, on the stage everyone’s time was limited, people are looking at you and you get stage fright, things could go wrong (murphy’s law), and everything you have done for the months before could crash, tumble and fall.
The next part of the documentary that I was particularly interested in was about SuperGiant Games. They are an indie game company made up of ex-Electronic Arts employees. Going head-on against big games development company with limited manpower, limited resources (including time and money) and a name that doesn’t compare much to big brands, these are the scenarios which set a challenging stage where the developers beliefs in creating a better games drive them hard. Their game Bastion was nominated for the Excellence In Visual Art and Excellence In Audio in the GDC when first shown and eventually became a hit selling 500,000 copies. SuperGiant Games’ Amir Rao talks to VentureBeat on Bastion
My key takeaway from this documentary would be the
- gatekeepers are those who can make or break a startup’s venture
- tremendous amount of passion, drive and hard work present in the startup environment
- there are a breed of entrepreneurs who are doing hard work (45 minutes in the roller coaster ride) just for the euphoria and high when you succeed (90 seconds of roller coaster ride), over and over and over again.
- exit by acquisition should not be a key consideration, unless you wish your idea to die or evolve into something else
There were some examples of exit acquisition mentioned in the documentary such as Microsoft acquiring LinkExchange in 1998, not taking advantage of it and killing it off eventually. This sounds very similar to the Google’s acquisition of Dodgeball and killing it off eventually.
Do check out the official trailer below