Why watching TV might be good for you…

Season 4 of Silicon Valley begins this Sunday on HBO. I honestly can’t wait. Because most of the episodes have been enjoyed with friends and over a couple cold cruisers, I’ve decided to prepare for the upcoming season by re-watching everything so the plot is fresh in my mind. When the show debuted 4 years ago I had zero knowledge on starting a business — I was barely learning how to manage one. Now, after some exposure to startups / VC / etc., I can appreciate the show on a whole new level. Take this scene, for example. The founder of the company is having his first meeting with a potential VC for seed funding. The VC was talking about needing a business plan, cap tables, a go-to-market strategy, and 3 years of P&L’s. All this jargon that had previously whooshed past me now made sense! Which got me thinking… How realistic was the show? Were there valuable real-life lessons to be learned from what I thought was just another amazing Mike Judge comedy?

As with most things, Reddit had already discussed this at length (disclaimer: some users leave rude NSFW comments; please read at your own discretion). The general consensus seemed to be that the show is pretty on point. Despite it being a satire, many startup teams can relate to a lot of the plot lines. This sentiment is shared by many others out there (Google it — in the interest of space I won’t link them all here), and some of the show’s characters have been created in the image of some real-life startup pros (see?).

But, it’s  not just the fun similarities that make this satire awesome. There are lessons to be learned about how to start a business. I found an article that, I think, does a great job of highlighting some takeaways:

  1. Choose your investors wisely.
  2. Always maintain professional relationships.
  3. Don’t celebrate too soon.
  4. Don’t compare salaries.
  5. Quality first.
  6. SWOT it out.
  7. Read those contracts.

At each turn, the Pied Piper gang somehow manages to jeopardize themselves. And, although it’s hilarious to watch (especially when it’s over-dramatized), if they had only been more careful and deliberate about their decisions they could have avoided a lot of their messes. So, if you are an aspiring entrepreneur, or someone looking to make an investment in a startup, watch Silicon Valley with an open mind. You might be surprised at what you notice when you’re looking for it.

In case you haven’t seen it (and you’re okay with some NSFW language…) you can find the season 4 trailer here.


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