I Just Watched “The Startup Kids” Documentary

Last night I was at the Sunshine Coast premier of the documentary The Startup Kids.

It’s an hour long movie created by two woman from iceland, Vala Halldorsdottir and Sesselja Vilhjalmsdottir, who came to America to interview people about life as a young entrepreneur working on a tech startup.

Several high profile company founders feature in the film, including one of the co-founders of Dropbox, Vimeo/College Humour, Kiip, Soundcloud, and also venture capitalists from well known firms like Accel Partners. You can find a full list of people interviewed here.

I found the documentary entertaining and inspiring. I’ve always loved the entrepreneur mindset, foregoing a traditional career path to take a big risk and start something just based on an idea.

The movie certainly glorifies the dream of the silicon valley startup, but it’s realistic too. The amount of hours put in by the entrepreneurs and the lack of any outside life beyond work was talked about again and again.

For me, the really exciting part was the notion of living in a place filled with people who are all lovers of technology and using it to create something that can change the world, or at least make people’s lives better.

As much as I love Australia, and the city I live in Brisbane, there just aren’t that many people who think, or more importantly, act on those ambitions. I can only imagine how motivating it is being surrounded by so many inspiring people.

If you’re interested in the startup movement, you should definitely check out the documentary. You can watch it now on iTunes, or head to the TheStartupKids.com for more options.

Hard Work

My business partner, Walter, has been working his butt off on our startup CrankyAds.com. He’s just completed two new important features, which I will write about in a future blog post soon.

Walter is our code monkey, he puts in the lion-share of hours coding new capabilities for our ad management tool. He loves to code, I can tell because he sometimes spends his friday nights doing it, and wow – it certainly takes a lot of hours to make software.

Watching the documentary I saw a lot of Walters talking about their 14 hour days, living in small apartments, housing multiple people who would sit at computers all day and only venture out to purchase necessary supplies like food.

This is the startup lifestyle, and while the excitement that raising funds and million dollar sell outs can generate, the harsh reality is that most of the time you forgo the rest of your life for a chance to taste these momentary highs.

And it really is only a chance.

Unfortunately, as was pointed out by one of the partners at Accel in the documentary, of every ten companies they invest in, six will fail (they lose their money), two might break even or return double their investment, and maybe one will be a really big winner.

That’s okay for an investment firm that can spread the risk and make smart investments, but for those six failures, the entrepreneurs behind them put in a lot of hours that, while great for experience, don’t return any financial wins.

There is also the opportunity cost of using your peak years, your twenties, to sit at a computer instead of enjoying life.

That being said, for most of the entrepreneurs interviewed, their enjoyment centered around their startups, so perhaps given the fanatical personalities, the only way to actually enjoy life is to work on a company. I was the same when I was 20. I didn’t have much of a life outside of my websites.

There is one benefit of failure though, it’s looked upon as a positive thing by investors.

Although you may not have succeeded with a big money win, because you took action and made something, that shows you have the chutzpah to follow through. Those who do succeed almost always have failures in their past.

The Lifestyle Entrepreneur

Now that I have spent some time in the startup world, I can see the stark difference between a tech startup and a lifestyle business.

A lifestyle business is all about creating a stable cash flow source so you can do other things. It’s about life balance and using a business as a vehicle for what you really want to do with your life.

A startup is a much more all-encompassing monster. You don’t get spare time to enjoy other things because if you do you are not working hard enough.

Having a blog that brings enough cash to live off, or selling a few information products, or even working as a freelancer a few days a week to fund your adventures, is a lot less stressful and requires a lot less of your time.

A lifestyle business requires a very different mindset. It doesn’t have quite as big a potential upside as a tech startup, but in terms of quality of life, it’s definitely a lot healthier.

I don’t see one as better than the other, however. It’s a matter of goals – what you want from your business and the time you spend working.

If you want to influence a lot of people and you are motivated by the prospect of building something big, a startup is the way to go. If you want to quit your job and have a business that pays the bills and allows you to travel or spend time with your kids or work on your hobbies, a small lifestyle business is the option for you.

Thankfully the internet is available as a vehicle for everyone. It’s all a matter of your vision and how you want to spend your time.

If you’re not sure, try them both, there’s nothing like experience to tell you what kind of person you really are.

Yaro Starak

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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  • Ivo

    I really liked your summing it up part, where you are comparing startups and lifestyle business. They both have their rewards, money jackpot vs quality time for others things outside the business. For those not certain which one to pursue, the best answer, try them both for a period of time, and figure it out on yourself. And spent probably not less then one year on each, one by one, not all at the same time 🙂

  • Dan

    Life is partially about making choices. As long as you make the choices that are right for you and are happy with your lifestyle then that is what matters.

    For me, I’m happy to work 8 hours for my employer to have the next 16 hours to live the lifestyle that I want. My employer would laugh me out to the unemployment line if I came to them with the 2 hour workday concept and I laugh now at things like that.

    Naive people like to buy lottery tickets and they like dreaming about a luxury lifestyle. I’ve become more experienced and awoke from my dream. For me, just working 2 hours per day doesn’t buy me the lifestyle that I want.

    Working 20 hours per day so that I can make money in my sleep is not the lifestyle that I want either. That last statement is closer to the reality of most business owners and is basically what the make money online and make money blogging industry doesn’t tell you.

    I believe I’ve just received the inspiration to use some my spare 16 hours to debunk the myths within the MMO and MMB industries.

    My advice is to try and make the best choice for yourself based on good and credible information.

  • I like your summing up about the startup and life style business. As I have know now, you never know if you never try. The best way to know whether something is working for you or not is do it.

    I have worked in sales before and that was an exciting time, I worked my tail off, clock in 12-14 hours day, and might be getting paid a salary look like minimum wage if the luck is not on my side that month.

    More years into working life now, I have more understanding about the statement “Change is the only constant”. Stability does not exists, many things happens beyond your control, you can only do the best you can at the moment to counter back, survive and prosper.

    Anyway, I think this is a good posting and will check out the video if I have the time.

  • That trailer did a great job of making me want to watch the documentary, I personally love things like this be they in video form or written form, they never fail to inspire me to try and improve what I am doing online.

  • Its is really great as there are always something which you need for your lifestyle as your video gives a best effect on me and make my mind to go through your complete post and reading. You have a nice skill of writing and also knowledge which is more important starting with small business and taking it on top of business is always be a great deal there are not much examples you can find on it.

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