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8 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Learn from HBO's Silicon Valley

Disclaimer: The following information may reveal information about episodes that you did not want to know if you haven’t watched the episode. Before reading this article, it is recommended that you finish the 5 seasons of Silicon Valley.

Don't be a Richard. Don't be a know-it-all tech founder only focused on your product.

Richard fits the iconic stereotype of the ‘Valley Founder’ spot on. His dress shirt and hoodie combo has tech-founder written all over it. Richard shares another common trait with other tech founders… he loves his tech. When you are the CEO of a company, you have many more roles other than loving your technology. Your product is, of course, extremely important to your success, but it is nothing without a good team and sales. If you are a Richard, admit that you don’t know everything and get some help to start selling your product rather than continually develop it without talking to customers.

If you find a Monica, keep her.

When you find someone who is ambitious, cares, and is extremely smart…hand them the contract. She provided Pied Piper with many opportunities to grow their business, she was involved through all the ups and downs of the business, and brought a new perspective. This is the kind of person you want. They are focused on the outcome, not the situation.

How to wow a Laurie.

First of all, not all VC’s are like Laurie. Most are focused on the team and how capable they are rather than just the numbers; however, the numbers are still very important. Normally, if someone is intimidated by a person, I would suggest them to remember that they are still just a person. In the case of Laurie, you may want to take a different approach, because she is a tough one to crack as seen in Season 5 when she becomes emotional about being the CEO of Eklow Labs (the AI company), she only lets out a small peep of emotion. People like Laurie are solely focused on the metrics and if it “makes sense.” The first rule is to use Laurie’s language to connect with them and make sure you are prepared with the metrics they will look for.

You're going to have no money at one point. (or many points)

For all you founders out there, you know this one is true. Having a high growth start up business is very much about seeming larger than you are at points. When you have not a drop of money in the bank you still portray yourself as if everything is going exactly as planned and very smooth. It is common to have big ups and downs during the journey…just ride the wave and create a support network that will help keep you afloat when you are feel like sinking.

Just because someone is rich doesn’t mean they can help you (3 Comma Club Russ Hanneman)

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to work with Russ. You might look at his success as being luck or maybe he is a savvy business man. It doesn’t matter, you want the people around you to be aligned with your mission. If someone is just trying to make a lot more money and doesn’t care about the integrity of the business, you probably want to ditch them.

Team dynamics will be precarious at best sometimes. Founder goals may differ throughout your journey.

When you have one founder who is concerned about creating the best new tech (Richard) and the other is concerned about making millions to host grandiose island parties you may have an issue. Generally, if you decided to work with someone, you have similar goals, but as the company progresses, you may see different avenues which lead you to think differently. All the micro arguments are likely actually a good thing as it makes you think twice about your approach, it is a problem when you have different missions.

Be wary of going for an Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

Cryptocurrency is currently the wild west of the when it comes to using an ICO as a pathway to investment. The team tried in Season 5. If you're going to go for it, make sure your offer is solid for the folks willing to invest in you, just as you would with a VC. I don’t know much about the ins and outs of cryptocurrency and likely neither do you. Before setting your entire company up for an ICO. It can be very complicated and even though you think you have the strategy like Russ Hanneman with 1 out of his 30 something attempts working, make sure you have done your research. Think about it, if you were going to accept a big deal from a VC firm you would surely read through the term sheet and understand what you were getting into wouldn’t you?

Your competitors will sometimes luck out big time in getting investment or major customers.

Remember Big Head? He was portrayed as a pretty lucky guy who wasn’t very smart, but somehow seemed to win. This seems to happen regularly when you are an entrepreneur. You meet new friends who also have businesses and you constantly hear about how they are closing huge deals and getting lots of funding, while you are sitting eating macaroni and haven’t showered in weeks because you can’t afford the water bill. These people are most likely in similar situations to you. When we see other people, we often increase elements of their situation that make us feel like we are further behind.

Keep rockin'