Documentaries about entrepreneurship? Seems like a brilliant idea. Too often entrepreneurs feel as if they’re alone in their experience, or unaware of what it takes to succeed. Instead of reading another lengthy how-to book on the entrepreneurial process, here’s another way! Just sit back relax, grab some food and enjoy the show.
Here are some of the best documentaries about entrepreneurship I compiled that could inspire you to keep on going:
1. Nothing to Lose: The Documentary
The plot: It’s the story of Ryan Blair, the single father of an autistic son, who beat the odds to become a serial entrepreneur worth millions.
The sell: Fans of Blair’s bestselling memoir Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain will enjoy seeing his story come to life on the screen.
Where to watch: In support of National Autism Awareness Month, Blair will donate $1 for every Like, share, or follow of the documentary to charities benefiting autism advocacy and research. The documentary was released on his site on April 9.
2. Print the Legend
The plot: A Netflix original, this South By Southwest Festival-approved film follows the ups and downs of the 3D printing trend and examines what it takes to stand out.
The sell: If access to tech stars like Brad Feld and Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis doesn’t grab you, the case study of competition in a saturated market should hold your attention.
Where to watch: Netflix, later this year. The doc will also screen at the Independent Film Festival in Boston on April 27.
3. Freakonomics The Movie (2010)
Six top documentarians including Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) tackle a film adaptation of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s best-selling book on incentives-based thinking.
Why it’s a must-see: The filmmakers weave brief, diverse tales aimed at answering the question: What really makes people do what they do? Will the possibility of a financial reward encourage students to improve their grades? Will sumo wrestlers cheat if given the incentive to do so? The answers are always entertaining and often surprising.
Lesson: If you understand the factors that motivate people to action, you just might be able to motivate them to become your biggest customer.
4. The Call of the Entrepreneur (2007)
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Action Media tells the diverse and inspiring stories of a merchant banker, a dairy farmer and a refugee from communist China. These hardworking entrepreneurs all overcome adversity with innovation and creativity.
Why it’s a must-see: This doc is a non-stop barrage of uplifting tales. The inspiring story of Michigan dairy farmer-turned-composter, Brad Morgan is enough to remind you that our society thrives on entrepreneurial ideas.
Lesson: Sometimes all the modern-day entrepreneur needs is a little inspiration to press on, even though failure could be right around the corner.
5. Startup.com (2001)
This film follows the epic rise and fall of dot.com startup govWorks.com founded by high school best friends Tom Herman and Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, as a means of allowing people to efficiently deal with local governments online.
Why it’s a must-see: The high business drama here is utterly compelling. The company goes from inception to a $50 million bankroll in less than a year. But, GovWorks.com struggles with superior competing websites and Herman’s creativity clashing with Tuzman’s unbending business savvy. The startup ultimately folds and is consumed by a larger firm after less than two years of existence.
The Lesson: All the funding in the world will get you nowhere unless you can trust your team and provide a better product than the competition.