Dec 3rd, 2019

Know Everything There Is to Know

If you have seen my last post, you know that I recently read Blake Snyder’s excellent book on screenwriting “Save the Cat”. It is a great (and fun) read which made me think about storytelling in a different way (especially in the context of pitching a business and my specific craft: Storytelling from stage). Plus it makes you see movies through completely different eyes – the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet.

In the book, Blake makes the strong point that you have to become obsessive about movies if you want to be in the industry:

Listen to Spielberg or Scorsese talk about movies. They know and can quote from hundreds. And I don’t mean quote as in “recite lines from,” I mean quote as in “explain how each movie works.”

A few weeks ago Paul Graham, legendary founder of Y Combinator, wrote an excellent blog post titled “The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius”. In his essay Paul makes essentially the same point as Blake (another thing which startups and screenwriters seem to have in common).

I couldn’t agree more.

The best founders I know, not just obsess about their customers, product, companies and employees, they are also insanely knowledgeable about their respective industries. Which is a clear juxtaposition to the many founders I meet who seem to think that just having a (good) idea is enough to be successful in their endeavors.

As a VC I love to throw question after question about the industry a company is in at the team. The best teams love the exchange and have a tight grip on their market – with the added benefit that their insights allowed them to find a unique value proposition in the market. The not-so-great teams avoid the questions and try to get back to what they know – their solution.

If you want to be successful in any industry or market, get obsessed with getting to know it. Know everything there is to know – as only then will you have the ability to see the defects or gaps which allow you to build a successful venture.

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