On the Co-founder’s hard-drive | 11 must watch movies for an Entrepreneur.

On the Co-founder’s hard-drive | 11 must watch movies for an Entrepreneur.


Since my brother-from-another-mother and co-founder, Rishabh, did his list of 11 must read books, and half of the world is at it too, I had to stand-up for the other kind – my kind – for those who prefer movies over reading. Yes, I understand that this might not be as glorified a list for some of the pseudo-intellectuals,but for us average beings (a.k.a modest different types of learners) movies are an enriching source of inspiration, creativity & life lessons.

Here’s my dedication to some of the better escapes 150 odd minutes can buy. This list goes out to those inspiring moments and stories that guided me in my entrepreneurial build-up.

1. Dead Poet’s Society:
Up there rated as one of the most inspirational movies I’ve ever seen,  Dead Poet’s Society sees Robin Williams going out of his comical ways, to play the very fine role of Prof. John Keating, an English teacher at an orthodox boarding school, who tries to instill life’s little lessons into his students through poetry.  What I love most about the movie is that it speaks directly to the student in you, the part of you that is always doubting and ever curious about trying hand at new things, and to ‘seize the day’.

Dead Poet’s Society leaves you with the bittersweet memory of being young, having innumerable possibilities at your door and the world at your humble feet, but most of all, it teaches you how with just the right amount of courage you can do anything. Even poetry.

You can be a student, aspiring professional or a budding entrepreneur, Dead poet’s Society gives you a deeper understanding of how your peers, friends and mentors can be your best pillars – the ones you lean on in times of need.

 Quotes to remember:
– “There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.”
– “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
– “Why do I stand up here? Anybody? I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
and one for everyone who uses Letsintern: “Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

2. The Matrix:

Now, those who know me from college will remember me as someone as lost as a Neo (played almost surprisingly very well by Keanu Reeves) who still wanted to be the One.  A movie that makes you question your reality, it reminds you of the importance of choices, the power of believing and takes your mind places.

Matrix takes you into a dystopian future, where sentient machines have created a simulated reality of their own, which humans live in, unaware of the machines ultimate goal – to take out the human population, one at a time. The 90 minutes of Keanu Reeves playing just another computer programmer Neo, who discovers the truth about ‘The Matrix’ and embarks a journey of rediscovering themselves as The One.

Quotes to remember:
– “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
– “You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind.”
– Trinity: “Neo… nobody has ever done this before.” Neo: “That’s why it’s going to work.”

3. Rocky:
As brilliant as the movie is, the story of it’s making is even better. Sylvester Stallone wrote the script of Rocky, while he was struggling to make it’s place into Hollywood, and trying to make ends meet for himself and his wife during the period, by working all sorts of odd jobs. He took the script to numerous people in the industry, which was well received, but everybody refused to comply with the one condition that Stallone put up – to let him star as the lead in the movie. Staying true to his dream and determined to make a living out of the one thing he was most passionate about, he refused to sell the script to anyone, till he found two  producers – Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, who agreed to let him be the star of the movie.

Rest is History. Rocky, the poignant story of rags to riches, was shot in 28 days and became one of the highest grossing films of that year. It also won three oscars, including one for the best picture and was followed up by 5 sequels.

Rocky teaches you to not give up, to keep up the fight against all odds, even if you are the underdog and as a startup you always will be one!

Quotes to remember:
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

4. Pirates of the Silicon Valley:

A 1999 film, that explores the relationship between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, their struggles during colleges, starting up, how it contributed to the development of the first smart computer, diving behind the personalities of the biggest icons of our generation, and more.  This one doesn’t need to be explained, it’s about legends, ruthless ambition, and a belief that one can change the world.

(15 things you didn’t know about Steve Jobs.)

Quotes to remember:
– “We’re here to make a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why even be here? We’re creating a completely new consciousness, like an artist or poet. That’s how you have to think of this. We’re rewriting the history of human thought with what we’re doing.”
– “You know how you survive? You make people need you. You survive because you make them need what you have. And then they have no where else to go.”

5. The Social Network:
The next big thing in Social Networking started in the dorm room of the prestigious Harvard University, 10 years ago, by a 19 year old Mark Zuckerberg. What started off as FaceMash, and got enough traffic to shut down a network at Harvard, today is well known as Facebook with 1.28 billion active users.  The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg, who reprises the role of Mark Zuckerberg rather well, dwells into Mark’s eventful journey of creating Facebook, his legal battle with Winklevoss twins and Eduardo Saverin, dropping out of college to give more time to Facebook, arranging his first Facebook team to work on his dream project and more.

(14 cool things you didn’t know about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.)

The story of Facebook coming to existence is noteworthy for anyone who does not want to wait till 40 to be successful and rich. Exploring the theme of student startups, The Social Network, backs up the Steve Jobs’ quote about how it is the misfits, the ones who dare to dream to change the world, who actually do. Another movie that made it almost to this list – The Fifth Estate – Know more about the brilliant Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.

Quotes to remember:
“I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have the right to give it a try – but there’s no requirement that I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.”

6. Moneyball:
Moneyball starts with a story of defeat. Billy Beane, General Manager, Oakland Atheletics, is disappointed over his team’s loss to New York Yankees and is struggling to finds a way to assemble a competitive team for the next year on a limited payroll. This is where he meets a young Peter Brand, Economics graduate from Yale, who introduces Beane to an idea that assesses a player’s value. Despite all odds and initial criticism, Beane takes up the idea and ends up analyzing and acquiring players based on it, going home with 20 consecutive wins, that is actually an American League Record.

Moneyball is a lesson in how you make the best out of what you have. #hustle

As a startup you gotta back yourself and your teams – average going for the extraordinary.  

Quotes to Remember:
“I know these guys. I know the way they think, and they will erase us. And everything we’ve done here, none of it’ll matter. Any other team wins the World Series, good for them. They’re drinking champagne, they get a ring. But if we win, on our budget, with this team… we’ll have changed the game. And that’s what I want. I want it to mean something.”

7. Aviator

Based on the life of the legendary Howard Hughes (the man also behind the very memorable 1932 film – Scarface), Aviator goes deeper into his struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder in everyday life and how it still doesn’t hamper his ambition of  making something big out of himself in the field Aviation – which he has been very passionate about since young. Howard Hughes himself is the prime example of ‘Start Young’ as we see him direct He made his first film at 21, which was not only a financial success, but also won him the Academy Award for Best Director.

Howard Hughes teaches us how your focus points can be on more than one thing, and that you can be equally good in all of them.
Leonardo Di Caprio who played him on screen, perhaps, came closest to his Oscar; if it wasn’t for Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles.

Quotes to remember:
“Some men dream the future. He built it.”

8. Pursuit of Happyness :

In this film of hard-work, desperation, determination and homelessness, we see Chris Gardner (Will Smith) come face-to-face with the toughest times in his life, and make it through. Pursuit of Happyness teaches you how making money can be hard and that sometimes, you just need to be ‘wearing damn good pants’ to land the job you want.

As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to believe that hard-work pays; as sometimes that’s all you’ll have to offer.

Quotes to remember:
Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something.Not even me. You got a dream, you gotta protect it.When people can’t do something themselves,they’re gonna tell you that you can’t do it.You want something, go get it. Period.

9. Apocalypto:

Apocalypto reminds of you where we come from, and the one critical quality that a startup needs – Survival.
Apocalypto takes you to 1511 A.D, into the proto historic period, here a mesoamerican tribesman who is on his way to rescue his family after the the destruction and capture of his village for human survival.

Another mention – I am Legend – which reminds me of the same instinct of survival.

Quotes to remember:
“And a Man sat alone, drenched deep in sadness. And all the animals drew near to him and said, “We do not like to see you so sad. Ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it.” The Man said, “I want to have good sight.” The vulture replied, “You shall have mine.” The Man said, “I want to be strong.” The jaguar said, “You shall be strong like me.” Then the Man said, “I long to know the secrets of the earth.” The serpent replied, “I will show them to you.” And so it went with all the animals. And when the Man had all the gifts that they could give, he left. Then the owl said to the other animals, “Now the Man knows much, he’ll be able to do many things. Suddenly I am afraid.” The deer said, “The Man has all that he needs. Now his sadness will stop.” But the owl replied, “No. I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, ‘I am no more and I have nothing left to give.”

10. Forrest Gump:
Forrest Gump can also be an endearing reminder that someone with an IQ below 75 like Forrest’s, can also stick to his own nature and do almost anything under the sun if he sets out to. We see him make his way through the US Army being the fastest man there, then becoming extremely good at ping pong,  buying a shrimping boat, running a three year marathon while inspiring a lot of failing entrepreneurs in the process. Just a beautiful, feel-good, positive movie.

Quotes to remember:
“Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

11. Guru:
To conclude the list, let’s bow out with something real from our very own Bollywood. Mostly based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani, Guru shows you one man’s journey of establishing his own business, which takes him from a small village in Gujarat, to Turkey, and then back to the streets of Bombay, where he sets up his shop, with a little help from the infamous concept of ‘Jugaad’. A movie which leaves you thinking “Ban na chahte ho duniya ki sabse badi company??”

Quotes to remember:
“Kya naam tha tumahra?”
“Naam tha nahin, hai, aur hamesha rahega. Gurukant Desai.”


To keep a trend going, I nominate you to list your top 11 movies!

More from Pranay Swarup:
10 awesome things that happened to my start-up in 2013.
How to go from ‘What to do’ to ‘Done’ in 7 simple steps.





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