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The following is a guest post by Justin Gutwein, creator of the new documentary, Startupland. You can learn more and support the documentary via their Kickstarter

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” -Revell Horsey

Startups are a force in our economy that I am very interested in, and there have been a lot of attempts by shows and films depicting the startup experience. Emerging companies have penetrated so many different mediums that they have found a place in pop culture. However, the version that we have all seen in the media and the version I’ve experienced first hand over the past eight years are polar opposites.

No one needs to be convinced that reality shows aren’t real. Well, startuplife isn’t all billionaires driving teslas to parties where they play beer pong. Anyone that’s been part of a startup knows that their reality is long hours, little pay and tons of hard work.

I decided that it was important to portray the process of building a company as authentically as possible. Startup.com was the last authentic portrayal of early stage companies. However, the film focused more on what not to do and is now over a decade old. The only recent example of a documentary that covers this topic was Indie Game: The Movie, which in essence, is a story of entrepreneurs.

One of the essential elements of filming Startupland was the fact that I would not sensationalize or interfere with the storylines. I never ask anyone to “say that again” or “act like {insert anything at all}.” I was literally a fly on the wall for five months at an accelerator, so allow me to apologize in advance if you were looking forward to the Honey Boo Boo of startup culture.

The goal of this documentary is for entrepreneurs to identify with and learn from the problems faced by the companies in the series. If future entrepreneurs are able to leverage Startupland as a roadmap to get their idea off of the ground, I have succeeded. Anyone, anywhere in the world should be able to watch the series and have access to the same type of mentorship that companies receive in top accelerators in the USA.

What you may find strange is, I also hope that as many people watch the series and decide not to become entrepreneurs. Startuplife isn’t for everyone, but the “party” version often portrayed has made it appealing to a wide audience of wantrepreneurs, that just aren’t cut out for it. I want those people to watch and say, “Well, if that’s what life in a startup is really like, I think I’ll stay where I am.”

So, what’s my motivation for making  startupland? I want to inspire, educate and empower entrepreneurs (and filmmakers!) around the globe. What’s the motivation for your endeavor?


Claire Topalian Claire Topalian
(@clairetopalian) Blog, Professional Writing, Communications and PR Specialist. I craft compelling, mission-driven content for companies and individuals that amplifies brand awareness, fosters community, and drives engagement. My experience includes work with tech startups, major corporations, and international non-profits. @clairetopalian