DotCom Entrepreneurs

PurposeEveryone has heard of excess spending during the boom days of the dotcom period- Young entrepreneurs, usually straight out of college, coming up with crazy (and crazier) ideas for new dotcom companies with unproven business models getting VC funding and spending it on fancy cars, glitzy offices, parties, and booze. I just watched a great movie- Purpose (2001: John Light, Jeffrey Donovan)- that makes a good and interesting presentation of new businesses in the dotcom era. It is the story of a college dropout John Elias who has an idea to start a web-based business. The movie follows John Elias from his innocent college days where he dreamed about making it big, working with his friends, and living together with his girl friend to the time he becomes an internet entrepreneur who has lost his company, his friends, and his girl friend. I enjoyed the movie and I think it’s a great movie for entrepreneurship students and for teachers wanting to talk about entrepreneurship-related concepts like opportunity exploitation, angel investing, equity investment etc. in class. Of course, I am curious to know what others, especially entrepreneurs who have been through the dotcom boom and bust- been there, done it- think about the movie.


27 responses to “DotCom Entrepreneurs

  1. The 2001 movie, ‘Purpose’, essentially shows young entrepreneurs what NOT to do. John Elias, a young college student, comes up with an idea to create a software program to allow Internet users to seamlessly stream video. With the help of Robert Jennings, Elias manages to acquire funding to start his business. This investment is spent on expensive suits, a new building, parties and other things instead of being used to develop the company’s product. Soon Elias finds himself compromising his personal values along with his company’s vision.

    In the classroom scenes, several basic entrepreneurship concepts are mentioned, most notably the importance of keeping all company aspects balanced and integrated. This concept was visualized well through the nail-balancing puzzle solved by Elias. I think these concepts need to be considered by all entrepreneurs, young and old alike.

    This movie influenced my attitude toward entrepreneurship by showing how easy it is to get caught up in the financial side of things. ‘Purpose’ showed that business owners can get overly concerned with spending capital on items that do not add value to their company. As seen in the movie, time and money are not used effectively to develop a quality product until the end. As entrepreneurs begin to have money to work with early on, I learned how easy it can be to spend capital foolishly.

  2. You said it perfectly . . .

    ‘This movie influenced my attitude toward entrepreneurship by showing how easy it is to get caught up in the financial side of things. ‘Purpose’ showed that business owners can get overly concerned with spending capital on items that do not add value to their company. As seen in the movie, time and money are not used effectively to develop a quality product until the end. As entrepreneurs begin to have money to work with early on, I learned how easy it can be to spend capital foolishly.’

    I think this part of the exciting prospects of entrepreneurship is vastly overlooked. People seem so willing to do whatever it takes and work so hard to get a business up and running, but once it does keep up and running, there is a strong moral conflict to continue to work hard. In this movie, it shows exactly what the dangers are if you do not keep working towards the goal.

  3. When I watched the movie “Purpose,” I was reminded of the principal of being unethical by means of coruption from my Business Management class. We talked and learned about managers acting unethically in the work place and one part of being unethical is corruption.

    John Elias’ partner used corruption to eventually take over the business, then run it into the ground. He went behind Elias’ back by talking to Anna and turned the board of directors on Elias’ back to make Elias not the CEO. That is just one of the examples of Elias’ partner using corruption.

    This movie was a good movie about an entreprenuer having a good idea and starting a business, but then getting screwed over by his partner. Myself and others learned that you have to pick your partners wisely, so they don’t screw you over like Elias got screwed over.

  4. When I watched the movie Purpose, I was reminded of the principal of a mission and vision statement from my Principles of Management course. The mission and vision statement were stressed as a critical component of a successful business. The mission statement is the reason why the company exists and its guiding principle. The vision statement is where the company is going in the future.
    The principal of a mission and vision statement was demonstrated in the movie when the Business Professor asked the students to balance a group of nails on one nail. Essentially, the nails had to be laid horizontally along one nail. Another nail was laid across the top and when they were lifted off the desktop, gravity held the top nail in place. The student was able to keep the group of nails together because they were in balance. The mission statement and vision statement are what keeps a business in balance. The people are held together with a common bond or focus.
    In the movie John Elias, a student a Stanford, originally had an idea for internet compression software wanted to change the world. He wanted to help people all over the world be connected, which could foster great ideals, such as education. Things got out of control when he hired his friend, Robert Jennings, as a business consultant. Jennings was only interested in making money and did not share a vision of helping people. The goals of these two individuals where out of sync and the company was pulled apart and eventually sold.

  5. The movie Purpose made me realize that you need to be focused on what you want for your business. You cannot ‘count your chickens before they are hatched’. John had a great idea for a business, and knew what he needed to do to run it. He trusted a “friend” who was too involved in making money, before making sure the company worked. Robert, John’s friend, was unethical by getting 2 employees / shareholders to quit, and having their shares taken over by the Board of Directors. By doing this, and working with an active member of the Board with out John’s knowledge, he became the active CEO….taking that position right from under John’s feet.
    The movie portrays a very important lesson of knowing the ethics and values of those you decide to start a business with.

  6. I thought that the movie was very interesting. It really portrayed the amount of risk that you must be willing to take when starting your own business. He got the money that he needed to start it up and was having troubles with the software which in turn made him look bad. And then he ends up getting voted to not be the active CEO. The movie showed how you can put so much time and thought and your whole self into something and loose it.

  7. I thought that the movie was very interesting. It really showed the amount of risk that you have to put into a business when you are starting it from scratch. He had alot of people relying on him and ended up letting himself down in the end and those who he actually trusted to help him. It is really easy to be caught up in the wrong things. When I watched it I also realized that you need to be careful about who you trust!

  8. Overall, I liked the movie. From the first time Robert Jennings (the partner) appeared I knew something was wrong. He had a sneaky mentality to begin with and John should have known that. At the very beginning, Robert came up to John and said “I’m sorry” and “everything is cool” or something along those lines. So obviously this wasn’t the first time Robert had mistreated or betrayed John.
    One characteristic of John that really stuck out in my mind while I was watching was his constant consistency. However, I’m sure he wanted to give up several times during his new venture. A couple of examples: the 30 second horse ride and when his equipment started on fire during the first presentation.
    I loved the ending when John said he had another idea for another cool piece of software…how cool is that for him to have gone through all that he did and still have the motivation to keep going. Now that’s a true entrepreneur. Someone who falls, gets up and starts right back at square one.

  9. When I watched the movie “Purpose”, I was reminded of the concept of ethics from my Managerial Communications class. Elias trusted a friend to help him with connections and starting up his business. In the end he ended up betraying Elias just to make money. He got Elias voted off the board of directors and he manipulated two other shareholders to quit so the board could take over their shares. Elias’ “friend” was very good at manipulating people and getting them to do what he wanted, but then turned this again Elias throughout the movie in order to make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible for himself.
    The concept of Ethics was demonstrated in the movie again when he started to go behind Elias’ back and attempted to essentially turn the company over to himself. Elias’ friend was supposed to be there for networking and to help run the company, not take it over. Also, another ethical issue was that they wanted the company to go public when the product was not ready for public release. The software was causing major computer malfunctions and essentially frying whatever computer it was put into, yet Elias’ friend still wanted the company to go public and to release the product. If they would have released that software in that state, they wouldn’t have been making money for long.
    The main thing I got from this movie was: Make sure you can trust whomever you go into business with! Many people are just interested in making money and making it fast. Make sure they have the same goals, ethics and views of when and where the company is going. The movie also shows you not to rush into things as far as product developement and money. If they would have went Elias’ way and released the fully developed product at a later date, the company probably would have made more money in the long run.

  10. billwickes0420

    Purpose was a good movie about an entrepreneur’s dream and how much desire it takes to put your dream into action. In the beginning, the John Elias is in love and values the relationships with his friends. However, once he gets funding for his idea, the friends and girlfriend get pushed aside while he tries to accomplish his dream internet company. By the end of the movie, he realizes the true meaning of life; it’s not the money that makes a person happy, it’s the friendships and loved ones that make the difference in life. But being the entrepreneur he is, he ends up with a new idea for another project at the end of the movie.

  11. When I watched the movie “Purpose“, I was reminded of the theory of the Strategy-Executing process especially its first phase vision statement from my ‘Corporate and Business Strategy’ course. The vision statement is a company’s strategic business perspective “Where are we going”. It is the firm’s proposed direction of strengthening and expanding its market position. Thus, it is important that a vision statement ought to be accepted and memorized by all employees.
    The concept of a vision statement was demonstrated in the movie when the students listen to their business professor and also in the first part of the movie when John Elias, a Stanford student, evolves a new server architecture in his free time and finally, presents his vision to his roommates. John Elias’ vision was to set up a internet company which offers a real-time video service. He was convinced that this innovation would connect people globally and change the internet industry.
    Purpose is a great movie about a young entrepreneur and his first experiences of having his own business. Management students learn to select a business partner wisely, and that it is important to keep the vision statement and the resulting short and long-term objectives in mind.

  12. Trevor Luchsinger

    I thought that this was a pretty good movie overall. I enjoyed watching how a company is started from scratch very quickly. Also this movie showed how quickly a company can rise, fall, and then rise again. I believe the only way to make progress is to learn from your mistakes. This movie was a very informative.

  13. When I watched the movie, “Purpose” I was reminded of the concept of ethics from my Business Law course. Business ethics are accepted principles of right and wrong, which govern people in business.
    The concept of ethics was demonstrated in the movie when Jennings manipulated his friend Elias. In the movie, when Elias was starting his business he hired his trusted friend, Jennings to help him. Jennings then slowly started taking control of the company. He made every business decision to benefit himself, and not the company. He got his friend, Elias, voted off the board of directors and manipulated the resignation of two shareholders. In the end, Jennings was very unethical and betrayed his friend just to get rich.
    This movie related very well to entrepreneurship. I learned that an entrepreneur should not forget their goals and morals in life. Also, when you have a new product or idea, don’t let others manipulate your decision-making.

  14. Mike Stoltenberg

    When I watched the movie Purpose, I was reminded of the concept of organizational effectiveness from my organizational theory and design class. The concept of organizational effectiveness was defined by Dr. Martin as the degree of goal attainment. Once an organization is created, goals must be made to monitor effectiveness
    In this movie John took all of the necessary steps toward his goal of creating a valuable business and product. His ideas were good, he took the necessary steps to get his business running towards his goals. However, the effectiveness of his CEO position was diminished when he allowed Robert to continually talk him into new contraversial actions in his life and in the business
    I thought that John had an enormous amount of determination and drive. However, he should have kept his ideas and vision closer. He allowed things to get out of control to the point where his share in the business had no real importance. You would think that someone who believes so strongly in creating a sustainable business with a good quality product would take the necessary precautions. Kind of made me upset and disappointed.

  15. Adrienne Losee

    When I watched the movie Purpose, I was reminded of the concept of business ethics/morals from my Business Law and Ethics class. Having good morals in the business world is must to steer your business away from things like bad partnerships (like in Purpose). John Gilas’s character started out as a smart, aspiring entrepreneur. He wanted to help bring technology to the world through the internet. But he made a one bad decision that sent his business morals down the drain.
    The concept of business ethics/morals was first demonstrated in the movie after John became partners with Robert Jennings. Jennings had a totally different view of the business world. Jennings was solely interested in becoming a millionaire, while John really wanted to contribute to society with his company idea. Jennings helped get John some big-time investors to start up their company, and with all of the invested money, Jennings persuaded John to start spending large amounts of if. From business suits, cars, more office space, Jennings wanted to look and be rich and he wanted John to see his way too. John sold away a large cut of the company in the very beginning, which cut his two best friends share of the business down to a small 4%. Of course, Jennings says this is how business works. John began to loose sight of what was important to him (including his girlfriend and other partners) and why he actually wanted to start his own company.
    From an entrepreneurship aspect, this movie can teach you what not to do when starting up a company. You have to have a desire for your business and what you want to accomplish. That goal needs to be constantly worked on and never pushed aside or forgotten. John did have the desire and faith in his idea for his business, but he chose a partner who was only interested in becoming a millionaire. John’s professor said something that summed up the movie and also what you need to be an entrepreneur. He said as an entrepreneur, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”.

  16. When I watched the movie Purpose, I was remind of the concept of ‘new opportunities’ from my entrepreneurial foundations class.
    The concept of ‘new opportunities’ was demonstrated in the movie when John Elias, the main character of the movie who is the CEO of Digital Dreams, gets his first investors on board. John suddenly has millions of dollars to not only start his company, but to buy a new Audi, go to the most exclusive clubs, and sleep with exotic women. John instantly improved his wealth, and moved upward in the economic and social scale of the United States, as stated in the first paragraph on page 17 of our book.
    John also had the opportunity to distribute never before, live streaming video technology to the world, so that the world could enjoy his product. His whole vision for Digital Dreams was to bring the world together and for everyone to enjoy the internet.
    Unfortunately, I thought this movie but the entrepreneurial spirit in a very negative light. This movie was all about money, sex, drugs, and totally losing yourself and everything you love to your own greed. I am currently involved with a start up company here in Omaha, and I can say that in no way shape or form did anything in that movie relate to my real world experience. When starting a new business one needs to be smart. Partner with people you know and trust, unfortunately John Elias got mixed in the wrong crowd when he hired the shady character of Robert Jennings. Another thing is that you should have a product that works and could be successful until you go out and secure millions of dollars of investor money. And last of all, you should never give away the majority of your company so that it can be pulled out from right under you.

  17. When I watched the movie “Purpose,” I felt everyone in that movie was just all about making money. As John put it in the end, “easy come, easy go.” John seemed sort of naive when the company first started. He just let his partner take over everything; he should have known things would go bad for him. He should have always stuck to his original vision and create a company that is inspiring. I think this movie did have a good message though. It tried to convey the message for people to make a company that can help people and that has a purpose beyond just making money.

  18. When I watched the movie Purpose, I was reminded of the concept of person/job fit from my Human Resources course. This is related to entrepreneurship one big way. Many new companies believe that money will get their business off the ground and lead to success and profit. This assumption has been disproved time and again. People are the backbone of a company. If there are no people, then what is there? Nothing but a pile of money, so to speak. Person/job fit starts with the selection process. Each potential employee must possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to effectively perform the tasks of their position. An employee that feels like they understand and perform the job well enough has a higher inclination to stay with the company for longer periods of time. If a worker does not feel they are contributing to reaching the organizational goals they may want to find a position elsewhere.
    The concept of person/job fit was demonstrated when the board of directors, John Elias, and Robert Jennings are discussing whether to list the new company, Digital Dreams, on the NASDAQ stock exchange. John stands up to make his case and give his reasons for not listing the company. He states that, “profits make a business grow, people make it work.” At this point in the movie, the viewer realizes that John is on the right path to success. He believes in the product and the people creating it. This is a perfect example of person/job fit. John Elias, founder and CEO, implies that with the right people and with the right knowledge the business can eventually make money. Most of the others in the room are in the venture to make some quick cash. The man with the idea seems to be on the right track to what he considers success. These conflicting views provide much to be considered on the part of the organization as a whole. People are a company and, as one can see, like characteristics are needed to allow people to work together, offer the best product, and build the most successful new business possible.
    The movie Purpose can be applied to the concept of entrepreneurship in many ways. Throughout the movie the goal is consistent for all parties involved, money or purpose. This is the decision of every new business owner. All must ask themselves why they went into business in the first place and stick to those values. Another way this movie can be related to entrepreneurship in the fact that most new businesses fail. Although this happens long after the success of Digital Dreams, the signs are there. The aspects of business that can provide the framework of failure are apparent. One last way this movie can be connected to the concept of entrepreneurship is that people invest in people, the ideas are the base for the decision. Funding is provided because there is something about the founder that makes one believe in the idea.
    This movie taught me many things about running a business. First, do not rush into success, work hard and it will come. Never get pulled into the trap of quick cash and overnight success. Second, every company has its bumps in the way of development. Although it may seem that all is okay, problems arise very quickly and can develop in ways never imagine if there is no control. One last thing I learned from this movie is that it is very difficult to do it alone. Businesses take effort and different qualities to create. There must be a business side, an innovative side, and every aspect in between. If there is a so-called bottleneck, there needs to be somebody, somewhere in the company that can effectively resolve any issues.

  19. When I watched this movie I think it did a good job of showing how most buisness professionals just think business is all about making money. John wanted it to be about people but got caught up in the hype of making money and lost control and then was unable to get his business back himself. It shows the importance of not getting caught up in making money and how it can degrade your morals.

  20. Edward T Habermeyer

    This movie was definitely worth the watch. It looked like a pretty cool stretch for the guy at first with a simple idea for streamlining video. The dollars were there and it looked fun to spend, but it definitely should have been spent more wisely. Company vision and personal values definitely became comprimised. It was like a training video for unethical business practices, but it seemed like it could be an easy trap to fall into if you are not careful. You really need to add value when you spend capitol. especially in a company such as this one.

  21. I watched the movie “Purpose” recently. I thought it was a good movie about what can happen in entrepreneurship if you aren’t careful with who you trust with your business. In the movie, John Elias and some of his friends start a business. One of his friends is Robert Jennings, whom he appoints to manage his company. What ends up happening is Robert and the people he gets to fund the company make a decision to sell the company, which John doesn’t want to happen. Personally, I think that John Elias could’ve avoided the problem by being more careful with who he trusted. I also think that Robert Jennings was a jerk.

  22. When I watched the movie “Purpose”, I was reminded of the ethical management concepts that we discussed in my Financial Management class. We discussed topics regarding the ethical use of money within the organization as well as corrupt or unethical management of employees. There have been many popular instances where the CEO of a company is involved in “insider trading” or “cooking the books” in order to increase their financial riches, however this is all done at the expense of their employees as well as the public.

    The unethical management of businesses concepts that we discussed were demonstrated in several different parts of the movie. First, they were receiving funding from investors who trusted them to develop and create this “innovative” way of having real-time streaming on the web. The two partners began spending the money right away on useless things that made themselves feel “big time.” These spending habits are only hurting their infant business and they are letting down their financial investors. Secondly, it was easy to spot the unethical management skills when John and his partner reduced two of John’s close friend’s percentage of shares in the business’s shareholdings without notifying or consulting this with them. This deception not only lead to John’s corrupt partner becoming the new CEO, but also lost him two of his best friends.

    This movie was great for the intended message to new entrepreneurs. It is easy to get caught up in big money and live the fortune you created, but it is more important to focus on the very business that got you there as well. As John’s professor stated in the movie, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

  23. Mike Norenberg

    I thought that this movie was pretty good. It depicted a few concepts such as the ideas of finding start up capitol and financing for you buisness, and recognizing your weakness as an entrepreneur. I also like how the movie showed how easy it can be to get caught in the success of a buisness and “life in the fast lane.” I thought this movie showed a lot of important information and overall thought it was a good fit for the class.

  24. It’s was a very interesting time. People made fortunes overnight. People made fortunes then lost them just as quickly. This is what ‘Purpose’ was all about. Young entrepreneurs should ask themselves what they would do put into the same situation.

    I want to pose one question:
    Does money breed corruption, or is that corruption already there?

  25. I really enjoyed the movie “Purpose”. It depicted how a young entrepreneur has every opportunity with the right idea. But the idea needs to be funded. I liked how the movie involved an “angel” to show how some entrepreneurs, like John, get their first fundings. It also shows how business ethics play a major role within an organization, and that it is important when finding a business partner to make sure they are someone you can trust and someone with a similar vision. Overall I thought the movie was a good portrayal of a business from the beginning to the end and it was interesting.

  26. i thought that it was a great movie but i think that the entrepenuer lost site of his goals because of all the partying and girls. this enabled the other guy to succeed in the making of a great company. so when they acquired the company they both won financially but not mentally the entrepenuer lost his dream. until…….he had another great idea for software. then he was getting his life back on track and making things right with his girlfriend.

  27. What I took from the movie purpose was not only the financial components of a business, but also the concept of partnerships. When starting a partnership, there should be enough trust involved to feel comfortable with what you’re about to do, and it was clear that this partnership was not going to work out. Robert began convincing John to do all this new stuff to market their product even though it wasn’t ready, and basically began taking over the operations. In a partnership, not only do you need trust between the partners, but also a common goal. It was evident of what Robert was trying to do throughout the movie. This is a nice wake-up call, so to speak, on potential problems that a partnership can pose. Whether I am alone in my business or with a partner (haven’t decided yet), I will never lose sight of my original plan and the goals I want to achieve.

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