Tucker: The Man and his Dream is my favorite entrepreneurship-related movie. It is a movie about Preston Tucker, an American automobile designer and entrepreneur. It is the (fictionalized) true story of an entrepreneur who had a dream to produce the best car of his time. His dream cars had features that other contemporary cars (including the big Michigan automobile companies) did not have- an air-cooled rear engine, disk brakes, independent 4-wheel suspension, an additional center headlight that pivoted left and right for better vision when turning, a padded dash, seatbelts, and a popout safety windshield. He raised money, generated demand, and set up a factory to make his dream cars. Unfortunately, like many other entrepreneurs, he was not able to fight the Big Guys and failed to fulfill his dream.
Given that Tucker is my favorite entrepreneurship-related movie, there are many things I like about it. But what I like most about it is that it reminds me of a great Indian lore who is a legendary figure in Indian history- Subhash Bose, popularly referred to as Netajee (The Leader). On the surface, it is difficult to see many similarities between Tucker and Bose. Dig deeper, and you find two characterestics, two really important qualities, that both men shared- They were men with big dreams and they dealt with failure. The movie shows Tucker as a man who dreamed of making and selling a revolutionary new car in an industry dominated by giant automobile companies. Anyone who knows the autombile industry knows that it is a business with really big entry barriers. To borrow from management guru Michael Porter, it is not easy to get into the automobile industry. However, Tucker believed he could do it, he convinced many people to believe in him, and dedicated his life to achieving his dream. Bose, on the other hand, was no friend of entrepreneurs. However, he like Tucker, had a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (GOAL) to militarily defeat the mighty British army to free India. He believed he could do it, convinced millions to follow him, and dedicated his life to achieving his dream. Both men encountered many obstacles on their way, failed many times, and after every failure they would come up with an even more daring next step. Both men also failed to fulfill their dream directly. The Tucker Corporation was ultimately unsuccesful in manufacturing and selling the new Tucker car, and so The Indian National Army Bose founded also failed in its military battles against the British Army. But, in some ways, both men succeeded- The automobile industry gradually accepted many of Tucker’s revolutionary ideas and the British did have to leave India. Of course, despite their apparent failures both men became legends, living in the hearts and minds of the people.
So, I guess, in some ways Tucker: The Man and his Dream raises an important question for entrepreneurs and those interested in entrepreneurship- How do you define success and failure for entrepreneurs? Is an entrepreneur succesful when s/he makes a lot of money (e.g. Bill Gates), when s/he succesfully introduces a revolutionary new product (e.g. Steve Jobs), or is it just the ability to dream and “go where no man has ever gone before” that is the true definition and success of an entrepreneur?