Top 3 Startup Lessons From “The Social Network”

by / ⠀Startup Advice / February 13, 2011

the-social-network-posterThe movie, “The Social Network” depicts the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the early days of Facebook.  Although the movie may not be perfectly accurate from a historical perspective, it does offer a number of lessons that any young entrepreneur can learn from when launching a startup.  Young CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg often operate with a trial and error mentality, which is an excellent startup strategy; however, the more you can learn from the success and failure of others, the better.  With that in mind, here are the top 3 startup lessons from “The Social Network.”

Eyeballs First, Revenue Second

One of the keys to success for Facebook in the early days was that they capitalized on the “cool” factor.  In the movie, Zuckerberg opposed his partner’s strategy of implementing advertisements in order to drive revenue.  Zuckerberg focused on creating a great product, that users loved, which drove more users, which ultimately drove more revenue when Facebook implemented a monetization strategy.  Other successful companies like Twitter have used similar models because they know that if you can get the eyes the revenue will come.

Be Indispensable

There was a theme that seemed to keep coming up over and over again in the movie – betrayal.  The major lesson to learn for startup entrepreneurs is to be indispensable.  If you are not needed to execute your plan then what are you good for?  If your leadership is not indispensable to the success of your organization then you must place your hope in the hands of the courts, because your team of engineers may take your idea, make it better, and run.  Protect your business by bringing value to your team every day.

Take Risks

The final startup lesson learned from “The Social Network” is to take big risks.  Zuckerberg took a huge risk.  Much like Bill Gates before him, Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, arguably the most prestigious school in the world, in order to move to Silicon Valley and create Facebook, which is arguably the most powerful website in the world.  You have to realize that risk takers don’t always win, but in order to win big you have to be willing to risk big in your startup.

There you have it, the top 3 lessons that the startup entrepreneur can take away from “The Social Network.”  What lessons have you learned in your startup experience?  Do you agree with these 3 points, or not?

Today’s guest post is from Adam Hoeksema.  Adam is the Founder & CEO of ExecutivePlan.  As you continue on your quest to raise capital ExecutivePlan can help you write a more powerful, effective, and memorable business plan executive summary.  Make sure to visit Adam today at and download his 11 Page Guide on How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.