David Chan has some advice for new startup founders. Mainly, make sure you know who you’re getting into a business with. Make sure you know them really well.
He should know, after all. He’s the man behind the upcoming documentary called “Day Job“, which follows around three startups from Toronto-based accelerator Extreme Startups’ second cohort of teams. The film premiers October 8 at the Bell TIFF Lightbox in Toronto.
“You know when you first go to university and some people think it’s a great idea to room with their best friend from high school? Some times it works out and other times you figure out that you just cant live with that person, but you can still be friends,” Chan told BetaKit. “It’s almost like that, but way worse when it comes to startups. You have to really know and trust your team and I think when shit hits the fan, you have to know if these guys can stick it through the tough times.”
After nearly one and a half years of producing, directing and post-production editing, Chan and his team at Fidelity Format (a two-year-old company that produces short explainer videos for startup and corporate clients) are ready to show Day Job.
The film follows three startups, and three cofounders in particular, in Picatic‘s Jayesh Parmer, Shifthub‘s Jeremy Potvin and Venio‘s Nima Gardideh. Along the way, Chan was able to capture the highs and lows of trying to build out a successful small business. He said sometimes he had his camera on him, and was able to capture intense moments. Other times he didn’t.
In Chan it’s created a transparent sense of admiration for startups, noticeable when speaking with the Torontonian.
“We wanted to tell the real side of entrepreneurship and the CEOs of these tech startups, and all the crazy things that they go through,” he said. “Just because we had the privilege to share the office with them, we saw the things that they go through and there was a realness and rawness to it. The sense of admiration that I got by just watching these guys as they sacrificed so many different things or so many different aspects of their lives just to chase a dream or goal, was immense.”
When asked how he thinks people will respond to the film, Chan was confident that the finished product will be reflective of the effort his team put in. He said they tried as much as possible to “capture as real and authentic or as compelling of a story as we possibly could.”
Like he initially pointed out, at times he caught footage of startups experiencing the frustration and stress that comes with building out a vision. At some point, explained Chan, cofounders will either disagree or get into fights and to some it even breaks their company, like a breakup or a falling out. “So we captured that and for other companies their runway was a lot shorter than they predicted, and that creates a lot of panic, tension and stress, especially for a fairly young company,” said Chan.
There were no drunken fights, Chan assured me, but he did hint that one of the three companies may not be around today. He wouldn’t reveal anything definitive though. The film wasn’t about showing dramatic scenes, but rather portraying that the startup life can be a very lucrative one (eventually) but for many teams it does not work out.