A movie for entrepreneurs – The Maze Runner (2014)

Compared to most Hollywood blockbuster-wannabe sci-fis, The Maze Runner (2014) actually holds up quite well in terms of the integrity and the completeness of the story. There are some minor details that are a bit rough and not convincingly enough, but overall it's a good entertaining movie.

It also constantly reminded me of the life that an entrepreneur always faces. Just like Thomas, the protagonist who's a new comer to the Maze and tries to take humongous risks to change the status quo, entrepreneurs run into all sorts of existing opinions that try to dissuade them and maintain the status quo, exemplified in the film by the antagonist Gally – did the producer cast an American highschool football capitain type of kid on purpose?

The protagonist Thomas and the model of the Maze

The protagonist Thomas and the model of the Maze

The various debates between Gally and Thomas are almost a perfect mirror of brave entrepreneurs and people who fear of changes.

Gally seems to be smart and rational. He says everything that seems right given the available information but what he says won't change anything. On the other hand, Thomas picks up tiny new info that signals something different. Instead of relying on the same holistic and emperical reasoning like the other old birds, he experiments, which allows him to discover more info along the way.

The Grever

The Grever

After killing a Grever  a spider-scorpion, machine-flesh monster type - for the first time in the history of the Maze, Thomas went back in the next day against everyone's opinions to gather more info. The new info, a metal tube blinking a number 7 that was taken out of the remains of the dead Grever, led to a different approach and a different strategy. The available info was still very limited at this stage. Any sensible person would still conclude a no-go. However Thomas decided to forge ahead and eventually opened up a new space that had not been discovered over the past three years. This would be akin to when entrepreneurs find that spiral button after a few iterations based on new info gathered.

Then came the disaster, where the system let in tons of Grevers into the originally safe area of the Maze and wrecked havoc. This would be the scaling pain for entrepreneurs. Once the spiral button is found, the growth will be so fast that could bring down the servers. And that would give the conservative naysayers, like Gally, to again say everything that seems right but still won't change the status quo.

Thomas then took more risks based on further new info and led a team of equally risk-taking people all the way forward. Casualty could not be avoided as they fought off the vicious Grevers, just like comrades leave before seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. However, they eventually found the exit – yeh, coincidetally just like the exit in a startup-VC ecosystem! – where they validated their theory of a world out there.

Here's where the similiarity between the film and the life of the entrepreneurs stops. In the film the young men found a harsh truth awaiting them at the exit. In the case of entrepreneurs, if you make it to the exits, usually you unlock a whole new positive world.

I strongly recommend entrepreneurs to watch this film. If anything, you shall feel really pumped up.

Asian trip journal: 2014/12/23

Disruption versus macro growth