This week, we got a peek into the lives, loves and entrepreneurial dreams of a bunch of start-up founders in the new reality TV show called Startups: Silicon Valley, which debuted on Foxtel. It promises to track this group of 20- and 30-somethings who are coding by day, getting drunk by night, and pitching to venture capitalists to fund their big dreams somewhere in between.
Produced by Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the "cast" all hope to turn their start-ups into billion-dollar businesses one day. Presumably the colon in the title means we may one day see a slew of spinoff shows such as Startups: Austin and Startups: New York City.
The show has followed the formula of reality shows such as The Real Housewives of New York City. They've secured a good-looking cast. This one has Dwight, 26 (the Tim Ferriss lookalike); Hermoine, 26 (the Chloe Sevigny lookalike) and her brother Ben, 31.
There's also Sarah, 26 (who has pashed Ben and hates Hermoine). And there's David, 28 (the gay-guy-who-used-to-be-fat-but-then-plastic-surgeried-his-way-to-hotness); and Kim, 30 (who looks like she could be a long-lost Kardashian).
I have to admit, I was mesmerised by this show. It was like watching a train wreck. And there is no doubt the collateral damage is going to be the reputations of these entrepreneurs, who have agreed to expose their hopes, dreams, petty fights and statements about world domination on camera for the whole world to see.
Sarah is even happy to be filmed in her bra and undies. She also claims "because of my large following, the running value of one of my tweets runs at $10,000". (She has only 5820 followers at the time this is being published.)
However, it looks like there might be some regrets. Yesterday, Sarah told the San Jose Mercury News: "I've had a lot of figures in Silicon Valley tell me that it was a mistake. I think sometimes that it wasn't worth it." You think?
If episode one is anything to go by, most of the cast won't come across as the successful digital entrepreneurs they probably hope to be. More time is spent documenting their parties, hangovers, spats and spray tans (for the toga party at the start-up mansion of course) than on anything to do with business.
Chances are that most of the "cast" will wonder why they agreed to take part. What they gain in fame, they may well lose in credibility. And in business, your credibility and reputation are vital.
While you might not be on a reality TV show, the choices you make about who you associate with are a direct reflection on you.
1. Associations and groups
How discriminating are you when it comes to the membership groups or networks that you decide to frequent? Do your due diligence on the most reputable ones to join and focus your energies on developing relationships in those communities.
2. Social networking interactions
Who are you having conversations with online? Many of these conversations are being observed by other people who follow you on social networking sites. So if you're discussing an inflammatory topic – or talking about your staff, suppliers, or competitors – think twice before you hit "send".
If you're trying to build your profile, are you being seen at the right events? Your industry probably has certain events where leaders gather and news is announced. For the tech industry, it might be South By South West. For bloggers, it might be New Media Expo. For interior designers, it's Milan Design Week. Although attending these types of events is exhausting, it can give you a competitive edge and insight to your industry. And, in some cases, your attendance identifies you as a key player simply because you've made the effort to go.
While you're unlikely to learn a great deal about entrepreneurialism from Startups: Silicon Valley, you might want to give it a go. The show is strangely compelling. And you never know, you might pick up a few tips. After all, it isn't every day that you can learn how to ask an investor for $500,000 while you're hungover thanks to the alcohol-fuelled toga party you threw at your house the night before, where you also tore strips off your (now ex) best friend who was wearing nothing more than a bikini. I just can't wait till the producers do an Australian version.
I can see it now … Startups: The Shire. I think it could work.