What startups can learn from The Martian

So my cofounder and I finally managed to watch The Martian. Wrapped as we are with our data matching engine Reifier, the movie still completely engrossed us. The story line, the direction, the performance as well as the effects were stunning. However, rushing back to work, we could not help but muse about some key takeaways for the startup world.

Lesson 1: The team matters, and its all that matters

So there were challenges, lots of challenges in the way of the base station blow up, supplies not reaching, time taken to prepare the next mission, orbital velocities and trajectories not matching and so on. However, if the team are in it together, they will overcome all challenges and emerge victorious.

Lesson 2: You can trust an ‘A’ performer to figure things out.

An astronaut gets left behind on Mars. He is injured and lost all communication with his return vehicle as well as earth. However, he is able to survive by growing his own food(!!!), find ways to increase battery power of the land rover, figure out communication with earth and others.

Lesson 3: Adapt, and thou shalt survive.

A lot of things do not go as per plan, and there will be commotion, last minute upheaval, changes, detours et al. You may not be able to plan for everything that luck throws at you, however, if you are nimble and adapt, you can make it.

Lesson 4: Good leaders dont blame others, they lead from the front

The crew captain took complete responsibility of leaving one team member behind. She bought in the team when they were debating whether to go back after him or not. In the final countdown, she was the one at the helm risking her life to get him on board.

Lesson 5: Even when the going is tough, some amount of process helps

Nothing is rosy for the one left behind on alien land. However, he takes stock, notes supplies, plans and iterates his survival. He diligently keeps his notes, records his journal, and tries to figure things out. This keeps him sane enough to try out a few things, some of which do work out in the long run.