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Startup.com
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Customer Reviews:

  • HILARIOUS!!! Why is this not a comedy?
    I can't say enough about this DVD. It's what happens when an egotistical moron and his subserviant pushover "friend" from high school start a company based on something they know nothing about. As you watch the movie, it becomes clear that neither of them know anything about computers, programming, or the necessity of a functional product. Just look at when they're in a meeting and Kaleil is confused by "things flying across the monitor." I'd bet money it's a screensaver. Just look at how they cut out the solution to the problem there. What could this huge number of employees POSSIBLY be doing? A simple database program like this could be made by less than 10 people in a week!! The most hilarious part in my opinion is that Tom winds up going back to work with Kaleil after it's all over. How can't he see that he's been used? A better question is how do the editors of the documentary buy into Kaleil's rhetoric? When they're doing their commentary in the extras, they don't seem to notice the humor of the situation at all. I think Dora said it best: they're a bunch of little kids all dressed up playing grownup. I'd point out other stuff, but there just isn't enough space to glorify every moment. Beware if you're looking for a serious dramatic work, but if you're looking for an evening of laughs and self esteem improvement, you've got it!...more info
  • I want all of my hot shot friends to see this!
    This should be required viewing for all business school graduates. A deep message about friendship and the price of success. A lot of the focus is on Kaleil, but I find the more interesting portrait is of Tom. One intriguing thing that came out of their dot com drama is what happened next - but I'll let you find that out on your own....more info
  • ExcellentDon'tMiss.com
    Startup.com is one of the best 2001 films now available on DVD. It is a documentary and about the trials and tribulations of a start up internet company but it also a Heart-wrenching, emotionally involving story about hopes, dreams and friendships.

    We watch as a group of friends begin their company (in May of 1999) and in less than 2 years are running a 50 million-dollar corporation employing over 250 people (Govworks.com). And then it all begins to fall aparty rapidly. We watch as CEO Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and to a slightly lesser extent Tom Herman become famous via business magazine covers, columns, articles, television news programs, CNN interviews, and even a meeting with a President in which Kaleil suggests the President Clinton consider working for his company when his presidential term is over. It's all here and it really happened.

    The film-makers shot for over two years and were editing the more than 400 hours of video/film right up to their Sundance premiere in early 2001 and re-edited the last few minutes of the film just prior to it's theatrical release in May of 2001.

    Jehane Noujaim started the film. Noujaim became Kaleil Tuzman Harvard roommate and they remained good friends. After quitting her job at MTV with plans to go to her homeland Egypt to make a film Noujaim instead began filming Tuzman as he quit his job to begin this company with his old high school chum and a small circle of friends. She contacted Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker for help in financing the project. They were excited about the idea and Hegedus enthusiastically became a partner in the project. Hedges and her husband, D.A. Pennebaker made the excellent Moon over Broadway (about Carol Burnett's return to Broadway) and The War Room (behind the scenes of Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign) in recent years. Pennebaker is the legendary documentary filmmaker who made the famous film about Bob Dylan, Don't Look Back and Monterrey Pop. Pennebaker produced the film and Hegedus and Noujaim co-directed it.

    The filmmakers have access to some remarkable private moments, some confidential private meetings and some very special events (like Bill Clinton and in another scene with a speech from former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson.). At times the film doesn't take quite enough time to explain some of the inner-workings of financing the company and we don't spend quite enough time on the problems and development of the software itself--but to do so would have meant slowing the movie down and focusing it more on the business and less on the people involved. Every once in a while you can be confused with what is going or whyy but, life doesn't stop and explain itself to you as well as it should either. If it's a flaw, it's one that is easy to over-look.

    I wish the filmmakers did include a little more footage of the special relationship Tom Herman had with some of his co-workers. He was the one who insisted on hiring women in the company and he had a much warmer management style which we don't see much of in the film.

    There's some moments in the film, particularly at the end, where the film-makers deliver just the right balance of verite' and crossing over the line a bit for the sake of some much needed humor. I don't want to spoil a few moments by saying more than that, but there are several subtle pay-offs, which occur during the film's final moments, which end the film on a very human and ironic note. This is a film about a lot more than the rise and fall of a dot com company.

    The film was shot on digital video and is present in the original perspective it was shot in Standard 1:33:1. The picture is sharp and clear and free from any technical problems whatsoever but it is documentary film-making on the fly and cinema verite'.

    The Audio is a strong Dolby 5.1 mix The sound quality varies slightly because of the manner in which the film was shot and the sound originally recorded. However we can clearly hear all of the important dialogue and at times, when the film gets very quiet, we are aware how free from defects the audio actually is.

    The too short interview with the documentary filmmakers gives a face to the filmmakers. Some of the information they talk about on-camera is repeated during their feature audio commentary. The very thorough production notes are appreciated. It is a real shame however that not all of the pre-release extras that were announced by Artisan several months ago are on the disc. Extra footage, and commentary from Kaleil and Tom would be a huge asset to the DVD package and I can only assume there were last minute problems that meant the plans to include such commentary had to be scrapped.

    The feature length commentary track starts out by covering the same ground as the short interview featurette but after 30 minutes we start learning some interesting details and getting some insights into things we are not seeing on the screen. We learn some interesting information and even about a tragedy that occurred to one of the people we see during the film. It's well worth the time to listen to the commentary but it can't top one of my favorite commentaries of all time (the one on Moon Over Broadway).

    Christopher Jarmick,is the author of The Glass Cocoon with Serena F. Holder a critically acclaimed, steamy suspense thriller...more info

  • Oh, the irony...
    As a refugee of the Silicon Alley dot-bust, I was interested seeing the experience from the point of view of the entrepreneur. It was incredible to see the levels of arrogance and ignorance that propelled this venture.

    Although I know that the directors were interested in the human side of the story, I wish they had delved a little more into the technical discussions. It would have lent the whole operation the appearance of competence, if indeed there was any, because there didn't seem to be much. Taking your whole company up to camp for a corny teambuilding weekend can't make up for a lack of technical knowledge. Why didn't they realize their product didn't work until a $2 million testing session revealed it? Was anyone at the top keeping an eye on product development?

    Also, I counted exactly one instance where Kaleil mentioned how they were going to make a profit, but he didn't seem to have any problem burning through millions of dollars. I have to admit it was delicious watching the film knowing that the company fell apart in the end....more info

  • Great Documentary
    This documentary rocks. Great for budding entrepreneurs, and entertaining for just about anybody....more info
  • Good. But about half the story isn't told here
    Watching the film the first time through, I wondered why there was so much emphasis on Kalil, the ex-Wall Street finance guy, and so little on Tom, his childhood friend, with whom he starts a dot com at the rather late point in the Internet revolution of early 1999. While Kalil's an interesting character, you see literally nothing about the actual work being done by people to create the product they are trying to sell. Granted the story is about two friend who start a business, but it has a lopsided feel. Listening to the directors' commentary, you learn that one of them was Kalil's roommate before the film began. It's a well-done project with a lot of human drama, but it misses that piece that explains why their competitor's sites were so much better than their own, as you learn late in the documentary.

    Whatever the World Wide Web becomes in later incarnations, this is an overall interesting look at it's nascent attempts to be commercially successful and the people who scrambled more to raise money than to look at ways of meeting the actual needs of a particular marketplace (in this case, linking people to local government.) It would have been nice to seem through Tom whether or not any attempt at all was made in this area....more info

  • A documentary about a dot.com from the cradle to the grave
    It doesn't matter if you work or have worked for a dot.com. This movie shows history in the making, by portraying most of the typical problems that companies that rose and fall within the internet space encountered. Things like:

    -Lack of a solid business plan.
    -Allowing technical personnel make critical non-technical decisions, affecting whatever's relevant within the business plan.
    -The stock option mirage... :(
    -Ridiculous valuations, leading to misled and later dissapointed investors.

    You get the picture... This movie shows all of this and more for one dot.com that was documented since its conception, until it went out of business: govWorks.com

    Check it out. You won't regret it. It's as good as studying a lesson of what not to do in business....more info

  • Friends To The End
    This documentary is about more than just the failure of a company. This movie is about friendship. Set against the backdrop of the dot com bubble burst, what I loved about this movie is that it is basically a story of two guys with a solid friendship. I can't blame them for starting a business on a dream. Everyone was doing the same thing in the late 90's. I don't blame them for the business failing. Most of these ventures failed. During the rise and fall of the company there is a lot of drama between the two founders of the company. They have been friends since kids and the failing business almost tears their friendship apart. In the end I got a great sense of hope that there is more to life than just making profits and that true friends can get through anything and come out on top at the end. I think too many people go into this movie wanting to know all the details about why the business failed and what went wrong. A lot of people have bashed this movie because it focuses on the relationships of the players but that is the same quality of this movie that endears it to me. Money comes and goes. Sometimes you may fail at something. It's easy to lose sight of what is truly important in life. To me, this was a beautiful movie because it shows the true meaning of friendship... through thick or thin....more info
  • Gripping and Educational
    This film is a nonfiction documentary of an actual start-up. The company, called GovWorks.com, was designed to facilitate interaction between citizens and government. One sample application was allowing a citizen to pay a parking ticket on line.

    GovWorks is very representative of companies that were started in 1999-2000. It got funded well before it had any proven revenue model, and it generated a lot of buzz. The CEO made the cover of a number of magazines, and he even appeared on a panel with President Clinton, as shown in the documentary. However, they had not gone public prior to the crash in April 2000, so when they did not have a revenue model the company collapsed.

    The documentary focuses primarily on two of the founders--Kaleil and Tom. They had been friends for over ten years prior to founding the company, and their relationship has ups and downs, culminating in Kaleil firing Tom.

    Even if you have no interest in start-ups, the relationship between Kaleil and Tom is gripping. They are more dramatic than the "characters" in many fictional movies. These are real human beings, not superheroes or cardboard villains.

    I think that the movie also is instructional. If you start a business, you have to be prepared for tremendous pressure, and you need to be able to deal with your partners under stress. When you watch the two protagonists start to come apart under pressure, don't think it couldn't happen to you.

    Personally, for an Internet business, I have always favored the bootstrapping model over the venture-capital-funded model. I believe very strongly in spending time in front of customers as opposed to spending time in front of VC's.

    I think this movie pretty clearly reinforces my position. GovWorks followed the VC script of trying to spend your way to success. The dismal results were fairly typical....more info

  • What price are we willing to pay for
    As I write this review,I am two days removed from hearing of the tragic and senseless suicide of an acquaintance who had it all, risked it all,lost his family,fell into depression and substance abuse and hung himself.Why?.....his life WAS his startup and it came crashing down around him and he couldn't bear it.
    STARTUP.COM is a timeless look at the rise and fall of businesses and the people who rise and fall with them.Some people who will view this film will only want to know one thing:How do I succeed in building a business and make money? Others will view this film and learn about the trmendous sacrifices to self and interpersonal relationships that comes from examining the failures of others driven by an intense desire or need to "succeed".This documentary examines both aspects of business-the technical and the personal.The two aspects are always competing.The lives of the "twentysomething"founders of gov.WORKS.com are examined in intimate detail as Kaleil and Tom are followed from the infancy stage of their internet organization,through it's quick rise to fame,(they were on every major mag cover and even had audience with President Clinton!!!)and it's crashing in 20 months.Loyalties and passions are questioned.This is a very realistic look at the down -and -dirty business world as portrayed in the .com rush of a few years back.What this film has to teach us is about the price that one pays in blood for what one thinks is necessary for "success".This film is a sobering look for anyone,any age who needs to possibly reexamine their priorities in business and in life....more info
  • Startup.com
    Anyone with the faintest un-suppressed memory of the Internet boom should watch the cautionary "Startup.com," an intense look at the treacherous waters of American business start-ups. Chris Hegedus ("The War Room") and Jehane Noujaim ("Control Room") were lucky enough to capture the full dramatic arc of Tuzman and Herman's venture, from the height of the Internet frenzy to the dot-com bubble's big burst. "Start-up" demonstrates how the rules of cut-throat modern entrepreneurship can transform positive human ambition into nerve-shredding obsession....more info
  • HANDS DOWN THE BEST
    I don't think its possible for me to put into words how much I loved this documentary (Not ficitonal movie). I don't know why this is not REQUIRED viewing at any and every self respecting business school in the world, let alone the U.S. I have never seen anything which portrays the trials and tribulations of attempting to startup a multi-million dollar company and from such a personal perspective. These guys were shooting for the stars, not trying to open up a juice bar on the corner. It shows all the hurdles they face, all the necessary steps, UNBELIEVABLE!! I would give this film a thousand stars if possible. If you are memorized by the internet boom/bust like me, you must, I REPEAT MUST see this film. Watch it and you'll know what I mean. Unbelievable!!!!!...more info
  • Mediocre At Best
    In my E-commerce/Business 101 class, our instructor introduced this DVD movie in one class, and it took us two classes to watch it. As I was watching this documentary and taking my notes, I was contemplating on what kind of review I would give this movie. To me, it gets 3 out of 5 stars, and I'm being a tad bit generous. The movie focused too much on the two CEO's of the company, and not the actual company itself. Kaleil and Tom (especially Kaleil) was focused on by the camera throughout the whole movie, and I got the sense that the whole time it was just Kaleil trying to figure out how to make his money and keep it. I was more interested in the site govworks.com itself and what was on it. Kaleil's relationship with his co-workers was focused on greatly. The good thing about this is that it does a good overview of how people act in the business world, and how life is in the internet universe. This documentary is more of a biography on Kaleil and Tom, and how their lives played out. I was looking forward to seeing the bulk and the detail of the company and how it rose and fell. I was not interested on seeing if Tom could spend time with his daughter all that much. It is a great overview on life in business and how you are affected, but I wanted the movie to focus on the company itself more, and who are the influential players besides Kaleil and Tom, the two CEOs.......more info
  • Great Film for Business Student & Entrepreneurs of what NOT to do!
    Just saw this film for the first time on IFC and let me begin by adding to the multiple accolades about this film primarily because it's a great film for business school students of what NOT to do in the world of being an entrepreneur. I'm very glad to see the failure of these guys and I'm sure they are still paying for it till this day to a certain extent, if not financially, then psychologically and emotionally.

    I am a IT tech guy who was a part of the dot com bubble, but knew even back then it was not going to last. I was trained from the "old school" corporate environment (ie. The Big Blue IBM culture, apparently, that was "uncool" to the dot-commers) of a SOUND business plan along with a SOLID structure and NOT JUST PURE VISION. These guys were just over-glorified, ego-centric, slippery salesmen. They SOLD a dream to which they crashed and burned and THANK GOD FOR IT!

    I won't waste my time regurgitating the well-deserved harsh words of what real and successful entrepreneurs have already given them through the years, but my message for Kaleil to which I'm sure he has figured out now is "less glory" and "more humility". Dude, successful people are "behind the scenes" not seeking glory and making things happen and are the REAL "Go To" guys/gals. It isn't about your RICH image and your Tiffany cufflinks, but rather the BIG debt that only YOU know really exists!

    I run a small tech consulting company based on pure personal passion and servitude to others. Although I am not making millions, I am comfortable AND, I am NOT incurring debt. I am also not spending much on marketing. WHY? Because my humble attitude and kind approach not only strengthens my positive reputation amongst my business peers, but it leads to a return in revenue which ALSO leads to others speaking kindly and the word of mouth spreads like wildfire.

    I really wouldn't comment too much on a film, but after seeing these two guys, I needed a place to vent my anger due to the sheer stupidity of these guys. I am sure they are "good" men in general, but they suck in business to put it bluntly and I'm hoping they both wised up after a good decade!
    ...more info
  • An important historical document
    As I sit here, self-indulgently typing in my humble opinions, I cannot help but savour the irony of reviewing a film about the spectacular rise and fall of a dot-com hopeful... on the website of one of those who succeeded.

    Twenty years from now, when people look back on the "dot com bubble", and when those who weren't there can't fathom the hundreds of overnight paper millionaires, the irrational stock valuations, the revolutionary nature of what was happening, and of course the impending crash - this film will surely stand as an indispensable documentary of the time, capturing the excitement and the madness of the incredible Internet commercial phenomenon.

    Hats off to the film makers - this is a truly remarkable time capsule that, compelling as it is today, will only become increasingly important as our collective memories of that time, fade.

    So here I am - a regular person, with a regular job - self-indulgently broadcasting my simple thoughts to anyone, anywhere in the world who will listen, courtesy of the global communication network that made it all possible.

    This is it. This is how it was....more info

  • Enjoyed watching these guys crash and burn.
    They give you little reason to care about them besides they tried to be successful at something they knew nothing about. However, they are so smug about their enterprise I was glad that they not only failed but failed badly.

    Leonard Maltin said "I defy anyone to find a fictional film as compelling as this"! Now is he just talking about the few months this film was out or in the whole history of motion pictures? If it is the latter I would laugh in Maltin's face. Many cartoons are deeper and more "compelling" than watching one chubby guy and one gay-acting guy argue forever about what to call their "company", how to raise money, how to save money, hire and fire, etc. We get to see the chubby one talk about dating, talk on the phone (a lot), eating pizza, everything but doing his job. WEEE!!! and we get to watch the gay-acting one braid hair and cry. That is a bore to me.

    The break-in at the company that they stress in the "film" turns out later to have been done by someone who was already in jail when he is caught.

    You can find out more about these two GovWorks.com millionaire wannabes at: http://www.windsormountain.org/pds/index.htm
    A positive spin is attempted on everything but nothing hides the fact they fell flat on their face, lost lots of other people's money and never really recovered.

    Chubby man is in the Middle East trying another thing and gay-acting man is running a camp in Vermont.

    The last half hour is the only interesting part as I watched them turn on each other like two starving animals fighting what little was left of a carcass. That was good. Well, until they make-up and go to the circus together. End film. The rest of the documentary is a real yawner....more info
  • The STARTUP.COM quick acknowledgment
    This documentary is about a man and his friend who want to

    start up a company. Even though they have a hard time getting

    started they become successful. You will see betrayal among

    friends and friendships ending over money issues. You will get to

    look into the two main characters business lives and see how it

    effects their personal lives. Watch the small idea they made grow

    as their business expands and witness its fall. Learn the

    complications of starting up a company, maintaining and managing

    it growth, making and handling money, and dealing with people and

    the competition....more info