Netflix cofounder Marc Randolph said the ‘glorification of entrepreneurship’ has set up a mistaken perception of what it takes to launch a business

Marc Randolph
Marc Randolph. Courtesy of Marc Randolph
  • Many aspiring founders misunderstand what running a company takes, said Netflix’s co-founder.
  • Marc Randolph said the availability of startup education had ‘glorified’ the idea of running one.
  • He said it’s a often a much more repetitious, grinding and disappointing career choice.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Netflix cofounder Marc Randolph says that the “glorification of entrepreneurship” has given many aspiring entrepreneurs a mistaken perception about the true reality of building a company.

Randolph spoke to aspiring entrepreneurs at the Qatar Foundation and was asked whether the explosion of resources and education available to prospective founders over the last decade was helpful, or whether he felt that entrepreneurship was a skill that could not be taught.

“One of the downsides of this glorification of entrepreneurship is people have this mistaken belief [in] what it really means to do this,” said Randolph.

“They think it’s all pitching, going to parties and launches – it is not. It’s a very, very repetitious, grinding, scary and sometimes disappointing career, where you’re doing things that don’t work over and over and over again,” he added.

Overall, the increase of resources is a positive thing, said Randolph, because it has made it easier to become an entrepreneur and helped to build a community. It becomes problematic however, when people start to believe that this education alone is sufficient to launch a business.

He said it’s the equivalent to people thinking they can learn how to play golf simply by watching YouTube videos and reading books.

“Anyone who’s ever played golf before realises that’s a very poor substitute for actually going out and swinging a club,” he said.

Randolph instead encouraged anyone seriously thinking of becoming an entrepreneur to “just do it.”

Because growing a business is an all-consuming experience, he said it’s important that anyone considering starting a company does so for the right reasons. However, he added that for those “intensely curious” about how to make things work, like him, it’s an amazing career.

He recommended starting small – by launching a website, selling something or making a single product – instead of going out and thinking that you’re going to raise millions and employ hundreds of people overnight. “That is the only way that you will internalise the skills,” he said.

Randolph cofounded Netflix, which has a market cap of over $US240 ($AU332) billion, as a dvd-by-mail service with Reed Hastings in 1997. He left in 2002 and went on to successfully found over half a dozen companies.

He published his memoir, “That Will Never Work,” in 2019, detailing his time and lessons from the early years of Netflix.

Earlier in his talk, he explained to an audience of founders that all successful entrepreneurs share the same three traits: focus, an ability to triage, and a predisposition for action.