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Joe
Park Ridge, IL
Business

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Movies, Classic novels, Basketball, Soccer, Video Games

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Netflix and Entrepreneurship

March 15, 2017

A few weeks ago, the Robins School of Business hosted both a roundtable discussion with and lecture by Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to attend both sessions, each having only limited spaces. Instead of recounting the finer details of my experience listening to him speak, I thought I’d share some of the greater insights I gained from the night.

One of the more common adages that Randolph preached was the importance of willingness to take risks. Particularly in entrepreneurial ventures, those who succeed are often the ones that go all in—or rather, “go in” to the point that if their venture fails, they have enough resources to recover and one day try again. Randolph mentioned his experience with Netflix as an example of this notion. In the startup days, the Netflix team actually decided to forgo the area of its business that accounted for most of its revenues (i.e. DVD sales) to focus on the more promising market of convenient rentals. And then, years after Randolph had left the company, Netflix again made another gamble in pushing its resources almost solely towards the streaming side of their service.

Randolph in the midst of his lecture.

Another concept that struck me was Randolph's mention of survivor bias, a term I had heard before but all too quickly forgot its relevance to my everyday life. Survivor bias states that people often consider the advice of successful people with greater weight and validity than those who have failed. After all, the successful are who we go out of our way to hear speak and whose advice-spouting books we buy. Yet, we fail to recognize that luck plays into success. A lot. Being cognizant of this idea helps us to go forward without too optimistic a viewpoint. We can be motivated by the success of others and take their advice, but we need to be ever wary of potential complications and be willing to take new approach even when it may contradict those who have survived.

Yet, maybe the most relevant idea I discovered through Randolph’s insights was this: so many people and businesses become married to the solution of a particular issue; however, it is best to be married to the problem. This advice becomes applicable to all areas of life. Sometimes we are so certain of how we want to overcome a problem that we stall in the problem-solving process. We fail to see the best solution at hand because we are unwilling to both search for and entertain alternative answers.

Marc Randolph’s talk was one of many that I’ve attended over my time at the university but it was definitely one of my favorites. His charisma, down-to-earth persona, and genuine passion for entrepreneurship lent to a night of both entertaining stories and perspective-changing insights. Now, if only he still worked for Netflix… then I could’ve passed along my list for movies that need to be added to instant streaming. 

My name is Joe. I am currently a freshman at the University of Richmond. I plan to major in Business (concentration undecided) and to minor in Creative Writing. I consider myself a man of diverse interests. I find just as much enjoyment in playing basketball as I do staying home to read a book. In terms of music, I'll listen to most anything, whether it's Frank Sinatra, today's top 100 hits, old school rap, or anything in between. Same goes for movies. New movies, old movies, black-and-white movies, action movies, romantic comedies, serious dramas. It doesn't matter; I'll watch them all (and often choose to). Aside from that, I'm simply excited to be at UR and to be able to share my experiences with prospective students, fellow classmates, and anyone else who may care to follow along.

Why UR?

A simple answer to the question "Why UR?" would be to say that it just felt right. Though, whereas that isn't inaccurate, I know how vague and frustrating an answer like that can be for readers. So, I will try to explain myself. The University of Richmond, as I researched it more and more, became continually more appealing. Every new thing I learned became another reason to attend. (That certainly was not the case with other schools.) I didn't have to wrestle with thoughts like, "I guess I can live with that" or "Maybe it won't seem like that when I'm actually there." In fact, even viewing the university with a critical eye, it was difficult to find something bad to say about it. That may sound like I'm simply affirming my final decision, but it's not easy to answer that question without directly showing someone what I'm trying to articulate. UR is a place that, although ripe for descriptive writing, must be experienced firsthand to truly understand. That, I believe, says more than any list of reasons ever could.