There’s a new Jeff Bezos biopic set to be released this summer that chronicles the Amazon kingpin’s endeavor into creating an online book store that eventually expanded into an e-commerce empire. Curious entrepreneurs may want to tune in if interested in a small taste of Amazon’s beginnings.
The biopic, dubbed Bezos, attempts to map out the early days of Amazon by following the challenges faced by the entrepreneur, played by Armando Gutierrez, in the aftermath of quitting his job at the New York-based fund, D. E. Shaw. Viewers are reminded of the pain points that any young startup founder may face: access to capital, work/life balance and poor compensation. A media representative for the film says that Bezos is based on Zero to Hero, written by Tashena Ebanks, “that was created for young readers to inspire them regarding entrepreneurship.”
While Bezos is most certainly not an Academy Awards contender, it does offer lessons for emerging entrepreneurs. Here are three:
A company’s name is everything
One of the first impressions a business makes on a consumer is with its name. Amazon is named after the world’s largest river by volume–a nod to the entrepreneur’s eventual goal of becoming the everything store.
In the company’s early days, however, Bezos first set out to call the company Cadabra Inc. It was a play on “abracadabra,” an exclamation magicians yell out during a magic trick. That name ended up being panned when people started confusing it for the word “cadaver.” Bezos then looked towards a handful of other names until he gravitated to Relentless.com. He and his now ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, purchased the web domain for Relentless–even today, typing in Relentless.com into your web browser will reroute you to Amazon’s homepage.
In the movie, viewers watch Bezos leaf through the front of the dictionary until landing on the word “Amazon.” And so Amazon.com was born, since the dot com “tells our customers that we exist exclusively on the internet,” Bezos says in the movie.
Believe in your idea
Bezos soared through the ranks at D. E. Shaw, eventually becoming the youngest senior vice president at the hedge fund. Bezos’ then-boss, David Shaw (played by Marcus Lemonis, who stars in CNBC’s The Profit) at the time was interested in the future of the internet, leading Bezos to research its value propositions and growth potential. He then stumbled upon a fact that the web was growing at 2,300 percent per year.
And so Bezos approached Shaw with his idea. Though it was not met with the enthusiasm that Bezos likely hoped for–Shaw dissuaded Bezos from leaving a financially secure position and plunge head-first into a startup. In the film, Shaw even says that he likes the idea, but actively discourages Bezos from pursuing it. As it obvious to all, Bezos chose to ignore that advice.
Know your market…and when to walk away
The decision to take–or walk away–from a buyout offer boils down to a few factors, such as how sweet the deal is and if an entrepreneur thinks its the right time to sell, according to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, an Alexandria, Virginia-based entrepreneur network. Spoiler alert: as the Bezos movie draws to an end, we see Bezos himself make a decision on whether or not to sell.
When Amazon was first starting out, Barnes & Noble dominated the book-selling industry with hundreds of stores and roughly $2 billion in revenue in 1995 while independent booksellers were shuttering. Meanwhile, Bezos was setting out to create the largest online bookstore with few resources on-hand. Bezos met with Barnes & Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio, who purportedly told the Amazon head that the brick-and-mortar giant would start their own website and crush Amazon, according to The Everything Store, a book by Brad Stone that follows Amazon’s rise.
B&N’s Riggio reportedly propositioned Bezos to work together–and the Bezos movie portrays this as well, showing a tense meeting between the two where Riggio offers to acquire Amazon for $1 million before the startup even launched its website. Bezos walks away, emphasizing to his bewildered team that they must be onto something if they’ve already received a buyout offer this early on.
Those who’d like to see Bezos may have to wait until August, according to a media representative for the movie. The representative shared that the movie may receive an in-theaters short-term release, but declined to share where the film will land as “the network is still going through final agreements.”