Animating a book for entrepreneurs

Noam Wasserman is author of The Founder‘s Dilemma and a professor at Harvard Business School. His research for more than a decade has focused on founders’ early decisions that make or break a startup and its team. At Harvard Business School he developed and teaches an MBA elective, Founders’ Dilemmas, for which he won the HBS Faculty Teaching Award. The course has been name of the top entrepreneurship courses in the country by Inc Magazine.

Our challenge was to animate the book for the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.


Services Utilized

Bringing "The Founder's Dilemma" To Life

As The URL Dr, I get a lot of calls from small businesses and entrepreneurs that need help with a website that isn’t performing as expected or to help create a marketing program for a brand new business. But I was really excited and intrigued when I was approached by the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship to take Harvard Business School Professor Noam Wasserman’s book, “The Founder’s Dilemma,” and create a video series from it for it’s entrepreneur program. 

They wanted up to ten videos that walked an entrepreneur through the steps and considerations of founding a business on their own vs. with other founders, following the book’s framework.

I honestly had the book tossed at me and told me to come up with something, so needless to say, I had a great deal of freedom on this project. I remembered back to when I was a child that I really enjoyed reading a book series where you chose your own ending. You’d read a couple of pages and then you would have a choice. You could turn to page 62 or page 37. Every time you read the book, it had a different ending that you chose. It inspired me to create the Founder’s Dilemma series in the same manner.

I started by reading the book, several times, and taking pages and pages of notes. From the notes I wrote a script for the entire series, which ended up being nine videos:

  • Introduction
  • What’s Motivating You? Wealth or Control
  • Should You Found Solo or As a Team?
  • How to Pick Your Cofounders
  • How to Assign Roles and Titles
  • How to Make Decisions
  • How to Split Equity and Cash
  • Dealing with Hiring Dilemmas
  • Should You Take On Investors?

After I had the scripting completed and timed, I need to create all the visuals for the videos. I decided on using GoAnimate (warning, that is an affiliate link, but I only link and recommend products that I use) to create animated videos. If you’ve ever watched any of my videos from the Small Business Academy, participated in my webinars, or watched me give a live presentation, you’ll know I’m totally addicted to GoAnimate. I thought animation would liven up the subject matter and make it more approachable to a wider audience. After creating the animation, I did all the voice over work in my home based studio.

The finished video series walks viewers through an introduction to the basic concepts and premise of the book, which is coming to terms with what kind of founder you are, one motived by wealth or control. After viewers do a little soul searching, they move on to the third video which presents the first dilemma, should you found your company solo or as a team. If viewers have been honest with themselves and have established the reasons that they really want to found their business, they should know the answer to this question.

From this point the next video is determined by the viewers answer to whether or not they want to start their company alone or with partners. There is a different path through the video series depending on the answer. If the viewer has chosen to found alone, they move on to dealing with hiring dilemmas. If the viewer has chosen to found with a team, they watch four videos that deal with cofounders, how to pick roles and titles, making decisions together, and splitting equity and cash. All viewers end by watching how to deal with hiring dilemmas and deciding whether they should take on investors.

Throughout the video series, I’m giving the wonderful advice and suggestions that are outlined in the book. Noam Wasserman’s book provides research results, quantitative data collected over a 
decade from 10,000 founders, case studies, and conceptual frameworks. The entire video series runs just over an hour in length and gives any entrepreneur the ability to consume and comprehend “The Founder’s Delimma” in 60 minutes. The planning and execution that happens next, is definitely more than an hour long proposition, but armed with the information from the video series, a first time entrepreneur is given scenarios to look out for and plan around.

More information about the “Founder’s Delimma” video series is available through the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.

Peter Ettinger
Peter Ettinger
Former Executive Director - Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE)
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“I have had the great pleasure of getting to know Kim in my position as Executive Director of the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship. She is not only a great thinker, but a tremendous doer. The entrepreneur who has the business skills to actually execute in the business world. I cannot recommend her more highly as a thinker and a doer and her work with us in a number of video projects exceptional. ”

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