One of the best part of my jobs as a technology journalist is getting to hear founders' stories. I have some really great, memorable experiences of talking to entrepreneurs - not just about what they're building, but why. Sometimes these are stories that, in turn, end up in the articles I write. Sometimes they're not - off topic, off the record, and what have you. But I feel pretty lucky that, as a journalist, I get the chance to hear so many great ones.
Not everyone is in that position, of course, due to occupation, geography, or time. For his part Matthew Wise wondered what it would have been like to hear stories from founders like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates during their early years. As he told me, while Larry Page and Sergey Brin were building Google in Silicon Valley, Wise was a Marine combat medic in the Southeast Asia.
Wise has taken that interest in stories and created a new media project that will help me sure more of this founder lore is indeed documented. FounderLY launches today as an open source platform for entrepreneurs to share their stories through short form interviews.
The Untold Stories of Entrepreneurship
These are the stories that haven't necessarily been told before, and as the interviews are conducted by and for entrepreneurs (rather than by the media for that publication's audience) they have a different sort of intimacy. The videos are all shot in an Errol Morris-stye (with a talking head and no intrusion - visual or audio - from the interviewer).
It's a labor of love on the part of Wise and his co-founder Andy Saebjoernsen, who in Wise's words invested their "social capital" in securing some of the early interviews for the project. But once word got out, interested snowballed, and while the website launches today with six founder videos (including ones from Naval Ravikant and Vivek Wadhwa), Wise and Saebjoernsen already have filmed 36 - all accomplished over the course of four weeks.
Open Source Storytelling
FounderLY is an open platform, and others are encouraged to contribute their stories. Any founder may film another fellow founder, so long as you follow the FounderLY interview roadmap , and submit the video to FounderLY. FounderLY will then package it with an intro, bumper, and a closing, and publish it to their website, along with some transcription help from SpeakerText. It's all openly-licensed with the hope that the media will use the content.
Wise says he's observed the "renaissance" we're seeing in entrepreneurship right now and he contends there's no way the press can capture all these stories. FounderLY thinks entrepreneurs can help, and in turn everyone can be inspired and invigorated by what's shared.