Watching the end-credits of the TVF Pitchers finale, I was hit by a mild bout of self-loathing. It seemed that the only hipster thing I ever did was to become an entrepreneur before it was cool. Back then, you had to be prepared to endure endless years of Lent with no real guarantee of Easter.
In contrast, Pitchers portrays an emergent start-up culture that goes beyond the rarefied IITs, a world where every business plan brings in Christmas and Santa is a VC.
And bloody hell, reality fully validates this vanity.
Neonates from my business school are dumping dowry-worthy jobs to start up. My neighbour with the three cats is starting up. My father's foster brother's second grandson can't legally buy a beer and he is starting up. My wife has been a doctor for years. Last week, she was talking about angel funding and sweat equity. She, dang it, is well and truly starting up.
It isn't just about that 'sign of the times' motherhood observation. There is much more material that bulls-eyed, even if awkwardly. I came away from the show with a strongly empathetic sigh-snort-giggle. I've always dug TVF's scripting style -- sharp and precise insights wrapped in campus-quadrangle-grade laughs. But the deep core of start-up faccha gyaan was a great extra.
The reality of the coder Jitu's family situation, the way his team rallies to keep his salary topped up by foregoing creature comforts -- both were uncomfortably close to a recent hiring situation I was faced with. I can swear the episode's outcome helped resolve some of my doubts. There is also instant empathy with the various VC archetypes and behaviours.
The plot-line around the tough choices that a CEO has to make in the midst of factual and moral ambiguity were hardcore and close to the bone. If I had a rupee for every time I felt the urge to toss a coin to help with decisions, I'd actually have a coin to toss. Oh, and I'd be rich enough to be a VC by now.
Even at its most maudlin, the story has weight. Visionary parents and weighty bosses would do well to heed the CEO's grandstands on work ethic, not selling out, never letting an opportunity go -- I could go on and on (or you could just watch the damn show, no?)
At a meta level, it is also pretty cool to see TVF's own transition from scrappy, parodying start-up to a midsize outfit with the attendant hiccups: choppy production values, over-eager monetisation even as they wean themselves off YouTube, scale challenges with app and website and streaming and traffic growth -- essentially, all the inspirational basis for season two.
Finally, in the midst of WTF lines like "BC, tu beer hai!" and uber-contrived plot pivots, it may seem a little nuts to draw entrepreneurial inspiration from a sitcom, but what the frack. I've effectively applied career advice from Dilbert strips; I've quoted John Oliver in a dead serious discussion about politics to solid effect. Potty humour should not be a barrier to taking a few mental note and drawing some strength from the almost cult-like positivity that the show emits.
Meanwhile, can I get some TVF shares, bro?