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10 Documentaries on Netflix That Every Entrepreneur Should Watch

Harry is an avid watcher of everything that tries to use his Netflix's subscription money to the fullest.


"Learn from the mistakes of others," said Eleanor Roosevelt. "You can't live long enough to make them yourself."

In business, just like in life, mistakes will happen. We tend to learn and grow to be a better person from it. But just like the quote above, we can't make every mistake under the sun. There's simply not enough time in our life to do that.

So we learn from others. We can turn other people's experience into a lesson for ourselves. That way, we won't have to make the same mistakes as they did.

These are documentaries on Netflix that can give you some insight, both positive and negative, into the world of business, economics, competition, ethics, and other facets of the financial world.

1. The Toys That Made Us

Toys That Made Us is a docu-series about some famous and iconic toy lines and the companies behind them. From G.I. Joe to Barbie and even to Transformers. It is the tale of creativity, taking chances, and competition. But above all, it is the story of product development.

All of these toys are best sellers and have become a huge part of people's childhood. Likewise, there are also lots of love and care that was put into these toys by the people who made them. But the most surprising and inspiring thing is how most of these successful toy lines came about.

Almost all of them started either as a vision of one person or through a series of accidental events. None of the people involved knew that they were about to make history, yet they still gave their best to the products. Their story and struggle both as individuals and as a company are properly displayed through this miniseries.

2. Rotten

Rotten is a docu-series about what has been going wrong with our food supply chain. No, there's nothing wrong with the products, it is the human greed that's been on a rampage and trampling the lives of innocent and powerless people. This is the dark side of our global economy.

The fraudulent honey production, the abusive garlic industry, the life-threatening avocado farming, and even the exploitation along the chocolate supply lines. This docu-series shows that there is tears and corruption behind most of the foods that we love so much.

In the name of making money, individuals, groups, and corporations use every nasty trick in their playbook to cheat and hurt people whose livelihood highly depends on these products. This is capitalism without morals. And this is the side of our economy that we need to know and change for the better.

3. The Business of Drugs

This six-part miniseries talked about the business side of various drugs that still widely plague various parts of the globe. Every episode focused on different kinds of drugs, such as cocaine, meth, cannabis, and some others.

The host, Amaryllis Fox, a writer and ex CIA officer, talked to people that were involved in various stages of a drug business. From the farmer to the distributor, to the low-level drug dealer, and even to some government official. And of course, there are also experts to shed some light on the topic at hand.

Although I still think it hasn't dived deep enough into the economic side of this illegal business, I still walked away from this docu-series with lots of information that I never would've known otherwise.

4. Print the Legend

During its 100-minute runtime, Print the Legend showcases the conception, the rise, and the struggle of two leading independent companies in the growing and exciting industry of consumer-grade 3D printers.

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Formlabs and MakerBot are two companies that are at the forefront of bringing an affordable 3D printer into customer's houses. It is a dream akin to those of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for the personal computer.

We got to see their product development stages, their marketing attempts, and the growth of both the company and the owners.

Print the Legend offers us a front seat at the struggle of being a startup company and how a person can change, for better or worse, because of their power and responsibilities.

5. High Score

Much like Toys That Made Us, High Score also takes a deep look into companies that made iconic products and painted the colorful childhood of millions of people. But while Toys That Made Us focused on toy lines, High Score sheds some light on the video game industry.

From the foundation of Atari, to the rise of Nintendo and the early boom of arcade games, to the global hit of online multiplayer games, this miniseries covers it all. But other than the historical aspect of it, they also show us the corporate side of things.

This series shows how different companies have different ways of researching, creating, and marketing a product. How competition would sometimes bring about innovation while other times lawsuits would come marching on. But more importantly, it shows how a creator's deep passion for a product would be equally received and loved by the masses.

6. Dirty Money

If Rotten focuses on what went wrong within the food supply chain industry, Dirty Money is an investigative look into various businesses that have been wreaking havoc on the life of everyday people. It takes a close look into specific individuals and companies and reveals their wrongdoings.

Each episode runs for around 50~70 minutes. There are 12 episodes that are spread into two seasons. They talk about a payday loan business that has been cheating its customers, Mexican cartels that have been using big banks to wash their money, the scandalous and corrupt life of a prime minister, so on and so forth.

Just like Rotten, this miniseries shows the people who have been consumed by greed and the love of money that makes them not only lose their ethics but also their humanity.

7. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

At this point, almost everybody in the world has watched or at least has heard about the infamous Fyre Festival. There are two documentaries about this topic that was aired at roughly the same time, but this is the one that's available on Netflix. So let's focus on this one.

There are lots of things that could be talked about and learned from the incident of the Fyre Festival. Most of it is how not to do certain things. Like how not to deliver your promises to the customers, how not to be a CEO, how not to do a proper event and staff management, so on and so forth.

But if there's one thing that I believe we all should admit, it's that the people involved in the Fyre Festival deserve praise on how to do viral digital marketing. They've done a stellar job in that regard. There are no questions about it.

8. History 101

As the name suggests, History 101 talked about the history of various things using dynamic animations and infographics. But in the process of telling those stories, they also touch on the economic part of those topics.

Such as how China achieves global economic dominance, the economy of fast food, and why it economically makes sense for us to use plastics. It also covers the various efforts that have currently been done to negate its environmental damage.

History 101 consists of 10 episodes that run for 20~23 minutes each. But during that short amount of time, they manage to shed knowledge while still keeping the viewers fully engaged through its exciting visuals.

9. Broken

Just like Rotten and Dirty Money before it, Broken is another series that shows how wrongful business practices, negligence, and false advertising can hurt or even kill innocent people.

With only four episodes and a runtime of around 60 minutes each, this docu-series is by far the shortest of the bunch. But that doesn't stop them from doing a thorough investigation on each topic. It presents the words of both the victim and the justification by the company one after another.

But while I greatly appreciate what they've done with this miniseries, I fail to see the difference between this one and the other similar series in this list, particularly Dirty Money. All four of these episodes could easily pass for an episode of Dirty Money. That being said, it's still good, so you should watch it.

10. Inside Bill's Brain

In this mini docu-series, we take a look inside the head of one of the most influential people in the history of modern technology. As one of the founders of Microsoft, he helped usher in a new era of computing and forever changed the way we approach our work.

Although he is mostly known these days as one of the wealthiest men alive, this short documentary will focus more on his work, not his wealth. Inside Bill's Brain will delve deep into how his mind works, his work ethics, his life philosophy, and his chaotic yet organized way of finding a solution.

Throughout his years as an innovator and entrepreneur, his focus has now changed from the products and the company to trying to tackle broader and much more complex issues, such as providing medicine to rural countries and tackling environmental issues.

If Print the Legend gives us insight into the struggle of new entrepreneurs as they just turn into a seedling, Inside Bill's Brain will display an entrepreneur that has matured into a redwood tree.

Being your own boss and managing your own company is a very difficult thing. There are so many aspects of a business and the economy as a whole that are still foreign to the ears of entrepreneurs. While it might seem boring at first, knowing those things is very crucial to growing and maintaining your business.

Hopefully, these 10 documentaries will be able to shed some light on various elements of a business through some good and bad real-life examples.

Even if you have no intention of being an entrepreneur, I believe knowing these things could be greatly beneficial to your financial life as a whole. We've been playing the game without knowing the rules for far too long.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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