Matt Unger

I like software

Entrepreneurship Is Like A Japanese Game Show

I used to watch this dumb TV show called MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge), which used old footage from a Japanese game show called "Takeshi's Castle" and added new English audio and visual elements. MXC was a precursor to the American game shows Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior, but it was way more entertaining.

Here's why this Japanese game show is exactly like starting a company.

Round 1 - Just Show Up

Be crazy to the point of near-stupidity.

First, you have to be stupid enough to do it. A little daring, a little crazy, and often, blissfully ignorant. You know the odds are overwhelmingly against you, but you believe you'll be a member of the tiny group of successes. You also know that if you fail, your ego and your pride will take a huge hit. And everyone will know it. In the very public event of failure, your loved ones will weep and your enemies will rejoice.

Round 2 - Get Lucky

And if you don't get lucky right away, keep banging your head against a wall until luck happens.

The first round of MXC was always the "Door Run", which required contestants to run head-first into a door. But it wasn't always a door. There was a 50% chance it was a wall. So sometimes you put in every ounce of effort you had...and literally ran head-first into a wall. To get through to the next round, you had to get back up, dive head-first into the next "door", and hope for the best. When you start a company, you have to "get lucky" by finding a product with a good market before you can really dig into things.

Round 3 - Survive

Watch your entrepreneurial friends' dreams and companies slowly die, one by one...but keep your head up!

In MXC, if you survived long enough, you watched your teammates get crushed and eliminated in a highly embarrassing manner. As an entrepreneur, you meet a lot of other entrepreneurs who become your close friends. Over time, you watch many of them fail. It's depressing. "Not them," you think. "They're one of the good guys. Their idea was great! They're really smart and they worked their butt off!" But it doesn't matter. Sometimes, it just doesn't work out and your friend falls flat on their face. You have to silence the little voice in your head that says "you're next" and push on.


Takeshi's Castle, the source of MXC's video footage, had an average of about 121 contestants per episode and 133 episodes. That's 16,226 attempts at winning. Out of all of those attempts, only 9 people overall won the entire game, which is a success rate of about 0.06%.

The good news is that while the probability of starting a successful business is low, it's not as low as 0.06%. You have a better chance of successfully starting a company than you do winning a Japanese game show!

Matt Unger

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