8 of the best business documentaries you must watch


If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, then you’re always on the lookout for resources to learn from about running your business better and improving your processes to ultimately grow sales.

We’re covering 8 of the best business documentaries we think you should watch that cover a variety of business topics from how larger businesses like Facebook were founded to following new entrepreneurs on their startup journeys. Hopefully, these documentaries will give you a spark of inspiration and drive for your own business.

Silicon Cowboys

This documentary is a story of three friends who dreamt up the Compaq portable computer in the 80’s. Their journey is one that altered the world we know today by shaping the computing landscape.

This story is about the rise and fall of the start-up that ultimately set the course for the technology of today. Silicon Cowboys is a David and Goliath tale of a new compact computer that everyone wanted to get their hands on and took on IBM in the marketplace.

This was recommended by Jack in our Engineering department who said;

“Silicon Cowboys covers the founding of technology company ‘Compaq’ and its competition with IBM while building one of the first portable computers. One of my biggest takeaways from the documentary was how a few friends were able to take on arguably the biggest technology companies at the time, equipped with little more than an idea and a belief that they could succeed.

Silicon Cowboys is at heart a David vs Goliath story. How they went about succeeding was also pretty interesting. They essentially reverse-engineered IBM’s technology in order to make their computers compatible while also avoiding copyright infringement. The film mixes some humour with what I found to be a rather motivational story to create a well rounded and entertaining viewing experience.”

The Defiant Ones

Now, this documentary may not seem too business-related being primarily about the relationship between popular entrepreneur and record executive Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, an American rapper and producer, however, as the story unfolds you can see how these people and others built their empires from creating music to producing one of the best selling headphones on the market.

Colin from our Marketing Team said;

“The Defiant Ones gave me some great insight into how people can work together in business to achieve great things. I was particularly impressed with the drive behind Dr. Dre and how he came from the streets of Compton to ultimately becoming one of the richest men in America. Overall it is a great display of good business decision making and how an unwavering determination can help you to achieve great things.”

High Score

This docuseries is a story about the golden age of video games and the first games that included computer graphics, creating vast fantasy worlds. This paved the way for a huge industry in the entertainment sector from the brains behind the pixels and how their innovation built a multi-billion dollar industry that’s ever evolving into esports and more.

Colin also recommended High Score and said;

“High Score is fun and nostalgic. It takes me back to my youth in the late 80s and the war that ranged between Sega and Nintendo. It showed me the people behind this war and the tactics that each company used to try and beat the other. Overall it is a great demonstration of how to succeed and what not to do in business.”

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Based on an international best selling book by Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century takes a look at wealth and power in today’s society and shines a light on the inequalities and injustices we also face. The documentary looks at the correlation between capitalism and social progress to reveal an eye-opening journey into today’s issues caused by modern power and money.

This was our CEO Antony’s pick and he said;

“I thought it was quite timely with everything that’s going on in the world. The main point for me was that the rich are getting richer but not because of innovation or expansion, but because their existing capital is going up in value. The thing I thought was relevant is that you do have people and companies in particular now, which are so massive due to their capital meaning they are squashing smaller companies’ ability to compete.

Larger companies can afford to lose money whereas smaller companies cannot and I feel that encourages loss-making companies, which made me think maybe there are limits to how much capital or wealth you can derive from it.

It’s good to see and listen to opinions from all perspectives so watching a documentary or reading an article that’s got opposing views is healthy and helps to ensure you have a more balanced opinion. I was genuinely surprised I enjoyed it because I thought it was going to be so negative towards money and success like many of these documentaries are.

And it’s very relevant with what’s happening in the world today in terms of mass unemployment, more jobs to be lost to advanced technology (AI, driverless cars, automated planes etc) and much more”.

The Social Network

Perhaps a story about how the online world changed and influenced how we know it today, the invention and creation of Facebook in The Social Network takes you on a journey from its conception in a dorm room to how it became one of the fastest-growing social media companies in the world.

This was one that I recommended. I think this documentary gives you a better insight into how our social world was created and a better understanding of its original purpose. As a marketing nerd, this story definitely fascinates me. Facebook laid the foundation for a new industry that has grown and evolved so much over the last 10 years or so. Not only that, but it has evolved into an industry that businesses can utilise to grow their businesses around the world much easier than ever before. For me, social media was a turn of the century point in our lives and I’m excited to see where it will take us.

The Founder

The Founder is the story of a salesman turned founder of the infamous McDonalds, Ray Kroc. He took two brothers’ fast food eatery and turned it into the biggest restaurant in the world. This film is based on the true story of how Kroc set out to begin franchising the brothers’ business as he saw it’s revolutionary potential. You will witness the ups and downs as well as the fight to make it to the top.

Antony also recommended this and said;

There are a lot of good documentaries about business and economics and even films like “The Social Network” and “The Founder” but they are all generally targeted at the mass market which means they generally paint the business side of things with a negative brush.

So you’ve got to take them with a pinch of salt and acknowledge they (like all things) have an agenda. It’s much more popular to criticise business and success because by its very nature most people don’t have nor want ‘success’. Which is a shame because I’d prefer it if they actually tried to encourage, inspire, celebrate and educate people so more could achieve their goals, dreams and aspirations.”

Generation Startup

This documentary follows a set of 6 young entrepreneurs over 2 years as they work towards building their own empires. You’ll follow them on their journey, from the highs to the lows and the challenges they face as they put everything on the line to try to build successful businesses.

This was also a recommendation of mine. Their journeys light a fire under you and inspire you to take on that next project and give working for yourself or creating a business a go. It’s enlightening to see their struggles, fears and worries all while working many hours to create their own visions.

If you’d like to learn more about setting up your own online shop, read on for more insights into running your own online business here.

Posted by
Rachel Smith

A professional marketer with a degree in BSc Marketing and Public Relations, with over five years experience in the finance, energy and ecommerce industry. Loves all animals and can be found scrolling through Rightmove in search of my dream house.