Documentary: How to build a company on a Post-It note

Budding entrepreneurs can now watch imagine it!, a documentary showing students building killer products from simple Post-It notes, for free at the movie’s website.

I had a chance to see the movie before its premiere at Stanford University today, and it’s a fun overview of some basic principles for innovation and leadership. Most of the advice is familiar (know what problem you’re trying to solve, don’t be afraid to fail, etc.), but watching the students at work is a great illustration of an important point: even if you’re facing substantial constraints, you can still produce something valuable.

In the case of the students featured in imagine it!, the constraints are considerable. As part of Stanford’s Entrepreneurship Week, each team had to come up a product based on an everyday object — the Post It note. And they only had six days to do it.

Each of the teams that made it into the film came up with a great idea, focusing on everything from In-N-Out Burgers to international microlending. And I think the best groups — like the one that built a piece of music from the contributions that many others made on individual Post-Its — tried to turn their constraint into an advantage, by using the Post-It note’s casual, almost throwaway quality to tap into a pool of talent and create something bigger. It’s like social software at its most low-tech.

In this clip (see audio file above) imagine it! executive producer Richard Tavener talks about the movie and some of the most interesting teams.

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