When one of the most famous entrepreneurs made a surprise appearance during Samsung’s press event at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona in 2016, he was welcomed by deafening cheers, a flurry of camera flashes and fans rushing to the stage. Was it a bird? Was it a plane? No, it’s was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
To tech workers all over the world, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg are considered modern-day superheroes. Whether they’re Apple visionary, Steve Jobs, or Snapchat whiz-kid, Evan Spiegel, all successful tech entrepreneurs share some characteristics in common. They start out with larger-than-life ambitions, they’re not afraid to challenge the status quo and they possess the perseverance to prevail against all odds. Fortunately, you don’t have to get bitten by a radioactive spider in order to leave your mark in the tech world, and a new comic book wants to show teens just how.
Silicon Heroes, available now on Amazon, is an 80-page, full-color graphic novel depicting the trials and tribulations of five tech workers who set out to become successful entrepreneurs. Throughout their hero’s journey, they have to master valuable skills – like passion and focus – in order to unleash their inner super-entrepreneur.“Day to day, entrepreneurs do the impossible,” said Joseph Floyd, the San Francisco-based creator of Silicon Heroes and principal at VC firm Emergence Capital Partners. “Working with them and analyzing their patterns of success, it reminded me of the comic books I loved growing up.”
In 2013, Floyd set out to create a graphic novel that would showcase these entrepreneurial “super powers” and hopefully inspire the next generation of Silicon Valley success stories. Unlike Superman or the X-Men, however, the protagonists in Silicon Heroes are self-made. They weren’t born with their powers, Floyd said, they had to learn them.
This is where the lessons in Silicon Heroes come in. To be successful in Silicon Valley, the young heroes have to have the passion to keep pushing through obstacles, the speed to keep iterating past failures, the charisma to recruit people to their vision, the focus to get the job done, and “flight,” or how Floyd describes the accelerated learning that comes from seeing other people’s mistakes.
“You don’t have to be an expert on all these to be successful, but you do have to have a little bit of each,” Floyd said. He mentions Tesla Motors and Space X founder Elon Musk as a prime example of a super-entrepreneur. Musk is often described as a real-life Iron Man. In fact, he even made a self-referential cameo in the Iron Man sequel.
Silicon Heroes was funded as part of a successful Indiegogo campaign that raised over $45,000, or about 143 percent of its original goal. The comic book includes key contributions from professionals who have worked with the two most famous brands in comic books, DC Comics and Marvel.
Silicon Heroes was edited by Mark Irwin, an artist who’s worked on graphic novels starring Batman and the Green Lantern, and it features illustrations by Michael Penick, responsible for illustrating a comic strip for Sports Illustrated via a partnership with Marvel Comics.
“We were all very interested in exploring crowdsourcing and how the Indiegogo process worked, especially for artists,” Floyd said when asked about what drew his collaborators to the project.
In addition to portraying entrepreneurs as positive role models, Silicon Heroes purposefully paints a diverse picture of Silicon Valley. Floyd said that he was very conscientious about prominently featuring women and racial minorities in the graphic novel.
“For African-American kids, they need to see images and have that visual out there that entrepreneurs look like you,” Floyd said. “They have to see it to believe it’s possible.”
All profits from sales of the comic book will be donated to Girls Who Code, an organization aiming to offer computer science education to one million young women by 2020, and Code.org, the non-profit funded by Bill Gates and supported by President Obama that provides computer science training to female and minorities students.