Kelly+Yamamoto Productions | My First Startup…Again
For more than twenty-five years, independent filmmakers Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto have been making critically-acclaimed films that have screened in theaters, film festivals, museums, and communities worldwide and aired on PBS, Showtime, Sundance, and Britain’s Channel Four, (among others). Their filmmaking philosophy is to take alternative looks at stories, themes and characters and to tell specific stories from which audiences can generalize universal truths.
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My First Startup…Again

My First Startup … Again is an unpredictable, emotionally complex documentary about idealism and dreams meeting reality.


Brief Description


Take an emotional rollercoaster ride in Silicon Valley with Carlos, Lucas and Habibe, migrant entrepreneurs who turn their backs on their families in Istanbul, Madrid and Seville to pursue their startup dreams. Each of them lands at Startup Embassy, a hacker house.


Add one intrigued filmmaker, who is coming to grips with the fact that life is about failures and imperfections. Stir vigorously.


You’ll quickly become invested in all of them because each character is so unbelievably believable.



For 40 years, the filmmaker, Kenji Yamamoto, made his living editing promotional videos in Silicon Valley. That was heady stuff. He loved being an insider, seeing products like the Apple Watch first and meeting their makers. Then, about 10 years ago, the Valley was in a huge boom and his commute became unbearable. Hotel rooms cost a fortune but through Airbnb, he found a place to stay, $40 a night. Pretty cheap! But guess why? Eight bunks to a bedroom. Really funky. He decided to stay only one night. He had never heard of this before, but he was staying in a hacker house.


That first night, he met the subjects of My First Startup … Again: CARLOS, the hacker house owner from Madrid; HABIBE, a Uyghur Chinese female scientist from Istanbul and LUCAS, an AI developer from Seville. Each of them was gambling everything to create their own inventions. Despite those terrible risks, they were following their dreams. Kenji wanted to know how they pulled that off.


After meeting them, Kenji started doing something he had never done before: make his own documentary. At the beginning, the story was about how they could take such huge risks. But he became a risk-taker like them, and the story grew into an exploration of his own relationship with dreams, idealism and realism. He wove his animated dairies into the film and became its fourth character, adding poignancy to the film by personally offering a direct invitation into this harrowing journey.


Carlos loves taking care of people. He founded Startup Embassy, creating a warm, welcoming community that was soon named one of the Top Ten Hacker Houses in Silicon Valley. But he struggles to balance his entrepreneurial dreams with family obligations at home.


Lucas is obsessively, constantly on the verge of making a big deal. A big American corporation offered to buy his company for a good price. When the deal fell through and Lucas’ life imploded: his business collapsed, his wife and children left him and he disappeared. But he is a persistent Superman. When he resurfaced eighteen months later, he was already pursuing a new startup dream.


Habibe is a young female material scientist who invented a fire extinguisher the size of a cell phone. When she first comes to Silicon Valley seeking venture capital, everyone smells success and seems to love her. But she quickly discovers that she is up against high-tech’s notorious misogyny and looks for a new way to put her brilliance to work.


At first, Kenji believed that at least of them would triumph, become the next Steve Jobs. One by one, the characters failed. Lucas even disappeared. Similarly, Kenji had some stunning initial fundraising success, then couldn’t raise another dime. He became a powerful voice in the film because, like the entrepreneurs, he must confront how to deal with failure and imperfection, which is ultimately what the movie is about.


Key Credits

Director/Producer/Director of Photography/Editor: KENJI YAMAMOTO
Writer/Producer: NANCY KELLY

Funded by

The ITVS Diversity Development Fund
Desjardins/Blackman Fund
DocLands Documentary Film Festival Jury Prize
Stevens-Smith Charitable Fund
Loveland Fund