The Three-Act Storytelling Structure

Act I: The set-up

Two friends share an apartment in San Francisco and struggle to pay rent. Brian and Joe put three air mattresses on the floor and rent them out for $80 each. The two entrepreneurs decide to make a business of it. They hire a former roommate (Nathan) to design a simple website called

The three friends launch their startup at the popular South by Southwest conference. Far from being a huge success out of the gate, they only get two bookings.

Catalyst: The Democratic National Convention comes to town and it sparks an idea. The co-founders repackage cereal and design novelty boxes: Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains. They charge $40 a box and raise $30,000. It’s enough money to keep the adventure going.