After launching production in Austin March 13-15 during the South by Southwest Interactive festival, The $tartup Hour will head to Kansas City, Boston, Pittsburgh, and New York City before setting up to record founders’ pitches at Orlando’s downtown coworking space, Canvs on March 26 then moving on to wrap up in San Francisco and Sacramento.
In selecting pitch cities the team sought to include a draw from a broad cross-section of U.S. entrepreneurial culture. Executive Producer, Jonathan Block says his interest in Orlando was piqued while speaking with local startup mentor and community organizer, Ron Ben-Zeev at a meeting in Kansas City sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation. Ultimately, Orlando’s close-knit, vibrant startup community was the reason the city made the list. After the March recording sessions, a panel of judges will review them to select the show’s finalists and on-air contestants.
In May when the 11-episode show debuts in six television markets and on the web everywhere, viewers will not only engage with featured companies during show episodes but also to follow their course afterwards. Current regulations allow only registered accredited investors to make equity crowdinvestments. Proprietary technology called TextinvestingTM will enable those qualified to fund a company using their cell phones while they watch. Investor or not, all viewers will have opportunities to vote their views during the show and have access to additional content including projections and valuations as well as interviews and press coverage.
From concept to realization the producers promise much more than a Shark Tank redux. As much or more than the interactive technology is a difference in vision.
“We’re open to application from startups in all business verticals,” said Block. “But we’re not about one-hit wonders. We’re looking for leaders who are solving important problems, for companies where an infusion will take them to the next level. What we really want to do is create jobs – the more sustainable the better.”
Business owners interested in having their startup featured on the show are encouraged to apply by completing a simple form provided on the website and submitting a video that answers the same questions about the business, their goals, how much money they want to raise, how the funds will be used and why the business will be successful.
As every founder knows, there is plenty of drama in the reality of entrepreneurship. The $tartup Hour intends to capture that energy and with it the audience’s attention. Viewers are entertained and educated as they see the process, jump in and take action.
This is reality TV on a mission. According to the 2015 Kauffman Foundation report, 40,000 fewer startups were launched per month in 2013 than in 1996.
“Per month,” Block repeated emphatically as he cites the report. “We’d like to change that.”