‘Shark Tank’-Style Podcast ‘The Pitch’ Needs Startup Competitors

September 1, 2016

4:00 pm

“The Pitch” is a podcast that does for fledgling startups what Shark Tank does for business owners. Its second season is coming out soon, and the podcast’s founder, Josh Muccio, has even bigger plans: This season, the investors will be making their decisions on the spot.

That’s right, the investors will hear out a founder’s pitch, raise their concerns, and settle on whether or not they’ll provide seed funding, all in real time, during a single hour-long episode. Crazy, right?

The podcast is currently looking for the ten founders willing to bare their souls and their startup idea on the show. These founders might wind up with funding, but they’ll definitely broadcast their concept to all of Silicon Valley that tunes in to The Pitch.

Take Pulkit Agrawal, who appeared on the very first episode of The Pitch about a year ago and has gone on to raise $1.9M for Chameleon, a user onboarding and analytics tool for web apps. But the general attention from the tech community was even larger: “We’ve seen incredibly sustaining interest,” Pulkit told me. “A year on from appearing on the podcast we are still seeing signups attributed to The Pitch. We also get tweeted daily because of it!”

I talked to Josh in order to learn more. Here’s our Q and A:

What’s Old and What’s New

Tech.Co: Could you sum up how the podcast worked previously?

Josh: “Previously a founder would come on our show and the investors would discuss the startup and give their verdict on whether or not they’d ‘continue the conversation’. Often investors would say positive things about the founder but then never follow up afterwards. Which isn’t really surprising since it’s human nature to be kinder than normal when face-to-face with someone. But it is something I fear has kept the podcast from having a clear outcome at the end of each episode.”

Tech.Co: And what’s changing?

Josh: “To fix the above stated problem, for season 2 we specifically sought out investors who are willing to make investment decisions within a 1-hour conversation with a founder. It was surprising to me how hard it was to actually find 4 investors with sole decision making power and the gusto needed to make an investment decision on the spot. I’m also really excited that listeners will get to know each of the judges well as the investor panel will stay constant throughout the 10 episode season. In the past we would have new investors on each episode.”

Why It Works

Tech.Co: What do you love about this format/idea?

Josh: “I love the Shark Tank concept so much because it encourages the audience to pick a side. You can ask yourself “Would I invest in this?” or “Would I take the deal?”. And whether you relate to the founder or the investor, you can’t help but care about the outcome. To the typical entrepreneur it really is a fun journey to take part in.

What’s unique about The Pitch is we have an opportunity to use the podcasting medium to tell a more true-to-life version of the investor/founder meeting. Reality TV has to optimize for dramatic moments. On our podcast we don’t optimize for any specific outcome. We simply tell the truth of the story how it actually unfolded. I think long-form audio (aka podcasting) affords a level of honesty and rawness that isn’t found in other mediums.”

Tech.co: Most rewarding part?

Josh: “I think most podcasters would say this, but the most rewarding part of the podcast so far has been the relationships forged. It’s been incredible the way people connect with you after hearing your voice consistently over time.”

What Founders Need to Know

Tech.Co: Are you looking for anything in particular, episode by episode?

Josh: “We’re really passionate about finding people who are doing things that are truly innovative and interesting. Each episode will be very different as we’re looking at companies across a wide variety of industries. So whether it’s an enterprise SaaS solution or the next Pokemon Go, we’re looking for truly exceptional founders that are creating solutions to problems that are real.”

Tech.Co: Any advice for entrepreneurs hoping to get on the show?

Josh: “Trim your message down to what really matters. Yes you can cast a big vision for what you’re building long term, but you better quickly start explaining what it is that you are actually building. Don’t list features. Instead tell us concisely what your product does for people and the real problem it solves.

As we look at each application we’re looking for founders who stick out like a sore thumb (in a good way of course). So don’t copy Drew Houston’s top 10 tips for a successful application. Instead, just be yourself and tell us what’s unique about you and the journey you’re on.”

The Pitch now has its four-member panel of investor judges locked down, ready for their recording event on October 4th and 5th in San Francisco. Are you a founder with a great startup idea? Want to walk away fully funded? Sign up at The Pitch’s website to throw your hat in the ring.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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