There’s a lot that goes into preparing a pitch to an investor, whether it’s the ‘sharks’ on Shark Tank or the ‘dragons’ on Dragons’ Den. You have to worry about scheduling travel arrangements, hotel reservations, venue locations, meals, and of course, the actual pitch. But that’s outdated, inefficient, and burdensome.
It’s time the entrepreneurial space evolved, and the only way to do that is with blockchain. I had the opportunity to sit down with Kevin Harrington, the original ‘shark’ on Shark Tank and the CEO/founder of As Seen On TV, on why he believes investing in the blockchain is a game changer for both investors and entrepreneurs.
“Sometimes these processes of having to jump through all the lengthy pitching hoops and social aspects can be extremely burdensome,” Harrington explained. “I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and I still attend a couple dozen trade shows each year. Having to deal with scheduling and attending meetings that may require me to run from place to place, hotel to hotel—simply to listen to four or five pitches—takes at least five hours of time.”
Harrington’s concerns are shared by other parties in the entrepreneurial space, including other high net-worth investors like Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, Barbara Corcoran, and Kevin O’Leary. They worry about travel arrangements and all the other logistical aspects associated with just making sure you get a face-to-face meeting with the individual.
I asked the financial pioneer what the downsides are to holding onto the traditional model that seems to work for shows like Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den, and The Profit. “When it comes to many of these shows, a very limited number of entrepreneurs will even be called to audition,” responded Harrington. “The production teams simply cannot increase their bandwidth to a level where any startup could have a chance to pitch their ideas. Most importantly, there’s always the possibility that a bad pitch on a show could hurt the entrepreneur and give them a very slim chance of recovery.”
It’s got the appeal of Shark Tank, but on your phone and instantaneous. I love that.
The modern way to accept a pitch is blockchain. “In this kind of format, everyone wins,” Harrington says. Harrington recently joined the PITCH Live team, a software platform designed to connect entrepreneurs and startups with investors via live video. Operating on the Ethereum blockchain, the platform allows entrepreneurs to pitch all kinds of projects and ideas, including blockchain-based tokens. The audience watches those pitches live, like on the shows we already watch.
“It’s the modern way to accept a pitch—you download the mobile app, upload your pitch, and now I can sit at home, and go through thirty pitches a day, spending only a few hours on them versus the traditional five,” Harrington explained. “I’m now able to jump through all these pitching hoops, all from within this application, without the overbearing process of dealing with people pitching me in person, where time is extremely limited.” The investor told me that he still enjoys the art of the pitch, as there is an “element of the individual behind it.”
The platform allows entrepreneurs to create short summaries of their products or businesses through which users/investors can easily sift, finding those they find of interest in a Tinder-like, left-swipe/right-swipe fashion. Once the pitch is uploaded, the potential investor/user invites the entrepreneur to pitch them live via the app. During the live pitch, other users are able to watch live on Facebook, and the show is also uploaded to YouTube. The audience members can not only watch, but have the option to participate and contribute to the project in a crowdfunding manner.
“What’s cool about this blockchain technology is [that] now I’m sitting here on my couch and, within seconds, giving the entrepreneur a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’” said Harrington.
Harrington told me that he’s no stranger to the blockchain space, and that his involvement in business deals has been direct, pushing aside the intermediaries. “This is how I’ve primarily done more than half of my deals over the years—directly from the inventors who came up with their ideas,” explained Harrington. “Bringing pitches onto the blockchain allows for decentralization, but what I like most about it is the use of smart contracts that now allows for a documented process that is verifiable.”
Harrington added that “fifteen years ago, people would pitch [him] at a trade show and make all these statements that seemed verifiable. [He’d] eventually move forward with the deal, investing [his] money…but then it would turn out in the future that many of the statements the entrepreneur(s) made just weren’t true. And what was problematic was that [he] didn’t have the proof or documentation to back up what they had pitched.”
Harrington’s comfort level with utilizing the blockchain results from the ability to have a direct, documented, and verifiable way to monitor transactions and contracts.
“Everything is recorded, and smart contracts are executed, providing accuracy and transparency to all parties involved, developing long-term trust in the process,” the investor explained.
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