Since shows like Shark Tank started airing, capital raising and investing have proven to be viable forms of entertainment. Since the time of launch they have not only gained mainstream popularity but risen to pop culture heights of their rivaling the Idol shows that inspired their inception. Show business aside, the true value delivered by these shows is propelling obscure yet impactful startups into the limelight, catching the eye of eager investors who helped them grow to make a mark in their industries.
During our latest ConZoom virtual event, we had the opportunity to discuss this intersection between TV and impact investing with the co-founders of Tech Talk Media, CEO and Executive Producer Jonny Caplan, and Chief Commercial Officer Ronald Hans.
Meet Tech Talk Media
Tech Talk Media produces a unique documentary TV series that features under-the-radar entrepreneurs, innovators, and technology around the world. In October last year, TTM launched Season One TechTalk and sold it to Amazon Prime and Apple TV. The show now has audiences in 81 countries, streams to 500 million homes and won 10 international awards in 2020.
In Season One, TTM’s founders showcased 54 largely unheard of startups and featured them on the show. Since the show aired 14 months ago, these 54 startups have raised over $350 million in total.
TTM Co-founder and the show’s host, Jonny Caplan, says that although these startups have obviously worked very hard, it’s undeniable how this kind of television broadcast provides unprecedented media attention that accelerates each company’s growth tremendously.
“We saw how these ‘Shark Tank’ companies, or companies that have had some sort of television exposure, are given huge leverage. That kind of TV exposure, where a credible brand talks about a company in a positive way outside of a news or business report, is proven to yield much better results than if the marketing were to come directly from themselves.”
Is VC TV too dramatized?
Shows like Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den are arguably good TV shows and have been very successful. However, Jonny contends that sometimes that’s just what they are — good TV. But they’re not indicative of how the investment process works in reality.
“I think they have a good spin on entrepreneurship, but these shows are not really faithful to real entrepreneurs and real companies. There is a lot of drama in these shows, in the way founders tell their stories and make their pitches, for example, and also, these startups are chosen with entertainment as a top priority. To me, it’s just TV, it’s not really business.”
Jonny says that what they set out to do with Tech Talk Media is to leverage the media traction of its predecessors, but also capture a realistic view of the featured tech startups, their business models and what kind of support, from investors and partners, would be meaningful to their success and societal impact.
“We are determined to set up a similar show that really focused on business and that was very realistic about real entrepreneurs. A show that would capture what’s really going on in the market.”
Naturally photogenic companies
When asked how they chose companies to put on the show the TTM founders said they specifically look for startups with a certain “wow factor,” on top of being reputable companies. Jonny explained:
“Firstly, we look for tech companies that have a certain ‘wow factor.’ The flying cars, the robots that fly into burning buildings, the 3d holographic surgery… just things that would naturally be good for TV, things that are so incredible, we know people will instantly be interested in them.”
Now that the TTM team is launching a brand new show called TechHeroes where they showcase impact-driven startups to an eager audience of viewers who can donate to support the startups on the show, aside from that initial “wow factor,” the companies selected are subjected to a thorough due diligence process ensure that the startups they’re putting on the show are reputable. This includes the tangible business milestone that the companies have achieved and the impact they can make on communities globally.
Ron explains the need for a new tech’s widespread impact:
“We really search for entrepreneurs and technologies that are wide reaching, pertinent, and tangible. Tech that people can really understand, whether it has affected them, someone in their family, or if they’re familiar with the region. Additionally, we look for some type of widespread benefit where people realize this is something that is largely beneficial to a very large group of people that may not include them, but they will respect it from that point of view.”
TV or not, helping startups succeed takes patience and perseverance. That’s why the TechHeroes show allows its global audience to interact with and contribute to the companies that resonate with them, awards the winning startup a $1 million dollar cash prize, and in parallel Tech Talk Media invests in the highest potential teams via its $100 million impact investing fund.
If you want to learn more about Tech Talk Media’s Impact Investing Fund feel free to reach out to Diffuse, the platform powering the fund.
Meet the Speakers
Jonny Caplan and Ronald Hans co-founded Tech Talk Media, an award-winning US-based Media & Entertainment Company with locations worldwide. Since 2017, Tech Talk Media has created and produced original TV Productions on technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability, and major lifestyle shifts.
Hosted by writer & executive producer Jonny Caplan and Singer, The Voice finalist Jessy Katz, TTM’s flagship documentary series TechTalk features emerging entrepreneurs, start-ups, and technology from around the world in highly engaging episodes for a global audience.