TV Shows Make Entrepreneurs Lead Characters

During my introductory class of New Venture Management for undergraduates I explain the role the media has played in promoting entrepreneurs and the idea of running your own business. We discuss reality shows like American Chopper (Discovery Channel) and Ax Men (History Channel) and others like Shark Tank (ABC) and How Things Are Made (Science Channel) as well as ‘news magazine’ style shows like Donny Deutsch’s The Entrepreneurs and Bloomberg TV’s Venture.

The Wall Street Journal recently had a piece by Emily Maltby that looks into the trend of reality shows based on small businesses.

Small businesses have become popular fodder for reality television, where shop owners let viewers glimpse the daily dramas of their business operations in return for big publicity.

But for the few who land their own shows, the exposure often comes with headaches.

Duff Goldman, owner of Charm City Cakes LLC, the Baltimore custom cake shop featured on the Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes,” says his crew wasn’t able to spend as much time making cakes once filming for the show started because the employees were often being pulled aside for interviews.

So Mr. Goldman shifted the company’s business model, scaling down the production and designating more energy to fewer, creative requests ranging from a Hogwarts castle to a three-foot replica of an Old Bay Seasoning can.

With less revenue from the cakes, Charm City has compensated over time with licensing deals, books, speaking events and money from the show, which, Mr. Goldman says, doesn’t add up to much once the whole staff is paid. He declined to provide figures, but said that “if the show were to disappear tomorrow, we’d still be in the black.” The Food Network said it wasn’t able to provide comment on the show.

While the article focuses on the businesses that are featured on the shows, I am currently making a list of shows that are beneficial to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship students. Looking for lesson’s within the quest for good content among television producers.

Please add your thoughts in the comments section below or email us at CampusEntrepreneurship@gmail.com. Thanks.

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