Here is a preliminary list of tv shows that provide value for entrepreneurs, students studying entrepreneurship and student entrepreneurs. The list is a work in progress.
I have recommended various shows to my students over the years — from Shark Tank and How Its Made to TechStars and Bloomberg’s Enterprise as I think reading has gone out of demand and video is what the consumer (students, adult learners) demand.
The categories are rudimentary and murky and in today’s media landscape its hard to clearly categorize some of the shows. Links to shows provided. Email your additions to campusentrepreneurship/@/gmail.com. Last update 12/13/2011.
Invention USA — This new show (late 2011) on the History Channel “follows Reichart Von Wolfsheild and Garrett Lisi, both innovators and scientists with ties to investors, as they go in search of the next breakthrough invention. Whether they’re traveling the country to visit garage innovators at home or meeting with inventors at their Los Angeles testing lab, Reichart and Garrett will put prototypes to the test and give a tough, no-nonsense evaluation of each invention’s potential. If they like what they see, they’ll invest to help bring the product to market.” I’ve seen two segments (a musical bass made out of cardboard and an escape device for people in tall buildings). Its an interesting show and really focuses on product and IP, not customer development or market assessments. Watch some episodes of Invention USA.
Flip Men — This show comes on after Auction Hunters and follows two real estate investors (Mike Baird and Doug Clark) as they buy foreclosed properties in the Salt Lake City, UT area. I’ve only seen a couple episodes, but there is some bidding going on, lots of problem solving, unexpected smells and other real estate challenges, and profit making. The show completely ignores the financial structure of the business when calculating profits, using gross sales prices, not capital committed by Mike and Doug and the cost of that capital. From the intro to the way it is shot and formatted, its clear that Auction Hunters played a role in this show’s creation. Makes me wonder how long until we follow the best car auction or machine tool auction buyers out there. Any other types of auctions worth filming? Restaurant equipment? Police auctions?
The Shark Tank — American version of Dragon’s Lair. I highly recommend this show to my students for a variety of reasons. Some of the pitches are great, some are awful. Some of the products and stories highlight the vision and capabilities that exist well beyond the realm of venture capital and the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Additionally, various Sharks (Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John, Mark Cuban, Kevin Harrington, Kevin O’Leary, and Robert Herjavic) provide some great insights at moments, highlight the importance of being prepared for negotiations, and showcase the various paths towards entrepreneurial success. Check out Shark Tank videos. Meet the Shark Tank entrepreneurs.
Bloomberg’s The Mentor — Show matches a struggling entrepreneur or team and a successful entrepreneur with domain knowledge. Fall 2011 is the second season. Read more here. Watch video of Ben Fischmann help Keith Winter of HomeWetbar.com CEO prepare for real growth.
Bloomberg’s Game Changers –“Get an insider’s perspective on the business and media leaders who climbed to the top, and changed our world.” Episodes include: JK Rowling, Rupert Murdoch, and Mark Zuckerberg.
Bloomberg’s Innovators — documentary like profiles of innovative individuals from art, music, business, and science. As the site says, “The world is swirling with ideas on how to make money, but true innovation changes the way we live.”
How Its Made — (Discovery Science) Each episode explores the production process of various goods — from violins to under water robots. Really cool. Learn a lot about manufacturing, crafts, and various processing procedures — not to mentioned machinery and metals. Fun stuff for business students.
Tech Stars — Bloomberg’s look inside a class of start-ups at Tech Stars in Manhattan. Good insight into what a technology inspired, creative class driven star up looks like in the idealized case. This show is heavy on reality style editing, but well worth watching. Final episode has some great insights. Great guests/mentors for the participants during the episodes.
The Apprentice — A whirlwind for the first few seasons (in my opinion — can you remember Bill Rancic) — premiered in 2004. Not specifically entrepreneurial, but provides project based opportunities for contestants to highlight creativity, leadership, and ability to solve problems. Contestants break into teams and complete tasks (sometimes loosely connected to reality). Provided a revival to Trump, led to a new class of B rate celebrity stars (Omarosa), and eventually fell to casting ‘celebrities’ to raise money for charity.
American Pickers — This History Channel show is a not only beneficial to entrepreneurship students, but actually fits the category of ‘good’ television. Following two ‘pickers’ (Mike and Frank) who comb old estates, junk yards, warehouses, and factories to find under valued objects. They need domain knowledge, distribution knowledge, and negotiation skills. This show is a winner.
Auction Hunters — Spike innovated in the ‘storage category’ by following Alan and Ton as they bid of abandoned storage units. Like American Pickers, this show highlights bidding strategy, negotiations, and domain knowledge. Its fun to watch the guys assess the value of storage lockers (judging location, packing, visible goods, etc.) and deal with competitors when it comes to bidding. Moreover, their disposal (sale) of the goods highlights understanding the full product life cycle. BTW, I find Storage Wars on A & E to be much less compelling, but check it out for yourself.
Deadliest Catch — One of earliest, if the not first of the reality, small business genre. I never got into the Discovery Channel program, feeling the core attribute of the show was adrenaline and danger. Yes, there is money on the line with each trip out and attempt to bring in a big catch and economics were always present, but it appears to have been produced in the wake of the Perfect Storm craze. Check out the Deadliest Catch season guide.
Swamp Loggers — More of danger and small business from Discovery Channel. Family members, contractors, human resource management. Lots of head aches running a small biz.
Pawn Stars — Great History Channel show takes place inside a family run Las Vegas pawn shop. Domain knowledge and negotiation skills are the keys here, not to mention management of personnel.
Dog The Bounty Hunter — A classic of the genre given the singularity of Dog the Bounty Hunter. Crazy character and crew highlights the difficulty of family business (not to mention celebrity). Not recommended beyond some entertainment value. (Disclosure: I haven’t watched it in years)
The Benfactor (2004) — Mark Cuban’s attempt at competitor to the Apprentice. 16 contestants vie for $1 million from Mark Cuba. Cuban cam back hard core with Shark Tank.
The REST — I need to clean up (12/01/2011)
CNBC’s Originals (business documentaries look inside various global industries and leading players. Topics have ranged from the supermarket industry and Facebook to Levi’s and Harvard Business School)
How I Made My Millions (CNBC)
Flip This House (A&E ) — Real Estate
Income Property (HGTV) — Real Estate
Selling New York (HGTV) — Real Estate Brokers in NY