Five savvy business sharks, including former Vodacom executive and radio name Romeo Khumalo (pictured), CEO and major shareholder of Washirika (Pty) Limited, are gearing to give Mzansi a remarkable business show with a difference on M-Net from the first Sunday of October.
Instead of the much dreaded and unwelcome “you are fired” words pronounced in the coldest tone possible by Donald Trump or Tokyo Sexwale on “The Apprentince” and The Aprentice SA”, contestants on the enterprising “Shark Tank” are at the worst just not going to get a buy in into their businesses from the panel of business people. Based on the Emmy and Critics Choice Award-winning reality series, and being the first ever M-Net show to be launched in Durban, at the Ushaka Marine’s World Cargo Hold on the Promenade Restaurant, these successful business folk include Romeo, Dawn Nathan-Jones, Gil Oved, and Marnus Brodryk (30) the affluent CEO of The Beancounter, who became a self-made millionaire at 24
The difference with this perky and fuelled show that has wowed Australia, Portugal, Italy, and Britain, were it is called Dragon’s Den that has become world-wide hit, is that budding entrepreneurs are not given a huge business task and a contestants coming up with a more convincing treatment from the rest, here contestants try to sell their own business ideas, or a stake in an existing business to the four. The main goal is to get a buy in from the business people, who using their very own money, will hopefully take the business to the next level.
The big questions as you will see as the show progresses are: do businesses understand who they are, what they are about, is there a thing as overvalue, underselling, overstating ones value, knowing your product, and so on? Viewers will see contestants coming up with an exciting business idea and failing, at least to the four, to follow up convincingly when probed further about how it would work practically in the cutthroat business world, and what sets their idea apart from the rest.
Speaking at the launch of the show, the four all agree that “the difference with this show is that we are putting in our very own money into these ideas” and would buy in into a business they really believed in. Some figures will most definitely leave viewers with their mouths wide open, as much as it did the judges. Could this be confidence in some of these great (or not) business people in the making?
“The interesting thing about the show is that even if we don’t buy into the business, the sparked interest would have got us to ask questions that will get the entrepreneur to go through their idea, improve on it, and hopefully turn it into a workable proposition,” commented Gil, group co-CEO of the highly touted The Creative Counsel. “Even those we didn’t buy into their businesses, they walked out with lots of publicity for their businesses,” he added with nods in agreement from the whole panel.
A well-known telecommunications expert, media personality and commercial strategist, Romeo says the show will encourage people to start their own businesses, referencing that there are too many people with degrees but they can’t find jobs in the country. “There is no culture of entrepreneurialism in the country, and this show will create just that. It also expands people’s thoughts beyond the same businesses that everyone keeps coming up with. This is a platform that shows people that they can dream and come up with exciting ideas that could change the course of the country.”
Dawn who revolutionised the local car rental industry says the interesting thing for them as business people is that they walked out with so much from what they would traditionally consider an investment opportunity. “We learnt so much, and ended up supporting different businesses. Businesses we would have not considered if it wasn’t for this platform. We learnt so much as well.”
This further supports what Marnus had said during the call for entries. “I am willing to support anyone who stands out - even if I don’t necessarily relate to the product or service,” he said. “But you will have to show me a proven business or adequate traction. I have a strong financial background and have worked with hundreds of small businesses in South Africa and abroad. I do understand what makes and breaks a business – and that’s often not what you’re taught in university text books. You don’t have to know everything yet, but you need to show your desire to succeed with a strong pitch that will capture my imagination.”
Catch Shark Tank on M-Net from 02 October at 6pm. By Mandla Motau