Govt considers reality show for startups, looks at Shark Tank

The programme, to be simultaneously broadcast on Doordarshan, a private general entertainment channel, radio and digital platforms, would have startups pitch to a panel of investors for on-the-spot investments.

Written by Deepak Patel | New Delhi | Updated: March 19, 2017 8:29 am
Like in Shark Tank, startups will pitch ventures on show

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has given in-principle approval for a government-run reality show on the lines of the popular American TV programme Shark Tank, to promote startup culture in the country. The programme, to be simultaneously broadcast on Doordarshan, a private general entertainment channel, radio and digital platforms, would have startups pitch to a panel of investors for on-the-spot investments.

As per the proposal, there would be one round of “screening” and two rounds of “evaluation” for the startups to feature on the show. While the DIPP is reportedly facing problems arranging the finances, its secretary Ramesh Abhishek is learnt to have accorded his in-principle approval on March 4.

During preliminary discussions, NASSCOM told the government the show would require a budget of Rs 64 crore. While Rs 34 crore may be raised from states and sponsors, the DIPP would have to shell out at least Rs 30 crore from its own pocket.

The applications would first be sourced through online and offline outreach, targeting young professionals and startup founders. “A filtering process shall be applied… The focus of the outreach programme would be to encourage entries from all states of the country. At the screening at the application stage, 2,000 (out of 10,000 applications expected) will be shortlisted,” says the DIPP note detailing the programme.

In the first round of evaluation, selected startups would participate in offline events, to be held in seven cities — Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Bangalore, Indore — where they would present their business plan to a panel of mentors and investors. Ultimately, 440 would be selected, out of which 35 would be deemed as “regional winners”.

These winners would proceed to the second round of evaluation, or the “grand finale”. According to the DIPP note, “after a week-long workshop, the 35 winners compete in front of an investor panel. (These) Selected startups will again pitch to a panel of investors, who will assess the business potential of the startup and may choose to offer funding in lieu of an equity stake in the company. This round will be shot in studio setting and will be televised.”

The DIPP is also thinking of keeping in a provision for public voting, which would decide the ‘Most Popular Startup’ award, so as to “facilitate greater engagement with the audience on the show”.

The show will be simultaneously broadcast across DD and other platforms to “allow greater reach and connect with both the urban and rural audience across different sections of the society”. “The DIPP intends to partner with a TV production house and/or a media house to oversee the implementation, production and execution of the TV show,” the note adds.

While the DIPP will have complete rights over the programme, NASSCOM (the National Association of Software and Services Companies) is likely to be the coordinating agency for “managing” day-to-day operations. “For implementation, a task force will be constituted with a partner leading in each region, who will be responsible for the execution of the entire show. This will include running day to day operations and for management of all deliverables, timelines, agencies and interfacing regularly with all sponsors and partners in each of the regions,” the DIPP note says.

The proposed partners for north, east, west, south and central regions are FICCI, The Indus Partners (TiE), Indian Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Parks and Business Incubator Association (ISBA), NASSCOM, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), respectively.

A steering committee to oversee governance of the programme would include representatives from NITI Aayog, the HRD Ministry, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and Department of Biotechnology, as well as Yes Bank and Axis Bank.

On November 9 last year, at a meeting to discuss issues related to the show, the stakeholders decided that “follow up events/seasons will be held to sustain the momentum of the entrepreneurial spirit” and “success stories and videos educating about the startup ecosystem & culture etc will be promoted to ‘seed’ the show before it was launched”. At this meeting, it was also decided that “60 finalists will be given a reward of Rs 10 lakhs each”.

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