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Shark Tank India: Our take

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Indian TV audience and the LinkedIn and Twitter intelligentsia have been both mesmerised and divided by a single TV show over the past month. We are talking about Shark Tank India. For the first time in Indian television history, a general entertainment channel (GEC) aired a show on business and entrepreneurship during a prime time slot. It’s a landmark moment in itself, one that underlines the fact that entrepreneurship is becoming truly mainstream in India.

Given the pedigree of the show, comparison to its decade-old counterpart from the US was inevitable. However, Shark Tank India seems to have carved out a platform of its own, one that is more attuned to Indian sensibilities. It started with the sharks themselves. There were concerns that the Indian sharks were too young, unlike their US counterparts who are also seasoned investors.

However, the Indian sharks showed the right mix of youth and experience, glamour and edginess, laid back charm and aggressiveness. The sharks brought their authentic selves to the table, even if that translated to sometimes stepping on each other’s toes or at times being overtly aggressive and politically incorrect. All of which served to dial up the entertainment value of the show.

These are the emerging youth icons who reinforce the hope that young India could also make it on their own within a generation, through entrepreneurship. While they were supportive of passionate founders, they also evaluated the fundamentals of an idea dispassionately before taking a call on investing.

Shark Tank India also had several other takeaways for us.

The discussions between the sharks and the founders in the tank ranged across all aspects of business, including valuation, marketing, operations, branding, P&L, debt vs. equity and so on. The cutaway scenes showed the sharks explaining often used business jargons for the benefit of the mainstream audience. This was a great way to demystify these terms.

SonyLIV also did a great job of curation when it came to the deal seekers themselves. Every age group and every town class was represented in the show. The ideas presented ranged from Metaverse to Menstrual education. The combination of founders ranged from saas-bahu to sisters, from families to school friends. The show can be equally enjoyed by a 10 year old and a 70 year old. When great ideas came along, we saw the sharks fight amongst themselves to get the deal. It’s an endearing reminder that no one is immune to FOMO, irrespective of how big a shark you are.

Sadly, Rannvijay seemed sorely out of place and under-utilized, reduced to repeating the same plugs during cutaway scenes. Does a show like this need a host at all? Overall for a 1st attempt, Shark Tank India did a great job of giving us a glimpse of India’s entrepreneurial spirit and potential that’s raring to go. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, we highly recommend that you give it a view. Do share your thoughts on the show.

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