Swimming with the Sharks: Case Studies in Venture Capital Entrepreneurship

By Moy, Ronald L. | Journal of the Academy of Business Education, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

Swimming with the Sharks: Case Studies in Venture Capital Entrepreneurship


Moy, Ronald L., Journal of the Academy of Business Education


INTRODUCTION

Raising capital is an essential part of the entrepreneurial process. The process can be quite daunting for both the entrepreneur and the venture capitalist. For most budding entrepreneurs, their first experience comes during their pitch to an experienced team of venture capitalists. The ABC television show Shark Tank provides numerous real-world video case studies in the fields of venture capital and entrepreneurship, allowing budding entrepreneurs and future venture capitalists the opportunity to glimpse into the world of the venture capitalist. In addition, students get the opportunity to see that a range of simple products and services can lead to viable business opportunities. The show also provides instructors with the opportunity to motivate discussions about the process of raising funds to start or expand a business and the issues that an entrepreneur must address to make his/her business successful.

VIDEO CASE STUDIES

The advent of multimedia classrooms, DVDs and websites like You Tube have made it practical for instructors to incorporate video case studies into the classroom environment. A number of authors including (Dyl, 1991; Beiden, 1992; Chan et al., 1995; Moy and Terregrossa, 2009) have used video case studies to enhance the educational experience on a number of business topics. Video cases can bring a sense of realism to many of the topics discussed in the course.

SHARK TANK

Producer Mark Burnett, best known for producing reality shows, Survivor, The Apprentice and Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader, brought the show to ABC in 2009, with the show premiering on August 9, 2009. The show is based on Dragon's Den, a Sony's Picture Television International production, which appears in various forms around the world (Wikipedia contributors). The show consists of an entrepreneur pitching his or her idea to a panel of five wealthy business people (the "Sharks") who have agreed to invest their own money in projects that they deem as viable. Entrepreneurs will offer a certain percentage of equity in their business for a given financial commitment. Each Shark can choose to accept or reject the terms laid out by the entrepreneur or may choose to make a counteroffer. The rules of the show require that the participants must raise at least the amount of money they are seeking. In some instances, the Sharks will bid against one another in an effort to garner a piece of the action. In other circumstances, they may choose to collaborate on the project with other Sharks. Clearly, a one hour television show doesn't allow the Sharks to conduct any due diligence. Therefore, the Sharks receive 90 days following the show to verify the claims of participants before closing the deal.

THE SHARKS

Over the first four seasons, eight individuals have served on the panel of Sharks. Each Shark brings a unique set of skills to the show. Two of the Sharks have been experts in television marketing. Kevin Harrington, who appeared in the first two seasons of the show has expertise in producing infomercials. Lori Grenier is an inventor who holds more than 100 patents and made her fortune selling her products on the shopping channel QVC. Grenier appeared occasionally in seasons three and four as a replacement for Barbara Corcoran. Corcoran, who made her money in real estate in New York City considers herself to be an expert in branding and marketing and has served on the panel since the show's inception. Daymond John, the founder of the clothing line FUBU, is an expert in apparel, branding and manufacturing. Robert Herjavec is a technology mogul whose expertise lies in Internet security. Kevin O'Leary, who sold the Learning Company to Mattel for more than $3 billion (a deal that turned out to be a disaster for Mattel) is an expert in licensing. John, Herjavec and O'Leary have appeared on every episode during the first four seasons, with Herjavec and O'Leary getting their start as regulars on the Canadian version of Dragon's Den. …

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