Kent Griswold, a member of Chestnut Hill College’s Board of Directors, recently launched the pilot episode of “BizzShow” — a television show in which two businesses from the same region compete against each other for a capital investment in a range of entertaining and educational challenges.
Griswold, Ph.D., a serial entrepreneur and the former president and CEO of Griswold Home Care, is the creator of “BizzShow.” On the show, two companies from the same area compete against each other for a co-investment from a panel of investors. The pilot episode, filmed in Philadelphia, is currently on YouTube, and Griswold hopes to generate enough views and interest that Netflix, or another company, purchases the show and develops it into a full-fledged series.
Though comparable to ABC’s “Shark Tank,” “BizzShow” differentiates itself in a number of ways. The most significant difference between the two pertains to the competition that lies at the heart of both series. On “Shark Tank,” a panel of investors compete against one another to invest in a contestant’s company; on “BizzShow,” two companies compete with each other to win an investment from a panel of investors, known as “The Wolf PAC.”
“We’re not competing with one another — we’re working together, like wolves do, to decide which of the two companies we feel is the better investment,” Griswold said. “This is actually a more efficient model because the businesses get all five of us investors, with our various backgrounds, to assist them in trying to get to the next level.”
For instance, one segment of the show is called the “Battle of the Businesses.” In it, the two companies, whose owners at that point have been sequestered in separate green rooms, meet one another for the first time on camera. Before this face-to-face meeting, though, each company is given a one-page summary of their opponent’s company, and they are even encouraged to do further research on their own, albeit in a timely manner. The two companies must then use what information they have gathered to try to convince “The Wolf PAC” why their company is the better investment.
“Our hope is that we see a little bit of fisticuffs — not literal fisticuffs — where we watch the two companies really go at each another,” Griswold said. “This will make for good television, but it will also reveal more about themselves and perhaps more about the other company in the process.”
“BizzShow” is also unique in that each season will concentrate on companies and investors located within a specific region. While watching “Shark Tank” with his son, Grant, who inherited his father’s passion for entrepreneurship, one facet of the show often frustrated the two of them: the emotional disconnect they felt with businesses located on the other side of the country.
“The show might feature a food truck company out in San Francisco, which looks very interesting, but given I haven’t visited San Francisco in 30 years, it makes it very hard to patronize those companies and feel any real connection to them,” said Griswold, who graduated from Harvard University and later earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
By contrast, Griswold said “BizzShow” is “regional in nature.” The first season, for example, would take place in Philadelphia and exclusively feature companies from the Greater Delaware Valley. The rationale behind this is that investors who are residents of that region could use their local connections and resources to assist those companies from the same area.
Along with winning a capital investment, and free publicity, Griswold said that winners stand to acquire a team of five experienced entrepreneurs who are invested in helping their company grow. Each member of “The Wolf PAC” has different industry contacts and possesses expertise in one of several fields of business, such as marketing, finance and inventory management.
Rather than focusing solely on entertainment, Griswold said there is an educational component to “BizzShow.” By delving deep into the backstory of the two competing companies, with filming occurring at each contestant’s place of business, viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at how each contestant runs his or her company. Likewise, there is a segment called “99 Seconds with Professor X” that features business professors from various colleges discussing subjects that viewers will find both interesting and informative.
“Hopefully we get a professor from Chestnut Hill College,” said Griswold, who was born in South Jersey, but grew up in Chestnut Hill.
Applicants who want to be contestants on the show must provide a business-to-consumer product or service and have post-revenue sales. Beyond those stipulations, there is, of course, a showbiz factor that determines what companies get selected. If there is a good story behind the company, the entrepreneur or the product, if there is chemistry, and if there is anything that is of potential interest to viewers, Griswold and his team are intrigued.
“If it’s somebody starting another pizza restaurant that’s just like everything else, then that’s probably not that interesting for our viewers,” he said.
One of the most important aspects of the show for Griswold and “The Wolf PAC” is titled “A Minute for Mission.” During each episode, a free one-minute ad will be given to a nonprofit from the region. The show will then donate a percentage of the upside from any investments made during that particular episode to the featured nonprofit.
If “BizzShow” is picked up by Netflix or another company, Griswold wants to expand the show to other major metropolitan areas around the country. He said each season would attract businesses and investors from its immediate setting as well as from surrounding cities and states, similar to how Philadelphia acts as the nucleus for the Delaware Valley in the first season. Should this scenario pan out, he imagines viewers choosing to watch episodes of “BizzShow” based on the region or industry in which they are interested.
Griswold said he is optimistic about the future of the show, adding that it could fill a certain void that currently exists in the entertainment industry.
“There are lots of singing shows on TV, but there are very few business shows,” he said. “Viewers want to be educated and hear success stories and have role models, and they want to spark their creative juices and come up with a great idea. Almost anyone you talk to has some kind of business idea they’ve always wanted to pursue, and sometimes all it takes is a little bit of help to get them to take that first step.”
Aside from taking “BizzShow” nationwide, Griswold said his wish is to create an avenue of education and support for entrepreneurs, businesses and nonprofits. He and his team are confident they can achieve this goal and others, so much so that they have already contemplated numerous long-term strategies for the show.
At the same time, however, Griswold is just happy to be a part of this creative and cooperative endeavor.
“My goal, quite frankly, is to have fun doing all this — that’s my motivation,” he said.
For more information and to view the pilot episode, please visit www.bizzshow.com/home.html.
- Kevin Dicciani