Internet reality show focuses on marijuana entrepreneurs of all kinds
Lights, camera, cannabis?
A pair of marijuana-minded media and entertainment professionals are embracing that very concept. No, they’re not backing a new Cheech and Chong movie. Instead, they’re producing what’s being called the first pot-themed Internet reality show – “The Marijuana Show,” to be exact.
Billed as “’Shark Tank’ meets ‘The Apprentice,’” the show focuses on marijuana entrepreneurs of all kinds: a creator of a line of hemp skin-care products, backers of a Yelp-style marijuana directory, a company that offers inventory tracking systems for dispensaries and growhouses. As with “Shark Tank,” the program puts these entrepreneurs in front of investors to make their case. But as with “The Apprentice,” it also challenges them to become better businesspeople — often by helping them find new ways to market their products or services.
“The people in this industry need some coaching and a blueprint to help them succeed,” says Karen Paull, an advertising sales executive who is one of the show’s co-creators. The other, Wendy Robbins, is a veteran TV producer with two Emmy Awards to her credit.
Indeed, the challenge for marijuana entrepreneurs – or “ganjapreneurs,” as they’re often dubbed – is that there’s no established roadmap to success because the industry is so new. It’s also tough for entrepreneurs to find funding, owing to the fact the industry is still not readily embraced by mainstream investors (i.e. banks).
But “The Marijuana Show” is about more than business. The show, which is produced on a budget of $5,000 per episode, is intended to be just that: an entertaining look at an industry that sometimes retains elements of stoner culture. Robbins laughs when she thinks about some of the more, ahem, interesting entrepreneurs who have come their way.
“We had a girl who said she wanted to make her weed in different colors, just like her hair,” she says.
So far, the show, which receives support from advertisers and sponsors and also stands to gain a stake in the featured companies, has wrapped up the filming of its first season, with episodes beginning to air online. Some 200 entrepreneurs “auditioned” – that is, made their pitch to Paull and Robbins. Fewer than two dozen advanced to meet with investors the show had lined up. And a smaller number of those entrepreneurs received actual offers of funding, which ranged from a few thousand dollars to seven figures. (BioTrackTHC, the inventory tracking company that stands to get the seven-figure investment, is still working to close the deal, according to Robbins.)
One of those entrepreneurs who hit it big: Jeffrey Peterson, the creator of a cannabis-themed comic book. He received $25,000 in funding in return for a 10% stake in his business. Peterson says the money will make a huge difference in helping his venture grow. But he also says the overall message of the show is just as important – that marijuana is an industry worthy of consideration.
A second season of “The Marijuana Show” is already in the works, with filming recently done at the Indo Expo, a marijuana trade conference in Denver.