Vanna White probably isn't losing any blonde hairs over it, but an entrepreneurial game show called "Venture Match" may someday roll right over "Wheel of Fortune."
Not anytime soon, though. The show, which still needs a sponsor, features real-life entrepreneurs who spend two minutes presenting their business plans to a panel of experts. Each member of the three-person panel -- which may include venture capitalists, investment bankers, and entrepreneurs -- then grills the contestant for two minutes. After the questioning, the panel chooses a winner, awarding a prize such as free consulting, accounting, or advertising services.
If the concept sounds familiar, the problem is not in your head. Victor Kiam, chief executive officer of Remington Products Inc., tried to enlist a sponsor last year to fund a more subdued variation on the same theme (see Insider, November 1986). It was titled "Going for It!" -- but sponsors haven't, and Kiam is still looking. "We're putting more showmanship into our show," says Michael Rice, the independent producer who is peddling the idea. "It has to combine both a show and a bona fide business presentation."
With the assistance of Boston's public-television station, Rice has already filmed four pilot episodes of the proposed game show. Panelists included such luminaries as Benjamin Rosen, the venture capitalist who backed Compaq Computer Corp. and Lotus Development Corp., and Harvard Business Review editor Theodore Levitt. "The show might tell viewers what they should be doing or maybe convince some that they don't want to play in this world," offers panelist Stanley Pratt, a venture capital expert and publisher.
So far, competitors have included a dulcimer marker and a man who invented a tool for scraping ice off car windshields.
Like those of his contestants, Rice's odds of succeeding with his idea aren't great. "Two game shows a day are tried out, and few make it beyond this point," says Rice, who estimates that "Venture Match" will cost about $20,000 per show to produce. In fact, an astute panelist might ask: are there enough telegenic venture capitalists, bankers, and entrepreneurs out there? Would anybody really watch "Venture Match"?