There may not be a lot of diversity in tech, but what little of it there is will be highlighted in Apple's upcoming reality TV show "Planet of the Apps." The creators of the show are hoping that by featuring a diverse cast of tech mentors and contestants they will help inspire and elevate a new generation of diverse entrepreneurs with fresh ideas.
Propagate Content, the production company behind the show, is in the midst of casting contestants, and it is hoping to feature entrepreneurs of all genders and ethnicities. Already, Propagate has assembled a cast of diverse mentors who will work with the contestants as they build apps and innovate on "Planet of the Apps."
"We're excited about the prospects of working with a show that's going to help empower entrepreneurs from wherever they are in America," said Jeremy Liew, one of the mentors on the show. Liew is a tech investor who is a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. "Even if they don't go to Stanford, even if they don't go to Harvard, even if they don't live in the Bay Area--they can realize their ambitions to start a new company and build a new app."
Joining Liew on the show are investor and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, artist will.i.am and actresses Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow. Although will.i.am, Alba and Paltrow are better known for their Hollywood endeavors, the three have also built names for themselves in the world of tech and entrepreneurship--will.i.am with a variety of wearables, Alba as founder of The Honest Company and Paltrow as the founder of the lifestyle brand Goop.
"We think by having a diverse cast we'll only attract interesting founders and creators, and we will create an interesting dynamic in terms of who watches and who interacts with the show," said Howard Owens, Propagate's CEO. The diversity of the cast "helps us in our challenge and quest to bring new entrepreneurs and new business builders to the forefront," Owens said.
Owens is known for his work as a producer for a number of shows, including "The Biggest Loser" and "MasterChef."
"A lot of our shows that we've done in the past are things that we'd like to think have made the world a better place," Owens said. "This show is an extension of our creativity and where we think the world is at today."
One way the show is hoping to achieve diversity within its contestants is by reaching out to entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley. Owens and Liew are hoping contestants from all parts of the U.S., including regions with more diverse demographics than those of the Bay Area, will apply to appear on the show. The application deadline is Sept. 21.
"If you are a passionate business builder and creator and you are looking for an opportunity to not only showcase your business but also to be mentored by people who can help you and are business leaders and visionaries ... this is the show for you," Owens said.
Thus far, Propagate has revealed few details about how the show will work, but it has revealed the prizes entrepreneurs will compete for. Contestants who make it to the final round will get a chance to meet with and pitch venture capitalists, who will be "investing up to $10 million over the course of the season." Additionally, Apple will feature a number of the apps on its App Store at the end of the show, exposing the apps to its millions of users.
"We'll look for people who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to get the audience with a venture fund like Jeremy's or wouldn't necessarily be able to get in the doors that the show will be opening," Owens said. "We're looking for people whose businesses can make a difference and fill a void."