Enter The Marijuana Show--a reality Web series based in Denver, Colorado, that will follow six entrepreneurs, or rather "potpreneurs," as they audition, perfect their elevator pitches, tweak their business models with experts, compete to land venture capital from investors, and then grow their business. The creators call the show a mix between Shark Tank and The Apprentice, except it's solely focused on the nascent cannabis industry.
The show's co-creator is two-time Emmy Award-winning director Wendy Robbins, who is also the inventor of the head massager called The Tingler and the business mentor on Kelly Ripa's TV show Home Made Millionaire. Co-creator Karen Paull, the show's producer and Robbins' wife, is the CEO and founder of Sales Guru Consulting.
This weekend, Robbins and Paull are holding auditions in The Watering Bowl in Denver, the city's first dog-friendly tavern, to find the first crop of entrepreneurs and tape the first episode. Don't let the age-old stigma of marijuana fool you--this won't resemble tongue-in-cheek business plans like Dave Chappelle's company Mr. Nice Guy in the 1998 movie Half Baked. Robbins and Paull say they are looking for serious entrepreneurs with serious and marketable business plans.
"The idea of combining Shark Tank and The Apprentice made sense--green is the new gold. We want to find the ganja-preneurs who have the businesses, the ideas, the inventions and introduce them to our accredited investors who they otherwise may not have access to because banks won't loan them anything and friends and family only have so much money," Robbins says. "We want to help the people who have the ideas and passion become the next marijuana millionaires."
After the first group is chosen, they will go to a three-day bootcamp in New Mexico and meet with mentors, brand experts, financial experts, and lawyers to learn how to pitch. The auditions will be the first two episodes and the bootcamp will be the third episode.
The pilot will be released via Youtube and Vimeo in November, but the ultimate goal is to get picked up by HBO, CNBC, Netflix, Hulu, or traditional TV stations.
Beyond creating "marijuana millionaires," the secondary mission of the series, say its creators, is to spread awareness and educate people about the benefits of marijuana socially, culturally, and medicinally.
"Big pharmaceutical companies are fighting legalization, but the plant itself is natural and the laws are unnatural... Today, a quarter of all Americans are on anti-depressants and the side-effects are terrifying. Yet, here is something we know mellows you out and relaxes you and can be used as an alternative, like cannabidiol which has no psychoactive effects," Robbins says. "We want to open up the conversation and get rid of the fears that people seem to have about legalization."
Although deals with investors are still in the works, Robbins and Paull say they have one hedge fund and two venture capital firms whose representatives will be on the show. The investments will be anywhere between $25,000 to $1 million.
As for the entrepreneurs, one contestant is looking for capital to either lease or buy a building in Denver to be the headquarters of Mary Jane Farms, a deep water hydroponics company that will grow medical and recreational marijuana. Pat Noonan, who currently runs a business consulting firm in Denver, is teaming up with her next-door neighbors to start their business. Using LED lights and proprietary technology, and 10 years' experience of caregiving (the term for medical marijuana growers in Colorado), Noonan says their business will be defined by their ability to grow marijuana in half the time most growers do.
"Currently, according to a Denver study, the dispensaries cannot meet demand. We believe our plan to open a 4,000 square foot facility, which will produce 75 pounds a month the first year, is realistic and can be successful," Noonan says.
If you're hoping to see cutthroat business dealings, company breakups, and tears, you won't find any of that in The Marijuana Show. Although the camera operators are from The Voice and American Idol, Robbins and Paull say that's where the similarities end for this reality show.
"The drama will not come from back-stabbing each other, or screwing each other. I can't stand that. Our drama is going to come from telling the truth, being real, vulnerable, being open, getting rid of fears, and doubts," Robbins says. "A lot of the drama will come from watching people transform from the inside. When they become the next millionaire, they'll be able to pay it forward. We are hoping it'll help start a whole new way to do business."
Inc. will be following the entrepreneurs of The Marijuana Show, so stay tuned for more coverage.