Television possesses a magical quality that captivates and inspires viewers through its persuasive and memorable storytelling. Thanks to shows like Ready Set StartUP, available on Amazon Prime in the UK and the US, the world of entrepreneurship is brought to the forefront, potentially sparking the interest and aspirations of countless individuals in the business realm.
Ready. Set. Go.
Ready Set StartUP is an exhilarating production by Pictures in Motion, consisting of six gripping episodes. The reality show features ten early-stage entrepreneurs who face weekly challenges in a fierce competition to secure the ultimate prize: a £100,000 investment in the winning business. Each task is meticulously designed in collaboration with real businesses, putting the contestants' entrepreneurial mindset and skills to the test. Meanwhile, they work on their own ventures, guided by experienced mentors, preparing for the final pitch to the judges.
A Format Worth Anticipating
I have eagerly awaited a show like this for a long time, recognising the need for a fresh format that truly showcases the essence of entrepreneurship. Ready Set StartUP strikes a perfect balance between Dragons Den, which centres around pitching for investment, and The Apprentice, initially focused on securing a corporate job but eventually evolving into a competition for a business partnership with one of the UK's most successful businesspeople. By offering a more holistic approach, this show shines a spotlight on various critical aspects such as business planning, teamwork, and pitching.
When SFC Capital received an invitation to participate in the show, I knew we had to seize the opportunity. The UK boasts a thriving entrepreneurial culture and a business-friendly environment, making it an ideal platform to captivate a vast audience. With our extensive experience in supporting early-stage entrepreneurs, who better than SFC Capital to evaluate and appraise the contestants' entrepreneurial mindset and skills? Although the project posed its challenges and marked the first endeavour for Pictures in Motion, the premise, interest, and support behind Ready Set StartUP were simply incredible.
The filming took place throughout July and August 2021, with a highly skilled crew bringing the production to life. The show starred ten ambitious entrepreneurs, supported by four business mentors, and featured three company owners alongside a panel of four judges.
As part of the judging panel, I had the privilege of sitting alongside some of the finest entrepreneurs and investors in the UK: Tom Blomfield, the visionary founder of GoCardless and Monzo; Ying Wang, an accomplished angel investor and business owner; and Eamon Carey, a seasoned venture capitalist and former MD of TechStars. Our judging sessions took place in the beautiful Spaces office in Liverpool Street, setting the stage for intense deliberations.
Our role was to evaluate how the contestants tackled the challenges, assessing their entrepreneurial skills, and ultimately determining how effectively they developed and presented their own businesses. On the challenge front, we scrutinised their problem-solving abilities, leadership qualities, teamwork, and their capacity to deliver results under pressure. Regarding their own ventures, we delved into the evolution of their initial pitches after receiving mentoring and navigating several challenges. We considered crucial factors such as innovation, market potential, scalability, feasibility, and the entrepreneurs' ability to execute their ideas.
Preparation and Deliberation
Prior to filming, extensive homework was required. We studied each challenge, reviewed footage, and analysed the results before the contestants made their presentations. We posed numerous questions, offered comments, and provided feedback. Undoubtedly, this was the most emotionally charged and stressful aspect that the contestants had to face. As judges, we didn't always see eye-to-eye and spent considerable time debating before reaching our conclusions.
The Intensity of Filming
The filming process was both demanding and exhilarating. It required us to spend countless hours on set, enduring periods of waiting and retakes, which tested our physical endurance. Taking place during the pandemic, we adhered to strict health and safety protocols, including daily testing. Unfortunately, I personally faced some complications related to COVID-19. Nonetheless, the journey was filled with moments of joy, laughter, and tears, as everyone involved, from the crew and mentors to the contestants and judges, poured their hearts and souls into the production. The contestants approached the show with the same passion and determination they bring to their own businesses, showcasing their resilience and adaptability. It was undoubtedly heart-wrenching to witness contestants being eliminated at the end of each episode, but it served as a necessary reflection of the harsh realities of the business world, where competition is fierce, adaptation is crucial, and only the best survive.
The Result? Tune in to Find Out
The outcome of our collective efforts can be witnessed in the thrilling six episodes of the show. All I can reveal is that the best entrepreneur emerged victorious in the end, making for an incredible climax that viewers need to experience first-hand.
Ready Set StartUP has been warmly received thus far, making its debut at Cannes and finding its way onto Amazon Prime in the UK and US. The show not only entertains and captivates audiences but also serves as a powerful platform for promoting entrepreneurship and imparting business knowledge. For the entrepreneurs who chose to compete on the screen, it can also prove to be an invaluable promotional tool. With each new season, viewers can look forward to fresh and exciting insights into the multifaceted world of business.
For SFC Capital and myself personally, this entire experience marked a thrilling and challenging journey, extending our mission to foster British entrepreneurialism and ignite the aspirations of budding entrepreneurs far and wide.