Reviewed! Shark Tank Meets Tech Stars – Betabeat + FedEx’s “The Pitch” Nears Perfect

/ May 14, 2013


We ranked it: 


The New York Observer is an unlikely candidate for nailing video but the age old publisher and its new(er) media brand Betabeat have a palpable grasp on a video format that is on-brand, well-produced and interesting to watch with its short form video franchise The Pitch, presented by FedEx.

Now in its second season, The Pitch pits 10 companies against eachother as they pitch venture capitalists Nikhil Kalghtagi from Softbank Capital and Steve Schlafman from Lerer Ventures on a particular startup with hopes of winning a $10,000 nugget of funding. In reality, The Pitch is a mashup of ABC’s Shark Tank and Bloomberg’s 2011 startup incubator reality show, Tech Stars. Funny enough, Season One of The Pitch also aired originally in 2011.

But we’re here to talk about Season 2. In less than 5 minutes, The Pitch walks the viewer through an elevator opening on the startup, allows the Founder or Co-founders to deliver the pitch to Kalghtagi and Schlafman while the two interject with pointed questions and attempt to poke holes in the startup’s value, and then wraps up with a quick summary of the Founders takeaway and the VC’s final deliberation.

From an online shopping portal to a senior living reviews-driven database to a real-estate app and even a(nother) social music platform, the range of startups selected is appealing. The content also fares well for the New York tech-centric blog. The creators also took note from social media best practices integrating audience participation – readers were invited to vote for the startup candidates.

Though the production is top quality and the format doesn’t feel too “reality” program, The Pitch does feel rushed and doesn’t measure even the smallest mark of on-screen enthusiasm. In contrast, what’s strong about its counterpart TV programs like Shark Tank is that the viewer can feel the tension and energy that goes along with “pitching” a product, especially when its to high powered constituents. The VC’s are pumped up, the contenders passionate, building an energetic buzz that seems to lack in The Pitch. 

(Aside: could the winnings get any smaller? $10,000 is all Lerer and Softbank could front to be a part of the web series? That’s smaller than friends and family rounds. Raise the stakes, raise the tension, raise the ratings.)

The brand integration also seems a bit off base. What relevance does FedEx have to this program? We all know tech-savvy entrepreneurs and startups don’t use snail mail. They live and die by the cloud and digital signatures. Even if FedEx could teleport, its unlikely that it would overtake its cloud competitors.

With that said, its no surprise that The Pitch locked a Second Season. It’s a prime candidate to lock down a third and a strong format for Betabeat and New York Observer to continue to nurture.

And with two weeks until its second season finale, a few predictions on the winners:

Seed & Spark – a wishlist and crowd funding platform for independent filmmakers – and Suitey – a real-estate brokerage startup – seemed to pull the most enthusiasm from the VC’s, but a personal fave to win is Seed & Spark.

Check out the show here: and let us know in the comments below who you think should win or feedback on The Pitch as a format.




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