TWELVE business owners will soon step inside the ‘Shark Tank’ hoping to walk away with a pile of cash.
They will be chosen from more than 200 budding entrepreneurs who applied to be included in the inaugural edition of Biban, a reality TV series by Hope Ventures, the investment arm of Hope Fund.
Set up last year, the fund is an initiative by His Majesty King Hamad’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs and Royal Humanitarian Foundation chairman Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa to support youth projects.
Inspired by the famous American show Shark Tank, Biban will give local start-ups a platform to pitch their ideas to a panel of seasoned business figures, who then decide whether to invest in them or not.
A still from Shark Tank, which airs on the ABC network (Image Credit: ABC)
Viewers will also get a front-row seat to discussions and negotiations that typically take place behind closed doors.
However, Ahmed Al Kooheji, the digital marketing and outreach senior manager of Hope Ventures asserted that entertainment is not the main objective.
“We want to highlight and celebrate the tenacious spirit of Bahraini entrepreneurs, share their inspiring stories, as well as provide growth funding and shed light on Bahrain’s unique culture of entrepreneurship and spirit of innovation,” he told the GDN in an exclusive interview.
Mr Al Kooheji said the panel of investors will not only challenge the entrepreneurs, while making an investment decision in real-time, but also use their knowledge and experience and contribute to the business with the aim of opening doors, or in Arabic ‘Biban’, for the ventures to grow and scale beyond the country.
Mr Al Kooheji
Going on air by the end of the year, the mini series comprises four episodes, each covering a specific sector and bringing together three businesses and four investors from the same sector.
The selection will be finalised by mid-September and the 12 that make the cut will go through a three-day bootcamp at the end of the month, where they receive guidance regarding their pitch decks and business models ahead of filming.
The seed and early stage venture capital firm Flat6labs will host the bootcamp.
“The public will be introduced to our entrepreneurs and investors when the show airs, as this is one of the surprise elements in our show,” added Mr Al Kooheji.
The start-ups chosen will reflect the innovative approaches used by businesses today to remain competitive and add value in high-growth, rapidly-changing sectors such as food and beverages, retail, technology, and manufacturing.
“We will ensure the participants we select have strong potential and receive guidance and training that will help them get investment,” said the official, adding that, “Biban is not only about funding entrepreneurs, but also about marketing them.”
The contestants will get exposure to viewers who may want to buy their products. Additionally, they could snag a distribution or business deal from an investor.
After the show ends, investors will continue their due diligence to substantiate the entrepreneur claims and seal the deal.
Mr Al Kooheji said Biban is backed by key industry players, sponsors and investors, whose names will be revealed in due course.
It is the first in a series of nation-wide strategic initiatives by Hope Ventures to enable, encourage and empower Bahrainis to launch and grow businesses.