Reality TV devours talent. Business ravages entrepreneurs while devouring their ideas. Don inhabits a dramatic nexus for aspiring tycoons seeking fame and fortune. His job is to ensure an audience is entertained.
Don produces the wildly popular YouTube show: Tycoon Hopper. Tycoon Hopper is a member of a growing lineage of Entrepreneurial Reality Shows like ABC’s Shark Tank and Amazon Prime’s Startup. Hopper’s hook is providing a platform for entrepreneurs to pitch a business idea to an expert panel. The panel serves as a gatekeeper for several major foundation grants. Unlike other shows where the objective is to hook up an entrepreneur with an investor who ultimately owns a piece of the nascent new business, the grants have no strings attached. The grantee does not have to show a profit. However, the idea must meet the foundation’s values and objectives.
Every day, Don seeks interesting people with interesting ideas. Candidates must attract Tycoon’s viewer demographic — educated, hip, aspiring, connected, and young. The show’s investors seek weekly releases of new episodes. Don thrives under the pressure and the show’s success is evidence that he has developed good instincts for selecting participants. One facet of his talent search includes a website where aspiring entrepreneurs can submit their pitches online. Reviewing submissions is part of Don’s daily ritual.
The monitor displays one of these submissions.
Future Tycoon’s Name: Camille ‘Sandi’ Ashcroft
Photo: Attached jpg
This is not a selfie, Camille had help, or at least a tripod to compose the portrait. Don assesses Camille’s picture. He muses, attractive but not glamorous. She looks like the outdoorsy type.
Tycoon’s viewers respond well to good-looking want-to-be entrepreneurs as long as they are not too good-looking. The show is about the viewer’s dreams, and those dreams require empathy with the participant. Viewers are put off by someone who is too good looking because of the belief the participant will coast to success based on looks alone.
Current Profession: Produce sowing, selection, acquisition, and packaging specialist; part-time student
Work Experience: Fulfill Community Supported Agriculture contracts with sustainably grown organic products on a multi-generational family farm.
Don smiles, Camille knows Tycoon’s demographics. She fit the show’s R2R protocol — Rags to Riches. Viewers were in love with the American dream that canonized the working person who lifts themselves to great success with a fresh idea. Performing hard manual labor like farm work was not a prerequisite. In fact, the show and its viewers have a soft spot for people who used their heads not their hands. Streaming the latest episode is popular on campuses across the country. Camille’s part-time student status combined with hard work, an icon like the family farm, and the trendiness of organic produce will play well with the Millennial and Gen Z viewership.
Pitch: Perfectly Ugly Fruit
Venture Name: Perfectly Ugly Fruit
Great name! Thought Don. Memorable, and, it would make an excellent episode title. The meat of the application followed — the pitch. Don read on.
Pitch: $160 Billion of food is wasted every year. Tons of perfectly good food rot in fields, are fed to livestock, and are dumped in landfills simply for not meeting food buyer’s aesthetic requirements. Globally, almost a billion people are suffering a hunger crisis while desperately needed food is squandered due to minor imperfections. Socially responsible companies are springing up to connect concerned consumers with imperfect produce to reduce this waste and save our planet. These companies serve consumers with mobile apps that enable customers to customize orders that save imperfect produce from the landfill. Companies deliver nicely boxed collections of slightly disfigured or discolored fruits and vegetables right to the customer’s doorstep. A concerned consumer no longer endures the uncertainty involved in rescuing imperfect produce on their own from the grocery store or green market, and, they rest assured that they’ve received truly salvaged food.
Perfectly Ugly Fruit (PUF) is a platform for supplying companies with the highest quality uniquely imperfect produce. I have forged relationships with University researchers who are working with industry to develop the next generation of sophisticated produce sorting machines. These machines leverage the latest optical recognition and machine learning technologies. Algorithms will enable these advanced machines to bin ugly produce to exacting specifications. PUF serves as the connection between imperfect produce providers and produce wholesalers to ensure that customers receive shipments that exemplify their values with disfigured produce that inspires discussion with dinner guests. Celebrity chefs can exhibit their social responsibility with artful displays of blemished fruit in their restaurants. High-end supermarkets may even get on board with premium priced socially responsible imperfects sections.
PUF seeks a $5 million grant to develop and install the ugly recognition algorithms at four separate processing facilities across the country that are already using the advanced sorting machines. The grant will fund a PUF broker at each facility for a year. The broker connects providers with the wholesaler and tweaks the algorithms to meet any special disfiguration needs. This grant will help Perfectly Ugly Fruit address the growing global food security crisis.
Hallelujah! I found my talent. If she can string together a sentence… Don looked at the form’s contact section and punched in Camille’s phone number. He needed to talk to prospective talent to ensure their suitability for the show. There was a lot of back and forth with the panel. A Fledgling Tycoon needs to demonstrate to Don during a phone interview that they can hold their own.
After four rings, Don heard a young woman’s voice “I can’t come to the phone right now. If you would leave…” Don hung up. He punched in the second contact number.
There is one long ring and a digitally augmented female voice responds: “Camille is on another line. TOMKU values your call. You may leave a message for Camille by speaking after the tone, or you may press zero now to speak with a receptionist.” Don hung up without leaving a message.
He entered TOMKU into his computer’s search engine. He opened the top search response, a nicely formatted corporate site:
TOMKU, optimized optical sorting. Sort carrots by size, shape, and quality in a single-stage process.
Don navigated to a Meet Our People tab. No staff are named Camille ‘Sandi’ Ashcroft. But, a very familiar photo of a Charlotte Amos is on display. She is a member of TOMKU’s social media marketing department.
Feeling a bit played in his own medium, Don sighed and called up the next on-line application.
Ugly Apples: Monica Georgescu [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Image: 100+ Free Sorted & Different Images – Pixabay