Kezia Goodwin pitching the investors | Photo by Fancy This Photography

Shark Tank for the Triangle

In April 2020, Do by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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In a shark eats shark world, Jason Gillikin, the CEO and executive producer of the local podcast production company Earfluence, says he hopes to be a “rising tide lifting all boats” for the Triangle’s startup community. 

Through podcasting, Gillikin discovered that when one company in the Triangle succeeds, the whole community benefits. In an effort to give entrepreneurs a more prominent voice, Gillikin launched the Startup Stage Podcast in February with the goal of connecting startup entrepreneurs with investors, specifically women and African American entrepreneurs who are historically underrepresented in business. 

According to Forbes, in 2018, companies women founded received only 2.2 percent of all venture capital dollars. Only 1 percent of venture-backed founders were African American. “That disparity—and making a change—is important to several of the venture capital firms in the Triangle area,” Gillikin says. “So, in addition to bringing the startup community together, we wanted to make sure we brought in entrepreneurs—and investors—from all backgrounds to boost the ecosystem of underrepresented entrepreneurship.”

Gillikin’s Startup Stage Podcast began with 11 entrepreneurs who pitched their ideas, which the producers narrowed down to eight individuals who will have the chance to share their startups with four local venture capitalists and angel investors—Robbie Hardy, Keith Daniel, Donald Thompson and Timothy McLoughlin—over the course of eight episodes that will air in April. 

Startup Stage Investors: Donald Thompson (Walk West), Robbie Hardy (xElle Ventures), Keith Daniel (Resilient Ventures), and Tim McLoughlin (Cofounders Capital) | Photo by Fancy This Photography
Startup Stage Investors: Donald Thompson (Walk West), Robbie Hardy (xElle Ventures), Keith Daniel (Resilient Ventures), and Tim McLoughlin (Cofounders Capital) | Photo by Fancy This Photography

By the end of the episodes, some of the entrepreneurs will clinch investment bids, but, Gillikin explains, there’s a due diligence period in which the investors have time to decide whether or not they actually want to move forward with the deal. In May, the due diligence period ends with a live podcast episode that Sharon Delaney McCloud, a former news anchor and Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, will host. As in the show “Shark Tank,” interested investors will make a deal with prospective entrepreneurs and give them capital for their startup during this podcast episode. Some entrepreneurs may be turned away, but others might have multiple investors fighting over them and, in the end, leave with a hefty check to put toward starting their businesses. 

“It’s a privilege to be a small part of this startup community,” Gillikin says. “And to share these stories and get the Triangle excited about what’s going on in their backyard.” 

Listen to the first episode at earfluence.com/is-drop-in-childcare-a-scalable-business-kates-korner or wherever you get your podcasts.

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