Savvy entrepreneurs can take an idea to market quickly in the digital age, given the right resources and background. This means opportunity across industries, but it also means competition is steep and an idea must meet demand in an innovative way in order to survive. In the cannabis market, entrepreneurs also face the challenge of myriad regulations in a quickly changing market. But the cannapreneurial journey itself, win or lose, is being embraced by media companies.
Reality shows, especially competition-based reality shows, are exceedingly popular and have been for a while. It’s no surprise that shows such as ABC’s “Shark Tank” and CNBC’s “How I Made My Millions” attract viewers in high numbers. Many Americans have the entrepreneurial spirit. Viewers enjoy watching others make mistakes and overcome challenges in order to thrive in a competitive marketplace.
The entrepreneurial angle makes for reality TV that can be both entertaining and educational for those with start-up aspirations. The fact that entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry are increasingly included among the latest reality TV stars may signify a paradigm shift in acceptance of the industry as a whole.
Mass market adoption means cannapreneurs today are determining what makes a successful business model for tomorrow’s budding startups. Harborside Health Center was one of the first dispensaries to be featured on reality TV via Discovery Channel’s “Weed Wars.” The show debuted in 2011 and followed, documentary style, the dispensary as it struggled to survive in a difficult marketplace. This show gave viewers a glimpse into the day-to-day operational challenges.
“Weed Wars” was an innovative show that gave a legitimate cannabusiness a voice. Since then, the media and entertainment world has shown a trend toward cannabis-themed shows including CNN’s “High Profits” and ABC Family’s new reality TV show, “Startup U.”
“Startup U” combines the appeal of highlighting the intrigue of the cannabis market, and the popularity of the entrepreneurial journey. Taking an educational focus, the show’s stars are budding entrepreneurs spanning many industries. It follows these young professionals as they attend Draper University to learn the skills required to take their ideas to market. After a seven-week intensive training, they get to pitch their ideas, “Shark Tank” style, to a panel of venture capitalists.
This show is groundbreaking because it is not a cannabusiness-based show, but rather one with a focus on the entrepreneurial journey that includes a cannabis-based startup. David Kram is one of the show’s stars. An entrepreneur with experience as an investment banker, Kram’s idea is to enter the medical marijuana market via a prescription delivery service.
The fact that ABC Family is featuring a cannabis startup on a general show about business is indicative of increasing acceptance of medical marijuana as a viable and credible as a family-friendly business. It also shows the universality of the business journey.
There is massive potential in the cannabis industry, and Kram wants to target customer service in the medical marijuana segment. His public journey toward the realization of his brainchild, Relieve, an online medical cannabis marketplace with a focus on quick delivery of prescriptions, might attract industry attention of previously unlikely consumers and entrepreneurs.
As for Kram, not only will he have a platform for his idea, but he will also reach viewers across the United States as a young entrepreneur representing the cannabis market. It will be interesting to see what this wider exposure will bring. “Startup U” will debut August 11, 2015, at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.