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‘We’ve always had a one way-conversation with founders. That changed with Shark Tank India’: BharatPe's Ashneer Grover

The ‘sharks’ assembled for an interview before the final week of the show

Entrepreneurship-focused reality TV show Shark Tank has become a part of dinner-table conversations in India. From grandparents to grandkids, everyone is talking about the show, making memes on social media and is suddenly interested in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

It can also be said that the show has managed to bring audience back to the idiot box and managed to keep them hooked. Therefore, as the show enters its final week of the debut season, the ‘Sharks’ got together to talk about their journey and the impact the show has had on their lives.

Some ‘Sharks’ openly accepted that they had not estimated this much warmth and appreciation from the audience. Anupam Mittal, Founder,, said, “Even after signing up for the show I was not very convinced about its viability for the Indian audiences.” In retrospect, he agreed to have underestimated the demand for good-quality content and the budding interest of Indians in self-employment opportunities.

On the impact the show has created, Namita Thapar, Executive Director, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, said, “I am truly happy that it has become a dinner table conversation. It has cut across gender, classes, barriers.”

The show made a great emphasis on gender equality, on providing equal opportunities to women who want to start their entrepreneurial journey. Thapar also spoke about the influence it is going to have on the young female audience in the long-run. She said, “I personally was very happy that 48% of the ventures that got funded are women! That is a brilliant statistic and that’s something I am very happy about.”

Season 1 has seen some brilliant ideas and some pretty passable opportunities presented to the sharks. Their candour and reactions to some of the pitches have been so raw and unfiltered that audiences were able to see behind the veil of big net-worth tags and designations that the Sharks are associated with.

Ashneer Grover, MD and Co-founder, BharatPe, said, “The show was successful in showing the audiences that ‘Who is a founder?’ They are also just as human as the boy-next-door and any person with the grit and resilience can become a founder of a big company.”

He added, “The show gave insight into two extremes to the audiences: One was the initial extreme which was represented by the pitchers coming in with business pitches and very nascent knowledge of how it could be scaled and on the other end we had the sharks, who had gone through the journey the pitchers were setting out on. Up until now, we had a one-way conversation with founders, we read about them in newspapers, about how big the funding was, about their IPOs but never actually got to know them. The show normalised an entrepreneur.”

Peeyush Bansal, Co-Founder, Chief Executive and People Officer, Lenskart, echoed the same sentiment by adding, “When I looked back at my journey, I realised a lot of the things I was pointing out in the pitchers as drawbacks or mistakes, I had myself carried them out in my early days. So, it was clear that we have to back the entrepreneur and I honestly believe that no one can predict what will happen tomorrow. So, my investments on the show were based heavily on supporting the entrepreneurs.”

Even during the show, Bansal had mentioned that he can make more money from Lenskart than any of the investments he will make on the show. His focus, thus, remains on helping out resilient entrepreneurs as was seen from his investment in “Jugaadu” Kamlesha young farmer-inventor from Maharashtra who came up with a pesticide-spraying solution for farmers.

As per Anupam Mittal, 93% of the pitchers were from non-tier one institutes and educational backgrounds. He said it was refreshing to see that since in the VC-circles, most of the entrepreneurs are from Tier-1 colleges, such as IITs, IIMs etc.  

Shark Tank is called Dragon’s Den in the UK which started in 2005, and was based on the Japanese Show, ‘Tigers of Money’.  It has been a successful franchise creating a lot of famous celebrity entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban and Peter Jones. India is already seeing its impact and the Sharks have become household names while their businesses too have garnered additional publicity through the show.

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