Rice Hosts “Shark Tank” Casting Call

Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business was chosen to host Houston’s first ever Shark Tank open casting call. During the call, more than three hundred entrepreneurs presented a one-minute pitch to producers from Shark Tank, ABC’s popular reality TV show where entrepreneurs pitch their business to superstar investors. The contestants came from as near as Houston, and as far away as California, some driving through the night to reach McNair Hall at Jones for the May 3o open casting call.

From 8-10 AM, Rice students and alumni had the opportunity to participate in a private casting call. The Jones community members waited outside room 214, a classroom used by MBAs during the school year. One Jones alumnus presented a meat stimulator that neutralizes the gamey taste meat. Another community member, Janice, and her son Connor, presented custom-made wheelchair covers.

After 10 AM, the Shark Tank staff distributed colored wrist bands corresponding to call times, so entrepreneurs whose pitches were scheduled later in the day could leave and come back instead of waiting outside in the blazing Texas sun all day.

As each new crop of entrepreneurs was brought into the Anderson Family Commons to pitch their product, the head of casting for Shark Tank summarized the pitching procedure: “Ten people will go up at a time. When you’re done you leave. Keep it classy, throw out your trash. Be excited. Don’t stress about doing that rehearsed speech. Focus on the conversation. We don’t care about what you’re pitching as much as we care about how you pitch it. What’s going to get you on the show is your story.”

The head of casting also made it clear to the entrepreneurs that the pitching process was difficult: “Last year, 40,000 people tried out. Only 150 made it in front of the sharks. Your chances are as good as you are. Bring your passion and your products.”

One of the main rules of Shark Tank casting is that chosen participants are not allowed to reveal that they got the call. No one will know how many participants were chosen from Houston and which companies will be pitched until next season airs.



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