Love watching Shark Tank? Wisconsinites can also view a local, more positive take on the hit television show.
Every week, viewers across Wisconsin can tune in for a new episode of “Project Pitch It,” a show where Wisconsin entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas to a panel of leading business moguls and win awards to advance their projects, according to promotional material.
Bev Greenberg founded “Project Pitch It” six years ago to fill a need for the Wisconsin community. Greenberg is a longtime local Jewish community advocate, though this project is for the wider community.
“I had been reading that Milwaukee and Wisconsin were around 38th in the country in terms of being looked at as an entrepreneurial destination,” Greenberg said. “And everything I had read indicated that entrepreneurship is the driving force in the growth and vitality of any community.”
Coming from a television background at Time Warner Cable, Wisconsin On Demand and Spectrum, Greenberg said she knew what it would take to bring the first local entrepreneurial show to life. As season six began to air across Wisconsin, Greenberg said the show attracts between 70,000 and 90,000 viewers per show.
“It was really meant to inspire, educate and of course, it’s TV so we wanted to entertain viewers on the topic of Wisconsin entrepreneurism,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg said her Jewish values were an important factor in her creating this program. When she was young, her mother always bought items from door-to-door salesmen, not because they needed the item, but because it would help the salesmen and his family.
“Helping others is at the core of Project Pitch It. We provide a lot of mentoring, feedback and encouragement to every entrepreneur in the show and so far, with six seasons we have had 138 entrepreneurs. Ninety percent of them are still in business. Four hundred-plus jobs have been created,” Greenberg said. She added that nearly $3 million in cash and resources have been invested in the entrepreneurs.
Every participant on the show leaves with an award, ranging from $1,500 to $10,000 in cash plus mentoring and guidance. Awards are sponsored by American Family Insurance, We Energies, the Jendusa family, UW-Milwaukee’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center, and Peg Ann and David Gruber.
David Gruber, a Wisconsin personal injury attorney well known for his “one call, that’s all” advertising, has been a mogul on Project Pitch It for the last four years. He views the show as an amazing platform for entrepreneurs to discuss their ideas with both business leaders and the Wisconsin community.
“These entrepreneurs, they’re passionate. They’re inexperienced, in most cases. And most of us have a lot of experience in the business world, and in very different types of businesses too,” Gruber said.
Gruber said everything on the show is positive, and everyone leaves with constructive advice and money to make their ideas come to fruition. According to those involved, it’s a more positive version of “Shark Tank,” the national TV show on ABC.
“You’re in a position where you cannot only advise, but you encourage. You challenge. A lot of these folks are chasing their dreams and you want to help if you could,” Gruber said.
This season, viewers can hear pitches about a clothing store for full-bodied women, an interactive restaurant that is a salute to Dungeons and Dragons, a cookie business and many more.
Season seven will include middle school and high school student entrepreneurs. Any school that has an entrepreneurship program is encouraged to contact Director of Community Outreach Kari Altman at Karibga@gmail.com to learn about auditions. Altman, too, is a longtime local Jewish community supporter.
“It makes the community and state a little better, it came at a good time and continues in a good time,” Gruber said. “It’s uplifting and positive.”
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How to Watch:
New episodes air on WISN-TV 12 ABC (Milwaukee) on Saturday at 10:35 p.m. through May 14 and on WKOW-TV 27 ABC (Madison) on Sunday at various times through May 28. For more ways to watch, visit ProjectPitchIt.com/Season-6/.