Described as "Shark Tank meets American Idol, only for the cannabis industry," the premise for The Marijuana Show sounds a bit like someone wrote down bunch of on-trend ideas from the mid-2000s, shook them up in a box, then pulled them out at random.
But The Marijuana Show, hosted by two-time Emmy Award-winning director Wendy Robbins and marketing guru Karen Paull, has a higher mission than most reality shows: namely, "advocating, educating, entertaining, and, eventually, legalizing" cannabis. While also, of course, finding America's next 'Marijuana Millionaire' and doling out $20-million in investment capital available made available by investors to help launch innovative cannabis businesses with solid business plans.
First, would-be Marijuana Show contestants have to audition - either in person at auditions in 50 major markets, including California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Las Vegas, or by submitting a two-minute pitch video through the show's website.
If they get past that first step, they get a chance to pitch Paull and Robbins, "the hosts and gatekeepers," as Paull explains.
"Then if they're really good, we give them a challenge that will help them get to the next level," she says. "Like we had a contestant, Kayla Hill from Hemp Butter All-In-One, who was afraid to get in front of buyers, so we tasked her with going in front of 100 buyers and pitching that and taping herself doing it."
They come up with the challenges based on the company's stage of development to make sure everyone's limits are being pushed, says Paull.
"Let's say it's a more established company, hypothetically, one that has contracts with six dispensaries," she says. "We'd say, 'make it 12 by next week', and we see what they do with the challenge."
After contestants complete the challenges, Paull says, "we put them through a two- to five-day Bud Camp," an intense training regimen that includes game show-style challenges, and mentorship from industry experts.
"We train them how to scale their business," says Paull. "Once they get through the Bud Camp segment, entrepreneurs pitch a panel of accredited investors."
Since the show was launched a year and a half ago in Denver, Paull says more than 200 people have auditioned, with just 10 making it to the final phase of the competition. Season One is available to stream via the show's website: Season 2 is currently being reviewed by Netflix and Hulu, and may be able to view on other, cannabis-related portals down the line.
Holding auditions for third season
Auditions for the third season are currently underway. According to Robbins, they're looking for pitches from "dispensaries, grows, ancillary products, real estate, anything that's a really good idea."
One caution: they aren't looking for pre-revenue companies, or companies that are just in the "ideas" phase.
"We're looking for companies with 3-6 months of revenue with good business plans," she says. "We love getting creative ideas."
Some of the successful entrepreneurs in Seasons 1 and 2 included BioTrack, a seed-to-sale company that received more than $5-million in investment, and the Renew sports car, which has a lightweight body made entirely out of hemp.
"We had another person pitch us a Baltimore dispensary license," says Robbins. "If they win, will get upward of $1.2-million from the show."
In Season 3, American entrepreneur and Def Jam Recordings founder Russell Simmons will join the show as a guest mentor to "talk about mentorship and the need to legalize cannabis."
Why does the world need a show all about cannabis entrepreneurs? Paull says it's simple: "[Cannabis] is such a hot topic, a multi-billion dollar industry that grew by 74 percent in one year. Yet [some] people still think Reefer Madness is real. There are a lot of myths to bust, and we want to educate people about an industry that's changing on a daily basis."
Banner photo: Wendy Robbins (producer, director and show host) and Karen Paull (producer and host).