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Two Entrepreneurs' Marketing Plan: Crowdfunding a Reality Show

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It's hard to get noticed when you're just another small startup in the big apple. Two young business women have a unique marketing strategy for cutting through the noise: They've teamed up to create a reality-TV show pilot about their businesses.

Now the pair are trying to raise money to turn it into a series on crowd-funding broadcast site Mobcaster. The pilot, Startup: NYC, chronicles a day in the life of PA for a Day owner Charell Star and Morgan Gantt, owner of the online wig-sales site, Swigch'd.

I took a look at the pilot, which gives you a quick appreciation for how hard reality-TV producers have to work to create hit shows. It's not as easy as it looks, as Star and Gantt are discovering. Their Mobcaster bid to raise $40,000 has brought in just $765 in pledges so far, and has under 40 days left in the bidding period.

The reason for their dismal fundraising so far could have to do with the quality of the pilot episode. There are two basic issues with the pilot -- technical problems and the lack of a strong, drama-driven plot.

Related: Are You the Next Steve Jobs? A New Reality TV Show Might Be Looking for You

The audio on the opening sequence was so bad I almost stopped watching. Thankfully, most later portions have better-quality audio and you aren't straining to hear what's said through what sounds like an echo chamber.

The sound is also tough because Gantt came down with laryngitis the day of the shoot. For much of the show, she can barely be heard. This left me wondering why shooting wasn't simply postponed until Gantt could talk again. You've got TV stardom on the line here, ladies!

Eventually, Gantt is sent home to bed by her doctor, leaving Star to scrounge up an assistant from her company to help her host a networking event at the TriBeCa coworking space where the two business owners rent offices.

This twist creates pretty much the only drama in the pilot, but it also means Gantt disappears for a large portion of the epsoide. The rest of the footage is simply the two women talking about their hopes for their companies and taking meetings with designers, webmasters, and other business partners. All of which go off drama-free.

No one scores a big client. No one has a breakdown because the designer's ideas are horrible. There are no screaming deadlines the entrepreneurs must meet -- they don't have to cook a complex dish in an hour that's better than a dozen other chefs' version while a celebrity chef screams at them, or make a couture dress in a day. They aren't pitted against any other competitors in their industries (of course they are in real life, but not that we see in the show).

Related: The Art and Craft of Listening to Your Critics

In other words, it's just not good TV. The lack of conflict makes it dull viewing.

Between the technical problems and the lack of a compelling plot, I'm not surprised Star and Gantt have struggled to land funding to turn out more episodes.

But watch for other entrepreneurs to try this crowdfunded TV show idea in the future. Maybe the next hit reality show will arise from a grassroots effort like Startup:NYC

Related: 3 Rules for Successful Crowdfunding

Carol Tice

Written By

Longtime Seattle business writer Carol Tice has written for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Delta Sky and many more. She writes the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog. Her new ebook for Oberlo is Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs.