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Why One Entrepreneur Isn't Taking the Bait When It Comes to ABC's Shark Tank The ugly side of made-for-TV venture capital

By Sam Hogg

This story appears in the February 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

I teach a business class at a university here in Michigan, and it pains me to discuss ABC's Shark Tank with my students. They love the show, in which entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to billionaire Mark Cuban and other venture capitalists in a bizarro setting where deals involving hundreds of thousands of dollars are mixed with a VC version of speed dating. My students believe that getting on Shark Tank and making a deal is a punched ticket to entrepreneurial stardom.

I can't decide whether Shark Tank is a wonderful motivator or the worst thing that ever happened to my industry. Here's why: The focus is on money, not on value. My biggest pet peeve with the show is seeing entrepreneurs more fascinated with pitching and raising venture capital than with building value—as if the default way to start a company nowadays is by having someone pay you to do it.

Entrepreneurship is about creating valuable things by summoning every possible resource you can, only some of which is other people's money. Starting this long journey by selling off a third of your equity or more on a TV show should not be the model.

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