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Reality-TV show about crowdfunding starts taping in Portland

Sunday, September 14, 2014

 

Peter Gruber

Peter Gruber, co-producer or Crowdfunding Mojo

A new reality-TV show based on crowdfunded projects is auditioning contestants on Wednesday in downtown Portland.

Crowdfunding Mojo  is a speculative TV series in which people using crowdfunding tools such as Kickstarter and Indigogo face off against each other to see who can raise the most money for his or her project.

People looking to fund a new business venture or invention through websites that allow strangers make donations to projects were encouraged to make presentations at the show’s taped open auditions at NedSpace from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 619 SW 11th Avenue, Suite 250.

Co-producer Mark Grimes said the open call posted on Craigslist had gotten a lot of attention.

“There’s a sword maker, someone who makes umbrella jewelry, a kid’s robot that is activated by music,” said Grimes of some of the projects he expects to see. “I hope we get a lot of wild ideas.”

Crowdfunding Mojo is the brainchild of Grimes and fellow producer Perry Gruber. Grimes has worked with business startups for 20 years. For the last five he’s run NedSpace, an incubator office for startups and creative projects. Gruber is a former executive with Intel’s corporate social responsibility section.

"It's fun, interesting and it's never been done before," Gruber said of the project. "That's why [Grimes and I] have done all our past projects."

The two expect to shoot 13 episodes lasting between 30 and 60 minutes. The producers are negotiating with Meredith Broadcasting for a television or cable deal. At the very least, the show will be aired online, Grimes said.

X-Factor Meets The Shark Tank

The show will take up to 20 contestants and pair them off into teams headed by one of eight coaches. The contestants will then launch their Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaigns during the season, with the final goal of seeing who's the most successful fundraiser by the end of the season.

Along the way, contestants will face a daily challenge that could earn them bonuses, such as a $1,000 donated to their campaign, or a penalty, like a one-day delay in their fundraising launch date.

Local entrepreneurs and people who’ve run successful Kickstarter campaigns in the past will coach the teams and use their influence to help the projects along. Coaches include Ray King, an entrepreneur who has run three successful startups and Shashi Jain, the organizer of entrepreneurial events such as Portland Startup Weekend.

“These people are ridiculously well connected,” Grimes said of the coaches. ”They’ll be able to use their skills and connections to help the projects grow faster.”

Venture capitalist Carolynn Duncan will be a judge at the Wednesday audition.

“I will be the Simon Cowell,” Duncan said.

She believes the show will help people who are thinking of crowdfunding their own project or business.

“I think a lot of founders see crowdfunding as easy,” Duncan said. “I’m excited there’s going to be a show that will demonstrate all the steps and challenges that actually happens along the way.”

Grimes directed anyone wanting to know more to his Craigslist posting. The show has no website, office or phone number. The producers said the show was itself a startup and saw those expenses as unnecessary.

“We are running lean and mean here,” Grimes said.

 

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