The Shark Tank Paradigm

Here’s my pitch: a Shark Tank for politics. I think that every politician and pundit with a big, bold, world-changing idea should have to pitch it to a group of people who know what the hell they’re talking about. Then let the chips fall where they may. At least it would be entertaining.

If you’re not familiar with the show (or as its called in most non-US versions, Dragon’s Den), it goes like this: An entrepreneur walks into a room and pitches a business idea. A panel of investors, aka the “sharks”, ask a bunch of questions. If they think the idea can make them a profit, and the entrepreneur seems to know what they’re doing, one or more of the sharks will invest. If not, they’re “out”. Once all of the sharks are out, you basically stick your tail between your legs and go home. If you get even one of them to back you, though, you get some venture capital, a possible partner, and the kinds of resources that can make you a success.

The worst thing that you can do on this show, worse even than pitching a bad product idea, is not having a solid plan. The sharks want to know how you’re going to make the thing or provide the service. They want to know how you’re going to sell and distribute it. Most importantly, they need to know what it costs to produce and how much you’re going to sell it for. If you don’t have a solid plan, based on real data, they will rip you apart. These are serious business people. They do not suffer fools.

The Shark Tank Paradigm

So picture Agent Orange standing up there saying “we’re going to build a wall, and Mexico is going to pay for it”. Or the Vote Leave people in the UK pitching the idea that they’re going to get better trade deals and more money for the NHS by exiting the European Union. Then people who actually have experience with these sorts of things grilling them for details. Asking follow-up questions. Making them sweat. Then sending them packing, because they haven’t thought things all the way through.

Yeah, I know. That’s not how it works. Those folks would never agree to that level of scrutiny. There were and are experts fact-checking these sorts of things on a daily basis. Correct information is out there. It’s just hard to find with all of the gaslighting, partisanship, and willful ignorance. Let me dream, okay?

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