Ramen Dinners, Rare Wins & Often, Failures: ‘Bazillion Dollar Club’ Series Follows Silicon Valley Startups Enrolled In 500 Startups & Highway1

bazillion dollar club countdown

Ramen dinners, rare wins and–often–failures: the life of a Silicon Valley startup. A new show, “Bazillion Dollar Club,” takes viewers behind the scenes of six Silicon Valley startups seeking success, either through hardware accelerator Highway1 or accelerator 500 Startups.brady forrest highway1

Premiering Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 10 p.m. on Syfy, the six-episode series is produced by Zero Point Zero Production (Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; The Hunt with John Walsh). The show has two hosts: Dave McClure, founding partner at 500 Startups,  a venture capital firm and startup incubator in Silicon Valley with over $200M under management, and Brady Forrest, vice president at Highway1, PCH’s accelerator for hardware.

Dave McClureMcClure has been an investor in hundreds of companies around the world including Credit Karma, Twilio, MakerBot, Wildfire Interactive, Viki, Mashery, SendGrid, Mint.com and SlideShare. According to his bio, he has been geeking out in Silicon Valley for over 25 years as a developer, entrepreneur, blogger, investor and Internet marketing nerd. He has worked with companies such as PayPal, Founders Fund, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twilio, Mint.com, Simply Hired, O’Reilly Media, Intel & Microsoft.

Forrest co-founded and shepherds Ignite Talks, a global talk series on six continents. He’s the co-author of The Hardware Startup, as well as a venture advisor to 500 Startups and helps arts organizations via CAST in San Francisco. Previously, he cut his teeth at Microsoft, Khosla Ventures and O’Reilly Media.

The first episode, “ivee,” features the startup by the same name, a voice-activated, Wi-Fi connected smart alarm clock for the home. As the episode begins, its creator, Jonathon Nostrant, has already sold a million dollars’ worth of his voice-activated alarm clock, but now he’s come to 500 Startups to transform his product into a voice activated personal assistant that controls every electronic item in your home. Driving the plot is the question, will he be able to get his product and pitch ready in time to sell investors on giving him $1 million on Demo Day?

transportation cable car san franciscoWithout spoiling the pilot too much for viewers, it was reminiscent of a “Hell’s Kitchen” for startups, with the requisite language as tensions heightened with the approach of Demo Day. With a rallying cry of “Hopefully you won’t suck,” McClure rallies the startups to begin pitch practice–an activity that includes McClure throwing a large exercise ball at participants to distract them while they’re pitching (thus testing if they can hold it together under pressure), as well as power moves such as raising one’s arms above one’s head and widening one’s stance. Of course there’s a high potential for snafus in launching any enterprise, but like any televised competition/reality show, watching the drama unfold can be far more interesting than reading about it in a tidy little paragraph on a company’s website. And of course, the B-roll footage of San Francisco always makes me want to move closer to the featured part of the city.

bazillion dollar clubHere’s a complete list of the startups involved:

  • VANGO – Vango is an online marketplace that connects independent artists and buyers, focusing on original paintings at entry-level prices.
  • ROOST – Applying the Airbnb model to personal storage and parking spaces, Roost is an online marketplace that connects friendly people who have extra space, to neighbors who need storage or parking.
  • SERENETI KITCHEN – A robotic cooking appliance that makes delicious single-pot meals with healthy, fresh ingredients for those without the know-how, time, or ability to cook for themselves.
  • SPINN COFFEE – One of a kind, in-home coffee maker using patented centrifugal technology to brew delicious, café quality espresso, Americano, French Press or drip coffee with only the freshest beans at the push of a button.
  • FISHBIT – A connected device to monitor and control your aquarium from your smartphone.
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