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These Silicon Valley investors set out to create the antithesis of 'Shark Tank'

Melia Robinson
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(Courtesy of "The Pitch")
When Silicon Valley venture capitalist and philanthropist Jillian Manus was invited to be a judge on "The Pitch," a podcast in which budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of investors, she had one condition.

"I wanted it to be the antithesis of 'Shark Tank,'" Manus tells Business Insider.

"The Pitch," which launched its second season in January, aims to deliver a more realistic version of the hit reality TV show. Each episode follows one entrepreneur through their pitch before a panel of judges, and follows up several months later to see what came of the investment opportunity.

"Shark Tank" draws approximately five million viewers on Friday nights on ABC. Some entrepreneurs walk away with thousands of dollars in order to turn their bright idea into a viable company, while others leave with their dreams crushed. The stakes are impossibly high.

But according to Manus, the show doesn't come close to her experience as a venture capitalist in the real world. The "sharks" on TV can be vicious and manipulative as they compete against each other for the deal they want.

Plus, the judges often offer up a small amount of money for ownership of half of a company — a feat they can get away with because they "have star power behind them," Manus said.

Josh Muccio, an entrepreneur and host of "The Pitch," decided to introduce just one entrepreneur per episode, allowing the podcast to dig deeper into the founder's story, give investors the space to conduct thorough interviews, and allow drama to unfold organically.

"We do thrill, but it's not demeaning," Manus said. "There's a mutual respect between an entrepreneur and the venture capitalist."

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(Jillian Manus shakes hands on a deal with entrepreneur Laura Bilazarian during an episode of "The Pitch."Courtesy of "The Pitch")

It also devotes significantly more time at the end of each episode to how the investment played out and what has become of the startup, as compared to "Shark Tank." They follow up with every guest, no matter if they landed an investment during their appearance on the podcast.

"We're not just going to tell the success stories. This is real life," Muccio told Business Insider.

During season two, which was recorded back in October, the show's five venture capitalists invested $1.5 million in featured companies. Entrepreneur Laura Bilazarian made such an impression on Manus with her recruiting startup Teamable that she wound up with funding from Manus's angel fund and a separate fund, Structure Capital, where Manus serves as a managing partner.

The 12-episode season also features Tesloop, a ride-sharing service that wants to shuttle passengers from city to city via Tesla vehicles, and Hykso, a Fitbit-like company that makes wearables built for tracking a boxer's punches. In some cases, the panel invested after the show taped, when they could conduct more due diligence. By comparison, most "Shark Tank" deals are made in minutes, though some sharks later rescind their offers after further research.

Since its premiere, the show has even gotten a nod of approval from a shark.

Barbaca Corcoran tweeted, "Like Shark Tank? Check out The Pitch podcast," adding a shout-out to "The Pitch" investor Phil Nadel, who also cofounded Corcoran's angel fund.

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