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Savoring Startups: A Television Trend

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Whether it's the dream of another visionary like Steve Jobs or the spectacle of watching an underdog struggle (even when destined for failure), this culture's ever-growing fascination with startups is becoming clearer.

This clarity is reflected in the recent string of programs to come out in the past two years, many of which highlight the ups and downs of going into business for yourself.

While companies like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) have captured the imaginations of innovators, challengers, inventors and investors alike, striving young businesses weren't household names in America's living room until hitting TV on ABC's, subsidiary of Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS), "Shark Tank" in 2009.

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Startups Take TV By Storm

From the popularity of "Shark Tank," both reality and scripted television shows have taken cues and began reflecting a culture that's more than an attitude, but a way of life.

Take the popular HBO show "Silicon Valley" as an example of this fascination coming to surface. Mike Judge's look at a sextet of nerdish fellows takes the ambition of youth and the accessible hilarity of borderline misfits and molds the six into a reflection of the Everyman who sits perched on the cusp of millennialism. Just as so many young adults teetering between Gen Y and Gen Z who came into maturity at the turn of the century, Mike Judge's fellows struggle with the same hiccups and wide-eyed, optimistic determination.

Straight from the proverbial mouth of a true tech giant came, Inc.'s (NASDAQ: AMZN) "Betas" in 2013. Centered around app developers looking for an investor, the show wasn't renewed for a second season. It did, however, showcase a television trend in the making and did so as an instant streaming program.

Another show to surface last year was the widely circulated public access program "Start Up," which follows creator Gary Bredow through the United States as he interviews small business owners. He sifts through personality and history as he traverses the stories behind successful small businesses.

The Michigan Chronicle quoted Bredow in an article that highlighted the show's second season, which includes area businesses.

“It's estimated that 85 percent of new businesses fail. From America's Heartland to the Deep South, we are seeing average American's doing extraordinary things, and we're excited to share their stories," said Bredow.

As of this summer, the programming stew got even hotter as CNBC's "Restaurant Startup" was thrown into the mix. Restaurateurs Joe Bastianich and Tim Love pit two restaurant teams against each other in a 36-hour race to develop a restaurant on $7,500. After reviewing the menu, design and other ideas, the hosts decide whether or not they will invest. This is a knockout for both Gordon Ramsay and Kevin O'Leary alike, and offers a premise that even outsiders might go for when viewing the heat of competition followed by real-world results.

Can Startups Keep Up?

With a focus on success and a flair for showmanship, television producers will be buzzing around the concept of pauper-turned-prince for some time to come. With luck, the entertainment world may be forever transformed to reflect the shiny side of those pipe dreams and the home runs that have built up the staggering view of American entrepreneurship.

Jason Cunningham had no position with the mentioned entities while writing this article. Visit Jason on Twitter at @JasonCunningham and @Benzinga.

Posted-In: Gary Bredow Gordon Ramsay Joe BastianichCNBC Entrepreneurship Startups Media General


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