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How Does Being a Startup Founder Compare to Shark Tank?

By Lou Whiteman - Feb 12, 2021 at 8:00AM

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Is raising venture capital funding similar to the pitches broadcast on television?

Kevin Bennett is the CEO of consumer finance start-up MotoRefi. Though the company has gone the more traditional start-up route of raising venture capital instead of appearing on the popular Shark Tank television show, a lot of people liken the process of raising private capital to an appearance on the show.

In this Motley Fool Live appearance recorded on Feb. 4, Bennett and Brendan Mathews of Motley Fool Ventures discussed what it's like to raise venture capital and whether the process is similar to what you see on television. 


Brendan Mathews: This is a question that people ask me a lot. How does being a start-up founder compare to Shark Tank? How real is that show?

Kevin Bennett: Well, it's funny. I'm curious as to your thoughts on this. But there are different ways to mark the journey, different mile-markers as it were. One way to do it is financing rounds and we discussed that. Another way to mark the journey is not from a financing perspective, but the live perspective of the folks on the journey, the entrepreneur and the team. I think from my perspective, this is the fifth start-up I've worked on in different versions and iterations, and so I've seen this story play out a number of times. But there are the early days where you've got an idea and you're starting to prove certain pieces out and do you risk it and check a couple of boxes? But you really don't know whether you will be around or not. You hope you will, you're optimistic, you think you've got an idea it's going to work, but it's to be executed really. Then I think that's an early stage start-up. Then you get to this mid-stage which I think we're at at this point, where there are 175 people on the team. We've grown, we're nationwide, we're operating, we're saving customers millions of dollars a month. We're a mission-driven company, that's why we're here, is to help save consumers money and operating successfully and the economics work and investors respond accordingly. There's just not the same level of existential fear, it's really about continuing to execute and build on top of what is, I'd say a much more stable organization and model. That's where we are and that's not to say we're going public anytime soon, but that's just to say that we're in the middle of that journey. Every phase is fun and exciting in it's own way, but we're certainly glad to be where we are today.

Mathews: I always say Shark Tank is fun as a TV show and there's certain elements of reality to it. But I think what you said, the day-to-day operational stuff when we talk, it's not as drama filled as an up or down decision on the spot. 

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