Shark Tank, the reality TV show in which contestants pitch Mark Cuban and other high-profile “shark” investors, has the same problem as the rest of the startup world: not enough diversity. For the fourth year in a row, the show is holding casting calls to find more minority entrepreneurs.
Yesterday (April 20), the show partnered with accelerator Minority Venture Partners (MVP), and held two private casting calls in the Bronx borough of New York. The panel of judges included the city’s chief technology officer, Minerva Tantoco, and Bronx assemblyman Mike Blake, former aide to president Barack Obama.
Over 250 people, more than 90% of them minorities, attended the casting calls, according to MVP head, D. Bernard Webster. Whether the aspiring entrepreneurs get a place on the show won’t be known for a few weeks.
Shark Tank has been widening its search for minority entrepreneurs since 2013, when it first held a casting call for more women and minority-led businesses in Washington, DC. (ABC has not returned a request for comment on the most recent gender and racial breakdown of Shark Tank contestants.) The show is going on a nationwide tour this year, making stops in Miami, Detroit, New Orleans, and four other US cities.