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Primetime VC: Venture Capitalists Debate in ESPN’s ‘Around the Horn’ Format

The founder of Pitch Madness, Tyler Kelly, has launched a new show, Primetime VC, which brings together venture capitalists for competitive banter about current events in the business and tech world. Inspired by the long-running show on ESPN, Around the Horn, Primetime VC taps into the wide-ranging knowledge of professional investors.

Kelly felt that a show focused on VCs, many of whom were once founders themselves, would be even more entertaining than his already successful Pitch Madness. Pitch Madness is a live debate where startup founders compete by answering business-related questions posed by a moderator, and have their answers judged by a panel of investors.

Kelly, expanding on this idea of entertaining debate-style business forums and inspired by his love of sports shows, brought together elements from each, and gave Primetime VC the tagline, “the show of accredited banter.”

Primetime VC, which launched its pilot on August 17th on YouTube under the Pitch Madness umbrella, has 3 sections – First In, Buy or Sell and the Money Round. Throughout the program, the moderator awards the VC panelists points based on the quality of their answers – either for relevance, depth or entertainment value. At the end, the winners get the platform to themselves for 60 seconds to talk about anything they want– a chance to close out the show on their own note.

The pilot episode, entitled “Venture Capitalist Debate TikTok’s Future, Elon Musk, SPAC, IPO, Fundraising in COVID,” lasted just over 30 minutes, and offered thought-provoking perspectives on a variety of goings on in the investment world. Those watching who are not well versed in investment lingo may have to look up some of the references made, but the show could be very educational and entertaining for investors and entrepreneurs. The show included 4 panelists: Lo Toney of Plexo Capital, Jenny Friedman of Supernode Investors, Paul Martino of Bullpen Capital and Nihal Mehta of ENIAC Ventures, and was moderated by Charlie Stephens. The panelists talked about current issues including the investment climate during coronavirus, TikTok’s future and Slack’s lawsuit against Microsoft.

Kelly has gotten interest and positive feedback from venture capitalists about participating in the show, and he hopes that it will grow organically on YouTube or get picked up by a network.

Primetime VC gives insight into the minds of investors – their unique perspectives on the way politics affect business, the short and long term trajectories of their portfolios, and what they look for before deciding to shell out funds. Kelly says, “We’re giving them [VCs] that outlet to talk about themselves and how they look at the world in a unique way and through a fun format that isn’t that typical boring interview.” Kelly also mentioned that VCs, not just companies, have to market themselves in order to stay in the loop about the best investment opportunities for their portfolios.

Pitch Madness is at its best when done in a live setting, but coronavirus gave Kelly the opportunity to explore a digital format that brings together venture capitalists, who, he argues, are often more entertaining and well-versed in the business world. Unlike founders, who know their own product inside and out, investors have a wider knowledge bank from which to educate people. For now, Primetime VC will post new shows on a bi-weekly basis, but Kelly hopes that the show will get enough traction to make it weekly.

Shows that can make complex ideas palatable to the layperson in an entertaining way, are the future of education. Coronavirus has exposed the limits of virtual learning, what Lo Toney called “Zoom fatigue,” but an entertaining and educational debate forum that looks like a sports show may be just what people need right now.