Normally when a show starts you’ll see it advertised or production people will bang on about it on Twitter. The first time we’d heard that The Money Pit had started was when a telly person asked us what we thought of it, which is embarrassing.
Still better late than never (it’s episode four coming up this week, but you can watch the other episodes on catch-up). The Money Pit is like a crowdfunding version of Dragon’s Den. People with products they’d like backing for spend two minutes pitching to a crowd of small-time investors (who have put the money they’re happy to invest throughout the series in a special bank account so release can be immediate – might be £50 total, might be £50,000), offering equity or rewards in return for money. Like on Dragon’s Den the contestant must achieve their minimum goal or they leave with nothing. The crowd are then free to question the pitcher and cajole other investors into putting in.
There is then a trading period where researchers wearing braces come into the pit with iPads and special software to facilitate broking. The fun part? If you opt to make an investment in somebody, you can opt to move your money onto another pitcher, or remove your investment entirely, during any trading period. After each period a graph goes up and down representing how close people are to hitting their target. Five pitches feature in each show.
Jason Manford does a decent job of keeping the show moving, facts and figures are given to us by business professional and comic
Richard Osman Dominic Frisby and commentary is provided by Evan Davies Elizabeth Carling, off of Boon and Casualty.
It’s quite an interesting idea and falls into the “quite good but not by any means a must watch” category for me. It tends to wear its Dragon’s Den inspiration on its sleeve, Carling seems to hit exactly the same beats in her commentary that Davies does (basically repeating what has just happened in an exchange and what is going to happen next), for example. They’ve done a pretty good job on concentrating on the bigger personalities in the investors and the hope that the moving money about causes drama, but it doesn’t really feel all that dramatic. Pitchers can offer equity or rewards (like you might find on Kickstarter) but because most of these investors are looking for businesses to put money into people offering reward tiers are often frowned upon so it seems a bit pointless offering them although that’s probably what the average viewer is more used to when they consider crowdfunding. Unlike DD there’s no back and forth on the amount of equity up for grabs, when someone asks for £30k for 4% then best of luck to them.
The show’s biggest issue for me is that the items generally speaking aren’t weird or wonderful enough, you’re certainly not getting the “what the hell is that?” factor you often get at a Dragon’s Den pitch – in episode one the things trying to get support are sets of glasses cases, bike lights, hair products, a voucher app and a new food brand. These are the sorts of things you see on Kickstarter but they don’t make for great television and it’s quite difficult to give a damn about the final outcomes really.
I do think if you took this sort of idea and did it as a live TV show where the nation could back products by phone or online pitched live, with similar “must reach the minimum by the end of the show to get anything” jeopardy, that would be a proper goer if also an operational nightmare. As it is I think The Money Pit is a bit too conservative right now to catch on. It’s not like anybody seems to have realized it was on as it is.