MTV launches a new show by the dropouts, for the dropouts – and no, it is nothing like Shark Tank!

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What do Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Travis Kalanick, and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? If you guessed the obvious that they have more zeroes in their paycheck than you can wrap your head around, you would be right. If you also guessed that they all dropped out of mainstream education before the age of 21, you just earned yourself extra points.

In fact, Zuckerberg famously asked a Stanford graduate he was interviewing, ‘Why would you be studying it if you could be doing it?’

Despite substantial evidence to the contrary, the word ‘dropout’ continues to be associated with failure and for someone who could not hack it in the real world and in the face of competition. In India, it is often seen as career suicide and the end of the road. But, now the showrunners at MTV, have decided that it is time to turn that definition on its head with their new show MTV Dropout ­ Pvt. Ltd. – a show that could potentially define the generation of millennials.

Set to premiere on July 29 on MTV, the brand new reality show created by the twins Raghu Ram and Rajiv Laxman’s production house Monozygotic, and co-developed by them and MTV, will document the journey of the world’s first-ever startup formed on television, and is inviting entries from prospective entrepreneurs as well as ideas rejected in the VC stage to test their mettle in front of the experienced panel of mentors.

Staying true to the ethos of MTV, it vows to be another crazy social experiment – albeit backed by sound economics. “Dropping out is stigmatised, and failure is ostracised. These finalists have nothing in common, apart from the fact that they left the security of something to come here. Normally, they’d never be found in the same room, and yet, here they are - and they’re now building a company together,” reveals Raghu Ram.

Very careful not to part with any spoilers this close to the premier, the creators were clear that, contrary to speculation, MTV Dropout Pvt. Ltd. will be nothing like the popular American reality TV series Shark Tank. Rather than being about entrepreneurs making lightning pitches in front of investors to secure snap funding, the show that will take viewers through the process of identifying and transforming ‘dropouts’ into the ideal startup team and kick-starting their entrepreneurial journey.

This transition will be made under the tutelage of Sandeep Aggarwal, CEO & Founder of Droom.in, who earned his chair as head of a unicorn; Anisha Singh, CEO & Co-founder Mydala.com, a leading woman entrepreneur; and Alok Kejriwal, CEO & Co-founder of Games2Win, an 18-year-old veteran in the world of business. Raghu Ram and Rajiv Laxman will also form part of the panel of “masters.”

Speaking about the first season of MTV Dropout Pvt. Ltd., Ferzad Palia, Head, Youth, Music and English Entertainment, Viacom18 said, “India is brimming with young untapped energy keen on making ideas come to life and we at MTV, believe that as the largest platform for everything related to the youth, it is our responsibility to recognise, channelise and mobilise this energy by providing the youth with the right tools to make ideas happen. MTV aims at empowering these youngsters by providing them with the biggest encouragement in the form of Dropout Pvt. Ltd. to kick start their entrepreneurial dreams. We at MTV realise that the youth today with their ‘go-getter’ attitude is willing to dream big to achieve their goals. We just want to give them the wings to fly.”

From L to R: Raghu Ram, Anisha Singh, Sandeep Aggarwal, Alok Kejriwal, Rajiv Laxman and Ferzad Palia at the launch of MTV Dropout Pvt Ltd

Another noteworthy differentiator is that while Shark Tank gauges already successful entrepreneurs based on their numbers, MTV Dropout Pvt. Ltd. has invited entrepreneurs as well as aspirants, who may not necessarily have the numbers to show for it, and on-boarded them based on their values, resilience, and intellect.

Sandeep, a true admirer of these qualities, was first invited to be a master, but decided to sign on as the title sponsor. “Entrepreneurship is a real test of one’s conviction and confidence after all, and the ones who take risks ultimately reach their destination. What helped me set up two internet companies is people who reassured me that it can be done, and guided me in that direction. MTV Dropout Pvt. Ltd. seemed to be great kick-starter for all the risk takers out there,” he reveals.

“In a country like India where blazing one’s own trail is not encouraged too much; MTV is yet again taking a brave step by celebrating those youngsters who choose to go their own way by providing them with the correct platform to give life to their dreams," said Rajiv Laxman.

The show was shot over a span of 35 days, during which the mentors kept a hawk eye on the contestants’ progress, gave them projects, and groomed them through trials-by-fire, where they solved real-world business problems in a short span of time.

“Entrepreneurship is not only about being the best at what you do, it’s also about surrounding yourself with people who are smarter and can do a better job. I was careful to ask the showrunners what the purpose was – drama or impact? I was told that I simply have to play Alok, be myself, and bring out the best in the contestants. Thus, this felt like a karmic endeavour for me, to be able to give back,” Alok told YourStory.

For Anisha Singh, the agenda was two-fold – impacting the lives of women aspirants was as important, as creating overall impact in the startup ecosystem. “When they explained the show to me, the only thing I asked them was, ‘Is this going to make a difference?’ I’m at a certain stage of success, and now my only concern is how I can give back. My other mandate was to have enough women contestants coming through. Everybody was instantly on board and said they wanted that too, and were willing to work towards it,” she says.

As a true believer of Madeline Albright’s school of thought that reserves a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women, Anisha says, “Women used to not be very supportive of women, but that is changing. There’s so few of us, let’s not be crabs in a bucket, let’s band together.”

Most importantly, all the masters revealed that they had learnt more than they imparted, and that witnessing the contestants’ passion was a humbling experience. “I have so much more appreciation for human resilience, perseverance, and how uncommon is common sense. So many people here didn’t even have a primary education, but they all used more common sense than most educated people, who tend to complicate things with their baggage,” said Sandeep.

The overlying mission, says Anisha, is to make failure cool. “Without failing, you cannot innovate. India and China need to move out of this copycat reputation, and embrace the idea of failing,” she says. Raghu explains that this entails changing mindsets drastically, keeping which in mind, they wish to continue the show for at least three years, to drive the point home.

YourStory is the Marketing Partner for MTV Dropout.

Powered by Micromax and Maruti Suzuki, grooming partner Gillette, MTV Dropout Pvt. Ltd. will first air on MTV on Saturday, July 29, at 7 pm, and be available to watch on Voot the next day.

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