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In 2016, Values Partnerships is leading a nationwide ABC’s Shark Tank to for the second stop in a nationwide tour focused on bringing more diverse ideas and voices to the show. Values Partnerships partnered with the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce, Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, and Austin Area Urban League to host a casting call at Urban Co-Lab Austin.

The Kauffman Foundation ranked Austin as the top metropolitan area for startup activity in the U.S. in 2015.  Each year, the Kauffman Foundation publishes the Kauffman Index that measures startup activity in major metropolitan areas. Austin has consistently ranked in the top 5 on the annual index. According to the Minority Business Development Agency,  The state of Texas has over 720,000 minority-owned firms, representing over 690,000 jobs and 13% of all minority-owned firms in America.

The startup community continues to grow in Austin. This growth reflects the increasing diversity of the city. Austin is now a majority-minority city with no demographic group existing as a majority of the city’s population.  As the city continues to grow, historic communities continue to respond to the demographic changes.  Entrepreneurship is one way to ensure communities still have a place in Austin as the city continues to grow and develop. Urban Co- Lab –  an urban innovation focused co-working space and startup incubator – in East Austin is directly supporting urban entrepreneurs.


On the day of the event, entrepreneurs showed up early for pitch prep.  Business owners pitched to Values Partnerships staff and our event partners to get feedback before pitching to the Shark Tank casting team.

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(Sonia Gallard from the Office of the Governor greeting entrepreneurs)

Following pitch prep, each entrepreneur pitched to the Shark Tank casting team. Entrepreneurs get up to 3 minutes for their pitch and short discussion; about triple what they would get at a large open call casting.

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(Felicia Gentry of FanTrav, LLC practice pitching)

In addition to local entrepreneurs, many business owners in town for SXSW pitched at the event.

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(Cristen Mills of Heart of Cool practice pitching)

At each of our casting calls, we work to add value for entrepreneurs. We announced a new partnership between Values Partnerships, the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation to develop a “Pitch Toolkit” for entrepreneurs. The resource will be distributed to entrepreneurs at Shark Tank casting calls organized by Values Partnerships in 2016.


Read more about our new pitch toolkit here –

We had an incredible day in Austin. We look forward to seeing the ecosystem continue to grow and hope to see entrepreneurs from central Texas on Season 8 of the show! Next stop, NYC!

Visit for more information on our 2016 casting tour, and to sign up to pitch in your area!

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