Shark Tank Tour Header

In 2016, Values Partnerships is leading a nationwide ABC’s Shark Tank to SF for the fifth stop in a nationwide tour focused on bringing more diverse ideas and voices to the show. Values Partnerships partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walker’s Legacy, Ola Initiative, and others to host two casting calls; a morning event at 1776 Crystal City and an afternoon event at the Anacostia Arts Center!

Despite being more well known for governmental gridlock than startup innovation, Washington, DC has an incredible legacy of entrepreneurs appearing on Shark Tank, and a growing ecosystem. An entrepreneur from the DMV (DC, MD, Northern VA) has been featured on nearly every season of Shark Tank. Sworkit, a DC area company, appeared on Season 7 of Shark Tank!

The DC area’s incredible Shark Tank legacy is driven by a white-hot ecosystem. The Kauffman Foundation lists the DC metro area as the number one area for growth entrepreneurship in its top metropolitan areas for startup activity ranking for 2016.  Each year, the Kauffman Foundation publishes the Kauffman Index that measures startup activity in major metropolitan areas.

According to the Minority Business Development Agency,  Washington, DC is home to over 22,000 minority owned firms.

We were excited to return to the nation’s capital!

1776 Crystal City

We kicked off the day with a morning casting call at 1776 Crystal City.  1776 is a global incubator and seed fund that helps engineer the success of the world’s most promising startups tackling important challenges in areas like education, health, energy & sustainability, and transportation & smart cities.

The day began  with a pitch prep session.  Values Partnerships partnered with the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center and the US Chamber of Commerce to develop a pitch toolkit. This free resource is shared with entrepreneurs at every stop in the 2016 casting tour, and used to teach entrepreneurs how to pitch at our casting calls.

Following pitch prep, entrepreneurs pitched to casting producers for the chance to appear on Season 8!

(Entrepreneur pitching at 1776 Crystal City)


Anacostia Arts Center

(Entrepreneur Pitching at Anacostia Arts Center)

We had a great morning at 1776 in Crystal City. In the afternoon, we held a casting call in Washington, DC’s Anacostia neighborhood.

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

Following the casting calls in DC, Brandon Andrews from Values Partnerships moderated  a fireside chat with DC area Shark Tank alumni, including:

Felix Lloyd Co-Founder/Chief Dad, Zoobean (Shark Tank Season 5)
Ben Young CEO, Sworkit (Shark Tank Season 7)
Donna Khalife CEO, Surprise Ride (Shark Tank Season 5)


(Brandon Andrews of Values Partnerships with DC area Shark Tank alumni)

The chat was followed by an access to capital panel discussion featuring:

Nick Perkins: Access to Capital Team, Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
Jason Towns: Founder, GroundWork
Ana Harvey: Director, DC Department of Small and Local Business Development
Rodney Sampson: Founder, Opportunity Hub / Investor
Jake Levine: AVP, Impact Investment Fund City First Bank

At each of our casting calls, we work to add value for entrepreneurs. Organizing access to capital discussions is one way that we ensure every entrepreneur leaves our casting calls better than they came.

A special guest, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, joined us for our access to capital discussion. Congresswoman Lee owned a small family-run business before running for Congress. She shared her experience with the entrepreneurs in the room.

(Congresswoman Barbara Lee)

We had an exciting day in DC. We look forward to seeing the ecosystem continue to grow and hope to see entrepreneurs from the DMV on Season 8 of the show! Next stop, NOLA for Essence Festival!

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

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