Charlottesville has not had a ton of success at reality TV casting calls, but for a small city, we’ve certainly had plenty of aspirants.
Still, in a quick poll of the newsroom, the only contestant we could [sort of] recall was Erika Uhlig, an Albemarle High School graduate who appeared on a San Francisco-based season of “The Bachelor” in 2012.
She made it as far as the third episode before — literally — fainting on stage while being axed by the eligible bachelor.
Before she went on the show, Uhlig’s dad reminded her not to sell her soul, because you can’t really find love on TV.
Now Jeff Tennery, who co-founded Charlottesville’s Moonlighting.com, also has headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge to try his luck on reality television — not for love, but for money.
The CEO will appear on a crowdfunding pitch show titled “Meet the Drapers,” which features Silicon Valley billionaire Tim Draper, a second-generation venture capitalist who has bet big on Bitcoin and seems hell-bent on splitting California into smaller states. The other Drapers are Tim’s dad, Bill, who was an early investor in OpenTable and in companies acquired by HP, Genzyme and Eli Lilly; and his daughter, Jesse, who is also a venture capitalist.
The show bills itself as “an epic hunt for the next unicorn,” but its distinguishing feature is that it has partnered with a crowdfunding platform, Republic.co, to allow viewers to invest as little as $10 in the featured startups, after hearing the questions posed by the Drapers.
“You’ll see me do a 10-minute pitch, and then they basically give you a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down,” Jeff Tennery said. From there, the company’s fate is in the hands of viewers.
The show airs on Sony Entertainment TV, which is a streaming channel available through providers such as Dish, Sling and Roku. Sony TV is one of the largest channels in India, Tennery said, and the show is geared toward a South Asian audience. But it will be available in 149 countries, including the United States.
The crowdfunding campaign is a sort of fig leaf to 1,700 smaller investors who have expressed interest in buying Moonlighting’s star-crossed cryptocurrency, the Moonbit, but were turned away because the coin had to be treated as a security, and current securities regulations only allow accredited investors to participate in initial coin offerings. (Accredited investors are those with either high net worth or high income. Theoretically, the Securities and Exchange Commission does not want to allow small investors to lose their shirts on high-risk companies.)
Even accredited investors ultimately were turned away when Moonlighting shelved the ICO while awaiting the regulatory guidance that would create approved exchanges for the coins, Tennery said.
“While an accredited investor could buy them from us, they’re not liquid because you can’t put them on any exchanges,” he said. “The U.S. is losing a lot of innovation because good companies are leaving the U.S. to do these ICOs — the rest of the world has a completely different view of cryptocurrency.”
In late November, Tennery will have a shot at telling his company’s story to the rest of the world.
Originally published at www.dailyprogress.com on October 22, 2018.