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Shark Tank India vs US: Differences Explained

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Shark Tank India is now in it’s 2nd season and is a ratings hit. Also the second season has much better startups. The startup ideas are better, lots of traction & some with healthy profits.

It’s easy to think Indian version is similar to the U.S one but it’s very different. The similarities stop at the main theme that is you have 5 judges who are hearing to startup pitches & investing.

So how is it different?

There is no competition among sharks:

In Season 1 Ashneer (founder of Bharat Pay) among being bombastic, crass & entertaining to watch. He provided much needed competition in the tank. And even that competition was only present for first half of the season. As the season moved forward the competition died down. All the sharks shared a deal if they all are interested. This is a rare site in U.S version but its very common in the Indian version. Almost too common for my taste. If there is an attractive company all the sharks who are interested will get the deal.

Much closer to Indian Startup ecosystem: 

The U.S version is mostly investing in small businesses and not in tech companies that follow a venture model. The Indian version pitches are much closed to what I see in Indian venture ecosystem. Heck I even saw startups that pitched me come on Shark Tank India. The judges in U.S version barring Cuban are not active in the typical VC ecosystem in U.S. But in Indian version all the judges are active in angel investing and it seems more closer to India’s startup ecosystem deal flow than the American version.

More Profitable companies: 

This season of Shark Tank had both early stage startups and ones that are actually profitable a rare sight.

Lot more tear jerking: 

Shark Tank India does a lot more tearjerking than the U.S version. I think the Soap opera instincts of Sony India are hard to escape but thanks to the forward button we are all better off.

Family Businesses: 

Really large number of pitches are family businesses. This tells you a lot about why entrepreneurship is still in early stages in India. Business as a concept is not a career in most of Indian middle class unless your family is already doing it.

Younger Sharks: 

One major difference in Shark Tank India & also possible negative in my opinion is how young founders who have not delivered on the promise of making a profitable company are judging other profitable companies. Another negative is one of the Shark’s is not a self made entrepreneur which is an odd choice to have on the stage along with people who worked with out a dad backing them. Most of the Sharks are good at raising money, some of them are on path to profitability but overall the mix is varied. The stamina of their business career yet to be proven.

Over all the show is fun to watch and gives a glimpse of how the new India is emerging. It reflects the consumer appetite to consume. It reflects a maturing investing appetite to invest. It reflects family businesses wanting to call themselves as startups. It reflects over all a new wave of entrepreneurship that’s rising in India.


Past guests of Startup Project podcast include Ali Moiz (, Kirby Winfield (, Eric Bahn (Hustle Fund), and others.

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