Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 18th 2016 Contents BG4 COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt AUGUST 18 • 2016
Stephanie Pemberton is some-
thing of a force of nature. At
just 28 years old, she s man-
aged to start her own produc-
tion company, Bad Granny
Productions, which produces
the eponymous show that focuses on car
restorations, modifications and motorsports.
Not content with the runaway success of
the Bad Granny franchise, Pemberton has
started a new venture, Planting Seeds, designed
to help connect entrepreneurs with investors
to help them develop, grow and finance their
businesses. The Business Guardian sat down
with Pemberton to discuss the inspiration
behind her new venture and what keeps her
motivated in her pursuit of success.
Premiering on CNC3 on the August 23,
2016, Planting Seeds captures the interaction
between entrepreneurs and venture capitalists
as they seek to acquire financing to grow their
venture. The show focuses on the crafty pitches
of the business owners as they attempt to woo
investors in parting with their precious capital.
The back and forth between the entrepreneurs
and investors makes for compelling television
as it engages the audience by giving them an
unscripted, real world view of the challenges
business owners face in acquiring funding,
and the level of scrutiny investors go through
in determining the merits of providing capital
for a venture.
Asked about the inspiration for the television
series, Pemberton said: "There was this Japan-
ese show called Money Tigers which came up
with the brilliant idea of producing a show
that gave people a front seat view into how
investors and entrepreneurs interacted with
one another with the hope of the entrepreneur
getting funding for his idea, and the investor
seeing an opportunity that would provide
potentially a wonderful return in the future."
On a personal level, Pemberton stated that
the combination of her experience as an entre-
preneur in her own right and knowledge of
finance made doing Planting Seeds a logical
step along her business path.
She said: "I worked as an investment analyst
and credit analyst before becoming an entre-
preneur myself. So for me, it was easy to
understand business from that aspect and
having successfully done Bad Granny, I had
gathered the skills in production. All those
experiences as a whole, being an entrepreneur,
being involved in production and having
knowledge of finance and investments, made
doing Planting Seeds a natural fit for me."
Noting the success of the British and Amer-
ican versions of the show (Dragons Den in
the UK and Shark Tank in the US), Pemberton
said that now was the best time to bring the
concept to life in T&T.
"We felt that given the recessionary envi-
ronment that the country is facing, and the
fact that small business enterprises are the
life-blood of the business community providing
roughly 80 per cent of the jobs, that in T&T
in particular there was no mechanism to propel
SME s (small and medium-sized enterprises).
So with Planting Seeds we hope to change
that by giving entrepreneurs a platform to
partner with investors to help grow their busi-
Questioned about the mix of applicants for
the show, Pemberton noted that many appli-
cants already had proof of concept for their
She said: "A lot of the applicants are in
business already. Roughly 60 per cent are
already running a business with the remaining
40 per cent coming to us with new ideas."
Pemberton pointed out that the format of
the programme hit a point of inflexion when
producers observed some of the areas that
small business owners needed to develop.
She said: "What we saw was that the entre-
preneurs are very driven, very motivated, hard-
working people. What they were lacking in
some areas was more knowledge in the finer
areas of business like business planning, doing
projections and accounting. So we decided to
augment the format of the show somewhat
and make it more about a developmental
process for the entrepreneurs."
Pemberton highlighted that one of the
show s strategic partners, Ernst and Young
(EY), assists in providing the developmental
training necessary for the entrepreneurs.
She said: "EY conducts a series of workshops
with all of the entrepreneurs on business plan-
ning, business valuations and just assisting in
refining their approach to understanding how
much their business or idea is really worth.
We felt that having this sort of training as
part of the process was vital so that entre-
preneurs know what they are worth when
investment opportunities or opportunities to
raise capital come along."
Asked about the interest by the small busi-
ness community in wanting to be a part of
the programme, Pemberton said it was way
beyond her expectations.
She said: "The interest in the show has been
crazy. We started Facebook page about the
show in January and by April we had over 150
applicants. Then when we released the trailer
for the programme in June we got another
hundred. So the interest has been phenomenal."
Probed about some of the more challenging
aspects of getting a show like this off the
ground, Pemberton said that dealing with the
entrepreneurs consumes most of her time.
She said: "Dealing with the entrepreneurs
has been the hardest part in that it takes up
a lot of time, both professional and personal.
They re reaching out for our help so we need
to be there to provide that assistance and it s
a round-the-clock activity to provide that."
Questioned about the show s sponsors,
Pemberton stated that having them be a part
of the process really made Planting Seeds
She said: "Our sponsors JMMB, blink/Bmo-
bile, caribbeanjobs.com, Beacon Insurance
and Very Exciting Things Ltd have all provided
resources in one way or another to make
Planting Seeds a success. They all came in
and really helped the entrepreneurs in different
ways that cover the full range of what they
would need for pitching to the investors and
running a successful business."
Pemberton added that because of the sup-
port of the various sponsor s and strategic
partners, most of the deals have gone through.
Asked about the deal flow on each show,
Pemberton said: "Every show has an invest-
ment deal. The largest deal we ve had was
one for a US$250,000. But even beyond that,
entrepreneurs who don t get a deal on the
show that have a good product are given alter-
native forms of assistance that could range
from help with packaging or graphic design
to distribution of their product. So just being
able to make it on to the show provides all
these spillover benefits to the entrepreneur
from all the connections we ve made across
the business community"
Of the elements Pemberton is most fond of
regarding the show, she said the opportunity
to give back is what motivates her the most.
She said: "Being able to give of my time and
knowledge in service of these entrepreneurs
is really rewarding for me personally. I love
helping people. So being able to help entre-
preneurs overcome their struggles and see
them grow and achieve their business goals
provides me with a deep level of personal sat-
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