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The experiences and emotions – how I became a Shark on Shark Tank India

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In the midst of an IPO for Emcure Pharmaceuticals, a pandemic and a brutal Xth Grade ICSE exam for my older one, saying ‘yes’ to Shark Tank India wasn’t an easy decision. 

I agreed to do this show with only one purpose… to show my support for an important cause – celebrating the entrepreneurs of our country! 

Namita Thapar on Shark Tank India

I wasn’t sure if the shoot would be easy. We are used to deciding our schedules, moving between offices and meetings and here we were expected to be at a studio in Film City, Mumbai for 14 hours a day every single weekend for three days at a time for two months.

While a lot has been written about the show and what it means for the country, I wanted to write a personal piece, sharing my experiences and emotions along this exciting journey. 

Three things made this an energising vs energy depleting experience for me personally, so here goes”

My co-sharks  

I didn’t know any of my co-sharks (Ashneer Grover, Aman Gupta, Vineeta Singh, Ghazal Alagh, Piyush Bensal, Anumpam Mittal) prior to the shoot. They are super smart and super fun people. On screen we fought for deals but backstage we danced, laughed and learned a lot from each other. 

Let’s not kid ourselves, when you put five Type A personalities in a room together, there are bound to be pow-wows and I have had my fair share of these but in the end, we all respected each other and the cause enough to let go quickly and look at the bigger picture. Most of us collaborated and co-invested on deals (quite different from other Shark Tank global shows). This, I am sure, will add a lot of value to the founders we have invested in. 

The team behind the scenes

I had walked in with biases that the media world would not be efficient as we are used to a certain professional work ethic and discipline at our workplaces. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Right from the briefing notes to the scheduling to editing, the team has blown me away with their competence, hard work and sincerity towards the cause and for the cynics – I would like to repeat, nothing was scripted, and we knew absolutely nothing about the ventures till they walked in that door and pitched to us. 

The entrepreneurs

There were days I would walk in tired as I had not slept enough due to work and personal calls post the 14-hour shoots but the minute these founders walked in, all bright eyed, high energy and with the biggest smiles, I was filled with optimism and energy. With their passion, drive, positivity, they wowed us, they inspired us, they moved us and brought tears to our eyes and overall, it’s fair to say that they taught us a lot more than we taught them!

Last week I heard some names from the startup ecosystem criticise the show. All I would like to say is that they lost a huge opportunity to impact and influence millions of Indians to understand, respect and take up the entrepreneurial journey. 

Are there some parts of the show that need improvement ? Of course. there are but it’s only Season 1 vs other countries like the US where they are on Season 13.

So can we stop judging, instead get involved, and help make it better ? This was new for all of us and we learned along the way; we are still internalising and learning. As long as we did this for the right reasons and for the right cause, we will keep working on it and will keep improving.

I  would like to conclude by saying that I funded 25 ventures on this show, many more than I had planned to, and I know it is going to be a fun journey with these crazy mavericks.

It is truly an honour to be a small part of their big vision, and to support our nation builders. I will always be grateful to this show for connecting me to these wonderful people who have touched my heart and reminded me about the power of simplicity, ambition and goodness that still exists in our country. The future looks bright indeed. 

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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Down rounds are still rare by historical standards • TechCrunch

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If you thought that the recent venture capital market was tough, let me tell you about 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

With the first week of December under our belts, we’re not too far away from the end of the year. And that means that 2022’s venture capital story has largely been written. It’s not a single narrative; instead, this year started on a high, with momentum from the monstrous 2021 funding period persisting into the new year. From that point, we’ve seen a slowdown accelerate into what some consider a downturn.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on TechCrunch+ or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Startups raised lots of capital this year. Less, yes, than last year, but more than in nearly any year in recent memory. It’s still a good time to build a tech upstart.

Does that perspective feel too sunny when we hear so much doom and gloom on Twitter regarding startup prospects in a more conservative investing climate?

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This Doggy DNA Test Ships Free for the Holidays

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every pet owner wants the best for their animal sidekick. They want to spend as much time as possible with them, even at the office. But being the best dog owner you can be isn’t all about just being present. It helps to understand your dog on a genotypic as well as phenotypic level. That’s one reason why doggy DNA tests have become so popular.



DNA My Dog

If you’re wondering what to get for your pooch this holiday season, look no further than the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test. If you order by December 8, you’ll get free shipping, but that date is coming up fast so don’t delay.

This simple, painless kit requires just a swab of your dog’s cheek to get a detailed report delivered in two weeks or less. That report includes a custom photo certificate of the breed breakdown found in your dog’s genetic breed composition, a percentage breakdown of the levels found in your dog’s DNA, and a report on the dominant breeds, personality traits, and health concerns that your dog may be genetically predisposed to. All of that information will help you be a better friend to your dog, making smarter decisions about food, training, and healthcare.

The DNA My Dog Kit was awarded at the 2020 GHO Biotechnology Awards and user Bonnie H. writes, “I loved this experience!!! The kit came immediately with great instructions. The results came exactly when promised. When I couldn’t open the attachment with the results, I emailed my concern and got instant help! To find out his DNA has been the coolest experience!”

Lock in free shipping on a unique gift for your dog by December 8. Grab the DNA My Dog Breed Identification Test on sale for 24% off $79 at just $59.99 now.

Prices subject to change.

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Howie Mandel gets a digital twin from DeepBrain AI

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Howie Mandel is stepping into the metaverse. DeepBrain AI has created a pretty realistic AI version of comedian and actor Mandel.

Deepbrain AI, based in South Korea and Palo Alto, California, calls its creation “AI Howie,” and it’s an interactive virtual human and digital twin for immersive and personalized fan experiences. AI Howie mentions VentureBeat and talks to me in the attached videos.

Unlike the “deepfakes” of Tom Cruise and other actors, the real Howie Mandel cooperated with DeepBrain AI to create the virtual human AI replica of the famous comedian, actor, host, and technology enthusiast. We used “virtual Paris” AI character at our recent MetaBeat event in San Francisco.

“I am equally thrilled, excited, and terrified to finally have the ability of showing up and doing things without going anywhere or doing anything,” said Mandel, in a statement. “Thank you, DeepBrain.”

DeepBrain AI applies deep learning technology to create hyper-realistic virtual humans through its AI Studios and the AI Human platforms. These virtual humans are digital twins of the real person, with the same appearance, voice, gestures, and subtle mannerisms. The AI Studios platform enables script-to-video software that synthesizes dynamic video content in seconds, producing the quickest and most
realistic AI-generated videos. The script-to-video editor makes it easy for customers to select a model and then make it say something based on a script. Within a minute or so the video is made.

This is a powerful communication and marketing tool for celebrities, professional athletes, news anchors, and even politicians. Before working with Howie Mandel, the DeepBrain AI team created digital twins of Premier League soccer superstar Son Heung-Min, multiple news anchors across Asia, and South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol.

Joe Murphy, business development manager for DeepBrain AI, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the virtual Howie is a conversational model that you pepper with questions. DeepBrain AI designs and develops these virtual humans for the purpose of creating digital twins (like Howie Mandel), digital people, and avatars.

It takes about four weeks of machine learning work to create a Howie Mandel digital twin.

“We create models of real people,” Murphy said. “We also have completely synthetic virtual humans. That is what we’ll call digital people. And then avatars are just the basic Roblox type of avatars. But where our technology comes in with the digital twins is we go through a deep learning process to clone the person’s voice, their mannerisms, their face, the way their eyes move, the way their lips move.”

He added, “So we create what we call the digital twin of the real person with all the uniqueness of that person. Our mission is to use this technology that we’ve developed throughout Asia and bring it to America.”

In addition to the script-to-video capabilities, the company provides fully conversational experiences with its AI Human software. The AI Human solution enables fans to interact and engage with AI Howie by simply asking questions. For example, when asked, “What was your favorite act on AGT this season?” the AI Howie model responds in real-time to support interactive, fun, and engaging fan experiences.

AI Humans are available within mobile apps, web browsers, or voice-activated kiosks.

“Our vision is to humanize digital experiences and empower creative teams to generate immersive content at scale,” said Eric Jang, DeepBrain AI CEO. “Working with Howie Mandel was a fun experience, and we are excited to see how the AI Howie collaboration will connect with his fans worldwide.”

DeepBrain AI, (formerly Moneybrain), a conversational AI startup based in Seoul, South Korea, has raised $44 million in a series B round led by Korea Development Bank at a post-money valuation of $180 million. The company started in 2016 and it has raised $54 million to date. The company has 130 employees.

The AI is being used for AI news anchors in South Korea and China at four different television networks. The networks flag that the anchor is an AI avatar so that no one gets confused.

The real Howie Mandel spent about a day shooting video with DeepBrain AI.

While multiple companies are working on virtual humans, DeepBrain AI’s avatars are hyperrealistic. One of Asia’s largest insurance companies is also using it, as is a “brand ambassador” for a soccer team.

“When we worked with Howie Mandel, we went down to his studio in Los Angeles, we provided a script, and fed our training data into our neural network,” Murphy said.

It took about a day to do a video shoot with Mandel and about three to four weeks of machine learning time on the computers to generate the first AI model.

Back in January, DeepBrain AI opened its office in Palo Alto, California, and it is talking to partners in Silicon Valley and the rest of the U.S. Over time, Murphy said that the hope is to create AI avatars in realistic 3D for the metaverse. In South Korea, kiosks are appearing in places like banks with both 2D avatars and 3D avatars.

Over time, Murphy said the avatars have gotten better at mannerisms, lip sync, and subtle gestures. The speed of real-time responses in conversations has also gotten faster. The company is talking about doing more with game companies and major brands.

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