Germantown Academy alum Kent Griswold '76, P'15 '19 has put his own spin on business entertainment television, releasing a competitor to "Shark Tank" that focuses on promoting local businesses.
“Wolf PAC of Philadelphia” will premiere on Amazon Prime on Tuesday, January 12. The four-episode series features a pack of “Wolves” — Philadelphia-area business experts and investors who provide advice and capital to local entrepreneurs looking to grow their companies.
The series was developed by Griswold, a businessman and entrepreneur, and friend Craig Shoemaker, a stand-up comedian and television producer from Philadelphia. The creators of “Wolf PAC” want the show to serve as both an entertainment platform and an educational tool for small business owners.
“The Wolves” each bring their specialties to companies on the show to help them get the capital and expertise to improve, and the Wolves decide as a group whether to invest their own funds into the businesses.
The “Wolf PAC” features Griswold and Judy Chang Cody P'13 '15 '17 '19, a marketing expert who also serves on GA’s Board of Trustees. Other members of The Wolves include former Phillies broadcaster Leslie Gudel, Leonard Lodish, founder of Management Decision Systems Inc. and marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and Courtney Lawless, co-founder and managing director of Backswing Ventures.
Mentorship is also a large part of “Wolf PAC.” The show features big-name Philadelphia mentors, like former Eagles players Seth Joyner and Brian Dawkins, Tony Luke Jr. of Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks, and “Eagles Insider” Dave Spadaro.
“Our goal was to find top-notch people who excelled in one particular area. Nobody can do everything themselves, and a smart CEO knows they can't do it. They have to bring in good team members,” said Griswold. “We wanted the Wolf PAC to have good skill sets between them so together as a group, and we filled all these different niches, we can provide the best support for these companies.”
Griswold’s inspiration for the show came from watching the ABC hit “Shark Tank” with his son, Grant ’19. Frustrated by how “fluffy” the show was and its lack of authenticity, Griswold and Shoemaker sought to make an unscripted show that felt organic. Filmed in locations like Lincoln Financial Field and the Moshulu on the Delaware River, the show aims to showcase the best of Philadelphia.
“What better place to be authentic than the most authentic city in the country?” said Shoemaker.
The difference between "Shark Tank" and “Wolf PAC” is the camaraderie, Griswold said. While Sharks battle over who gets to invest in the company in the tank, all the Wolves work together to help the businesses featured on the show.
“It's called the Wolf PAC on purpose because wolves hunt together,” said Griswold. “They work together as a team. No one wolf can actually bring down prey the way the pack does. By working together, they can actually keep themselves fed.”
Tens of thousands of businesses apply to be on “Shark Tank” every season, and only a few are selected to fill the limited slots available. Taking a local and regional approach to the show can give chances to smaller companies that wouldn’t make it onto ABC, Griswold said.
The goal is to move beyond Philadelphia and to film future seasons in cities like Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, Griswold said. From there, they can connect companies with their local business leaders and networks, he said.
Being friends since third grade, Griswold approached Shoemaker at a comedy show at The Colonial in December 2019 with his idea for "Wolf PAC." They began filming in February 2020 and wrapped up just before the first Covid-19 cases surfaced in Pennsylvania.
Releasing the show now was “divine timing,” Shoemaker said. People are stuck at home and looking for ways to reboot and rebrand their businesses, and the show can help teach and inspire them, he said.
“If any other place in our history we needed a business show for new businesses, and many have folded throughout the last few months, this is the time,” Shoemaker said.