On Sunday Viceland debuted its new reality show “Hustle,” starring entrepreneur and venture capitalist John Henry Matos.
The show follows Matos as he meets minority business owners and looks to help them grow their businesses and considers investing in them himself.
The premise of the show is reminiscent of “Shark Tank,” and the series essentially feels like a minority-oriented, hipster version of the well-known NBC show.
The first episode follows Matos as he works with Ashley Rouse of Trade Street Jam Co., a small business which makes twelve dollar jars of artisanal preserves and which Matos claims could become “the Ben and Jerry’s of jams.”
Matos begins by making some jam with Ashley, then goes to a market to watch her and her husband selling the product to new customers so he can study their target “demo.” The ultimate goal of the episode is for Matos to get Ashley in front of a retailer to pitch her product so she can get her jams into stores.
The series also introduces the viewer to some entrepreneurial vocabulary. Some of these are Matos’ own personal terms, such as “riches and niches,” while others are actual universal terms, like brand equity. Matos also spends a lot of time talking about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, claiming that to be successful one must be fully invested in his idea and arguing that the reason he has been successful is because of his winning attitude and his dedication to his work.
With all of this focus on Matos’ hard work, the viewer cannot help but feel like the show is a bit of an ego trip for the businessman. Matos spends practically the entire first episode trying to convince Ashley to quit her day job to focus full-time on her business, arguing that through dedication, entrepreneurs can neutralize the risk associated with business ownership, leaving the impression that Matos is ignoring the role that luck most likely played in his success story.
One of the weirdest aspects of the show is a secondary storyline which it carries throughout the first episode. Between segments Matos is shown working through problems with a real estate deal he has been trying to make. These segments do nothing to augment’s the episode’s main storyline and seem to exist only to show the viewer that Matos is busy, hard-working and important.
“Hustle” may prove enjoyable for other entrepreneurs who are looking for an ego boost, but for most viewers it has little to offer.
To be fair, the show does accomplish what Matos seems to have set out to do. After all, that Matos somehow managed to convince Viceland to fund his self-promotional ego trip is itself a powerful testament to his prowess as a pitch man.