East Coast entrepreneurs brave ‘Shark Tank’ to pitch ideas in Philly

ABC’s “Shark Tank” is kind of like “American Idol” — except instead of wannabe pop stars, it features entrepreneurs pitching their million-dollar ideas to a panel of big-name investors.

On Saturday, Philadelphia’s NextFab Studio will host the show’s only open casting call on the East Coast.

NextFab’s Itsuki Ogihara says it’s been a crazy week.

“We’re getting a huge amount of phone calls every day. People are asking me if they can camp out outside days in advance,” Ogihara said with a laugh. (The answer is no, she says. But she admits she can’t do much to prevent it.) “It’s a pretty exciting time.”

Ogihara is expecting more than 500 people to show up.

The entrepreneurs will make their pitches to a team of ABC producers. If they make the first cut, it’s on to another round of tryouts. After that, a lucky few will get their 15 minutes of Hollywood fame — and maybe even some fresh capital.

Mihir Shah will be at the casting call Saturday.

The Founder and CEO of UE LifeSciences isn’t sure his med-tech company — which makes breast cancer-screening devices — is really what the show is looking for.

“I’ve seen somebody who makes candles and somebody who makes cookies pitch on the show,” said Shah, adding that he’s not a diehard fan. “I’m not sure how good of a fit we’ll end up being from their point of view. But we are clearly looking for investment.”

Shah won an earlier contest that guarantees him an audition Saturday. Most pitches are on a first-come, first-served basis.

The guaranteed spot has allowed Shah the time to practice his pitch.

He says he’ll hit ’em with his own personal story, and then paint the big picture:

“Breast cancer today kills half-a-million women every year around the world,” Shah said. “And if ‘Shark Tank’ or anybody at ‘Shark Tank’ can influence that, I think that’s a huge pull.”

He’ll have to wait until Saturday to see if the producers will bite.

And if you’re working up the courage to head down to NextFab on Saturday, here’s the form you have to fill out before pitching your wares:

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