Erdenheim pals create Philly version of 'Shark Tank'

by Len Lear
Posted 1/29/21

Two Erdenheim natives who grew up as typical middle class pals but became mega-successful in business and earned doctorate degrees have launched a TV reality show, “Wolf PAC of Philadelphia.”

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Erdenheim pals create Philly version of 'Shark Tank'

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Two Erdenheim natives who grew up as typical middle class pals but became mega-successful in business and earned doctorate degrees have launched a TV reality show, “Wolf PAC of Philadelphia,” which just began streaming Jan. 12 on Amazon Prime. It is a Philadelphia version of “Shark Tank,” the popular long-running ABC-TV hit.

Craig Shoemaker and Kent Griswold are the movers and shakers behind “Wolf PAC of Philadelphia,” which is set in Philadelphia and features local businesses and charities. In each episode a Philly small business is given either counsel or funding from "the Wolf PAC," a group of local business investors and advisors.

The “Wolf PAC” hold their meetings both in the luxury suite and on the 50-yard line of Lincoln Financial Field, and the show features local charities such as the Brian Dawkins Impact Foundation, Sharing Excess and the Kelly Anne Dolan Memorial Fund.

According to Griswold, an Ambler resident, the show "is the city’s very own 'Shark Tank,' with the added elements of philanthropy and mentorship." In each installment of the four-episode series (there will be more in the future), a panel of investors, known as The Wolf PAC (President’s Advisory Council), hits the streets "to explore local entrepreneurs, offer guidance and spotlight the ways in which they are giving back to the community."

The reality series from Emmy-award winning comedian, producer and Springfield Township High School graduate Craig Shoemaker (SHOWTIME original special, “Daditude”) and Laughter Heals Productions, follows savvy local investors as they explore the positive impact of investment in the local community.

Shoemaker once told me he turned to humor as a defense against the cruelty and insensitivity of other boys. In the 11th grade at Springfield High, he was only 5-foot, one-inch tall and weighed just 95 pounds. Much of Craig’s comedy down through the years was derived from incidents in his youth (a common thread in the comedy fabric). For example, he asked 13 girls to the high school prom before one said yes — and even that one wound up making out with another boy.

“The other kids pulled up my underwear so much,” he recalled, “I feel like I invented the thong . . . I really didn’t have much choice but to turn to comedy. I had to make all the bigger kids laugh to keep them from picking on me. It worked, too. Comedy got me out of so much trouble, you wouldn’t believe it.”

“Wolf PAC of Philadelphia” features famous Philadelphian faces including Tony Luke Jr. (Tony Luke’s Cheesesteaks), former Philadelphia Eagles stars Seth Joyner and Brian Dawkins, and “Eagles Insider” Dave Spadaro. The show was also filmed at iconic Philly locales such as Moshulu, Geno’s Steaks and others.

Vying for the panel’s funding of up to $500,000 and the PAC’s professional expertise to help accelerate their growth, “Wolf PAC of Philadelphia” features a selection of local startups for the beauty, sports, consumer packaged goods and food industries. In each episode, the Wolves evaluate the startups before providing mentorship, connections and, in some cases, funding.

“While watching TV with my son, I noticed a lack of business-focused reality shows that educate their audiences on running and expanding a business,” said Griswold. “The show that I created with Craig and the Wolves provides a deeper understanding into what goes into launching and sustaining a business while also showcasing the heart of Philadelphia and the start-ups that serve our community.”

“I’ve had the good fortune of being able to travel the world, but I stay rooted in the place I still call home — Philadelphia,” said Shoemaker. “The city’s unique and diverse culture and feel are as much a part of the show as the entrepreneurs … From a cracked bell to the crackpots, we made the authenticity of the city itself a key character of the show.”

The Wolf PAC’s panel of investors and advisors includes Griswold, a Harvard graduate with an MBA in Finance and PhD in health administration from Kennedy-Western University in Wyoming in 2004. Griswold has built and sold many companies including Griswold Home Care, the world’s oldest multinational non-medical home care company. Griswold started a summer camp at age 14 and later grew his health care enterprise to over $100 million in annual sales.

Shoemaker has a doctorate degree in humanities from California University of PA in 2010. “Ever since my friend, Michael Goldberg, got brain cancer, I've focused on the medicinal qualities of laughter as a healing modality,” Shoemaker said last week.

For more information about “The Wolf PAC of Philadelphia” and all of the “Wolves,” visit thewolfpac.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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