In December 2012, CultureMap came across an interesting Craigslist ad for the Austin area. It was a casting call for a little show on MTV called True Life, a documentary series covering a new subject each episode and following young adults around through the course of their daily life.
Instead of covering someone living with heroin addiction or being too beautiful, the series came to Austin to find young, entrepreneurial women starting a new business with friends. True Life wanted to catch the day-to-day tension and head butting that often results in new startups, and Austin seemed like an ideal city to find a story like this.
It turns out that thousands answered the call, and one local company earned the chance at cable TV exposure after seeing the article on CultureMap.
Cortney Hope and her team at Jellifi will be the Austin business profiled when the episode airs on MTV this Saturday. Founded back in April of 2012 and currently in its beta mode, Jellifi specializes in helping companies connect with event planners around Austin and vice versa.
It was during the pressure of building a brand and a company that Hope’s business partner at the time, Martin Aguirre Martinez, stumbled upon the listing and brought it to her attention.
“I read the description and it was like, ‘Are you a girl? Did you just start a company with your friends? … Are you an entrepreneur? Do you have problems? Do you have anything with your relationship involved in it?’” Hope recalls, listing off what the casting call was looking for. “It was all like, ‘Are you asking for me?’”
MTV waded through thousands of submissions and decided to tap Hope and Jellifi as the subject for the episode, along with the muscle-bound owners of a power wash company in Florida.
The True Life crew would fly out to Texas on Christmas to begin catching the daily struggles and stress of the local startup and adding a little bit more stress in the office.
“For me, it was really nerve-wracking,” says Hope. “I like to talk with someone one-on-one and I like to go have a meeting with someone and talk. But when it comes to not being able to talk and having to ignore someone sitting there… it was a little nerve-wracking and you kind of second guess everything you do.
“I was exhausted every single day afterwards because it’s on top of trying to start a company, on top of trying to manage everyone, on top of trying to get clients, on top of trying to succeed in life. You have someone sitting there and they’re watching every single inch of what you do.”
Even after filming is completed, there’s no telling if someone can come across as likable or not in front of a nationwide audience, but Hope is still thankful for the opportunity that the episode offers for both the future of Jellifi and perhaps some young viewers ready to strike it out on their own.
“I really hope that I helped little girls become inspired, or just anyone actually becoming inspired as an entrepreneur, but especially younger women because it’s going to be on MTV with that kind of audience. I just feel like a lot of the women on TV right now are like Snooki.”
Cortney Hope and the Jellifi team’s episode of MTV’s True Life is set to air June 1 at 2:18 p.m. local time according to the online schedule, so set your recorder and cheer on the local startup that could.