Madison entrepreneur takes to TV to save the world
Amber Swenor is a cast member on season two of 4 Days to Save the World, a new social entrepreneurship reality TV show.
Imagine being tasked with coming up with a solution to one of society’s greatest problems, and then being told you have just four days to save the world. Sounds daunting, and maybe something you’d need a little help to solve, right? Say, a team? It also sounds like great TV.
That’s the premise of the new reality TV show, 4 Days to Save the World, which will pit teams of social entrepreneurs against one another to come up with viable business plans to solve big problems, pitch them to investors, and even solicit audience investments to get the projects off the ground.
Season one of the show is already in the can and will begin airing in fall 2021, but season two begins filming in June with a projected spring 2022 air date and one of the team co-captains is Amber Swenor, founder and brand strategist of Soul Seed [formerly Strategic Partners Marketing], a Madison-based brand strategy and marketing firm.
According to Swenor, the second season of the show will bring together 100 visionary entrepreneurs and executives from around the world. Once together, 10 teams of 10 people will have four days to create a business model to address one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. At the end of the four-day period, the teams will pitch their business idea to investors, and viewers can invest too.
“It’s like Shark Tank but totally focused on social impact and solving the world’s biggest challenges,” explains Swenor. “We create a business [in real time] in four days and see if we can get investors to make it viable. I have been selected as a co-captain to lead my team, so I’m really stoked about that. As far as I know, I’m one of two who’s been cast from Wisconsin [or the Midwest]. The others are from around the world.”
Swenor says being recruited for the show was a bit serendipitous.
In a two-week window, she received two client referrals seeking help with their brand and business strategy; both said they would be on an upcoming TV show and they were looking for help with how to leverage that opportunity for their brand. A few days later, Swenor saw another contact post online about being cast on a TV show called 4 Days to Save the World, a show focused on social impact.
“The show is about entrepreneurs and leaders coming together to create new businesses to address the world’s biggest challenges,” says Swenor. “This aligns with my passion and mission for engaging my strengths and talents to make meaningful change in the world. I was immediately interested, so I researched and found the name of a producer and reached out — when something resonates, you’ve got to go for it! Ironically, within days of me reaching out to them, another producer found me online and reached out to me to invite me into the process. I believe things show up in threes, and in a few weeks this opportunity kept surfacing, so it was a combination of the right connections, timing, and acting on what I felt was right.”
Being one of the few cast members from the Midwest could create a small fish in a big pond feeling, but Swenor already has a plan for bringing some Wisconsin sensibility to the experience.
“I’ve found that people from Madison and Midwest as a whole generally do what we say, and we get things done,” Swenor notes. “Growing up in a rural environment and with limited internet and cellphone, I learned how to have direct face-to-face conversations to build relationships, barter, and help each other as a way of moving projects forward. We all have personal needs and agendas, and if we seek to first understand the needs of those we’re working with — while ultimately serving the greater good — this helps bring down walls and bring more people to the collaboration table.
Swenor believes one of Madison’s strengths is in supporting local organizations and initiatives, which she says is about the humanness of business — the real lives, people, and families that are impacted. “Even though we will work toward global business solutions in this program, these solutions are still with the intention of directly impacting every day, real human lives. I intend to maintain that grounded perspective.
“As a company, we increasingly hear feedback that we’re refreshingly transparent and authentic,” Swenor continues. “I credit this in part to being raised in and building my business in the Midwest with a bit of a ‘no BS’ policy. I plan to bring these values for transparency and personal human relationships to this project.”
While filming on season two begins next month, an air of mystery still surrounds the project for participants. Swenor says the cast knows where to be, when, and what their mission is: create a viable business that can solve the assigned problem. Beyond that, the possibilities are endless.
“We will have the opportunity to pitch investors at the end and most likely won’t find out until our episode airs if it’s funded,” says Swenor. “There will be a crowdfunding element where viewers have the opportunity to invest in the viable businesses to help them launch. If the business is viable, ownership will be split between those who created the business, the investors, and the public backers, making this a truly unique, first-of-its-kind substantive reality TV programming, with the intention of solving real challenges through community-centric social impact business models.
“There’s a lot we still don’t know; this is still new ground as it’s just the second season, and more than double the size of teams, while at the same time being a social experiment,” adds Swenor. “We might find out our teams a few weeks prior.”
Beyond the chance to do some good in the world, Swenor says she’s most looking forward to collaborating with other CEOs and changemakers who are on board for a shared mission. “While I’ve collaborated with many leaders and team members through the years, and while our growth has been fast compared to other similar startups, I am looking forward to seeing what’s possible by combining our experience, unique perspectives, and networks to see how we can accelerate and amplify the creation of a business solution.”
Swenor says there are several teams she can envision herself on, particularly ending cyberbullying and ending suicide. Hurt people hurt other people, she notes, just as healed people heal other people.
“What I hope to gain personally is purpose/mission fulfillment,” explains Swenor. “The guiding principle that I live and lead by is that ‘your truth is the path to personal freedom.’ When people learn to live and be in their truth, free of shame, bullying, or fear of their safety or life, the more it creates space for others to be in their truth and the more that we as a society live in compassion. Not everyone is going to agree with each other’s beliefs or choices; however, it is possible for us to choose to live in greater compassion and decency — live and let live. As a musician and business leader who doesn’t ‘fit the traditional mold,’ bullying almost stopped me so many times in my life, and it has almost stopped our clients many times.
“If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that it’s time for the rise of the heart-centered leader in business, a balance between command and collaboration, strategy and soul,” continues Swenor. “Business for good is possible and people are coming to expect more of that, and if we are to value compassion in the world and in business, we need to create a world in which we live by that principle.”
Season one of 4 Days to Save the World is slated to air in fall 2021 on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play, and other digital streaming services. You can view a trailer below.
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