Who wants to be an e-millionaire?

Channel 4 hopes to make e-commerce appeal to the masses as it launches an 'e-gameshow'
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? gets a new spin Monday as Channel 4 launches a search for an Internet entrepreneur to follow (hopefully more successfully) in the footsteps of Boo.com.

Channel 4 is not known for its gameshows -- Countdown and Fifteen to One being the notable exceptions -- but that is about to change with the launch of The E-Millionaire Show. It will be hosted by Jon Snow, more usually accustomed to the serious business of news reading, and the lucky winner will pocket £1m to help get his or her venture off the ground.

Fifteen finalists have already been selected from the seven thousand budding e-entrepreneurs who applied to take part in the show. Princess Productions, the company behind the show, have the backing of high profile Internet investors such as Oxygen Holdings and Bright Station, who will take a 64 per cent stake in the winning business plan.

There will be no "call a friend" for the next Martha Lane Fox that this show hopes to discover. In the five heats that will be broadcast this week, contestants will have their ideas scrutinised by a panel of Internet start-up experts such as Tim Jackson, founder of QXL, WWP's chief executive Sir Martin Sorrel, Mike Lynch, founder of Autonomy, and Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of the EasyEverything Internet cafe chain. The winner of each heat will be selected by a phone and online vote.

A TV gameshow without Chris Tarrant may seem appealing, but an opinion poll commissioned by FT.com in May revealed a general feeling of e-apathy amongst the British public. The survey showed that 93 per cent of those questioned did not want to be part of the dot-com industry, with only one in ten supporting e-startup risk takers.

Alnoor Samji, partner at MORI, is not sure how the British public will react to an e-gameshow. "When it comes to investing and being part of the e-economy, people aren't yet ready to make this jump." He feels that the show could play a part in raising awareness of how e-business works.

"If it highlights the hard work involved in the cutthroat and exciting area of online business, and informs positively -- it could help to generate public interest in this area."

Take me to the e-commerce special.

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