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Rooster McConaughey (Matthew’s Bro) And Butch Gilliam Bring You Business, West Texas Style

CNBC’s West Texas Investment Club offers entrepreneurs a down-home take on business reality.

It’s Hee Haw meets Shark Tank, y’all!

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“Rooster” and “Butch” ain’t exactly the names you’d associate with investment savvy. But the latest business-based reality show is all about street-smarts, Texas style.

Rooster McConaughey—as in Matthew McConaughey’s older brother—and Wayne “Butch” Gilliam are self-made millionaires through ventures like oil pipe supplies and cattle ranching. Lately, they’ve been sharing the wealth by investing in promising entrepreneurs. Except, according to the show’s schtick, these guys do business a little differently—opting for personality over PowerPoints, character over calculation.

(L-R) Rooster McConaughey, Gil Prather, and Butch GilliamPhoto: courtesy of CNBC

Welcome to the West Texas Investors Club, which premieres August 4 on CNBC. In eight, hour-long episodes, McConaughey, Gilliam—along with buddy American Music Hall of Fame singer/songwriter Gil Prather—gauge pitches from 16 ambitious entrepreneurs who travel to Texas to make their case for funding. And suited-up city slickers are in for one helluva surprise when they cop an attitude…

“In one of the early episodes, there’s a guy who talks his way out of an investment based on his character,” says Charlie Ebersol, who executive produces the show with Mike Lanigan and Jason Henry, all of The Company—the production entity that’s also behind CNBC’s The Profit. “He told them, ‘You run on the good ol’ boy system. That doesn’t work anymore.’ They said, ‘Business is always about good ol’ boys, handshakes, sales, and talking to people. If you don’t believe business can be based on a handshake, we don’t need you.’ ”

It was Henry who alerted The Company to these guys, having worked with them in the past. Their M.O. struck a chord with Ebersol, who’d noticed a pattern with The Company’s venture capital division: more often, good ideas with unscrupulous business partners fell apart, while bad ideas with ethical ones didn’t.

Charlie EbersolPhoto: Courtesy of The Company

“I flew down to Texas to meet with these guys for two days and fell in love with them,” says Ebersol. “They had these gigantic personalities. Butch is an insanely smart businessman. He doesn’t give two hoots what’s on the balance sheet. The culture that the person drives in his business is the most important.

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“What struck me about Rooster and Butch was they want to help you, but you, the person, if you’re willing to commit to their system,” he adds. “The idea of your name meaning something should be the thing that matters”

So far, brother Matt has visited the set, but doesn’t appear in the series. “We think of celebrity as the ultimate success,” says Ebersol. “Rooster is more financially successful and has a five times bigger personality. Both have movie-star quality. Their mom appears in one of the episodes. She’s a lit pistol.

“Between that and Robert Duvall doing the voice-overs—“

Wait, what?

“Oh yeah, he and Rooster are best friends,” says Ebersol. “Jason kept talking about a ‘Mr. Duvall’ doing voice-overs. I kept saying, ‘Who is Mr. Duvall? Aren’t you going to get a professional voice-over person? He said, ‘Robert Duvall.’ It’s very surreal to work with these guys on a variety of levels.”

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About the author

Susan Karlin is an award-winning journalist in Los Angeles, covering the nexus of science, technology, and arts, with a fondness for sci-fi and comics. She's a regular contributor to Fast Company, NPR, and IEEE Spectrum, and has written for Newsweek, Forbes, Wired, Scientific American, Discover, NY and London Times, and BBC Radio

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