The Sharks are Alright

Our entire family watches this show; we love to learn about new products or service from those passion self-starters and entrepreneurs. With a family of four, and sometimes five, to get all family members to watch and enjoy this program is remarkable. I could count on one hand the number of shows or movies the entire family could agree on – that makes the Shark Tank a valuable commodity in our TV viewing world.

Mind you, all family members are not shy about expressing their opinion during the show. This includes if the presenter did a good job presenting their wares. We are intrigued by the interaction between those pitching their products to the sharks. It’s fun interaction trying to predict if those budding entrepreneurs will cut a deal with one or more of the sharks. During commercials, it may be discussed what we would do if we had a desirable and high demand product or service. If a product or service doesn’t pass the “shark test,” we may discuss why? Was the issue the messenger or message? Could a different presenter have gotten different results or was it just a bad business deal that had little chance of surviving the sharks.

It’s educational. You hear what each of the sharks are looking for before they invest in the proposed business. A well thought out business and marketing plan is essential – it can’t just be a good sales pitch. Most of the sharks like to see consistent sales for at least a two or three-year period where sales are increasing at an attractive rate. In terms of your businesses’ valuation, you have to show these astute business people actual sales to justify your asking price. Otherwise, you’ll be eaten by a number of the sharks. As Kevin O’Leary constantly reminds his viewers and presenters, he’s not altruistic – only interested in sound business deals that will help maximize his investment. Sharks often aggressively circle around a business opportunity if the presenter has acquired patents – there are times they may “bite” on the offer with a patent or patent pending even if your sales are not exploding like Fourth of July fireworks.

Shark Tank

All sharks have their unique approach in reviewing the prospective offers. Mark joined in season 2 and always reminds presenters that he’s terribly important and extremely busy so any deal he commits to has to resonate with him. Daymon John doesn’t often make many deals and typically the pitch has to align to his clothing or decorating sphere. Kevin sits in the middle of the five and is brash, arrogant and opinionated and rarely cuts deals. After watching him for years, I believe he relishes his role. He borders on being verbally abusive. I have seen both Barbara Corcoran and Lori Greiner in season 3, both of whom are not shy about taking a chance and making a deal. Typically, these two women may not always agree with the product or service being presented but they try to put a positive spin on it. Robert Herjavec is less abrasive than Kevin and not afraid to cut a deal and is typically “firm” in his offer and often uses the interaction as a teaching exercise even if he can’t promise you any money.

As mentioned earlier, it is absolutely essential for all business prospectors to be well prepared for the Shark Tank. In fact, it might be useful to over prepare. Preparing for Shark Tank might be comparable to a job interview. You have to prepare and be ready for unusual and challenging questions. It might behoove prospective presenters to role play to help prepare for this stressful and challenging venue. If this involves challenging and difficult questions, that may ultimately help you prepare so you can “hold your own” within the shark tank and make a deal.

I think there are two areas of questions for which to prepare. The first is personal. Some questions may include, are you paying yourself enough? Do you have room to grow? Are you entrepreneurial material? How much do you really love this work? Will your family support you in this endeavor? How badly do you want to succeed with your idea?

The second area of questions may be more strategic or financial? Have you done due diligence to ensure all your business sales are correct and easy to recall? Do you maintain good financial records? Will any of the sharks, especially Kevin, question your valuation? Will your business model pass the “sniff test?” If you’re offering a 30% stake in the company for $250,000 and they counter at 50% and $250,000 will you consider it? Will you walk? It may be beneficial to have the worst case scenario that you would accept and if you don’t get that amount, be prepared to walk. Just remember, the harder you prepare, the easier it will be dealing with the sharks and if you prepare very little, it may not be long before you’re eaten by the sharks.

Our family may record Shark Tank over a series of weeks and when we get the chance, the entire family may sit down for an evening and watch a number of these episodes. Because not every episode will provide a “meeting of the minds” between a shark and prospect, so we may have to watch a number of episodes to increase the chances of seeing some entrepreneurs extreme joy and happiness on national television.

By watching the show and discussing the interactions, some of our family members may feel somewhat equipped to deal with the sharks if one was ever presented to them. However, what’s easy in one’s family room could be an entirely different story when confronted with mean or angry sharks during the bright lights of television.




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