Shark Tank Open Casting — What It’s Like

Shark Tank Open Casting — New York Tech Day

My name is Francis Huynh — founder of JustHuynh, the social fitness platform the connects people with others nearby to train together for the needed accountability and motivation in achieving their fitness goals.

On April 18, 2017, I travelled from Boston to New York City for the Shark Tank Open Casting held during New York Tech Day. I stood in line at 4:44am to receive Sharktank ticket #28. The 1st person in line came the day before at 4PM — as only the first 500 entrepreneurs with wristbands are guaranteed a one-minute pitch. Being up early was not hard as that is my normal rise and grind time. The experience was so uplifting with so many entrepreneurs from all around the world pursuing their passion for a 60 second moment in front of the Shark Tank Judges.

Below are tips to keep in mind when preparing for Shark Tank Open Casting

Benefits: these are the positives that you’ll experience by partaking in a Shark Tank Open Casting

  • Partake in the Shark Tank so you tighten up your investable 60 second pitch especially when recruiting teammates, raising money, getting customers, and negotiating partners
  • If you’re not accepted to the show, don’t take the decision personally, but use the experience as motivation to prove the Sharks wrong for missing out on YOU
  • You’ll be able to connect with over 500 entrepreneurs as everyone is trying to profit from their passions instead of working in a job to check the “9–5AM box”

Success Mindset: these quotes helped me stay positive regardless of what happens after 60 seconds pitching

  • Success doesn’t happen overnight, it is a string of small wins and losses that get you to YOUR ultimate NORTH STAR
  • You have to be willing to TAKE the shots that others aren’t willing to take
  • Embrace the WORKHORSE to become the UNICORN

Preparation: lock these down to deliver an amazing 60 second pitch

  • Passion: be super energized and convincing that you have an amazing service/product solving people’s PROBLEMS in a huge MARKET that can be the next UNICORN (i.e. billion dollar company)
  • TV Crazy: instead of sounding like a corporate drone in a business suit delivering a powerpoint presentation, be TV material with a presentation flow that will take the Judges outside of their comfort zone and be HOOKED on you. Judges are looking for entrepreneurs who can generate high viewership for their TV show
  • Know your numbers: know your business model, unit economics, funding amount request, valuation, performance metrics, and market size
  • Confident Storytelling: weave in how your product/service came from a PERSONAL struggle so that the Judges can relate with you on a personal level and you’ll be able to cultivate a loyal following for your company, personal brand and product if you’re aired on TV
  • Practice: view casting tapes of similar types of companies to understand the investors’ appetites — particularly during Q&A so prepare responses for the anticipated questions. For an open casting call, the 3 main questions are:
  • 1) what would you use the money for? i.e. development, marketing, hiring, scaling
  • 2) how is your business performing? Month-over-month growth in users, revenue, profits
  • 3) which Shark(s) would you like to partner with and why? As a fitness entrepreneur, I mentioned Mark Cuban (Owner of Dallas Mavericks basketball team), Daymond John (Owns Crossfit Gyms), Barbara Corcoran (works out with personal trainer 3 times a week)

Open Cast Day 
Outside of Silicon Valley, New York is the second largest tech scene in the United States. There were 600 entrepreneurs exhibiting for New York tech day and 600 entrepreneurs pitching for Shark Tank Open Casting. The funny thing is that out of the 600 Shark Tank entrepreneurs, I was the only entrepreneur who knew about both what New York Tech Day and Shark Tank was. Many of the Shark Tank entrepreneurs are non-tech (i.e. entrepreneurs producing a cat-eating dish, magic trick show, stinky shoe spray, sex toys). One ABC journalist noticed the divide between tech vs non-tech and described the divide as “there were 600 entrepreneurs rolling into New York Tech day looking like businessmen to setup their booths AND there were 600 Shark Tank open callers looking like HOMELESS people (i.e. everyone was bundled up as the weather was still cold mid-April in New York whereas the tech entrepreneurs just walked into the warm building).”

During New York tech day, I asked why the 600 tech entrepreneurs didn’t partake in the 60-second pitch and they all mentioned “I don’t like Mr. Wonderful (aka Kevin O’Leary) as he’s mean so I’m afraid an appearance on the show could hurt my business and my personal brand if I OVERREACT on TV.”

Below is timeline for open cast day

  • Application form: bring hardcopy of completed form
  • 5AM: get in line as only the first 500 entrepreneurs receiving wristbands get to pitch
  • 9AM: wristbands handed out to the first 500 entrepreneurs. By 9AM, there were over 1000 people in line
  • 10am: Open casting begins. You will pitch for 1 minute to 1 Judge concurrently with 3 other entrepreneurs pitching to the other 3 judges. So you need to be loud with passion and energy
  • Due diligence round: Judges get back to you for next round in 2 weeks. If you don’t hear back from a CA phone — you didn’t make it
  • Show time: if accepted after Due diligence round, you will pitch to the Sharks in 5 weeks
  • Statistics: each season, there are 8 open castings with 40,000 applicants and only 150 pitch to the Sharks. Due to limited TV time and poor performing entrepreneurs being cut out from the TV-airing, Shark Tank will show 4 people per show over the 20 episode season

Best of luck to everyone!

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About Francis

Francis Huynh is CEO & Founder of JustHuynh — a social fitness platform that connects people with others nearby to just win by training together for the needed accountability and motivation in achieving their fitness goals. Obesity is personal, as Francis went thru the college freshman 15 and corporate desk job weight gains. His life changed when his doctor diagnosed him as obese. From that moment, Francis started prioritizing exercise and nutrition — realizing that fitness provides benefits of benefits that allow anyone to thrive instead of just surviving at life.

In 2016 after marrying the love of his life and completing MBA degree from the fittest/brightest university in the world (Vanderbilt), Francis turned down lucrative career opportunities (i.e. FBI, Samsung) to pursue his passion for global health as there are over 400 million people worldwide with diabetes who can improve their health thru exercise and nutrition.

Outside of work, Francis enjoys spending time with family, paying it forward thru community service (i.e. helping people with fitness, education, business, overcoming challenges as a 1st Generation college graduate), practice martial arts, travel, and read business books.