Even if you never get a chance to make a pitch, there is a lot you can learn from the show…
I’m sure you have heard of the Emmy Award winning show, Shark Tank. Many people watch the show for the vicarious thrill to see if the entrepreneur they are rooting for will win the “big prize”. But the show is not just entertainment. Hosted by 6 of Americas most seasoned investors, there is a ton you can learn about investing from watching the show.
I recently had the chance to connect with the Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner. Lori shared with me 11 lessons that she thinks viewers can take away from the show. Enjoy Lori’s wisdom!
Personifies the American Dream
The emphasis on entrepreneurship has really grown in our country over the last 5 years. There are many more resources available to budding entrepreneurs today, then say 5 years ago. For example, entrepreneurship classes are actually being taught in many schools. Companies and schools are holding entrepreneurship competitions. We’ve also seen the popularity of Shark Tank grow astronomically and is now its 10th season on ABC! It’s a show that personifies the American Dream and I’m told constantly how much people learn from this show.
Everybody can relate to having an idea they think could be worth millions, but several years ago probably never seriously considered that it would be possible to get it off the ground, but now we’re showing it can happen.
Learn How To Make A Pitch
Be energetic, captivating, honest and informative, but brief. A great pitch is when a person can describe what their business or product is within two sentences. They should know their business inside and out.
Draw the investors in with enthusiasm and passion. Remember that whoever you’re pitching to has spent either little or no time thinking about your product, which you may think is the greatest on the market. Be succinct and to the point, make it exciting while informative.
I think there are several mistakes people can make in a pitch.
1st and biggest mistake is not knowing everything there is to know about what they’re pitching. You should know your product or business inside out and be prepared to answer any question about it. Whether it’s about finances, manufacturing, inventory or processes, you should know every single detail. When listening to pitches, my biggest pet peeve would probably be if the person is not prepared. It shows a lack of commitment & caring and is reflective of their work ethic. It also lets me know that they would probably not be successful. I also don’t like if they appear arrogant, but I don’t like that trait in anyone.
The 2nd biggest mistake is lacking enthusiasm and passion. I’ve seen the greatest ideas fall completely flat when presented by someone who lacks enthusiasm. Enthusiasm and passion are infectious. On the other hand I’ve seen great pitch people that with sheer passion and enthusiasm convince people to buy or invest in things that they never would have under any other circumstance.
The 3rd biggest mistake is not listening or having an arrogant attitude. Remember if you’re trying to convince someone to invest in you, they need to not only like what you’re asking them to invest in and believe that it is a good investment for sound reasons but they also need to like and believe in you. If entrepreneurs don’t listen to questions asked during a pitch, they’re not going to hear you down the road, either, and they’re not going to be a good partner. I always find it a big turn off if the entrepreneur appears difficult to work with. I think most people would agree with this, for it doesn’t get better it will only get worse. I have learned that it doesn’t matter how great a business idea or product is, if the entrepreneur is going to be a problem, nothing is worth it.
Network to GetWork
Don’t be afraid to network. To reach out, to ask questions, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. When selling yourself, be confident and frank about your attributes. You can be honest and humble at the same time. But if you don’t speak up for yourself, no one else will.
Women should not think of themselves as “women” in business or as a “woman” in any job position. They should think of themselves as a person in business or in their job position, equal to, if not better depending, than anyone else.
Find something you love to do and then do it better than anyone else. Do what it takes to educate yourself in the field you are interested in. Be a sponge, absorb as much knowledge and information as possible. It’s always great if you can work somewhere or for someone where you can learn and get hands on experience in a real life situation. Education is great, but practical experience is invaluable.
Importantly, be yourself and confident in who you are, what you know and what you can do. Don’t be afraid to speak up. You don’t have to be tough to appear strong. Just be confident and believe in your convictions and knowledge.
I think anyone can become successful. It really has a lot to do with drive and determination and a willingness to work hard. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, or what stage you are in your life. If you have drive, determination and a willingness to work hard I truly believe you can make anything happen and you can be successful. I’m a big believer that you should not take no for an answer when people say things can’t be done.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
Even the heated moments on SharkTank can come out in a positive way for the entrepreneur. I think so because, you always learn from your experiences. There’s always valuable lessons to learn from every experience and I think that even though sometimes the questions from the sharks or what happens can seem quite difficult, I think you will walk away learning a great deal and correcting what went wrong. You learn the most from what you consider failures or difficulties. I look at them as the greatest and most valuable lessons. There are no failures in life, just great lessons.
You Need To Be Hands On
I’m extremely hands on with all of my entrepreneurs, when they do a deal with me, they get me on the phone with them. I’m often talking to them at all hours of the night, and on weekends. Each of them are in different stages and have different needs.
My process after a deal is to try to call the entrepreneur within a few days after it’s made in the ‘tank’ and they get back home. I want to make a more casual introduction and talk about their experience in the tank, then hear about the hot issues in their business and see how fast we have to move.
My team and I go through due diligence with each entrepreneur to insure that the company is in fact investible and that everything they said on the show is true.
Once the deal is signed and closed, we begin working on a big picture plan on what we need to do, what steps we need to take to get there etc. So we decide on what’s best for each individual company. Sometimes we need to update the packaging ASAP, or work on manufacturing, create an infomercial, get into retail, if its tech or an app, we determine where we are at in the market and where we need to be and how to get there etc. It’s always very individually based. I invest in a lot of different things in a lot of different arenas in the Shark Tank. So each one is analyzed independently based on their specific needs.
I truly love helping them and want them to be successful, so I just make the time to be there for them and give it our all! I also have a great team of people that truly care about my entrepreneurs too and they do a wonderful job assisting me and them with their needs.
People say that I move at lightning speed and I humbly say that I have many of the most successful products in Shark Tank history; Simply Fit Board, Scrub Daddy, Squatty Potty, Bantam Bagels and Sleep Styler, to name a few.
Look At The Product And The One Pitching
I look at both the product being pitched as well as the entrepreneur pitching it, they are equally important to me.
For the product or business, I look for several different things:
1) Something that has broad mass appeal — something a lot of people would need or want.
2) Something that solves a problem
3) Something that is unique or different to what else is on the market
4) Can be made at an affordable price
For the entrepreneur I love to see someone who is energetic, passionate, honest and driven. I want to feel that they will do whatever it takes to make their business a success. I pay attention to how well they listen and if they possess the qualities of someone that would be easy and enjoyable to work with. I’ve learned over all these years no matter how great a product or a business is, if I don’t like the people that come with it, it’s not worth it.
Sometimes It Pays To Be Crazy
There have been many memorable experiences in the tank. The craziest pitch was that squirrel zapper! Michael DeSanti, an aerospace professional turned entrepreneur, created a squirrel proof bird feader that deters squirrels from eating bird food by delivering a harmless static shock. Ryan “Cowboy” Ehmann was one of the funniest and most crazy. I couldn’t figure out what he was selling, and Daymond gave him a deal for his rodeo-themed Cowboy gym…go figure!…?!?! Some of the best pitches, in my opinion, were from my investors at Scrub Daddy (one of the most successful products from Shark Tank) and also Tangle Pets.
Master One Medium
There are so many venues that can play a role in your selling strategy, but in my opinion there is simply no better selling medium for a new inventor than a shopping channel like QVC. A few minutes on QVC can open up a whole world of retail opportunities. I made my career on TV because I happened to invent highly demonstrable products, so that’s where I knew I would see my biggest success.
I didn’t set out to be a serial inventor. After my 1st product was a success, the buyers wanted more and more. I was driven to keep creating by QVC and my customers.
I was lucky in that I could hear my customer’s voices, when they called in on air. Hearing that they loved the product or that it made them happy or their lives better really gave me motivation to keep creating more! Often I come up with ideas for products by thinking of things that people need or want. Usually that means creating solutions for everyday problems. I strive to make people’s lives easier and better, and I find that being organized reduces chaos.
Once you know how to market something on a certain medium, then it’s easier to continue to marketing other products on that same medium.
Learn How to Hire
I always say “Hire character & train skill” and I truly believe this. Who a person is, is as important to me as what they know how to do. There are many important characteristics I look for when hiring, but I’d say these ones are at the top of the list: honest, ethical, trustworthy & a team player. Fun to be around is a big plus!