1) You must be 100% devoted to your business.
There have been quite a few pitches on Shark Tank where the product was right, the price was right and the timing was right. But the one thing the sharks didn’t like was a lack of 100% of total commitment to the business.
Some contestants didn’t seem like they had the drive, but most importantly, there were some contestants who had another job or business on the side. And the sharks just didn’t like that.
And some contestants had family commitments in which the sharks didn’t feel like the business owner could give one hundred percent of his or her time.
So, if you want to get an investment from the sharks on Shark Tank, be sure to show the sharks that you have a one hundred percent total commitment into your business
2) Your hard work means nothing to the sharks on Shark Tank
A lot of contestants on Shark Tank feel their “sweat equity” has a monetary value. It doesn’t.
The sharks only care about getting a good return on their investment, so all your years of “hard work” means very little to them in terms of the amount of money the sharks are going to invest in your business.
The only time your hard work means anything to the sharks on Shark Tank is if you can demonstrate that you will continue to put in the hard work once you get the investment you’re seeking.
But don’t forget that your “sweat equity” doesn’t have any monetary value in terms of the sharks investing in you.
3) The sharks on Shark Tank want a real business to invest in.
There have been a few time on Shark Tank where the contestant answered a shark’s question with: “We don’t know. We’re open to suggestions.” The Shark Tank is NOT the place to ask for advice on your business for two very important reasons:
1) They don’t work for you. And the sharks are not there to give out free advice
2) It shows you don’t have any confidence in your business, and you don’t really think of your business as a real business
When pitching to the sharks on Shark Tank it’s okay to tell them that you are a hard working individual but when they ask you to explain the valuation of your company, leave your sweat equity out of the equation. They want real numbers.
4) The Sharks Love Inventory Problems
Of all the problems you could have that the sharks love is inventory problems. This problem means you’re making sales but you don’t have the capital to deliver on a purchase order. That’s a problem their investment can easily solve. An inventory problem in this case is you don’t have enough inventory to fulfill orders.
One contestant was nearly laughed off stage because he had way too much inventory. They don’t like that. They want sales, and they want you to fulfill those sales with inventory.
Having too much inventory is one of the biggest reasons small business go out of business. If the sharks don’t like you having too much inventory, then take that to the bank. Don’t have too much inventory. First get sales, then get inventory
On the opposite side of the spectrum is marketing. They hate the problems of marketing. It could mean a bad product or a hard market.
5) They sharks love people who pound the pavement
There have been several products on Shark Tank that have failed to impress the sharks, but once the contestant told the sharks that they made calls; knocked on doors; and got into people’s faces to make a sale, the sharks’ eyes lit up.
One such example is Rapid Ramen Cooker which is a simple plastic container that helps you make your ramen noodles in a microwave oven. In the first half of this segment, the sharks were universally unimpressed, but when the contestant told the sharks that he called all sorts of outlets to carry his product, they were very impressed—and then it became a feeding frenzy for the sharks. They were all trying to outbid one another.
6) You need to have a great business, not just a great idea
Too many contestants have come to the show with one product or just an idea for a product The sharks want to see an entire business—not just one product or an idea.
These contestant think the sharks want to come in at “the ground floor” with some new great product that “has potential.” They don’t want that. They want to invest in an existing business that has legs that can run.
Your great idea will fail to impress them if there isn’t a real business behind it. One such product brings me to this point. A gentleman was pitching his Kymera Boards—which were battery operated wave runner-type boards. The product sounded pretty good, but the contestant failed to show the sharks that it was a real business.
You have to show a real business that can be expanded into a bigger business. They don’t want a one-trick pony. They want a real business to invest into.
7) You have to be likeable
Many times the sharks on Shark Tank have nearly passed on a pitch until the contestant won them over with their charm and personality. Sometimes it can be heartfelt sob story or sometimes a personality can really shine through. Nearly all the sharks have said they invest in people and not just products.
One person that failed to impress the sharks was for Schulzies Bread Pudding. They like the product but they thought the owner was just to flaky and one that seemed to make bad decisions. I also found her to be quite annoying as well.
The sharks know they will have to deal with you, so if you’re ornery or have some other personality deficiency, work on it before hitting the Shark Tank.
BONUS: This one is more about exposure than pleasing the sharks on Shark Tank. My personal advice is to WEAR a T-shirt with your company name, logo, website or any other branding because I noticed that the show only shows the name of your product of few times in the beginning.
I can’t tell you how many times I had to rewind the show to find out what the product was. I’ve only seen a few smart contestants actually were a t-shirt.
And as you know, just as important as pleasing the sharks and getting an investment, it’s just as important to get free exposure to audience of 7 million.