As I mentioned in my last entry, I am a fan, addict and supporter of The Shark Tank TV show and more important, the spirit of inventiveness and entrepreneurship it fosters. Over the past three seasons there have been 38 shows and about 150 contestants. And I have seen ever one. Did I say I was addicted?
Since 2010 our company, Opis Network, has been providing various business accelerator workshops and one of them is called “The Money Accelerator.” Over the course of 100 days we teach the students about leveraging their resources and their money along with how to develop a FUNDABLE business plan. BTW, we have found that 93 percent of all businesses out there do not have a business plan; danger sign #1. As the 100 days program concluded we had the students structure a “pitch session” just like Shark Tank and present it to our panel of seasoned judges. They did a PowerPoint presentation since most of them did not have inventions, per se, and they get critiqued on their presentation as well as their concept and most thoroughly enjoyed it.
In some cases the PITCHER doesn’t have as much fun afterwards because sometimes they just, well, they suck. And we tell them why and how to improve. Most business owners do not really know how to articulate their business, and almost as bad, they don’t know how to “ask” for money. There is an art and a science wrapped into doing it properly, and it really doesn’t matter much if you are pitching to a Shark, a venture capitalist/angel, or a bank; or even your relatives.
I mention that only to share how The Tank has been part of my life even aside from the TV show and the book I just wrote where I interviewed a very successful (now) Shark Tank winner, and since then I have met many more.
As brilliant as Mark Burnett is as a reality show producer, the origins of Shark Tank go back many years before the United States version and the first broadcast was actually in Japan. It was initially called “Manê no Tora", which translates into “Money Tigers,” and it aired from 2001 to 2004. It was unique in that it was the first Japanese entertainment program that dealt with the concept of business investment. No doubt it was much different from the current version we watch and they also had a much bigger pool of Sharks, (Tigers) with as many as sixteen. That was good news for the contestant since it increased the chances of getting a partner by three, much better odds than with just five Sharks.
Since then the show has become a worldwide phenomenon and has been seen in more than twenty countries during the past ten years. Even nations you wouldn’t think could gather an audience carries a version, including Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. We can only imagine the type of pitches they get in other countries. It also made it into Croatia, the mother country of one of our current Sharks, Robert Herjavec, but he is not part of the panel. The one that most follows our version is the one that preceded our U.S. edition, and that is Dragon’s Den, from Canada, which has been on since 2006 and since then they have aired almost twice the number of shows as we have here in the U.S. That show is still on and has also had two alumni from our version from the beginning; Robert, mentioned above, who lives in Canada, and Kevin O’Leary, AKA, Mr. Wonderful, who sits front center in the one we watch, also born in Canada. So after sitting through more than 100 shows between two countries, how many businesses or inventions do you think these investors have seen or bought in to? This is a great opportunity for them as well as the entrepreneur that is pitching.
I have quantified the “Shark Tank” mindset and potential candidate into three different types. Some of them currently exist and some are contestants waiting to happen. They are:
- Those that have been on the show and got money
- Those that have been on the show and did not
- And those that tried to get on the show and were unsuccessful
Is there a pattern? Are there hints and tips to know to improve your chance of success? The answer is a resounding YES, and that insight will be part of my three part concussion.
If you know of anyone that has been on the show, auditioned for the show or would LIKE to get on the show, please have them contact me.