‘Shark Tank’ Contestants Share What It Takes to Get on the Present — and Nail it

After months of compiling notes and training pitches, contestants stroll down an extended, cavernous hallway, go by wood-grain double doorways and enter the scorching cone of the highlight. The piercing gaze of their interrogators — who appear extra like executioners — is hotter nonetheless.

Most contestants in all probability mutter to themselves “How did I get right here?” Tens of millions of viewers watching at house surprise the identical factor.

How do you get on “Shark Tank”?

Full disclosure: it’s lengthy and grueling. However fret not. The Penny Hoarder talked to 2 profitable “Shark Tank” contestants to assist stroll you thru the method.

Dawoon Kang, CEO and cofounder of Espresso Meets Bagel, pitched her enterprise alongside her sister-cofounders Soo and Arum for season 4. Espresso Meets Bagel is a relationship app that combats what the founders see as a poisonous, swipe-right relationship tradition by specializing in sluggish, significant relationships.

The Kang sisters didn’t stroll away with a deal; they turned one down. Mark Cuban, the billionaire businessman and proprietor of the Dallas Mavericks, (in a quite controversial transfer as a result of he was already “out”) requested the Kangs if they might promote their firm for $30 million on-the-spot. They refused anyway.

Sara Margulis and her husband, Josh, appeared on season six to pitch Honeyfund, their wedding-gift and honeymoon registry web site. Honeyfund is the brainchild of their very own honeymoon expertise: Josh constructed an internet site for his household and pals to crowdsource their dream honeymoon to Fiji.

The Sharks cherished the concept, and the Margulises walked out with a non-equity deal from the Canadian multimillionaire Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Great.

How one can Get on ‘Shark Tank’

After a decade and greater than 200 episodes, the entrepreneur-themed actuality present remains to be going sturdy. The scores have waned lately, however the newest season, season 10, nonetheless drew in about three.5 million viewers each Sunday night time (and numerous viewers on Netflix). Season 11 is about to premiere in September. 

Relying on the season,“Shark Tank” producers get between 45,000 and 100,000 functions, in accordance with numerous experiences. Solely 120 or so pitches ever make it to the viewers’ eyes.

Translation: it’s actually, actually onerous to make it on the present. Candidates have a greater likelihood of getting accepted into each Harvard and Yale.

However behind-the-scenes recommendation from Kang and Margulis is certain to assist these odds.

Possibility One: Apply On-line

From left: Soo, Arum and Dawoon Kang pitch their relationship app Espresso Meets Bagel on an episode of Shark Tank. Photograph courtesy of ABC/Tony Rivetti

The overwhelming majority of individuals making use of to “Shark Tank” do it on-line. Kang and Margulis included, technically. In each their circumstances, the producers of “Shark Tank” reached out to them first and inspired them to use.

“Some folks on the present have been utilizing [Coffee Meets Bagel] and thought it was a extremely fascinating idea, in order that they reached out to us,” Kang stated.

However they nonetheless needed to fill out the appliance, and it’s a doozy. The preliminary paperwork features a 17-page doc that explains your small business’s backstory, numbers, stage of improvement, want for capital and extra. It took them each many months to fill it out. 

Earlier than beginning on the primary software, there’s an extra screener questionnaire that asks background fundamentals. 

If all goes effectively after the paperwork, the producers will request a number of pitch movies to see if your small business comes throughout effectively on digital camera.

When filming your video pitch, you’ll want to be expressive, use good lighting methods and prep hair, make-up and wardrobe as in the event you have been occurring reside tv.

“Communicate succinctly about your organization, simply as you’ll in the event you’re forged on the present,” Margulis stated. 

Possibility Two: Attend an Open Casting Name

As the present season is airing, the “Shark Tank” crew is already on the highway searching for new contestant-entrepreneurs. For season 11 there have been 10 casting calls in numerous U.S. cities. They began as early as January and ran till July (two months earlier than the brand new season premiere).

Simply since you present as much as one of many casting name places doesn’t imply you’re assured an audition. Traces type within the early morning hours, and there’s solely a two-hour time-frame when the casting crew distributes wristbands. Not everybody will get one.

And to audition, within the phrases of Paul Simon, “wristband, my man, you bought to have a wristband.”

Preparation is vital for the casting calls as a result of a accomplished 17-page software is due on the date of the audition. Be able to “wow and dazzle” the crew with a well-rehearsed one-minute presentation.

Professional Tip

For open casting calls, there’s no assure of web entry, AV hook-ups or electrical energy. Greatest maintain issues easy.

Test ABC’s open-call schedule for upcoming audition alternatives.

Insider Tips about Getting ready for ‘Shark Tank’

Earlier than you shell out the money for strobe lights and fashions for an extravagant presentation, ensure you have the fundamentals down. Specifically, your small business pitch. Even in the event you don’t make it to the Sharks, the advantages of a well-crafted enterprise pitch are limitless.

“On the identical time that you just’re engaged on the visible presentation,” Margulis stated, “you’re additionally working by the factors of the enterprise, what you’re asking for what proportion of the corporate, and answering a bunch of enterprise questions.”

For individuals who make it far sufficient for an in-person pitch, listed here are some further suggestions to assist calm your nerves.

Hook the Sharks

The Sharks are suckers for , relatable story. Gimmicks like fashions and corny platitudes may get a chuckle however not an funding. The Kang sisters crafted a hook that doubled as their origin story, which highlighted their journey from South Korea to Silicon Valley. And the Margulises went for a subtly Fiji-themed presentation to focus on how their private honeymoon expertise led to Honeyfund’s launch.

“Play to your strengths,” Kang stated. “You need to stand out and differentiate your self as a result of they hear pitches all day lengthy.”

Know Your Viewers

Every episode of “Shark Tank” options 5 of the six everlasting Shark-investors. The contestants don’t know who will probably be there on the day of the present, so it’s good to have a number of Sharks in thoughts who you need to make a take care of, in case your prime decide isn’t there. In latest seasons, the present contains some wildcards like billionaire Richard Branson, actor Ashton Kutcher and NBA legend Charles Barkley.

“Have a way of who every Shark is, what sorts of offers they love to do and how much services and products they wish to put money into,” Margulis stated.

However don’t neglect concerning the viewers at house. Have a presentation that additionally resonates with the typical viewer.

“You need to ensure you’re being energetic,” Kang stated. “It might really feel actually flat in the event you’re not capable of specific your feelings. The viewers watching the present would have a tough time connecting.”

Arm Your self With Numbers

On the very least, each contestant on “Shark Tank” wants a particular ask within the format of “x% of my enterprise for $x.” The apparent follow-up to that query is, “How did you come to that valuation?” And that’s seemingly simply the primary query in a coming onslaught.

“We had a stack of flashcards four-inches thick,” Margulis stated, which detailed income, gross sales and projected progress numbers. 

“You could have to have the ability to succinctly inform [the Sharks] how their cash goes to develop your organization and return again to them,” she added. “Even higher in the event you can say, ‘Hey Sharks, I’ve XYZ alternatives in entrance of me, however I can’t execute on these with out your cash.’”

Be Honest

Along with the million different issues to pay attention to, it’s essential to remain within the second and dedicate time to handle every Shark. They’re a bunch of massive media personalities, they usually all need your consideration. For instance, when you have an infomercial-ready product, you is likely to be itching for a take care of Lori Greiner, dubbed the “Queen of QVC.” However don’t ignore the opposite Sharks.

“Investor match is all the time essential,” Margulis stated, however in the event you’re not totally answering the opposite Sharks’ questions, it may backfire in additional methods than one.

The opposite Sharks may “exit,” which implies much less competitors (and certain a worse deal). They may even be much less seemingly to offer you recommendation.

“We positively acquired some good suggestions from the Sharks whereas we have been within the Tank,” Margulis stated. 

Although Honeyfund took a take care of Kevin O’Leary, “Mark [Cuban] stated that he thought it was a nasty concept to go after different occasions past the marriage earlier than we had actually cornered the market within the marriage ceremony area,” Margulis stated.

“That’s the factor that has caught with me.”

Adam Hardy is a employees author at The Penny Hoarder. He makes a speciality of methods to earn money that don’t contain stuffy company workplaces. Learn his ​newest articles right here, or say hello on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

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