In the lead up to heading back into the Shark Tank for another period of filming for this inspirational Australian made business reality show, I thought I would share a few thoughts on how to prepare for your day in the Tank (or for everyone else, pitching your idea to anyone in your network).
There will be people nervously getting ready for his or her day in the Shark Tank… you have probably watched every episode from last season a couple of times (maybe more), laughed, cried or worried! You would have reflected on the presentation style and digested feedback from the Sharks and how they perceived the pitch – I thought I would give you the heads up; here are a few things which might help you prepare:
Getting your pitch perfect (perfect = preparation and practice). Simply making it through casting calls to appear on Shark Tank in front of the whole of Australia is an incredible opportunity on your entrepreneurial journey. But actually getting the Sharks to make an offer and invest in your business can appear fickle – but there is a method to our madness. It is more than just a great business idea, we want to know about you; what are you like to work with? What are your dreams and aspirations?
I have blogged previously: ‘Is an investor what you want?’ I ask this question of this year’s businesses also. Many of the pitches we saw were vague about how they would use the money. Some just wanted the money to get their own investment back! That’s not how it works….This is not a donation – it is an investment, and that means there needs to be a return.” Make sure you have thought this through before you start your pitching process.
Do you know the Sharks? You need to do your homework on each of us: what are we intrinsically motivated by? What is important to each of us? We are all very different people – and see the world differently. What businesses are we involved with and why? What do we have in common with you and your business? One good example for me here would be Grown Designs. As an ambassador for Conscious Capitalism, I loved Jeff Phillips’ story and admired his passion for contributing to the community. I liked that the product was designed and developed the product in regional Australia. Research, research, research.
Don’t get offended if we see the world differently or find ‘faults’ in your pitch, idea or business case. Don’t forget that many businesses won’t get an investment in the Tank – everyone should approach entering the Shark Tank with the understanding that even if they do not get investment, they are going to receive invaluable feedback on themselves and the business opportunity. Be open to new ideas. Who knows what we could add to your business – because we are ‘outside’ your box.
An example where feedback could be considered a critical part of the pitching process I encountered long after the Series had aired. I ran into a business from last year’s show who received some very straight words. When we saw each other, he did not shy away from approaching me – and acknowledged that I had picked it – he had just met his ‘partner’ a few days before. He learned from the experience – even though painful; he identified that they had rushed the pitch. He has since gone out on his own and is happy with where he is. If anything, each pitch should be a learning.
Treat the negotiation in a mature and fair manner – it is not a time to ‘haggle’. Often businesses refused to barter down – because they felt they ‘were giving too much away.’ Know your numbers – have confidence in your offering – and do be prepared to walk away if it is not going to work for you. One must assume that you will receive an offer you won’t like…if you know your business inside and out you know what the offer and all that comes with it, is worth to you. You should be prepared to sacrifice in the short term, to reap the long term gains.
We want to touch, feel and ‘taste’ your business! You can be as creative as the Producers will allow you to be on the design of your set. We had such diverse sets: a ute with a convertible tray; edible bugs (Edible Bug Shop); edible dog food (Bento); horror houses; but when it came to Smart Shower he didn’t have a demo unit to show us – only some pictures! We had no idea what it looked like, how it really worked. For all we knew, the shower could leak all over the floor… everything was left to our imagination – was not good.
Your job is to bring us into your world – a world we might not know anything about – or we might know a lot. This is the first date on a journey to work together. Respect, authenticity, transparency and preparation… will serve you well. See you there.