Main navigation

Naomi Simson Shark tank

Let me paint a picture for you .?.?.

You’ve been practising your business pitch for days – to family, friends and even your dog. You’re confident everyone will love your idea as you’ve been told you’re onto a winner. As you wait for the signal, you rehearse your pitch over and over again. This is the moment you have been waiting for.

The music starts as you begin the long walk through the Shark Tank. The doors swing open and you find yourself in front of five people who could change your life forever .?.?. if you nail your pitch.

We saw more than 100 business pitches during the filming of TEN’s new program Shark Tank, and during that time I became really clear on what makes a successful pitch and what will see you crash and burn. Don’t be fooled into thinking these lessons just apply to business pitches – unfortunately, these are some of the most common mistakes happening in boardrooms and business meetings across the country.

These are the seven things I wish everyone had considered before pitching to us on Shark Tank.

1. Research who you’re pitching to

Each of the five sharks has a different reason for potentially investing. What do they believe in? What is their background? What is their area of expertise? Do the work and find out as much as you can about the people behind the “investor” label. People do business with people, and investors invest in people.

2. Understand your customers

An idea is only an idea until someone is prepared to pay money for it, and then it could potentially end up as a commercial product. Asking your friends and family if they like your business idea is not research – they are only going to tell you what you want to hear. In the tech world, we have what is called minimum viable product – we ship “beta” product to get customer feedback.

3. Discover everything possible about the industry

It is unlikely the investor will know as much as you about the industry and market you’re in (putting a Facebook page together to “test” the industry is not what I mean here). How big is the industry? How many competitors are there? Is it a new market or existing? There is plenty of industry data available to start this inquiry. Know your market and know its potential.

4. Deeply understand your numbers and cash flow

You should know every critical number in the business and please don’t fudge them! If you are not a numbers person, practise and work out how you can remember them. Key numbers to know are the cost of acquisition of a customer, the cost to serve a customer (this is more than your cost of goods sold), the number of unique customers, conversion rates, and of course the obvious ones – cash burn and time to profit at current run rates pre and post investment.

5. Deal with the details

If necessary, get trademarks, patents, registrations, licences and approvals. Ensure you comply with regulations and have paid your taxes – no investor will be interested in taking on a business that has any potential litigation, so tie up every loose end before your pitch. You want to build trust with the investor, and one way to do this is to make sure you have taken care of the detail.

6. Understand different valuation models

Some people just want to get the money back that they have already invested in their idea, but this really doesn’t make sense for an investor. If you are pitching an equity deal based on future potential sales, then you need to be clear on why this is so and have a demonstrable track record (eg. recurring income). If you’re valuing your business based on current top-line revenue, know and show similar valuations in your industry. Too many times we saw people pitch with a valuation that was all about “hope” – investors don’t buy hope as a sustainable strategy.

7. Tell the story

Share your vision and entice us with the dream of how you are making the world a better place. A great pitch is an emotional journey for both the person seeking investment and the investor. I’ve been known to say, “It’s just business” but what I’m really saying is, “It’s not just my money: it is my time, my reputation and commitment that you are asking for.”

Make sure your pitch takes the investors on a journey filled with facts and numbers. More than anything, you should be someone they can believe in.

Shark Tank on TEN Sunday nights at 8.00

This article first appeared as a column in BRW on 12 February 2015

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Churchill once said: “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt: long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”

  2. Interesting post and the information is very useful. Very good piece of content. Thanks and keep sharing post like this.

  3. Hi Naomi and thanks for the tips.

    I have to say that I absolutely LOVE “The Shark Tank” because of the drama, excitement, nerves and hopes that play across the faces of the presenters as they pitch their ideas.

    It’s often had me on the edge of my seat wondering if a shark is going to buy in, or if the presenter is going to walk away a little beaten and battered for the experience. Excellent TV viewing.

    From my own perspective, I’ve always hated the obviously rehearsed pitches and much preferred the ones which came from the heart.

    I also really love it when a presenter makes a conter-offer and gets away with it.

    Karen from the

Leave a comment
*All fields are required

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

join the conversation
@ the huddle
Click to discover how I can help you progress to the next level through my Facebook Community The Huddle.

@naomisimson

  • Happiness:
Think less, Feel more;
Frown less, Smile more;
Judge less, Accept more;
Watch less, Do more;
Complain less, Appreciate more;
Fear less, Love more....
Give it a crack 😎on a weekend like this what's to stop you! #naturalbeauty #happiness
  • Friday drinks must be here soon surely ... or I'm out! #friyay
  • In the 90s I left my cushy job at Apple.

I’d be a squillionaire if I still had my stock options.

I don’t regret it. Here's why:

After 10 years of corporate, I wanted to ‘do my own thing’. I started with freelance marketing.

My strategy? Hard work and build strong brands.

It seemed to work - new clients came from referrals.

But after 18 months, I came to a realisation:

All my clients wanted was “more customers”, not complex branding plans.

SO I thought I’d build a brand of my own. Something to get them “more customers”. RedBalloon was born. The purpose? Give people amazing experiences.

16 years on, RB has delivered 3.8 million customers to 2000 small businesses.

Now, when I give talks, I always get the same question: “How did you build such a strong brand?” Funny how it comes full circle.

I can’t answer that with a time limit.

Though I think I found a way - an online course. “How to Build your Business Brand” - years of experience in one place (link in bio if interested). But, that’s not the point of this post.

If I stayed with Apple I’d be unbelievably wealthy.

Quitting was still the best thing I’ve ever done.

So if you want to take a leap of faith, do it.

All I ask you is this:

Trust yourself and never underestimate the power of brand.
  • #tbt the originals circa 2004 🎈 it reminds that an entrepreneurs journey is long and full of twists and turns. What a ride! @redballoonexperiences
  • I have always been rushing! I need to remind myself of this one regularity. I'm intentional, not frenetic. Choose the one thing that needs to get done to make everything easier! #inspiration

follow

download the book

To learn more, enter your email for a FREE copy of Ready To Soar, Chapter One.

close x
  • enter your first name
  • enter your email
  • join the community

    To Learn more, enter
    email for a Free
    copy of Ready to Soar,
    Chapter One

    plus an invitation to join
    The Huddle Facebook community.

  • enter your name
  • enter your email