Preparing To Pitch In The Shark Tank: Secrets to Success

by Akbar Jaffer
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The Shark Tank, no doubt, has commercialized and elevated and entrepreneurial game. It has ignited the entrepreneurial spirit within people of all ages. Generally speaking, most impressive are the young entrepreneurs and somewhat disappointed are the ivy league graduates. The people you’d least expect to do well, come out winners. (Yes I am employing our usual biases and stereotypes.) Why is it that some entrepreneurs walk away with incredible deals and partnerships and some are turned away disappointed or receiving the Mr. Wonderful’s honor of “you’re dead to me?”

Being an entrepreneur myself and mentoring and advising many entrepreneurs and innovators I recognize patterns and characteristics of people, deal, communication that has proven successful in the Shark tank every time. One of my business school professors used to say “there is unlimited amount of funding for a great idea.” Here I share proven strategies and tactics for preparing to pitch in the Shark Tank.

Litmus Test

  1. Does your idea solve a genuine real world problem?
  2. Is your solution unique enough (totally new or a much-much better mousetrap
  3. Is your product easy to understand?
  4. Who is your target market?
  5. Is there a big enough market?

Good Fit

  1. Do you have a relevant background?
  2. Are you all in?
  3. Are you a good salesperson and a good marketer?
  4. Do you know your strengths and weaknesses
  5. Are you a great communicator

Do Your Homework

  1. Learn as much as you can about each shark
  2. Know how your product fits into each shark’s portfolio and interests
  3. Know, in priority, which shark you want a deal from
  4. Prepare a very concise, comprehensive, and enticing pitch
  5. Design, prepare, and perfect your demo

Know Thy Business

  1. Know your industry in-and-out including your competitors
  2. Know Thy Numbers and know the answers
  3. Know everything about your business operations
  4. Know everything about how to market and sell
  5. Know what is patent-able

Have Traction

  1. Must have impressive (periodically increasing) sales
  2. Must at least have a patent pending or very good reason why patent is not required
  3. Must have at least initiated conversations with suppliers and potential customers and buyers
  4. Must have at least 3 successful sales and distribution channels
  5. Must show financial responsibility (spending, conserving, strapping, creativity)

Good luck!

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