Making an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank can be a great opportunity for companies selling a physical good that need extra capital. Wondering how you can get your product in front of the Sharks like these two companies and many others?
If you’re hoping to get a spot on the show, you’ll need to do the following:
- Start with a good product
- Begin selling or pre-selling your product, and make a high amount of presells
- Pitch your business in an email to the show, or attend an open call
- Be ready to answer questions about your business and financials
We’ve put together a guide below to help you get started, including how to prepare for a Shark Tank appearance if you are chosen to pitch to the Sharks, and what to do if you don’t get a chance to be on the show.
Landing a Spot on Shark Tank
Launch a good product. If you don’t have a good product, you won’t earn a spot on the show – it’s as simple as that. This is more complicated than it seems at face value, though. Start by understanding your target customers, know who they are, what they like and dislike and what pain points you’re trying to ease. As you create your product and improve upon prototypes, make sure you’re consulting your target audience and getting their feedback. Launching on a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo can be especially helpful because it’s a way for you to get your target market involved and help them feel like a part of the process, which results in them rallying around the product and helping make it successful.
Ultimately, to ensure you have a good product that people are actually interested in purchasing, you’ll need to get as much feedback as you can and build up a vocal community who loves your product.
Make a high amount of pre-sales. Investors want to see social proof before they invest their money. This is why pre-sales are important – not only do they reduce risk when it comes to minimum order quantities, but it also proves to investors that people actually want your product.
Once again, crowdfunding on Kickstarter or Indiegogo is extremely beneficial here. A successful project not only gives you social proof, but it also brings you a large quantity of customers who helped create your product and are therefore emotionally invested and want to see it be successful.
Pitch your business in an e-mail or attend an open call. Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll have about one minute to sell your product, so make sure you’re prepared to make a strong statement in a short amount of time. Your pitch needs to be compelling, needs to show off your product well and needs to convince investors why your company is worth their investment of time and money.
To get started, we suggest downloading an application and thinking critically as you go through and answer all the questions.
How much money do you need and how much equity are you willing to give up?
How can you describe your product or business in great detail in the shortest amount of time? What does it do?
What will you do with the funds you receive?
How long have you been operating? What stage is your company in?
How much money have you invested in the company so far?
What are your total lifetime sales?
What were your gross and net incomes last year?
What are your sales projections?
Why do you want to pitch your business to the Sharks?
What is your unique selling proposition?
How did you come up with your business idea?
What are the biggest hurdles you’ve overcome?
Preparing for a Shark Tank Appearance
Once you’re accepted, you’ll have to prepare the pitch and presentation before standing in front of the Sharks. In some ways, this may be where the hard work really begins. Below are a few things to keep in mind as you’re getting yourself and your business ready to be on the show.
Watch and learn. One entrepreneur recommends preparing for a Shark Tank appearance by watching as many episodes as possible, noting tough questions and taking notes on entrepreneurs who perform exceptionally well. The show is filmed live, and you need to be completely prepared for any situation that could arise.
KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. Don’t use abbreviations or jargon in your pitch to the shark. Rather, keep it short, sweet and simple. Use everyday language to describe what the product is, why it will make money, how much you want from the Sharks and how much equity you’re willing to give up.
Your mom doesn’t count. Test your pitch in the real word, with people who aren’t biased. Turn to objective clients, acquaintances or even strangers to see if they’re interested in what you’re selling. Then, after testing your pitch and your product with them, get their feedback. What would make your product better? What would make your pitch more compelling?
Make it interesting. At the end of the day, ratings are what the producers care about. Therefore, make yourself shine. Be quirky, enthusiastic, funny or even weird – just don’t be boring. Regardless of how good your product is, you probably won’t make it onto television if your pitch isn’t compelling and interesting.
Keep it real. Focus on your successes in your pitch, but don’t try to hide your failures. Generally you’ll find more favor in the eyes of the Sharks if you show how you learned from your failures than if you cover up your mistakes. In fact, Daymond John has said that pretending you’ve never seen hard times is the most common mistake he sees from companies on the show.
If You Aren’t Selected
Unfortunately, not everyone who wants to be on the show gets chosen to make an appearance. However, just because you aren’t chosen to be on Shark Tank, doesn’t necessarily mean your product isn’t worth an investment. Keep in mind that the producers are focused on ratings first and foremost; you may have an amazing product that just won’t resonate as well with the show’s audience.
If you don’t make it on the show but still want to make money off your product, consider some or all of the following ways to gain capital:
- Run a campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Crowdfunding your product is a great way to gain press coverage, expand your network of early adopters, get to know your market better, gain feedback for improving your product and make enough sales to cover the cost of production. If you’ve already run a campaign but need more exposure, consider crowdfunding a new version of your product or an accessory product.
- Commercialize your product. Companies like Edison Nation help inventors and product creators connect with some of the leading brands to turn concepts and ideas into a profitable product. If you’re interested in licensing your product to another company or turning it into the season’s biggest “As Seen on TV” hit. You can submit your company here.
- Use equity crowdfunding to raise capital. If having the capital needed to expand your brand is more important than pre-selling product or licensing your idea to a bigger company, consider running an equity crowdfunding campaign. Equity crowdfunding is an exciting new method to gather smaller investments from both accredited and unaccredited investors, so it may be the ideal way for you to gain both capital and a group of people interested in furthering your company’s success.