‘Shark Tank’ Casting: Producer’s Advice For The Perfect Pitch

Shark Tank casting producer Scott Salyers has undertaken a tour of college campuses this month, looking for entrepreneurs to appear on the hit show. When he spoke with Vulture, he lamented that there’s a dearth of fresh ideas coming from the throngs of people auditioning for a shot to pitch their ideas to the panel of wealthy investors.

Very rarely does someone come in with something we have never seen before. I feel bad, so many times I get people who are like, ‘There’s nothing like this on the market.’ I’m like, ‘I just saw this yesterday.’

Last season, 180 entrepreneurs made it on to Shark Tank. 40,000 applied.

Salyers says viewers are interested in good ideas, and not zany pitches with no chance of getting an investment. Many of the categories of products are glutted – the Shark Tank team sees many pet and baby products, and many apps.

Although the sharks know nothing about the entrepreneurs before they start their pitches and the program’s integrity is strictly guarded, Shark Tank is first and foremost a television show. Speaking to Entrepreneur, Salyers said pitchers should first showcase their personality, be bold and have a story. Even the greatest business idea won’t make it to the Tank if it doesn’t look good on film. Entrepreneurs who can stand up to the sharks also score points from the casting producer.

Also important is to differentiate your product and explain it in a simple, straightforward pitch. Asking for too much money generally won’t fly on this televised version of venture capitalism.

Shark Barbara Corcoran spoke to Columbia Business School students and alumni earlier this month as they were about to vie for a coveted spot on the show. Corcoran cautioned them into believing their prestigious education gives them an edge, specifically in the Shark Tank world:

Real-life hardship is a great education for entrepreneurship…you learn how to get beat up and recover.

Getting past the casting hurdle is only the beginning of the journey for Shark Tank entrepreneurs. If they do make a deal, there can be a long road ahead. For many, they are looking not only for funds, but advice and mentoring. One pitcher, ‘Ava the Elephant’ creator Tiffany Krumins, who got a deal with Corcoran, has nothing but high praise for her investor:

She encourages me, inspires me and even puts me in my place when I need it. Although she has many years of life and business experience she has always treated me with respect when giving guidance.

Shark Tank is broadcast on ABC.

[Image: Brian Doben/Parade]

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