There’s a giant hurdle Shark Tank entrepreneurs have to overcome before they land a deal. For many, it comes before they even appear on-camera: It is the hefty questionnaire prospective contestants are reportedly asked to fill out.
It’s casting season for Shark Tank, and as a result stories are filtering out in little bits about the Shark Tank experience of entrepreneurs. While some laud the show and its investors for the boon they gave to their businesses, some are put off before they even stand before the panel.
On the positive side, entrepreneurs can get both free promotional air time, some business advice, and an influx of investor funding. In some cases, that funding can develop into long-term relationships with the sharks who get involved. Pork Barrel BBQ got an investment from Barbara Corcoran in an episode that aired September 2009. According to a January 2014 Washington Post article, the company still benefits from Corcoran’s advice and involvement.
“To this day, we talk to her all the time,” co-founder Brett Thompson told the Post. “Barbara has become the biggest champion of our company.”
On the negative side — if deals falling apart should indeed be called “negative” — there were recent reports, including one by The Inquisitr, that claimed two-thirds of Shark Tank deals never close after the on-air handshakes. Clay Newbill, Shark Tank producer, told the Post that at least half of Shark Tank pitchers don’t get a deal and that “some of them, frankly, get shredded.”
But before they even get a chance to make their case for funding, some entrepreneurs are put off by the application process. Writer Jason F. Wright wrote in a July 15, 2014 column about his attempt to secure a Shark Tank spot to pitch a movie version of his successful book. Wright pushed on through the lengthy initial applications and video submission because the more that he did so, the more he got excited about the prospect of seeing his dream come to fruition.
But Wright stopped short after hearing back from the show, and being asked to provide even more information.
“I couldn’t tell if I was applying for a reality show or for a job with the Secret Service. Candidates being vetted for vice president have been asked fewer questions.”
In Wright’s case, the details were too plentiful to gather and, in some cases, conflicted with confidentiality agreements he already had in place.
A similar story was reported by Cincinnati start-up GoSun, makers of a solar-powered portable stove. GoSun was approached by Shark Tank, and although the company mulled it over, they eventually turned the show down. Founder Patrick Sherwin told the Cincinnati Business Courier in a July 23, 2014 article:
“We had a chance to look at the legal scenarios behind joining ‘Shark Tank,’ and it seemed to us to be, through our legal team, far more invasive and onerous than what we wanted. Bottom line, we don’t feel like we need to forfeit our control over our business and our brand and I don’t feel like they need to own my face.”
Shark Tank is scheduled to return in the fall.
[Shark Tank case image: ABC]