February 6, 2015
'Shark Tank' Star Kevin O'Leary Has Relationship Advice For Budding Entrepreneurs

On Shark Tank Kevin O'Leary is dubbed "Mr. Wonderful," perhaps because of his openness when it comes to calling out entrepreneurs. He isn't above using harsh language to send a Shark Tank pitcher packing or to dispense what he defends as advice. On Wednesday, O'Leary gave students at his alma mater, the University of Waterloo, some inadvertent guidance in an unexpected area: their relationships.

To address the issue of work-life balance, O'Leary told the story of an entrepreneur attempting to launch a business, finish a degree, and maintain a romantic relationship. The entrepreneur's partner said too much time was focused on the business and not enough on family. O'Leary's assessment: the business owner was in the wrong relationship. To the audience, he advised: "find a life partner that understands your drive and your passion."

Indeed, family-run businesses seem to be the lifeblood of Shark Tank. One of O'Leary's investments, GrooveBook, run by a husband-and-wife team, was sold recently for $14.5 million. O'Leary told Business Insider it's the largest exit so far for any Shark Tank deal. He's also invested in Boston bakery Wicked Good Cupcakes, which had monthly sales of $7,000 when the mother-and-daughter team pitched the panel. Now, the company has monthly sales of $400,000.

Another Shark Tank success story, ScreenMend, came to be after a man and his two teenage daughters presented their idea for an adhesive patch for screen doors. Entering the tank with a mere $4,000 in sales, they made a deal with Lori Grenier and, a year later, have an expanded retail presence and sales of $1,000,000.

Despite the family-friendly stories on Shark Tank, O'Leary was clear to the University of Waterloo audience that "business is war," and entrepreneurs must beat the competition.

"Your job will be to go out and salt the earth that your competitor walks on, destroy their market share and pour boiling oil over them. Then you will have access to more capital and create a more successful company... If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you have to win. It's that simple."
O'Leary also told Business Insider that he learned about money from one person: his mother. She bought bonds with one-third of her paycheck every week and advised her sons to "never spend principal, only the interest." When he addressed the students at University of Waterloo, he said the goal of any company is to make money for shareholders.
"[Business] can't solve society's problems and it never will. People can do that, they can take their profits and give back in any way they wish, but it is not the problem of companies to do that."
Shark Tank airs Fridays on ABC.

[Kevin O'Leary image via Speakers.ca]