The fins are out again as Shark Tank announces its return to Australian television after a five-year hiatus!
The much-anticipated return of Australia’s beloved corporate reality TV show could be the make or break for companies given the chance to swim with sharks.
Based on the Japanese Dragon’s Nest format, Shark cage first aired in the US in 2009, with the Australian version launched in 2015. Aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business idea and funding requests to a panel of high-profile Australian entrepreneurs and investors, fighting in a frenzy for some of the best business ideas – or stay tellingly quiet when a pitch fails to impress.
Judges or ‘Sharks’ to date have included Janine Allis (Boost Juice), Noomi Samson (RedBalloon), Glen Richards (Greencross) and renowned investors, Steve Baxter and Andrew Banks.
Multiple members of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) – an entrepreneurial community with more than 16,000 members across 60 countries – have successfully obtained investment or mentoring opportunities through their appearances on Shark Tank, including Be Fit Food founder Kate Save, and Andy Eastoe, co-founder of The Pole Cream.
We spoke to them about their tips for getting sharks to vote with their wallets:
Be prepared and pitch ready
Kate Save, founder of Be Fit Food, says: “I literally watched every episode of Shark Tank ever made in every country, wrote down every question ever asked and wrote down the answer for my company. Public humiliation on national TV can destroy a brand. By being prepared, more than just securing investments, you show viewers that you take business seriously, that you know what you’re doing, and that you’re there to achieve something – not just balloons without action.
“Prepare for your one minute pitch, but also be prepared to walk out onto the red carpet and talk for a minute while they capture all of your facial changes, but also prepare for the 2+ hours of filming and all the questions imaginable get that follows! No breaks, no checking notes or calling a friend – you have to memorize every detail or you will be destroyed! No breaks, no water, no toilet, so make sure you’ve been to the bathroom and had a drink because you’re there to make great television!
“After an intense investigation, we struck a deal with Janine Allis that skyrocketed our revenue by 1,500 percent overnight.”
Andy Eastoe, co-founder of The Pole Room says: “In the run-up to the pitch I met with a number of people, such as my accountant and coach, to determine what kind of investment we should ask for. I had seen the first two seasons of the show and knew the format and structure of the show. This meant that during the preparation I knew which information was relevant and what to look out for. On the other hand, my partner Jasmine did not prepare and went with a positive attitude and a great story to tell.”
More pitching tips from KBB TV:
Know your numbers
“Numbers are everything,” says Janine Allis on Shark Tank; something every viewer now understands. The difference between sales and revenue, the accuracy of your business valuations, and how quickly and precisely you can pull up your latest monthly, quarterly, and annual numbers are essential to knowing whether you’ve sparked interest in your idea.
“People underestimate that the Sharks’ business investment is all about getting ROI (return on investment),” says Kate Save. “It’s all well and good to have a vision and a great concept, but if you don’t know how to turn that into a viable business model, no one is going to invest in it.
“Make sure your numbers are right because no matter what you say on national television, the deal is structured around this verbal commitment, and if they do due diligence after the show, if your numbers don’t add up or if you did something wrong. — it’s going to cause problems with actually securing funding after the show.
“The Sharks are business savvy and can smell BS from a mile away,” adds Andy Eastoe. “I didn’t want to inflate the numbers or make a huge valuation in case they called me out on it. This was one of the mistakes I’ve seen many people make in previous seasons, with unrealistic valuations and profit expectations. Instead, I had a very justifiable number that would interest the Sharks and allow us to clearly explain the business opportunity.
Know who you’re pitching for
Before appearing on the show, it’s essential to do your due diligence, as is a clear plan.
“I made sure to research the five different Sharks, their previous ventures and what other companies they had invested in to make sure there were no conflicts of interest,” says Kate Save. “You really have to know in advance from whom you are accepting an offer and for what amount, because you will be put on national television and forced to make a decision.
“You have to be prepared with an answer for each of the five Sharks because you may not get an offer from the one you expect,” she adds. “Fortunately we did, but we also got an offer from Steve Baxter, which in hindsight is incredible because he is a tech investor and has a lot of knowledge in that area. However, they have made both a combined offer and individual offers, which you should be prepared for – how many additional shareholders do you want in your company?
“I think it was really exciting for us when they both made a combined pitch, but in the end I was so clear going into the show that if we had investment from Janine that would be the ultimate goal. So I declined working with Steve because I was clear about what I wanted from the start.
Andy Eastoe similarly searched for a single Shark, sharing, “While we were open to advice and feedback from all Sharks, we only wanted Janine Allis from Boost Juice to invest in the business. We wanted her franchise expertise and networking, so the pitch focused on franchising growth. When we were on set, we spoke directly to her.
Have a clear point of difference
The unfortunate reality of business is that copycat companies are everywhere. While imitation is the best form of flattery, Sharks need to be convinced that those with deeper pockets won’t be able to immediately replicate your idea to equal or greater success.
“You will be 100 percent asked by one of the Sharks, ‘Do you have a patent? Do you have a trademark? Is this exclusive? How do we know someone isn’t going to copy this?’. So make sure you’ve done everything you need to do to really guarantee them that you have the permission to create or use things like your website domain, have your trademark, have your company names, make sure there’s no trademark infringement.” says Kate Save. “The legal side of the matter is also very important to clarify because those are the things that will easily fail during the due diligence process if you haven’t done them.”
Entertain and engage
At the end of the day, it’s a TV show and a pitch. You’re there to put on a show and make sure they not only hear your idea, but experience it in some way. It’s a chance to get creative and impress both the Sharks and the viewers.
“We knew we were going to be on TV, so we flew in some instructors and stage poles so they could perform on stage. This gave the field a visual component, adding a bit of fun and excitement. It also enabled a few Sharks to take the stage and give pole dancing a shot,” says Andy Eastoe.
Kate Save, who also provided food samples and visuals, emphasizes the importance of being prepared for how you come across on TV. “You have to practice in front of a mirror, practice at the dinner table, practice in front of friends, practice in the shower — just don’t be nervous because being nervous can make it seem like you’re not being that authentic.” or sure of yourself and your business. You want to inspire confidence that you believe in yourself and have a viable business model, so practice and go out confident!
If you’re ready to get your entrepreneurial ideas out there, you can apply now for the next season of Shark Tank. If your ideas or pitch need some tweaking and peer feedback, groups like Entrepreneurs’ Organization can put you in touch with other successful founders making waves in the business world.