February 24, 2024
Will Shark Tank Do the job?


The job of Shark Tank is to deliver customers, audiences and excitement to budding entrepreneurs, and of course the Sharks invest their time, energy and money in helping them be ready for their ‘moment in the sun’. However with only 237,000 viewers for the first episode of this current series I am disappointed for all concerned. Smart Company asked me to write a piece of advice and reflection as the show moves to a different phase. I have re posted here.

On the cusp of a new season of Shark Tank it has given me a moment to reflect on Angel Investing in Australia. What works and what doesn’t work…. And it all starts with the ‘pitch’… but once that is over then the critical piece for any business is its ability to find customers (or audiences) cost effectively.

PITCH PREPARATION

It is said ‘never forget that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression – with investors, with customers, with PR and with marketing.’

I am in the fortunate position of having seen hundreds of ideas pitched, both as a Shark Tank investor and as an angel investor in a variety of industries. The one question that always sits in the back of my mind is ‘how big is the customer base for this idea?’ And can you find them cost effectively.

The level of investment being sought may well determine the overall approach. It does not matter who is being pitched to – remember that heart is just as important as the head. It is often the passion of the founder that encourages those listening (or reading) to be engaged and interested to begin the journey of investment.

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If you are pitching, then research who you’re pitching to. Every potential investor has a different reason for investing. What do they believe in? What is their background and experience? What is their area of expertise? Do the work and find out as much as you can about the people behind the ‘investor’ label.

People do business with people, and investors invest in people.

FINDING CUSTOMERS

Shark Tank has a special place in many people’s hearts. We love the concept that someone with an idea can make it big. We love to watch people put their hearts on their sleeves, risk it all to show Australian audiences what is possible. I read a statistic once that 9 out of every 10 adults in Australia has a business idea – but does not know what to do with it.

When I think about the role of angel investors, it is not just the experience, contacts and business know how that the right investor provides it is also audience. I think of the wonderful Remarkable Accelerator program and the reason that it works is that inventors, founders and scientists have access to the greater community through the Cerebral Palsy Alliance – a ready-made customer base. If you are bringing a disability invention to market then you can test, fine tune, and ultimately sell your product to a very accessible audience.

People pitching on Shark Tank come with a similar expectation. That on the night that their episode appears people will be watching. This is why the show works in the US, they have massive audiences, and if the product is ready, they will sell millions on the night. It is the job of the network to deliver audience and customers to the investors and the inventors – it is an essential part to make the concept work.

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I will be watching with my fingers crossed hoping that the network does its job in what is the Aussie dream of invention.

Let the great game of business begin, and let’s hope they find the audiences and customers needed to make Shark Tank Australia viable.

 

Also published on Medium.