Friday nights, my family joins millions of viewers who gather around the TV to watch Shark Tank, ABC's reality TV show where entrepreneurs' pitch investors, hoping to woo one or more of the investors (the sharks) with their business concept and win the funding that will take their business to the next level.

Barbara Corcoran is my favorite shark, hands down. I find her to be thoughtful, insightful, and wise. She somehow manages to break out of the bluster of Reality TV and have interesting and intelligent things to say. I listen to every word.

Millions of kids and aspiring entrepreneurs look at Barbara and her fellow sharks as heroes. They're famous; they have made millions. Now they are enabling others to do what they did. Isn't that what so many aspire to? Isn't that the American Dream?

Last week, I was genuinely surprised to see Barbara Corcoran lend her name to alternative lender OnDeck Capital. OnDeck is having a contest for entrepreneurs, where the three top contestants will win $10,000, a meeting with Corcoran and, most prized of all, Barbara's "seal of approval." While Corcoran does not explicitly endorse OnDeck or give her "seal of approval" to them, her picture on the ads and social media promotion of the contest suggests a close alliance between Corcoran and OnDeck.

While OnDeck appears to have made a lot of progress in bringing down their rates over the past year, they are far from the cheapest business lender. According to public filings, OnDeck's average APR on loans they issued in Q3 2015 was 42.17%. We recently saw an offer from OnDeck where the APR was north of 100%.

In an email exchange, I asked Barbara a few questions:

AMI: Given that OnDeck (and their competitors) loans are predominately high-interest and short amortization, would you recommend them to your entrepreneurs in your portfolio companies?

BARBARA: Lots of the entrepreneurs I partner with don't have the resources nor the track record to obtain standard business loans from their local bank, but many of them have short term cash flow needs to fund their growing businesses. Alternative lending platforms often provide a lifeline for young businesses who need short-term cash.

AMI: Do you think that when entrepreneurs are looking for loans it's worth it to go an online lender like OnDeck and get money quickly vs. a slower bank process. The price difference can be 10 x to 15 x higher on-line (assuming you can get approved).

BARBARA: Sure, everybody wants to get money at the lowest interest rate, but cheap rates are not available to many young businesses who haven't been in business long enough or don't have the track record to qualify for a standard bank loan. Most young businesses need short-term loans for lots of things, like funding inventory, moving their business to a new location, or taking advantage of a business opportunity that comes their way, and alternative lending platforms can often be a good solution.

I think that Barbara's answers are thoughtful in their consideration of alternative lenders but fall short of a careful appraisal of the alternative lending industry. There are hundreds of alternative lenders. And while OnDeck is far from the most expensive, there are plenty of options for entrepreneurs to consider that are much cheaper than OnDeck, with much longer and more reasonable repayment terms.

If you're in the market for a loan, do your research. Alternative lenders entice borrowers with speed and simplicity, so take the time to make your decision. Consider the impact of the loan on your cash flow. Understand what the next best option is--even when that will take more time--and decide if it's wise to wait. Don't jump on the first offer you get. Odds are there is a better one out there.

I am sure that Barbara's picture on the OnDeck ads will encourage entrepreneurs to submit their ideas to the contest. I will congratulate the winners. At the same time, many of her followers will be attracted to OnDeck's loans and the prospect of quick cash.

As I have often said, buying a loan is not like going to MacDonald's for lunch. A bad loan can ruin a business, not just give you indigestion for a few hours.

If OnDeck is the best option for you and you have a viable plan to pay it back, then by all means jump all over it. But don't assume OnDeck is as thoughtful with its money as Barbara is, simply because her picture is on the ad.

Interested in receiving MultiFunding's monthly newsletter full of tips and advice about business lending click here