Appearing on ABC's Shark Tank would be like winning the lottery for any fledgling entrepreneur looking for the money, mentoring and connections investors such as Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran and Kevin O'Leary can provide. But considering the show received 35,000 applications this season, your chances are pretty slim. In fact, of the 157 pitches filmed in front of the sharks this season, only 112 will air on TV.
But just imagine you somehow make it on the show and you're sweating under the bright lights while trying field the flurry of questions thrown at you by brilliant billionaires who know a thing or two about what makes a good investment. They don't like your answers and one by one, they're out.
It happened to Phil Reitnour last month. He pitched his mobile security app, EmergenSee, which lets a user in a sketchy situation stream live video, audio and GPS coordinates to contacts or a security firm. The Sharks didn't want in, but Reitnour is undeterred, especially in light of the attention EmergenSee garnered just from appearing on Shark Tank. The company garnered 250,000 downloads in the 12-hour period after the show aired and has been fielding scads of offers for acquisitions, partnerships and alliances.
Still, rejection on national TV is tough. Here's his advice on how to bounce back after getting knocked down.
Make a plan and stick to it.
Every company needs a business plan. It's not something you do as an exercise or to fulfill the requirement of an investor vetting your company. Rather, it forces you to research every aspect of bringing your idea to fruition, including how you'll adapt to bumps in the road.
Reitnour likens entrepreneurship with learning to walk or ride a bike. He points out that little kids don't think about getting back on their feet again and again--they just do it. "Some people when they go into business seem to find it harder to brush it off and keep on moving," he says. "The successful entrepreneur doesn't stop to think about it. They're fearless, they don't lose focus [and] they keep their eyes on the main prize. When they stumble and fall they just keep getting back up."
Believe in yourself and your goals.
Reitnour writes his goals, posts them on a board and checks them off as he achieves them--a visualization that reminds him what he's striving for. "If you don't believe in yourself you'll never convince other people to walk with you," he says. "Self-confidence and self-motivation have really helped me through a lot of hard times."
Build the right team.
The people who will help you succeed need to share your passion, work ethic and attitude. "You can't achieve success on your own," he says. "You need help."
Be at the right place.
Reitnour makes a point to meet people in tech and security who can help him. "You want to be where things are happening in concert with your goals," he says. "If you want to meet the right people you have to be in the right place."