Daymond John, a successful startup founder and Shark Tank judge, credits the success of his fashion company FUBU to his mother, who took out a mortgage on their family home to support his company. But he doesn't recommend that strategy to every entrepreneur. Instead, he offered better business advice and the secrets to landing a Shark Tank deal at the iConic Tour in New York City on Wednesday.
"True entrepreneurs act, learn, and repeat--no matter what level you're at," John said during his discussion with CNBC journalist and anchor Carl Quintanilla. "At this level, I'm still learning every single day and still failing every single day as well."
John explained how he grew FUBU by noticing a need in the fashion market, larger clothes for African American. He knew his target client base would wear his clothes over other companies on the market, so he gave them garments and let the brand build in the community, until it got the attention of LL Cool J.
"I made sure I gave that to the entire community and those guys became my real ambassadors," John says of early FUBU designs and how he grew his label. "So when I got to LL Cool J, he said, 'why didn't you give me a shirt?'"
When it comes to money, John cautioned business owners against blowing large sums on things they don't need--like expensive websites when a Facebook page would be more strategic--and encouraged them to be just as cautious when thinking about accepting funding.
John closed out his talk with tips for prospective Shark Tank contestants. He advised entrepreneurs to over-prep instead of under-prep, but make sure to keep their responses genuine and avoid "canned answers." "You need to know your business, you need to be excited about your business," John says. "I need to feel like you're not pitching me, you're telling me a little story."
He also suggested that contestants pick a shark that they feel will work with them best, but to remain open-minded. And if hopeful entrepreneurs want to get the sharks attention, make sure sales figures are strong because, "sales cures all."