During the season 11 premiere of ABC's hit reality show on Sept. 29, KIND snacks creator Daniel Lubetzky stole a deal away from Shark Tank legend Mark Cuban. The guest judge offered founder John Sorial $500,000 in exchange for 25 percent equity in his Washington, D.C.-area-based frozen falafel business TaDah Foods, undercutting Cuban's proposed deal.
"I watch the show a lot with my kids," Lubetzky told Inc. "It's a healthy form of entertainment that helps foster entrepreneurship and the American spirit."
Lubetzky, who is the first Mexican judge on Shark Tank, launched his New York City-based business in 2003 and has developed it into a snack empire that books an estimated $800 million in annual revenue, according to Forbes. KIND has refused to disclose revenue figures since 2012, when it said it booked $125 million in sales, but told Inc. in 2015 that revenue has doubled every year since 2003.
After his first plunge into the tank, Lubetzky shared three tips for founders preparing to face the Sharks, which are useful to any entrepreneur facing tough questions about their business.
1. Study up
Just like any important investor meeting, founders should prepare for their time in front of the celebrity judges, Lubetzky says. Start with a strong understanding of the business--the Sharks frequently tout the importance of knowing your numbers--along with an insight into how the show works. Lubetzky recommends watching previous pitches, a tactic that founders have used in the past to study which questions the Sharks might ask.
2. Value the experience
Going on Shark Tank can be daunting, but more often than not it can be a valuable adventure for founders. Even if a deal doesn't come to fruition, founders can use the experience to perfect their pitches.
"The cool thing about Shark Tank is, if you take it seriously, it will strengthen you as an entrepreneur," Lubetzky says. "You're going to understand your business better when you're done."
3. Be authentic
Founders aren't just pitching their businesses, they're pitching themselves. To impress the judges, Lubetzky says entrepreneurs should focus on being authentic--and be honest about the questions that stump them.
"It's better to be honest than to make something up and get into real trouble," he says. "If they smell blood, they are going for that chomp."