Walking away from a multimillion-dollar offer on ABC's Shark Tank is a bold move, but that's exactly what entrepreneur Patrick Ambron did during one of the show's most recent episodes.
Ambron's online reputation company, BrandYourself, helps individuals manage what shows up when someone searches for them online. One of Inc.'s 35 Under 35 companies last year, BrandYourself launched in 2010, when Ambron and his co-founder Pete Kistler were still in college.
"Pete was being mistaken for a drug dealer of the same name in online search," Ambron says. "All the traditional reputation companies were too expensive and catered to wealthy people, so we decided to change that and give everyone the tools to manage their online reputation."
BrandYourself broke the $1 million annual revenue mark in 2013, and received a $2 million offer from shark Robert Herjavec at a $10 million valuation. Unfortunately, Ambron didn't budge on the $15 million valuation he was asking for.
While he left the tank without a deal, Ambron's ability to attract one of the largest offers in Shark Tank history says a lot about his pitching skills.
Here are his three tips for entrepreneurs who want their own chance to pitch the sharks.
1. Know your numbers cold. In addition to having all your company's financial data memorized, you should be able to explain your plans for growth in precise detail. "Know exactly how you would use the money--and why," Ambron says.
2. Remember, this is for TV. Having a growing business is one thing, but having a company story that makes for good TV is another. "They want a product people can understand with a story people can relate to," Ambron says. "You want your company to be received in the best light, and it helps to be genuine."
3. Research all the sharks. You should know which of the sharks have a professional background that suits your company before you pitch them. "Look at their investments and study the questions they tend to ask," Ambron says. "They've all written books about their business philosophies and have lots of interviews online."
While the competition for getting on Shark Tank is fierce, Ambron says applying is worth your time, as the exposure you can get for your company--even if you don't make a deal--is invaluable.
"Don't bank on getting on the show, but put all your effort into the application process," he says. "It's an intense two to three weeks, but if it pans out, it's a huge opportunity."