For aspiring entrepreneurs, ABC's Shark Tank is more than just entertainment--it's a veritable gold mine of dos and don'ts for a successful business pitch or presentation.
While you might not end up being a contestant on the show yourself, by paying careful attention to what makes certain pitches succeed and others fail, you'll learn a few valuable lessons that are directly applicable to doing real business.
Whether you're pitching an idea to an investor, your boss, or the board, expect it to be met with a healthy dose of skepticism--so make sure you've done your due diligence and covered all your bases.
In the case of George Conway, the Chief Marketer of BedRyder who made his appearance on Shark Tank's sixth season, his idea for making it safe to ride in the back of a pickup truck may have been relatively solid, but his presentation was not.
Despite Conway's undeniable charm, things started to go south as soon as the Q&A portion began.
When Lori Greiner asked if the product had undergone crash testing, Conway excitedly replied, "Honestly, yes! I have done my own...by accident..."
Kevin O'Leary's only response was, "George, I see the skies raining down with litigation." Needless to say, this pitch didn't get any bites.
DO: tell a story
When it comes to securing buy-in for your pitch, making a personal connection is key--and to that end, storytelling can be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.
In her Shark Tank appearance, self-proclaimed "mompreneur" Rachel Nilsson knocked it out of the park thanks to not only her great idea, but also her ability to communicate that idea in a way that resonated with her target audience--the Sharks.
After weaving her own, real-life "rags to riches" tale into her presentation, Nilsson managed to secure offers from not one, but three Sharks.
DON'T: make something that nobody wants
This might sound obvious, but if you want people to get on board with your idea, make sure it's actually viable.
When Ryan Custer made his pitch for Cougar Energy, an energy drink marketed towards "cougar" women, it seems as though he forgot that basic principle entirely.
The Sharks weren't buying the idea that Cougar Energy's target demographic was sizeable enough to make the product viable--nor did they buy that these women actually wanted or needed Custer's energy drink...especially after he revealed that the company had only generated $60,000 in sales revenue over the course of three years.
DO: worry about the details
When pitching an idea for a new business or product, it's important to remember that at the end of the day, it usually boils down to the bottom line.
When Wombi Rose and John Wise pitched their company Lovepop on Shark Tank, Kevin O'Leary's interest was immediately piqued--but what really sealed the deal was the co-founders' ability to demonstrate a strong grasp of the company's finances.
Clearly, their numbers-minded approach to running the business didn't just pay off on the show--less than two months after securing O'Leary's investment, Lovepop had generated more than $1 million in new revenue.