Getting on Shark Tank is a big deal. "You're out in front of not just powerful investors but also a national audience of potential customers. You've got to nail it," says Tim Barklage, CEO and co-founder of Better Life, a natural cleaning-products company. He and co-founder Kevin Tibbs had six weeks to prep prior to the taping of their episode. Then they made the most of their 15 minutes: They won.
- We watched three years' worth of shows and identified the questions that routinely get asked. Most fall into two categories: finances and what distinguishes you in the market. You've got to know those subjects cold. We also researched the backgrounds of the sharks. If you decide who you'd like to work with, it helps you weigh the deals.
- We wanted to get our message across but also to make good television. Among other flourishes, we rubbed raw chicken across a countertop in a head-to-head comparison with a chemical-based product, and we concluded with a great demo of our product's safety: Kevin sprayed some into his mouth.
- We practiced in front of friends and employees, and also with experienced investors and entrepreneurs, people who routinely do deals and could push back at us.
- We knew we had to be ready for a spike in web traffic and sales when the episode aired, so we boosted inventory. To make it easy for Shark Tank viewers to find us online, we created a "Shark Tank Kit" of all the products featured on the show. The night of the broadcast, we set up a social media war room where our employees and public-relations firm ate pizza and drank soda while answering the phones, responding to emails, and posting to Facebook and Twitter.
- To avoid being intimidated, we always remembered: One advantage you have on Shark Tank is that you know a lot about the sharks, but they know nothing about you. That gave us a lot of confidence.