Kevin Harrington has made quite a name for himself, a legacy he was building before Shark Tank, and continued to build after Shark Tank. These days, Harrington often finds himself in the role of empowering and educating entrepreneurs; a task he takes seriously.
From being an original shark, to founding As Seen On TV, to authoring books and making a name for himself as an investor, Harrington is a plethora of knowledge and expertise when it comes to pitching, launching, and selling (did we mention his mentor, Zig Ziglar?). Unfortunately, not everyone has access to Harrington and even if they did, where to start? Fortunately for everyone, Harrington is generous, and sat down with me to share as much as he could squeeze into our interview, and you are going to want to keep reading.
Failing to Succeed
Harrington has launched more than 500 products, generating more than five billion dollars in global sales, and has heard more than 50,000 pitches. Forty plus years of expertise, so when Harrington starts talking, it seems wise to listen, and the most interesting things he talks about aren't always the successes."We have found that we succeed one out of three times, which means we fail more than we succeed." Knowing this, Harrington's approach is similar to our approach at Hazz Design- we test as much as we can, and if we still fail, we do everything we can to learn from it.
Speaking of Testing
Market proof is the first step in my launch formula so I was thrilled to hear Harrington reiterate this same point. He tells every entrepreneur he talks to that they must have proof of concept before anything can move forward. He calls this the test before he invests approach, and this is his way of mitigating risk and failure early on. Why? Because even though we have more data than ever before, sometimes things just don't work out, and when that happens, you don't want to have all of your resources tied up and stuck, or worse- gone or wasted.
Back Up Your Gut With Data
Your "gut", as an entrepreneur, can lead you astray. It happens to the best of us. So no matter how much your mom loved your product, or how many friends told you that you're a modern-day Einstein, back it up with data. Any investor you meet with, any pitch you give, will need some sort of hard data, proof, or testing that shows how you've targeted very specific demographics and how they responded to your product. Using good data can change your success rate, save time and resources, and create valuable- otherwise unseen- market insights.
Get Your Pitch Right
Once you've got market proof, Harrington says, even if you go to a flea market, you have to get your pitch down. "Go to a flea market, buy a booth, and spend all day talking to people you don't know. Pitch your product, see how much interest you get, see how many sales you make, and use that as data as well as practice time to perfect your pitch.
What Makes A Pitch Perfect?
Harrington uses a very specific formula to help entrepreneurs see what makes a pitch perfect. These are the three, components, according to Harrington, that make it work:
Tease: Present an attention grabbing problem investors/listeners can identify with. Now you've got their attention.
Please: Present features and benefits that give a magical transformation. Solve the problem uniquely. Be able to explain this simply and clearly.
Seize: Create an irresistible offer, back it up with proof.
Launch Meeting Lessons
Harrington's commitment to educating and empowering is so evident in the amount of information he freely gives away, and I want to share as much of that as possible. So here we go, let's finish this off strong. Three things you would learn if you had the chance to sit across the table from this original shark.
Test. Rather than waiting around for someone to tell you your product might work, get out there and test, test, test. This shows commitment, energy, ability to hit the ground running, proof, data, and hunger for success.
Know. Preparedness is an indicator of an entrepreneur who is ready to go all in. Know your pitch, know your numbers, know your short and long term goals and projections, know your data, know your demographic, know your landed costs.
Act.There's a reason Harrington's first book was called Act Now! Entrepreneurs who wait around for success to find them, never get there, because action is required.