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ABC's Shark Tank is currently one of the most popular shows on television.

Its premise is simple. Hopeful entrepreneurs go on the program and present their business idea to a panel of self-made millionaire investors (Sharks) in the hopes of getting an investment in exchange for a stake in their company.

Typically that interest comes in the form of an equity stake or royalty scenario, or sometimes both.

The demand to get on the show has never been higher due to the dramatic impact it can have on sales - a phenomenon that's become known as 'The Shark Tank Effect'.

It's not unusual for products featured on the show to experience up to a 700% increase in sales.

For example BuggyBeds went from being in 60 stores to being in 600 hundred stores with sales going from $150,000 to over $1,200,000 in the two months following their appearance on the show.

In other words, simply getting in front of over seven million weekly viewers can be all your business needs to reach its tipping point.

But getting on the show and getting a deal isn't easy. In addition to having a product that's interesting from an investment and entertainment standpoint, you need to get past the auditions and meticulously prepare for yor appearance if you're accepted on the show.

This involves research, a hard look at your numbers and a strategy for when you're in the tank.

To help you out, lets look at six companies that have successfully struck deals with the Sharks and examine what they did right.

We'll also look at some common questions that come up from the Sharks and how to get your business ready for an appearance on the show.

How to Get on Shark Tank

If you want to get on the next season of Shark Tank, now's the time to apply. ABC is currently looking for new businesses to feature on the show.

You can either attend one of the live casting calls or submit your application electronically.

To submit your application electronically, follow the steps below:

  • Email SharkTankCasting@yahoo.com
  • Include your name, age, contact info, a recent photo, and a brief, NON-CONFIDENTIAL description of your business/idea/product.

You should also make sure you read their Terms of Use agreement so you know what you're getting into.

Remember, when applying, the story behind you, your business and your product is just as important as your product itself. Shark Tank is just as much about entertainment as it is about investments.

Preparing for Shark Tank

If you want to get on Shark Tank and find success, the first thing you'll want to do is get to know the Sharks:

Each Shark has their own way of operating in the Tank. Getting to know which products and niches each investor is typically attracted to can help you aim your pitch accordingly. It's also important to remember that the Sharks aren't just investing in your product, they're investing in you and want to know you'll be someone they can work with. Therefore it's important to present yourself with confidence, defending yourself when necessary while also being respectful.

There are plenty of examples of people not getting deals simply because they were annoying and obnoxious during their pitch.

The next thing you should do is watch every episode of Shark Tank possible and pay attention to what kind of pitches are getting deals and which ones aren't. You'll start to notice common questions that the Sharks ask which should help inform your preparation strategy. Here are some of the most common themes that come up.

Lessons on Valuation & How Much to Ask For

In every episode of Shark Tank, the first thing each Shark does when a pitch begins is write down what the presenter is asking for.

This is partly so they can remember the amount of cash that's being requested during the pitch but also so they can do some quick math in order to determine what you think your company is currently worth (also known as your valuation). For example, when you ask for a $100,000 investment in exchange for 10 per cent ownership in your business, you're saying the entire company is worth a million dollars.

When coming up with your valuation for the show, try and strike a balance between selling the dream of what your company could be worth, while being careful not to shoot for the moon to the point that you simply end up annoying the Sharks. You also need to be able to defend your valuation in the negotiations that follow as there will typically be some disparity between what you think your company is worth and what the Sharks think it's worth.

In order to do that effectively, you need to know your numbers, understand your market and be persuasive with your pitch. Here are some key things the Sharks usually ask about and some tips for wooing them into giving you a deal.

Terms & Numbers You Need to Know

Sales: The Sharks almost always ask what your sales are. Having healthy sales shows that there is real, tangible demand and a market for your product. It also allows the Sharks to do some projections and determine what future growth could look like.

Margins: What does your product cost you to make and how much are you selling it for? The Sharks love high margins because they mean higher profits.

Patents: Demonstrating that you own patents and intellectual property rights to your product makes you business significantly more appealing from an investment perspective and it's something the Sharks always ask about. Having patents means you are somewhat protected from competitors moving into your market and copying what you do.

Retailers and Distributers: While distribution is something the Sharks are often able to help with, they also like to see that you have made an effort to get your product into stores yourself. Having some distribution in place before entering the Tank shows the Sharks that you have some hustle.

What do you need the money for? This is a common question the Sharks ask presenters. They want to see that you have a game plan and understand your market. Depending on what you need the money for can also determine which Shark is best suited as an investor.

How much debt do you have? While the Sharks understand that you need to spend money to make money, they are also very weary of debt. If you have debt, be prepared to offer a good explanation about why taking it on was a necessary investment.

Know Your Competition: Make sure you're knowledgable about your competition because chances are the Sharks will ask. They are trying to see how well you know your market and how attractive that market is.

Demos and Free Samples: Sometimes the most effective pitch can be when you let your product do the talking. The Sharks love getting their hands on stuff and trying it for themselves - especially if your product is food.

Logistical Considerations

If you're lucky enough to make it on to the show, there are steps you will need to take to get your business ready for your appearance.

There's a safe bet that you're going to get a flood of both orders and traffic coming to your website. That means you may need to have extra staff on hand to handle fulfillment and take steps to make sure your website stays up under the server melting traffic load.

Shark Tank is notorious for crashing websites and the last thing you want is your site to be unresponsive during the most important moment ever for your business.

Nearly a dozen Shopify powered businesses have gone on Shark Tank and never once has a site of ours gone down. Just sayin' :)

Let's take a look at some of those businesses now and see what they did right and what advice they have for aspiring Shark Tankers.

Six Shark Tank Case Studies

1. GobieH20

Ask: $300k for 15% Equity
Deal: $300k for 40% Equity
Website: http://www.gobieh2o.com/

What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are looking to get on the show? Are there any tips for executing a successful audition?

Start off by being prepared. Know who you are selling to and what you are selling.  Remember, this is not a normal pitch to investors, this is a pitch to American television viewers.  If you can make your story compelling and relatable, dramatic or even quirky, go for it, remember, you need to make your pitch note worthy, it is all about the entertainment value here.  Before you send in an application video, watch as many Shark Tank episodes as you can, study the common grounds they all share, then look at how you can apply those common themes to your business.  Think, 25% product pitch, 75% entertainment value.

How did you prepare for your appearance on the show? What are some critical things everyone should have in place and know before going on?

It cannot be said enough, KNOW YOUR NUMBERS!!! Even though the show is intended for entertainment, the Sharks are 100% real business investors who are experts at picking companies apart and seeing where the true value lies.  In our case, we put together a panel of local serial entrepreneurs, all with very high net worth, professionals that are accustom to evaluating start ups, and asked them to be mock Sharks on a practice pitch.  Investors like to help start-ups so don't be scared to reach out to local business leaders that can help you prepare.

We then told them not to pull any punches and really go at us, as if they were going to invest in us themselves.  That proved to be invaluable as it  highlighted our weaknesses that fundamentally needed to be worked on.  We went back to the drawing boards, re-crafted, then did it all over again. Listen, nobody on earth relies on talent alone, it takes tons of practice, a little good luck, and then tons more practice.  If you want to be successful, now is the time to get your hands dirty.  The preparation will pay off immensely as both the Sharks and America will see how serious you are.

What advice do you have for the actual pitch itself when you are live and in front of the sharks?

Stay calm, breath, and remember, at the end of the day you made it this far.  Rely on your practice as we know you have done. Stay true to what you know and don't start making things up, the Sharks will smell a skunk like flies on !@#$.   Make sure to listen to what the Sharks are asking and don't be to quick to assume that you know what that is.  Stay present, don't think about everything else, eg: what will happen if you screw up, what will happen if you don't get a deal, what will happen if you do, are you going to look stupid, does my breath stink, STAY PRESENT.  Thinking about anything other than what is happening exactly at that moment will only pull you away from your training and ultimately disconnect you with the Sharks and America. Remember, stay calm, breath, and know at the end of the day, you made it this far!  Good luck...

Ari Hoffman
Chief Operating Officer, GobieH20

2. LollaCup

Ask: $100K for 15% Equity
Deal: $100K for 40% Equity
Website: http://lollaland.com/

What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are looking to get on the show? Are there any tips for executing a successful audition?

The best tip I can give is to make sure that you tell a story. Your business/item/service is equally crucial to how you got to where you are and why you are dedicating your blood, sweat, and tears to it. Hanna and I made sure to balance our pitch between our product and how we started dating in Jr. High + how we came up with the lollacup.

How did you prepare for your appearance on the show? What are some critical things everyone should have in place and know before going on?

First, we practiced our pitch hundreds of times in front of our friends, family, and a camera. Second, we wrote down EVERY question from EVERY episode and typed out our answers and practiced those over and over. The most important thing to do is know your numbers. Your sales, costs, margins, anything you can think of that you would want to know if someone were asking you for your hard earned money. Be prepared to not only go over your mistakes up-to-date (who doesn't make mistakes) but most importantly, be able to clearly describe why or how you came to those mistakes and what you are doing to avoid them again.

What advice do you have for the actual pitch itself when you are live and in front of the sharks?

Stay calm and do not get defensive. The core of the pitch is a business transaction, but don't forget that they will throw you curveballs not only to gain leverage on you but because it has to be somewhat entertaining. If you start getting defensive, emotional, or angry, you might lose out on a chance of a lifetime. I think this is the best time to try to be as humble as possible, no matter how preposterous their offer is or if they are being ridiculously offensive. Lastly, if a deal doesn't happen, don't take it personally. You may just have a better opportunity someplace else.

Mark Lim
LollaCup

3. Hoodie Pillow

Ask: $90K for 15% Equity
Deal: $90K for 20% Equity
Website: http://www.hoodiepillow.com/

What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are looking to get on the show? Are there any tips for executing a successful audition?

Play the part - those that are auditioning for Season 5 have the benefit of being able to see over 100 Shark Tank Alumni on previous episodes of the show. It is a safe guess that the producers are looking for personalities similar to those who have already been on the show so do your homework and bring your A-game to the auditions.

How did you prepare for your appearance on the show? What are some critical things everyone should have in place and know before going on?

Practice, Practice, Practice! - If you have been chosen to film Shark Tank it is your duty to watch every single previous episode of the show. You should be able to answer every question the Shark's have ever asked on the show in 2 seconds or less. Also, do your homework on the Sharks - know their businesses, their previous investments on the show, how they negotiate etc. If you are not prepared to answer every question that has been asked on the show then you have no one to blame but yourself when you stumble on your words.

What advice do you have for the actual pitch itself when you are live and in front of the sharks?

Again - Practice! You should be able to do this pitch while standing in a torrential downpour in front of 5,000 people while smiling and not nervous. Practice until you can.

Rebecca Rescate
Co-Founder, HoodiePillow.com

4. Surf Set Fitness

Ask: $150K for 10% Equity
Deal: $300K for 30% Equity
Website: http://www.surfsetfitness.com/

What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are looking to get on the show? Are there any tips for executing a successful audition?

Be yourself! Shark Tank is a true reality show & they want to showcase entrepreneurs who are real and extremely passionate about their companies. Show them how much you've invested into your idea and how much you truly care about it. And before you do your audition make sure to prepare, pretend you are actually going on the show and be ready to answer the hard questions.

How did you prepare for your appearance on the show? What are some critical things everyone should have in place and know before going on?

Like most entrepreneurs, we lived & breathed our company even before going on the show. We were prepared to answer every question because we were constantly working on SURFSET and trying to improve our operation everyday. So if you have employees already or don't run every aspect of your business, make sure you study every little detail. Also, one of the most critical points to the Sharks, or any investor for that matter, is how you're going to make back their money plus a great return. The idea might be amazing, but make sure there is a solid business model to back it up and a strategy mapped out to get you there.

What advice do you have for the actual pitch itself when you are live and in front of the sharks?

Treat it just like you would any business meeting, but make sure to bring your passion & energy with you, and let it show. The Sharks are all self-made entrepreneurs, which means they can identify someone who is determined to achieve their goals and build an awesome company. The best thing you can do is make them see your vision and trust in you to make it happen.

Sarah Ponn
Fitness Director & Brand Manager, SURFSET Fitness, Inc.

5. Teddy Needs a Bath

Ask: $50K for 15% Equity
Deal: $100K for 30% Equity + 10% Royalty
Amended Deal: $25k Loan for 10% Royalty
Website: http://www.teddyneedsabath.com/

What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are looking to get on the show? Are there any tips for executing a successful audition?

Unlike many presenters, I didn't wait in line at a casting call. One night I decided what the hell and filled out their online application as well as sent an email to some general address from their site.

9 months later, I got the call. I was to film an at home video answering a long list of questions about myself. After that, I went through an intense background check to verify everything i had said was true. My advice is to be straight up and honest about EVERYTHING.

How did you prepare for your appearance on the show? What are some critical things everyone should have in place and know before going on?

I studied for three months. This included memorizing every detail about my company including all numbers like sales data and money spent. I watched every episode that aired in seasons past... probably 10 times each. I wrote pages of questions that the sharks liked to ask and practiced answers for each (and they still threw me!)  Also, did my research on each shark and their history. I was literally sleepless preparing. Stressed out maniac would be a good way to describe me then. Oh! And I rehearsed my pitch on camera for my hubby dozens of times. The last thing you want to do is forget/blow your pitch. You get three minutes and you can't take anything back or try again.

Also, it's the first time the sharks have ever seen you. So the first impression is everything. Don't be arrogant or act like you know it all. They hate that.

What advice do you have for the actual pitch itself when you are live and in front of the sharks?

Like I said, be honest, humble, know your shit. Don't be arrogant or pompous. DON'T ASK FOR TOO MUCH MONEY! Look at it like this- ask for a lot, most of your segment will be spent discussing why you are worth this much money and they will try and make you look bad. Ask for less and they will move onto talking about you and your brand- which is why you went on the show in the first place, right? I looked at it like this: you can't buy 15 minutes of prime time TV on a Friday night. So ask for less and it's like you spent some money on advertising.

Nicole Townend
President, Teddy Needs a Bath!

6. Fishing Ammo

Ask: $80K for 20% Equity
Deal: $80K for 33% Equity
Website: http://fishingammo.com/

What advice would you give entrepreneurs who are looking to get on the show? How did you do it? Are there any tips for executing a successful audition?

Go to the casting call and be prepared to wait! I thought I was going to get there early to be first in line, but boy was I wrong. I think people spent the night outside of the hotel! You will see hundreds of inventions. Don't get intimidated by inventions you think are better than your own. Even if you have a fishing bobber made from a shotgun shell, you gotta think your invention is the best hands down!

In regards to the audition you should treat it as if you were in front of the sharks and America. Every step during the process should be treated like the main event.

How did you prepare for your appearance on the show? What are some critical things everyone should have in place and know before going on?

I watched a ton of shows that were recorded previously and wrote down how much they were asking for, what the product was, the starting and ending equity if they got a deal and who they got a deal with. If you've seen the show, you know the important questions. Know your sales. Know your market. Know your competition. Basically memorize a well written business plan. As a matter of fact, you should have a well written business plan. Be prepared and practice!

What advice do you have for the actual pitch itself when you are live and in front of the sharks?

PRAY you don't become PREY :)

Jeff Stafford
Fishing Ammo


Are you a Shark Tank fan? What strategies have you noticed that seem to work when asking for a deal? What do you think is the most common mistake entrepreneurs make during their pitch?