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- 11/21/14--07:22: _The 12 Biggest 'Sha...
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- 12/01/14--12:53: _Mark Cuban Explains...
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- 12/09/14--07:04: _10 Things I Learned...
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- 12/15/14--13:12: _Why Mark Cuban Dubb...
- 12/17/14--05:23: _How A 13-Year-Old H...
- 12/17/14--11:24: _Barbara Corcoran: H...
- 12/18/14--09:08: _5 Personal-Branding...
- 12/19/14--08:51: _'Shark Tank' Invest...
- 11/07/14--19:34: How 'Shark Tank' Went From Friday Deathslot To Hit Franchise
- 11/17/14--07:34: 'Shark Tank' Investors Pick 8 Of The Show's Most Outrageous Pitches
- 11/21/14--07:22: The 12 Biggest 'Shark Tank' Success Stories
- 12/01/14--12:53: Mark Cuban Explains The Real Reason He Joined The 'Shark Tank' Cast
- 12/09/14--07:04: 10 Things I Learned By Studying Every 'Shark Tank' Pitch Ever Made
- 12/15/14--05:49: Barbara Corcoran Explains Why Office Romance Is Fine
- 12/15/14--13:12: Why Mark Cuban Dubbed This 'Shark Tank' Entrepreneur 'The Beast'
- 12/17/14--05:23: How A 13-Year-Old Hooked Mark Cuban On 'Shark Tank'
- 12/18/14--09:08: 5 Personal-Branding Tips From 'Shark Tank' Experts
Carbone, the CEO and president, cofounded Ten Thirty One in 2009 with Alyson Richards for the purpose of launching the first large-scale haunted hayride in Los Angeles. After clearing out their bank accounts and scraping together investments from friends, they put down $365,000 to set up and "market the hell out of" the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride. By 2012, Ten Thirty One was selling out the Halloween season and bringing in $1.8 million in revenue in October.
Cuban saw the potential the company had for other markets and jumped at the opportunity. We caught up with Carbone to see how she's used the Shark to push forward her plan for total domination of the American Halloween market.
"The ultimate long-term goal is to have a Ten Thirty One attraction in every major metropolitan area in the United States," Carbone tells Business Insider.
She went on "Shark Tank" asking for $2 million to accelerate the growth of her existing attractions outside of California, and that's exactly how she and Cuban have used the money.
Even though, as a horror entertainment company, the Halloween season is the biggest time of the year for Ten Thirty One, Carbone has taken advantage of the summer season as well. She's used the investment to bring the Great Horror Campout, a 12-hour experience that essentially puts customers into a horror film setting, on a nine-city tour in the US.
The New York Haunted Hay Ride is set to open in 2015 with the help of Cuban's investment, and Carbone tells us that she hopes to also launch a hayride in San Francisco and Atlanta next year, as well. Each large-scale, high production quality hayride costs about $1.3 million and 11 months of planning to set up. At 30 acres (the space of about 240 football fields), the hayrides are like theme parks.
Cuban is "very involved and very hands-on when we need help with something," Carbone says. "He's really accessible and really interested in getting us to the next level." Carbone tells us she speaks with Cuban an average of two or three times a week, but there have been periods where they talk every day to see something through.
One of the first things Cuban did as a board member of Ten Thirty One is arrange a meeting between Carbone and Live Nation Entertainment's CEO Michael Rapino. He liked the direction of the company so much that he decided to invest. Carbone says that she's unable to release the details of the arrangement but could say that Live Nation's investment is smaller than Cuban's and that the company's Ticketmaster site is now the distributor for all Ten Thirty One's events. This also means that Ten Thirty One can be promoted to Ticketmaster's 60 million subscribers.
Cuban is also helping Ten Thirty One break into television, which is a world "completely foreign" to Carbone but very familiar to Cuban. He and his entertainment lawyer have been shopping for TV documentary deals for Ten Thirty One, and Carbone says it looks like at least one deal will be secured.
And even though Cuban is fully supporting Carbone's rapid growth, he's been helping to keep it focused. The best advice Cuban has given Carbone is, "Don't drown in opportunity." It's something she thinks about every day, she says.
It's common for companies to receive an inundation of proposals after appearing on "Shark Tank," whether things went smoothly or not, and since Ten Thirty One did so well it's meant Carbone has had to consider a variety of investments and partnerships. "Sometimes you have to cut some opportunities loose, and it's a little painful to do that," Carbone tells us. But she's appreciated Cuban's help to think more strategically about how she wants to spend her money.
As Ten Thirty One continues to grow, expect to see plenty of advertising. "First, we're a large attraction company, and second, we're a marketing company," Carbone says. It's an approach she's used since day one. In the company's early days, she and her former partner Richards (now a Ten Thirty One board member and Clear Channel exec) used their marketing expertise and connections to make sure as many people as possible in Los Angeles knew about their hayride.
"We marketed it as if we were Disney," Carbone says, laughing. She used a large portion of the initial $365,000 investment in 2009 to promote the hayride on billboards and radio, and she credits her intense focus on marketing for much of Ten Thirty One's rapid success. She hopes to launch the New York Haunted Hayride next year with a flood of advertising, including the possibility of a giant digital ad in Times Square.
Halloween is a $7.4 billion industry, and Carbone is using Ten Thirty One to take advantage of the young adult and adult markets. The hayrides are all-ages, while the more extreme Great Horror Campout excursions — which include "simulated torture" like being stuffed into a car trunk and tied to a chair — are ages 18+. There is also a Ghost Ship "haunted cruise" that is interactive but notably less intense, aimed at moms and dads who want to go on a Halloween-themed booze cruise.
Carbone says that Ten Thirty One will most likely never have attractions running all 12 months of the year, but she's got some other attractions in development that will give the company more opportunities to dominate the market.
Ten Thirty One has been steadily growing year-over-year, and Carbone expects to bring in over $3 million in revenue by the end of the year. She estimates that the LA Haunted Hayride alone will have 65,000 customers this year, and that Ten Thirty One has had over 400,000 customers since launching in fall 2009.
With Cuban's advice in mind, Carbone is ready to grow quickly but carefully. Her goal is to make her Haunted Hayrides and Great Horror Campout household names. And she wants "every teenager, whether they're in Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco, San Diego, or Chicago, to have access to a Ten Thirty One Production."
The investors on ABC's hit pitch show "Shark Tank" absolutely loved the Singtrix karaoke machine that lets even the worst singers sing in tune. They loved it so much that four of them offered $1.5 million, a high amount for the show.
But the founders seemed unwilling to enter into a real negotiation, causing the investors to withdraw their deals simultaneously in frustration and for Kevin O'Leary to proclaim, "You are the classic, 'You're dead to me.' You gotta go."
It was a perfect example of how agreeing to a deal with a "Shark Tank" investor isn't the right choice for every entrepreneur.
Singtrix cofounders John Devecka and Eric Berkowitz enter the tank looking for $1.5 million for 5% equity, giving their company a $30 million valuation.
They explain that it's worth this much because they know what they're doing and are poised to make big money.
When Devecka was 26, he built the machine that would become the "MTV Drumscape" arcade game, the first music video game, out of his parent's garage. It became an international hit and eventually got the attention of video game giant Activision.
Berkowitz was Devecka's head of marketing and business development, and the two sold all of Devecka's music game patents to Activision in the early 2000s.
Activision used these patents in the popular "Guitar Hero" franchise that launched in 2005.
Devecka tells the Sharks that the Activision deal worked out great for them, and their latest venture, Singtrix, can revolutionize karaoke with its selection of more than 350 voice modulation and auto-tuning effects. Here's how it works:
The starter kit retails for $345 and the entrepreneurs tell the investors they have already sold 4,000 units in the company's first six months, bringing in total revenue of $1.2 million at a 40% profit margin.
They've got a deal in the works, they explain, with a major electronics company that will exclusively handle Singtrix's distribution in the US and Europe, which has made them confident that they'll sell at least 30,000 units this holiday season.
Berkowitz says that they're looking for money that can help them develop new products and have an investor with valuable connections. "It's not just somebody writing a check. We've had lots of people offering us money at the valuation that we've put out there. We want to get involved with people who will make us better."
Investor Mark Cuban says that he knows Singtrix is at a point where $1.5 million won't be what's needed to get the company to where the founders want it to go. He also thinks that if they have an initial bout of success, they'll have to spend "a boatload" on marketing, which he figures is one of the main reasons why the two founders are appearing on the show. "I'll be a customer, but I won't be an investor," Cuban says before pulling out of a deal.
Then the four remaining Sharks get creative.
O'Leary offers $1.5 million for an initial 50% stake. If he gets paid back in full within an 18-month window, his equity would drop to 10% and he'd get a $2.50 royalty on every unit sold.
Investor Robert Herjavec proposes investing $1.5 million for a 20% stake, saying his deal is more straightforward and focused on the long-term.
Lori Greiner, who had been chatting with O'Leary while Herjavec spoke, offers $1.5 million for an initial 30% stake. Once she gets paid back (mentioning no time limit), her equity would drop to 15% and she'd get a $2.50 royalty on every unit sold. O'Leary decides that he'll go in on this deal.
Then Daymond John chimes in as O'Leary and Greiner spar with Herjavec for the Singtrix duo's attention. John opens his offer by saying that he represents the Ultra Music Festival, a popular electronic music brand, for licensing, and Devecka seems interested. John says that he is also connected with Samsung, which he could use to make the brand's equipment when it scales. He offers these connections along with $1.5 million for a 25% stake and the guarantee that he will finance all future orders.
Devecka and Berkowitz silently consider all the options, and then Deveka says he'll settle for an offer of $1.5 million for a 7% equity stake. The Sharks all protest in frustration.
"We've done this already. We made 'Guitar Hero'!" Devecka insists.
"You made 'Guitar Hero,' but you didn't sell 'Guitar Hero.' That's a big difference," Cuban says.
In the end, both the Sharks and the founders seem annoyed with each other. When the episode premiered, the Singtrix Twitter account retweeted a couple of users who implied that the founders went on the show for publicity without any intention of making a deal.
Because "Shark Tank" investors come with a network and expertise in a particular field, along with an uncommon hands-on approach, the equity they seek is often much larger than what more typical venture capitalists would seek. The fact that the Singtrix founders counter-offered so low suggests they simply weren't interested.
It's notable, however, that Herjavec and John both vouched for the Singtrix product on Twitter during the episode, and neither of them are shy about letting the public know when they don't like someone. O'Leary expressed again that he thought they were out of their minds, but he still had nothing bad to say about the product or its potential.
And in an interview with Heavy, Devecka and Berkowitz reveal that they were approached by "Shark Tank" producers at a trade show and asked if they wanted to appear in an episode. They initially declined before later agreeing. "The producers were really supportive and encouraging so we changed our minds on the last day of submissions," Deveka tells Heavy.
Since the episode was filmed, the Singtrix team secured the major distribution deal that its founders told the Sharks about. As of September, VOXX Electronics will be the exclusive distributor of Singtrix in North America and Europe.
At the end of the day, a deal with a "Shark Tank" investor isn't for everybody. But an appearance on the show provides major exposure, worth millions in free advertising, no matter how much it may frustrate the Sharks.
You can watch the full episode on Hulu Plus.
In the fifth season of ABC's "Shark Tank,"Mark Cuban invested $2 million in Melissa Carbone's horror attraction company Ten Thirty One Productions. It was the biggest investment in the show's history.
Ten Thirty One, founded in 2009, is on track to bring in more than $3 million in revenue this year for its elaborate and spooky attractions, and it's working on bringing its flagship Haunted Hayride to New York, San Francisco, and possibly Atlanta next fall.
"The ultimate long-term goal is to have a Ten Thirty One attraction in every major metropolitan area in the United States,"Carbone tells Business Insider.
Cuban has been very hands-on with Ten Thirty One's expansion, helping Carbone get a deal with entertainment giant Live Nation and working on getting a television feature for the company.
Carbone, who talks to Cuban multiple times a week, says one piece of his advice rings in her head every day: "Don't drown in opportunity."
"Because after 'Shark Tank' I guess it's common for a lot of those companies to start getting inundated with emails from people who want to partner with them," Carbone says. "It still is happening to us."
Carbone says that she's always been the type to jump at every big opportunity that came her way, but Cuban's advice has helped her grow as an entrepreneur.
"I think about that every single day, because sometimes you have to cut some opportunities loose, and it's a little painful," Carbone says.
Cuban is now working with Carbone to take what's been successful in California and expand it to a broader audience.
"He's really accessible and really interested in getting us to the next level," Carbone says.
“Shark Tank,” ABC's entrepreneurial reality hit, has broken some cardinal rules of television: programming on Friday night and doubling down on a bland financial cable network.
Now it's birthing a spin-off.
In its sixth season, “Shark Tank” has become a TV game-changer and cultural phenomenon. The show is poised to celebrate its 100th episode (an important milestone when it comes to syndication), while even its repeats are breaking CNBC records, with close to half a million viewers per episode.
The entrepreneurial competition show has become so hot that ABC is now working on a spinoff “Beyond the Tank,” a companion show that follows the next stage of a start-up, showing which ones are in the black and which ones are seeing red.
“We became the leaders in going out into the Wild West of Friday night,” said Holly Jacobs, Sony TV's EVP of reality and syndicated programming. “We captured Friday night.”
Last Friday, “Shark Tank” was second overall with 7.62 million viewers and won the night comfortably with a 2.0 in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic.
After bouncing around from Sunday and then Tuesday nights in 2009, the show was finally moved to Friday nights, known in the industry as “The Friday Night Deathslot.” Over the years, Fridays have become a dumping ground for shows on their last leg. But instead of disappearing into the sunset, the series began thriving, leaving execs scratching their heads.
“There was a conventional wisdom that Friday night was going the way of Saturday night and would be relegated to reruns,” ABC's vice president of alternative series, specials and late night, Rob Mills, told TheWrap. “‘Shark Tank’ saved Friday night and proved there is a big audience available when the right show is on.”
“It's amazing,” shark Daymond John told TheWrap. “ABC took a very big gamble by doing this show.” On the show John is joined by fellow entrepreneurs Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O'Leary, Robert Herjavec and Lori Greiner, who dispense hard-headed business advice along with investment cash from their own pockets.
Part of the reason “Shark Tank” has become so successful, said John, is the fact the show has “positioned itself exactly the way businesses should position themselves… You want to create something a little different with a unique selling proposition and position it where your competitors aren't.”
That recipe seems to be working.
Like the original, the new show will be co-produced by Sony TV and reality producer Mark Burnett.
“It's empowering but it comes with responsibility,” said John. “It's like any other company. Being a castmember of ‘Shark Tank,’ you have to make sure the job gets done.”
The business model for the show is also unusual. The investment money comes directly out of the sharks’ own wallets and so far they've doled out a whopping $45 million over the first five seasons, according to the show's publicist.
But even though the pressure can be daunting, the job does come with some pretty cool perks. “It's flattering and humbling,” said John, whose fans include some A-list names. “I felt like I really made it when I met Bill Clinton and he told me, ‘I don't know whether I'd ever get a deal past you.'”
Still, no one is more surprised by the success of “Shark Tank” than the series’ own producers.
Said Jacobs: “The greatest story of the show is that it has a very high level of co-viewing, meaning it's multi-generational. We never imagined from the get-go that this show, which has a lot of sophisticated terms would be part of family viewing.”
‘”Shark Tank’ has become its own brand,” said Chad Kawalec, marketing expert and founder of the Brand Identity Center. “Like any other brand, after it reaches a certain size, it just makes sense to create line extensions to deepen the relationship with your target audience and even expand it.”
Also read: Ratings: ‘Hell's Kitchen’ Hits New Lows
While the mothership has followed up on some of its more successful deals with short clips, “Beyond the Tank” could go where very few business show would dare tread: failed ventures.
“One of the most commonly asked questions are, ‘What happens afterwards?'” said John. “How does it go? What is your closure rate? The concept of the new show is transparency, but it also shows sharks fail too.”
Also read: ‘Lego Batman’ Spinoff Set at Warner Bros.
“What you're going to see more of is a deeper dive into what happens after the deal is made. That's where the real work begins,” Jacobs told TheWrap. “If you're a fan of ‘Shark Tank,’ this show is going to be fantastic candy for you.”
For now, producers say they're taking one step at a time, with a 10-episode order.
“It's a contained experience. But we have six years of entrepreneurs coming in and out of the doors of the ‘Shark Tank,” so there are many, many stories to tell.”
The new show, still in pre-production, could air as early as this season, though nothing is set in stone. No word yet on the final timeslot, but those close to the show say it could be scheduled as the lead-in to “Shark Tank.”
If that's true, the newly minted “Shark Tank” franchise could be poised to take an even bigger bite out of the Friday night ratings pie.
The producers of ABC's hit show "Shark Tank" know how to edit the show for maximum dramatic effect, but that doesn't mean the intense battles between the investors for a hot company are fake.
"The deal was apparel-based, it was fitness-based, and Robert beat me out," John said. "So I'm sitting there saying to myself, 'Should I be mad at Robert or should I be mad at myself?' Because this is a natural layup for me. The person knows my expertise. What didn't I communicate to that person that made me lose the deal, or what did I say to that person that may have pissed them off?"
In the episode, Ashley Drake, an active duty captain in the Army Corp of Engineers from Louisville, comes into the tank looking for a $100,000 investment in return for a 20% equity stake in her company. She has a CrossFit athlete demonstrate how The Natural Grip hand wraps can protect weight trainers from tearing up their hands. Her product is the only cotton and custom-fit of its kind, she says, which has led her to bring in a respectable $178,000 in revenue in the first year.
She wants to use the money to expand beyond the limitations of her six-person staff and start manufacturing enough to meet demand. She expects $400,000 in sales by the end of 2014 and $1 million by the end of 2015, if she can develop her manufacturing.
Investors Lori Greiner and Kevin O'Leary both commend Drake on her energy, focus, and preparedness, but back out of doing a deal because the field is not within their interests or expertise. The usually cynical O'Leary, however, urges the remaining Sharks to get in on a deal.
"You are one motivated cowboy!" he tells Drake. "You're not wasting your time on 'Shark Tank,' I must say that. Alright, somebody give this woman $100,000 and get her out of here!"
Mark Cuban is also a big fan, but his vision of expanding The Natural Grip beyond a single product into a CrossFit lifestyle brand in the near future doesn't align with Drake's vision, and so he doesn't do a deal. John and Herjavec make it clear that both of them very much want to make a deal and spend the rest of the negotiation trying to appeal to Drake.
Herjavec, who tries out the Natural Grips and does some pull-ups, is the self-proclaimed "Sporty Shark" and makes his case first. "You have tremendous credibility, and you're a great operator. Every business I've invested in on 'Shark Tank' that had a great operator has succeeded," he says. He tells Drake that he is completely on board with her strategy and offers $100,000 for a 30% stake.
"I think you need more than just the money," John counters. "I know Robert has a couple connections, but obviously I'm in this space." John previously mentioned that he is the owner of Reebok CrossFit Fifth Avenue in New York and now says he can get her a partnership with Reebok. He offers her his industry expertise and $100,000 for a 40% stake.
Herjavec appeals to Drake's trepidation over giving up too much of her company and tells her that she doesn't need Reebok, she just needs to stick to what she's been doing but at a higher level. Drake is receptive to this idea and tells John that she doesn't need "more fancy people wearing my grips" from a branding deal but needs to focus on growing manufacturing.
"I've been manufacturing since the day I was born. I actually took my umbilical cord and made it into a belt," John tells Drake.
Herjavec jumps in before Drake can mull over that graphic metaphor. He offers her $125,000 for 25%. John immediately counters with $100,000 for 33% and the promise that he completely understands the CrossFit community and will take care of her manufacturing issues before anything else.
Drake tells John that she knows he's very well connected, but she's sacrificed a lot over the last year for her company — suggesting that she wants someone more aligned with her vision and likely doesn't want to give up too much equity or undervalue the business. She does the deal with Herjavec.
"That is a big mistake," John says, scowling. "She just partnered with a cyber theft guy, referring to Herjavec's security tech company.
"Nope, she partnered with a sporty Shark!" Herjavec says.
Before the episode aired, John told us that he wasn't actually angry with Herjavec so much as he was angry with his own performance. "It's almost like going into sports. Two boxers go out there and somebody whoops your ass — you know you weren't on top of your game in that fight," he said.
John was objectively the most qualified person to get Drake's product to the CrossFit community, but he failed to convince her that he was on her side. Herjavec was able to tap into Drake's fear over giving up control of her company and framed John as someone who wasn't aligned with her vision. In retrospect, John admits defeat.
But he was pretty heated in the moment, and it wasn't for the cameras.
"Listen, I don't care if you're my brother — if we go play football I'm gonna try to crack your head open. It doesn't mean that I don't love you," he said of competing with the other Sharks. "There is real stuff at stake. There's real money, and there are also real egos. And you have 10 million people watching you get smacked down on national television! It's real."
You can watch the episode where John and Herjavec face off on Hulu Plus.
From a Bluetooth device surgically implanted into your ear to a massive generator that creates "hurricanes" that produce energy and gold, the investors on "Shark Tank" have heard some strange pitches over the past six seasons.
At the end of the recently aired 100th episode of the hit pitch show on ABC, Sharks Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O'Leary, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec gathered to reminisce about their favorite moments from the show.
Greiner asked her fellow Sharks what their favorite pitches were, and instead of going with what they considered to be the best, they opted to discuss the ones they found the most ridiculous.
We've summarized the eight craziest pitches they mentioned, and you'll quickly see why the Sharks find them so memorable.
The Ionic Ear sets a high bar for crazy in the very first episode.
The Sharks agree that a pitch from the pilot episode has remained the most ridiculous.
Darren Johnson seeks $1 million for a 15% stake in his company Ionic Ear. His pitch: Your Bluetooth earpiece moves around too much (this was 2009), which interferes with calls. So why not have the same technology surgically implanted into your ear canal? And at the end of each day, you insert a Q-Tip-like charger into your ear to charge the device.
Johnson is humorless and doesn't prove his qualifications.
There will likely be a time when implanted technology is a thing, but the Ionic Ear isn't going to be a pioneer.
Throx is based entirely on selling three socks at once.
Edwin Heaven, an entrepreneur who both sounds and looks like a Vegas magician, enters the tank in season 1 looking for $50,000 for 25% equity.
His company Throx produces socks that are sold three at a time so that you'll always have an extra sock after you lose one of them. There's nothing extraordinary about the sock quality, but hey, you get three in each pack.
The Sharks don't see it as a real business opportunity, and O'Leary even lets Heaven know that he considers him a "vampire cockroach." Yikes.
Things escalate quickly with the Carsik Bib.
Les Cookson is a dad with a couple of young boys who apparently have very little control over their stomachs. He invented the Carsik Bib, essentially a barf bag worn as a bib designed for kids in car seats. In season 2, he seeks $30,000 for 15% equity.
Almost immediately after introducing himself and the issue of carsick kids, he turns to his crudely made child-size dummy and pours a vile blend of pea soup and corn through the dummy's head, splashing everywhere.
The Sharks may have enjoyed the demonstration, but they don't see a viable business plan. "If I actually gave you 30 grand, I would throw up in this thing," O'Leary tells Cookson.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Can you pinpoint a single decision that affected your entire career? What about an event that changed everything about how you would face the future?
In this package, over 60 thought leaders shared original posts about how their careers might have turned out differently had they made different choices. Within this, several reflected on the one moment that changed their career forever.
Here are what seven super successful people had to say about the event that shaped their career:
Former Bank of America wealth management president Sallie Krawcheck couldn't get a job in journalism.
Krawcheck studied journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and planned to enter the field after working on Wall Street and getting her MBA.
Unfortunately, Time Magazine rescinded the internship offer it had made to her because it hired too many people, and the job she wanted to take at Disney would have required her to leave her husband in New York and move to Los Angeles.
Instead, she became a stay-at-home mom, before realizing that what she should really do is become a research equity analyst. The position combined the skills she'd learned on Wall Street with the love for writing that compelled her to study journalism.
"As a research analyst, I was viewed as an 'overnight success,'"she writes. "But, before that, there were years of false starts and wandering."
Ebay CEO John Donahoe studied the career of former Quaker Oats exec Kenneth Mason.
During his undergraduate days at Dartmouth, Donahoe read Michael Maccoby's "The Gamesmen" about former Quaker Oats executive Kenneth Mason, which chronicled Mason's unique management style. "Strong business and analytical skills weren't enough [for Mason]," Donahoe explains. "Equally important to demonstrating true, courageous leadership was cultivating emotional and spiritual development."
Around the same time, Donahoe learned that Mason was stepping down from Quaker Oats while he still had enough time in his life to pursue other things that were important to him, a decision Donahoe admired. Now, as Donahoe prepares to step back from his role as CEO, he thinks back to Mason's influence. "I knew it was time for me to embark on the next phase in my life's journey by stepping off the road that I am on," he says. "Everyone needs to periodically find a way to re-pot and refresh. It's a principle I began embracing in college."
Yahoo chairman Maynard Webb got an internship as a security guard at IBM.
Webb was studying criminal justice in Florida with the hopes of becoming a lawyer or police detective. That's when he was offered a paid internship as a security guard at IBM, a gig that would change the trajectory of his life.
Webb soon started climbing the company ladder due to his willingness to take on new projects and his ability to solve difficult problems.
"I stayed for the next 11 years and IBM introduced me to my wife, taught me about managing people and inspired me about the power of technology,"he writes.
Television host Suze Orman lost $50,000.
Before becoming a personal finance guru, Orman dreamt of opening a neighborhood hot tub cafe — a goal she often shared with coworkers and customers in the bakery where she worked after college. One day, a generous customer left her a $50,000 tip in hopes of helping her make her dream come true. However, Orman knew nothing about saving and investing, and eventually her donation dwindled to $0, leaving her with no money and no viable business.
"It was a very painful lesson in not being informed and trusting people to be honest," she says. "But the experience ignited an interest in investing. So I decided I would try to become a broker too." As she worked toward this new career path, Orman not only earned her $50,000 back, but discovered her passion for helping others manage their money as well.
Deepak Chopra got kicked out of his post-graduate research lab.
The internationally famous doctor planned to go into research rather than dealing directly with patients when he first started his career.
That changed one day during his time doing lab work at Tufts University, when an adviser's attempt to humiliate him in front of other students caused Chopra to lose his temper and dump a folder's worth of papers on the adviser's head.
As a result of his outburst, Chopra had to go work in a suburban Boston emergency room, which made him more interested in patients. This would ultimately lead him down his path of becoming one of the world's leading advocates for alternative medicine.
It also taught him a lesson about the importance of being self-aware.
"I rescued my medical career, I became more interested in patients, and a decade later I began to see that self-awareness was an important component in my life — and everyone else's who wants to recover from a state where anger, fear, doubt, outworn conditioning, and scars from the past occupy the mind at will,"he writes.
'Shark Tank' Shark Kevin O'Leary was fired from an ice cream shop.
On his second day as a scooper for a local ice cream parlor, 16-year-old O'Leary refused to scrape gum off the floor at his manager's request, instead telling her, "That's not my job." He was immediately fired and arrived home in tears, much to the dismay of his parents. "You were hired not just to serve customers, but to serve the person who owns the business, whether you like that person or not," his stepdad reminded, though it was a tough pill for O'Leary to swallow.
But in that moment, O'Leary experienced two major epiphanies — first, that in business, you're always serving someone, whether it's your boss, your customers, or your shareholders. And second, he decided that he wanted to be his own boss no matter what, a realization that pushed him into entrepreneurship for good.
General Electric chief marketing officer Beth Comstock was told to be more confident.
During the early part of her career, Comstock struggled with self-confidence, a problem that expressed itself when she would fail to speak up in meetings or choose not to apply to internal positions she wanted to be considered for.
At one point, GE CEO Jeff Immelt grew frustrated with her hesitation and told her, "I need you to be more confident."
In recent years, Comstock has learned to trust her instincts by pushing herself to contribute when she has something important to say and allowing her curiosity to guide her in whatever she does.
"[Curiosity is] the camouflage that covers the insecurity of not knowing. The panic of not being perfect," she writes. "Wanting to know why puts me in the game."
If you can make it onto ABC's hit show "Shark Tank," you'll have an audience of about 10 million people to show your product. It's why even entrepreneurs who lose out on a deal often report a notable uptick in sales following their appearance on the show, which portrays negotiations between small-business owners and a panel of potential investors dubbed "Sharks."
But for those who do get a deal, "Shark Tank" can change the trajectory of their business, turning a fledgling company into a national brand.
The following entrepreneurs took a successful pitch and maximized the potential of the Shark they partnered with through focus and determination.
Wicked Good Cupcakes
Danielle Vilagie and Tracey Noonan are a mother-daughter duo from Boston with a company that makes cupcakes in a jar. In season 4, they made a deal with Kevin O'Leary in which he invested $75,000 for royalties instead of equity. He made $1 from every cupcake sold until he made his money back, and then began receiving 50 cents per cupcake sold.
Since its appearance on the show, Wicked Good Cupcakes has expanded to a new production facility and a couple of new locations, and it is planning to bring in $3 million in sales by the end of this year, WCVB Boston reports.
Husband and wife entrepreneurs Mark and Hanna Lim created the Lollacup as an improvement on the standard sippy cup for toddlers. Their product is BPA-free and spill-proof, and its straw is designed to catch every last drop of a drink. In season 3, the Lims partnered with both Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec for a $100,000 deal in exchange for 40% equity.
The Lims have brought in almost $1 million in sales, making the Lollacup the most successful children's product to come out of "Shark Tank."
Lani Lazzari was just 18 years old when she entered the tank in season 4 to pitch her skincare company Simple Sugars. She ended up making a deal with Cuban for $100,000 in return for 33% equity.
Within just 24 hours of her episode's premiere, Lazzari's sales jumped to $220,000 from $50,000, and she hit $1 million six weeks later. Today Simple Sugars products are in more than 700 retail locations and ship internationally. This year, the company has already brought in over $3 million in revenue.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Barbara Corcoran, an investor on "Shark Tank," tells us what really happens between investors on the hit TV show, and how Mark Cuban makes his investment decisions.
Produced by Justin Gmoser. Originally published in November 2013.
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A great product doesn't mean much if you can't match the supply to the demand. Sometimes it's necessary to bring in an executive with the connections and experience to turn your startup into a serious business.
In the latest episode of the hit ABC show "Shark Tank," investor Kevin O'Leary gets nostalgic over the time he learned this lesson for himself.
Entrepreneur Tom Sanetti tells the Sharks that he's sold only $200,000 worth of his eco-friendly, scented Earth-Log fireplace logs over four years because he's been limited to a small market in Southern California. He just accepted a deal from the grocery chain Albertson's for 180 stores in California.
Albertson's wants to take Earth-Log into 3,200 stores, but Sanetti simply doesn't have the ability to manufacture enough. He's had to turn down offers from the chain Vons and Costco for the same reason.
Investors Mark Cuban, guest Shark and GoPro founder Nick Woodman, and Daymond John all compliment Sanetti on his product and determination but tell him that he's got to continue developing his company before they would be ready to invest. "I think you're trying to go from zero to 1,000 miles an hour right away," Woodman says.
Then O'Leary explains how he identifies with Sanetti:
You know, when I was in the basement back in the late '80s starting The Learning Company, after I'd get a $12 million order for "Reader Rabbit," it would blow up behind me, the logistics. I couldn't deliver.
I met a guy named Mike Perik. I gave him half my equity to solve my problem. We sold the company for $4.2 billion five years later. Best investment I ever made.
O'Leary cofounded SoftKey, the business that would eventually become The Learning Company, out of a Toronto basement with a $10,000 seed investment from his mother. The company collected cheap software in inexpensive CDs that started to become popular. It wouldn't control the "Reader Rabbit" franchise until it acquired and took the name of The Learning Company in 1995, meaning that detail in O'Leary's story is off, but his point — that he and his two cofounders couldn't keep up with their growth — remains.
O'Leary recruited Perik, an executive from a Canadian investment firm, in 1991 and made him CEO of SoftKey. Perik grew the company in the '90s through profitable acquisitions, making it attractive enough for Mattel to spend over $4 billion for it in May 1999. By that November, the deal proved to be a money-losing disaster for Mattel, and O'Leary and Perik left the company with severance packages of around $5 million.
It's not a story with a happy ending for everyone involved, but O'Leary ultimately made his fortune from knowing when to partner with someone more experienced.
Back in the tank, he tells Sanetti that he needs to find his own Mike Perik. O'Leary wishes Sanetti the best but tells him he has to bow out because he's looking for an investment, not a job.
Lori Greiner, however, offers to be Sanetti's Perik.
As the "Queen of QVC" and a Bed Bath & Beyond partner, she's uniquely positioned to turn a small household item into a national sensation. She's done it many times on "Shark Tank," including with the show's biggest success to date, the Scrub Daddy sponge that she took from $100,000 in total sales to $18 million in a year and a half.
Sanetti came looking for $160,000 for 20% equity but gladly makes a deal with Greiner for that same amount of money in return for a 35% stake in his company.
Though he gave up 15% more of his company than he wanted to, he essentially took O'Leary's advice and made that sacrifice to partner with someone who can take his company to the next level.
You can watch the full episode at Hulu Plus.
Mark Cuban has an estimated net worth of about $2.7 billion and is the owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. His website lists 96 companies that he's invested in, with about half of those deals made over four seasons of ABC's hit show "Shark Tank."
Cuban clearly doesn't need the show as an essential part of his career or even his celebrity, but in a recent podcast interview with Bloomberg's Barry Ritholtz, he says he does it for more than just fun.
Cuban is happy to lend his star power to the show because he sees it as "the New Age lemonade stand." He explains:
"Shark Tank" sends a message, right? I do "Shark Tank"— the deals are good and I enjoy it — but to me, the importance of doing "Shark Tank" is more sending the message that the American Dream is alive and well.
There's no other platform — whether it's in school, whether it's on television — there's absolutely no other platform where you can go out and reach kids, families, and entrepreneurs, and encourage them, support them, train them, really fire them up, and give them some guidance to go ahead and really start that business.
Cuban tells Ritholtz that he learned of the show's growing cultural impact shortly after his guest investor appearances in season 2. He says that at that time "all of a sudden I start getting emails and comments from people on the street: 'I love the show 'cause my 7-year-old loves to watch it/my 12-year-old now understands valuations. We talk about businesses.' When you see a family from Iowa standing on that carpet on 'Shark Tank' talking about the company they started as a family, it makes kids realize they can do it, too."
The returns from "Shark Tank" investments may be a relatively small fraction of Cuban's income, but he takes the show and its companies seriously.
Cuban says he tries to avoid making deals with other Sharks but that when he does he most likes working with real estate expert Barbara Corcoran. "Barbara's always got a unique spin on things," he says.
And even though Cuban sees his participation on "Shark Tank" as a service to small businesses and budding entrepreneurs across the US, he's still fiercely competitive when making deals on the show.
When he reaches a deal with another Shark, he says, he likes to take charge. "I pretty much take control of the deal, and they can have some of the economics — I don't care."
You can listen to the full podcast, via Bloomberg, below:
As soon as Andrew McMurray, chief consultant and representative of Zipz Wine, began presenting his company's line of single-serving wines to the "Shark Tank" investors, they started comparing him to the founder of Zipz competitor Copa Di Vino, James Martin, the only entrepreneur to decline a deal on the show in two appearances.
McMurray, however, was more willing to negotiate with the Sharks and was much more comfortable in front of them. He ended up securing the biggest deal in "Shark Tank" history on the most recent episode in the sixth season, landing a $2.5 million investment from Kevin O'Leary in return for 10% equity.
"I've never been so excited for a #SharkTank deal!" O'Leary, a wine connoisseur and vineyard owner, tweeted after the deal premiered on national television.
Zipz sells single servings of wine packaged in sealed, durable plastic glasses. The concept has been around for several years, but McMurray tells the Sharks that the Zipz glass is engineered in a way that allows for a much longer shelf life than its competitors' offerings and is also recyclable, resealable, and incredibly durable. The design is patented.
Part of the reason Copa Di Vino's Martin, who's in the same business, is remembered by the Sharks as "obnoxious" and frustrating is that he was unwilling to pursue licensing deals. Zipz Wine, on the other hand, is looking to supplement its own wine offerings with major licensing deals.
In its first 16 months, McMurray tells the investors that Zipz made a $130,000 licensing deal with Fetzer Vineyards to get single servings of the wine in six Major League Baseball stadiums. Zipz is also in talks with three of the world's biggest 10 wine producers, including Yellow Tail.
"In our opinion, our package is going to become to the wine industry what the aluminum can became to the soda industry," McMurray says.
He explains that the company already has $8.5 million invested in it over a pool of 25 investors that are primarily Wall Street types and include three owners of professional sports teams. The company has gotten its products into 1,200 US stores, including Wal-Mart locations, and has sold $650,000 of Zipz brand wine since its inception.
McMurray says that he's now looking to acquire a Shark for the Zipz board and take it to the next level by securing a distribution deal with the likes of Costco.
Eventually, every Shark except for O'Leary declines from making an offer because they don't see eye to eye with McMurray about the direction of the company. But O'Leary, the wine expert, has a connection with Costco, the world's largest wine vendor. In 2013 it sold $1.46 billion worth of wine.
O'Leary tells McMurray that he's been in talks with Costco about getting his O'Leary Fine Wines brand into its stores. He said that after first meeting with Costco's wine representative, it took him two years to prove that his name recognition was strong enough to push bottles. But then he needed to determine a way to make the wine more affordable, since 97% of the wine sold in the US is under $10, he explains.
He says that the current price of $2.99 for a glass of Zipz wine is simply too expensive. McMurray says he hasn't run into price objections, but O'Leary insists.
"Everything about selling wine in America is known by their buying team," O'Leary says, referring to Costco. "They know everything. They don't like this price."
If McMurray wants Zipz to do $19 million in annual sales through Costco, he's got to get the retail price down to $1.49, O'Leary says, and then he could get Zipz into the wholesale retailer. McMurray says it's possible to reach that point through some package modification and scaling of manufacturing.
O'Leary says he'll give McMurray the $2.5 million for a 10% equity stake under the condition that he will be able to buy another $2.5 million of the company at a $25 million valuation in the event of an exit. So if a major corporation buys Zipz down the line for $50 million, for example, O'Leary will be able to own 20% of stock valued at $10 million for a total investment of $5 million.
The deal will only go through if O'Leary is able to lock down a contract with Costco.
After a call with Zipz partners and some more convincing from O'Leary, McMurray says he's on board.
As McMurray spoke with Zipz partners outside of the tank, O'Leary affirmed Lori Greiner's assumption that he plans to use Zipz as his way of getting O'Leary Fine Wines into Costco stores at an affordable price.
Following the show's premiere, O'Leary indicated that the Costco deal went through by tweeting this photo of a single serving of O'Leary Cabernet in a Zipz package. While it has yet to be confirmed, the "Shark Tank" deal with Zipz was contingent on a Costco contract.
O'Leary's investment outdoes the last biggest "Shark Tank" deal, Mark Cuban's $2 million investment in live horror entertainment company Ten Thirty One Productions, by $500,000. In a recent Bloomberg "Masters in Business" podcast, Cuban explains that as the popularity of "Shark Tank" has exploded over the past couple seasons, the quality of entries and the frequency of relatively big investments has increased as well.
You can watch the full episode over at Hulu Plus.
Nearly 400 entrepreneurs have pitched the sharks since the show debuted in 2009. Recently, I set out to study almost every single one of them. I took an afternoon and poured every pitch from the show's first five seasons into a spreadsheet, tagged and analyzed them, and tried to draw some conclusions.
(This column might make more sense if you take a quick look at my chart on Cafe.com, which highlights some of the preliminary results of my analysis of 377 pitches that have been made on "Shark Tank" over the past five years.)
Here's what I learned.
1. Your odds are as good as anyone's.
Let's start by establishing a baseline. Out of 377 pitches that I reviewed, 185 were successful — meaning that the entrepreneurs on the show reached a handshake deal with at least one shark to invest in their company. That works out to a pretty amazing 49 percent success rate.
Of course, only a small percentage of entrepreneurs who apply for the show get picked to appear to begin with — 0.4 percent, according to the show's producers. Even after a deal appears to be struck, there is usually an intense due diligence process that kills many — maybe even a majority — of deals.
2. Bigger markets are better.
I used seven categories to characterize each of the entrepreneur's pitches, and the most consistent predictor of success was "mass market." An amazing 78 percent of the pitches we tagged in this category were successful.
Granted, there were a number of pitches where the sharks held back because they were wary of getting into a big industry dominated by big players. However, where all else is equal, the sharks wanted to see massive potential for growth. If you don't have a big potential market, that's hard to demonstrate.
3. Don't get too far ahead of the customer.
Wannabe entrepreneurs often make a common mistake. They try to come up with a product idea that is actually too far ahead of the competition. The problem is that by doing so, you can get too far ahead of your customer as well.
Another way to look at this is that contrary to stubborn perception, real entrepreneurs and investors don't like risk. These kinds of risky pitches were often tagged as "niche" in my analysis, and they were successful only 23 percent of the time.
4. Customer needs beat customer wants.
We've already seen that mass-market categories do best on "Shark Tank", but it turns out that some specific mass-market categories do better than others. What do they have in common? The customer need they help solve has more to do with an actual "need" than a mere "want."
Case in point: clothing, which is one of the most consistently successful categories on "Shark Tank", with entrepreneurs getting a handshake deal 73 percent of the time. There have also been a heck of a lot of pitches for food, alcohol, and other related products — 65 by my count. Those do better than average as well, with about a 55 percent success rate.
5. Don't be ridiculous.
There have been a fair number of pitches over the first five years that seem at first designed more for comic relief than for a serious attempt to get a shark to invest. Unsurprisingly, they are rarely successful. Pitches whose primary tag was "just plain weird" were successful only 11 percent of the time.
You can imagine that some of these pitches — things like the guy who wanted to surgically implant Bluetooth devices in people's heads, or the entrepreneur who said he could generate energy by harnessing the Earth's rotation (while mining gold and producing fresh drinking water as byproducts) — seem like they got on the show because they're fun television stunts. However, if you don't think there are many entrepreneurs out there trying to pitch similarly crazy ideas, let me give you a tour of my email inbox sometime.
6. Focus on the customer, not on yourself.
It's hard to overstate this. Sometimes, some of the sharks can appear on the show to have soft hearts, especially when they see entrepreneurs who are incredibly passionate about their products and have already overcome long odds to keep their dreams afloat. When it comes time to make a deal, however, an entrepreneur's personal story is really only compelling if it demonstrates that he or she has a compelling insight into customer needs.
The show's recent season premiere had a perfect example of this. An entrepreneur named Michael Elliott who had an incredibly compelling personal story— he'd been a ward of the state as a child, lived on the streets for a while, and ultimately became a successful magazine writer and screenwriter — clearly earned the Sharks' respect. However, when it came time to make a deal on his Hammer & Nails "nail shop for guys," there were no offers to be found.
7. It's hard to be trendy.
There's a lot of fool's gold in trends. Things move so quickly in business that by the time a new entrepreneur can identify a trend and think of a way to capitalize on it, the trend is often over. That said, while the sample size is small — only five pitches that were tagged primarily as "trendy"— four of these entrepreneurs managed to leave the show with a handshake deal.
Despite that 80 percent success rate, I worry about people taking the wrong lesson. For every Buggy Beds (capitalizing on fear of bed bugs) with a $250,000 investment and a $1 million valuation, there's a pitch like Broccoli Wad (a money clip capitalizing on the popularity of "The Sopranos") with a much smaller $50,000 investment and a $250,000 valuation.
8. Women are better customers than men.
At least when the sharks are involved, entrepreneurs who are seeking to sell primarily to women do better. Pitches that I tagged primarily as targeting women had a 56 percent success rate. Beyond that, products aimed at children did 59 percent, and pitches that were tagged as "educational" had a phenomenal 73 percent success rate.
Combining the high success rates of products for women and children with the high success rate for clothing, however, might lead some entrepreneurs to an unfortunate conclusion. I found several instances in which entrepreneurs on "Shark Tank" wanted to sell maternity clothes. Not a single one was successful.
9. Know your numbers…
I've often found that you can predict whether a business is doomed to fail within about 60 seconds by asking two simple questions: What customer problem are you solving? Why are you the person to solve it?
That second question explains why there is no easier way to get eaten alive on "Shark Tank" than to walk into the studio looking for an investment of thousands or even millions of dollars, and not be able to articulate basic metrics about your business very quickly. This was a little bit harder to track, but anecdotally it came through time and again.
10. But don't nickel and dime.
Finally, this last lesson also goes back to being able to do simple math — especially under pressure. Believe me, I understand working to get the best deal possible, and there are some times when an entrepreneur is better off leaving a lopsided deal on the table. (Case in point: Copa di Vino, which even ABC's website describes as the most successful pitch that didn't result in an investment.)
That said, there are many instances in which negotiations on "Shark Tank" get caught up in a tense back-and-forth over what is really a phantom equity — sometimes to the point of killing the deal on air. Moreover, you have to suspect that many of the deals that get killed after the show is over are the same ones in which the negotiations are toughest on air. Both on "Shark Tank" and in real life, a contentious tone during the deal can make working together later more difficult.
The most recent leak from the Sony hacking unveiled the emails of Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairwoman Amy Pascal and Sony Pictures Television president Steve Mosko.
Among the emails to and from Mosko, Business Insider viewed an exchange involving the Sony Pictures president, billionaire investor Mark Cuban, and Cuban Companies general counsel Robert Hart that reveals Cuban's contract negotiations for his appearances on the hit TV show "Shark Tank."
According to the September emails, Hart tells Cuban he would receive $30,000 per episode for season 5, $31,200 for season 6, and $32,488 for season 7.
The hit ABC series, distributed by Sony Pictures Television, began season 6 on Sept. 26.
In addition, Hart tells Cuban the terms of the "Shark Tank" deal would "further prevent" Cuban from "exploiting various aspects from the show."
The email suggests the series wanted rights to Cuban's "catchphrases ... nicknames, gestures, utterances, etc.," something Cuban is advised to "push back on."
Because "Shark Tank" is aired on other networks, the updated contract would also require Cuban to promote the series not only for ABC but on all the networks on which it airs.
Cuban wasn't happy with the terms, responding to Hart, Mosko, and others with the following:
no chance... this is beyond an insult and it shows no one cares about the investments I have made or the entrepreneurs
now it's really business..
I will negotiate like any other deal I would do
you may want to start cutting me out of the promos
Mosko asked Sony Pictures TV presidents of programming and production Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg whether he should worry about Cuban's response.
Season 5 of the hit ABC series, distributed by Sony Pictures Television, had 29 episodes, meaning Cuban would have received $870,000.
We reached out to Cuban for comment, and he responded with the following via email:
I look at it as a positive that I had direct access to Steve
Now we communicate via Cyber dust
Cyber Dust is Cuban's new free texting app. Described as "WhatsApp meets Snapchat," it allows users to send messages and photos that disappear after 30 seconds.
To put Cuban's "Shark Tank" salary into perspective, we took a look at a few other reality star paychecks.
According to 2014's TV Guide annual industry salary report, Cuban's "Shark Tank" co-star Kevin O'Leary makes a reported $30,000/episode.
"Dancing With the Stars" judge Bruno Tonioli makes $30,000 an hour, and "The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison makes $50,000 an hour. All three are ABC shows.
You can read the email exchange below.
More on the Sony hack: Joel McHale Asked For A Discount On A Sony TV After "Community" Was Originally Canceled
We spend the whole week with the same people, so it's only natural that a deeper relationship may develop. But the wisdom (and ethics) of the office romance are hotly debated.
Produced by Sam Rega
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Some 45,000 entrepreneurs from across the US auditioned for the sixth season of ABC's hit show "Shark Tank." Most of those who make it into the tank have been developing their businesses over several years, since the investors look for companies that they can accelerate rather than build from the ground up.
But not only did Trina Barkouras, founder of holiday-novelty company Hoppy Paws, get a chance to pitch the sharks a mere six weeks after launching her company, her hustle was so impressive that she made a deal with Barbara Corcoran.
"Trina, look, you are not allowed to call yourself Trina anymore. I have rechristened you The Beast," Mark Cuban told her during her pitch. "I wish my salespeople were as focused and as driven and as excited about their vision."
Twenty years ago, Barkouras got the idea to make a stamp shaped like giant rabbit footprints, which would lead to her children's Easter baskets and make the Easter Bunny tradition more fun. Her kids are grown now, but she thinks it's time to share the practice with families everywhere. Hoppy Paws has kits for Easter, Christmas (reindeer hooves), Halloween (glow-in-the-dark cat paws), and other celebrations.
She went to an open audition for "Shark Tank" in San Diego with a rough idea of what Hoppy Paws would be. The producers called her back shortly afterward to appear on the show, which meant that she needed to turn that idea into reality quickly.
In 90 days, Barkouras invested $105,000 of her own money into Hoppy Paws, developing the product design, the packaging, an initial batch of kits, and a tradeshow display.
And to top it off, she quit a lucrative career as an interior designer to pursue her new business full-time, a detail that blew the sharks away.
When investor Lori Greiner asked Barkouras what her biggest seller is, she said, "My bestseller? What you're holding in your hand came off the press yesterday." She hadn't finished her package until 5 p.m. the day before.
"You can't imagine how many people we all meet around the country who say, 'I wanna get on 'Shark Tank' one day,'" Robert Herjavec said. "And I say to them, 'Why don't you apply?' And you know what they say? 'Oh, I'm not ready. I'm gonna give myself a couple of years.' ... You didn't even have anything 90 days ago, and — bang! — here you are with a business."
Herjavec said he's in awe of Barkouras, but he wasn't convinced that in the absence of proof of sales, the product could actually take off. He pulled out of a deal. Greiner agreed and did the same.
Kevin O'Leary, referring to Barkouras' reindeer-antler headband and fighting spirit, said he wanted a woman with horns in his portfolio, but that giving the company a $500,000 valuation was impossible to him. He said he would join up with any other sharks who wanted to participate and give $5,000 toward 50% of the company. Herjavec wanted in, but Cuban and Greiner found the deal unfair.
Corcoran then jumped in with her own offer: $100,000 for a 50% stake in the company. She's not looking to be a traditional investor, Corcoran explained, but rather a full-blown partner. "I'd like to be on equal footing, and I'd like to tell you why: It's because I'd like to work just as hard as you," she said.
Corcoran said that moving forward, she would limit the kits to the Christmas, Easter, and Tooth Fairy-themed ones, and also get Barkouras a line of credit.
Barkouras wanted to go 51%/49% so that she'd retain the majority of the company. Corcoran agreed, as long as Barkouras thinks of five other company ideas and goes 50/50 with her on every future product. "You're a little machine of ideas ... and all those ideas are our ideas going forward," Corcoran said. They made a deal.
O'Leary predicted from the outset that Corcoran, who tends to gravitate toward big personalities on the show, would make a deal. She ended up with more than an investment in a startup — she formed a partnership with an entrepreneur who has an incredible amount of determination, focus, and creativity.
Barkouras told the investors that she credits her drive to the fact that she's been on her own for most of her life. She said that after her mom emancipated her at age 16, she took $300 and moved to California, where she eventually began a lucrative career. "I've been successful at everything I do," she said.
You can watch the full episode at Hulu Plus.
Teenager Andrea Cao came to the tank seeking $20,000 for 20% of her personal massage company Q-Flex, which makes a curved, plastic tool customers use on themselves to relieve back pain.
"It feels pretty good," Cuban said after testing out the personal acupressure device.
While Robert Herjavec called Cao's pitch "a fantastic presentation," he and fellow sharks Lori Greiner and Kevin O'Leary all passed on investing in the business, which had sold just 800 units.
When Cuban discovered Cao had sold every Q-Flex by going door to door, however, he was instantly hooked.
"I love that," he said. "A capitalist is born!"
Known for not relying just on sales statistics, Cuban once again decided to trust his gut and invest in Cao alongside Corcoran.
"I think you're a great role model," he said. "Barbara and I work together well. I can whip up a website and get it up and running."
Cuban and Corcoran offered $25,000 for 25% of the business, provided Cao could make time during school for a sales call.
"You have to be available, on call," Corcoran said, to which Cao replied, "Deal."
Stay tuned for more recaps every week.
We gave Barbara a chance to create her perfect cast and tell us what's the one investment she regrets missing on the show.
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Ah, the great American dream: quit your day job, roll up your sleeves and build a multimillion-dollar business. Who wouldn't want that, right?
Below, sharks from the ABC hit show, "Shark Tank," contestants who've been there, done that (and lived to tell) as well as a prime-time TV host share their career advice. It turns out their lessons about personal branding ring true even for people who still have a day job. After all, both full-time jobs and entrepreneurial endeavors involve putting your own stamp on something to ultimately stand out from the pack.
1. Become a leader. "The thing about success in anything is to be a leader. Even if you're working for someone else, you have to be able to articulate your ideas in 90 seconds or less, explain why you're worth being a leader and, lastly, you have to execute. You actually have to deliver on what you promise. If you look at people who are successful, they became famous for what they say happens, and they deliver on their promises. That's what makes great leaders and great entrepreneurs and employees, frankly."— Kevin O'Leary, "Shark Tank" shark
2. Treat yourself like a brand. "First of all, they should treat themselves like a brand regardless — day job, home, personal life. They have to put their personal brand in two to five words, and they have to be very honest in what they stand for. If you look like you're working at a company and you're in finance, I think you should be wearing things very close-fitted, tight to the company. The perception is you're very diligent and meticulous. Some people think branding and dressing a certain way is expensive, but shining a pair of shoes no matter how old they are does not cost a lot but it makes a definite effect. If you wear suits, even if it's a $99 suit, just get it tailored the right way."— Daymond John, "Shark Tank" shark
3. Be grateful for the bad work experiences. "My husband quit his job about a year ago. He worked in a Fortune 500 company as a sales manager, and I've been in sales executive positions in past jobs and was an art auctioneer in the past — lots of different things. My husband was in advertising for a while, but I also had the opportunity to work in sales in a very challenging environment, and I think it really forced me to overcome objections and obstacles in ways that I wouldn't have had the opportunity to otherwise. It gave me the perspective when I met challenges within this business to say, 'OK, instead of letting this defeat me, what are the ways that I can overcome?' And we can become better because of it." — Stephanie Parker, "Shark Tank" contestant and co-owner and co-creator of Zipadee-Zip wearable baby blankets
4. Connect with people, and be genuine. "Ultimately, people connect with people. It's one of the reasons why I worked with a Fortune 500 company as a client for so long. I formed and built relationships with hundreds of their employees, not to mention their customers, too. I've always been someone who is very fulfilled by pleasing others, and there is no better way to do that than to be good in every aspect of your job. Over the years, I've made sacrifices for myself to benefit the client, but make no mistake, those sacrifices do get noticed. I think if you're the kind of person who genuinely does everything possible to ensure their business is succeeding and does it in a very ethical way, they'll reward you with their loyalty. I saw many times some people 'got ahead' in the short term by unethical means. Again, it was short-term success, and they moved in the industry often. When you do good, work hard and are genuine in helping others, you can inspire. At the same time, it comes back to you in the long term."— Julie Busha, "Shark Tank" contestant and owner of Slawsa condiments
5. Embody the entrepreneurial spirit. "An entrepreneur's really a state of mind. You can be a janitor and be an entrepreneur and show your boss and show people how to innovate, how to be different, how to squeeze a little bit more out of here, how to do this. Or, 'hey, what if we did this, we could sell this?' That's really the state of mind for a lot of people, and you can do that in any job you're in."— Jeffrey Hayzlett, host of "C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett" on Bloomberg Television
Shortly after graduating college and bouncing around various jobs, Barbara Corcoran had an epiphany.
She compared the lifestyle of her hotshot boyfriend, who had his own real estate business, with the constant struggle of her father, who was a printing-press foreman. The direction to take was clear.
She cofounded the Corcoran Group real-estate firm in 1973 with her boyfriend, and after they went their separate ways, she continued to grow her reputation in the New York City real-estate scene. Corcoran sold her firm to NRT Incorporated in 2001 for $66 million and started to build her public persona on television and in print.
In 2009, she joined the cast of ABC's reality pitch show "Shark Tank," which soon became not only a hit series but her full-time job.
We spoke with Corcoran to discuss how her business philosophy had changed over the years and what it was like being a shark.
The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Business Insider:At what point did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Was that something you always had in you, or was it something that developed over time?
Barbara Corcoran: No, no, no. Not at all. I was an entrepreneur in two different businesses — I had a flower of the week club first, and then I had the real-estate brokerage firm — but no, I don't think I even saw myself as an entrepreneur.
It was a job, basically. When I started my flower-of-the-week club, I thought, "Wow, I could make money early in the morning by delivering flowers before I even have school." And then when I started the Corcoran Group, it was just 'cause my boyfriend at the time said, "Hey, you'd be good in real estate. Why don't you start a company?" And I go, "OK, why not?" I didn't aspire to it one bit.
My dad had a huge influence, though. Because he worked for someone his whole life and hated it. He was a printing-press foreman, and he would constantly get fired for insubordination. Then he would take weeks to find a new job. He was a guy who didn't like authority, period, from anybody. He'd tell his boss, "Go to hell, and your son goes to hell, too!" And get fired immediately!
He was a walking, talking example of insubordination, and I gotta believe that was an influence because nine of the 10 kids in my family are all in business for themselves. And that couldn't just be a coincidence.
Most people that start businesses for themselves, I find, generally, when they do it at a very young age, they have parents who are in business for themselves, and that's all they ever saw. So they assume they're going to have a business for themselves.
BI: Have you had mentors who have taught you how to build a business?
BC: I've had two great role models. I had my mom, who was never in business. But in my household — which had two bedrooms, 10 kids, and one bath — you would have recognized her as a phenomenal businesswoman. She was just super organized, definitely in charge, had everybody doing what she wanted, motivated everybody. She was just in charge. And so her house was her business.
And then the role model I had as an adult, even though [my mom] kept proving to be the best role model honestly for business, was Ramone Simone, my first boyfriend who gave me $1,000 [to start a business] because he was 10 years older than me. And he was building houses in New Jersey, that was his business, and he was a guy who was in business for himself. Everyone in my hometown, with the exception of my dad and maybe two other dads, worked for the aluminum company.
And so I never saw anyone who worked for themselves, really. But Ramone Simone did, and he had a big fancy car, and he had nice suits on, and he laughed, and it seemed like he had endless money. It was like, "Whoa, this is easy!" So when he said, "You'd be great in real estate. Why don't you start a real estate firm?" [I was like] "Yeah, OK!" I mean, if he had said, "Why don't you jump off a bridge?" at that impressionable part of my life, at 22, I would've leapt right off that bridge. So I was game for whatever he was gonna say.
BI: Was there a particular piece of advice that has stuck with you?
BC: Yeah. Again, I give Ramone Simone the credit for that. It was the early '80s, when he left me to marry my secretary — which was a big downturn in my life. When I ended the [real-estate] business and divvied it up into two teams, he picked the first one and I picked the second.
On the way out the door he said, "You'll never succeed without me."
He'd never said anything mean to me, but he was so angry we chopped up the business. And I wouldn't have chopped it up, honestly; I'd have stayed with him had he allowed me to fire the secretary, but he wouldn't. And he was the majority shareholder, with 51%. I said, "I was the one running this business, doing the billing. How did you get in charge?" And it was because he had 51%. It was rough.
But that was the "advice" that got me through the thick and thin, mostly because it slammed me in my gut, and I didn't want to let him have the satisfaction of seeing me go down. That's what I always leaned on when things were bad. I'd be like, "Damn, I'm not gonna let him see me [like this]." And he probably didn't care at that point. He had three kids with his new wife.
BI: What are some other insights or experiences that were critical to your approach to business?
BC: I saw a lot of examples of what not to do. I worked for a very short stint for two people in the real-estate business, the Giffuni brothers, who were two elderly men who owned lots of properties in New York, and I was their receptionist. They were both extremely warm and loving toward their staff, so I felt very much at home and I didn't want to ever leave them. I did, obviously, to start my own business. So they were very influential in a good way.
I needed to get a sales license, so I had to work for someone before I could open a firm. I worked for another guy who will remain nameless, but he was a bastard. Everybody hated him, but he owned the biggest rental company in New York that eventually went under. He took your spirit away.
It was my job to rent apartments in a specific building on 87th and 2nd, and I sat there all day and people would come in and I'd rent them an apartment. I rented five apartments in one week, and people couldn't believe I managed that because it was a hard-to-rent building by reputation. And he came in and he asked to see my sales sheet. And he looked down the sales sheet and I was aglow — I was like 21 years old and I was so happy — and he dropped the sheet on the table and he goes, "I say you're just a piss in the bucket." I was devastated. Like my world crumbled.
But you want to know something? In hindsight now, being an adult and looking back, that's probably how he motivated people, by insulting them. That also worked for me with Ramone Simone.
So I think you learn more by how not to do things. I never had a star model to mimic, other than my mother.
BI: Something I found interesting on "Shark Tank" is the moment you got angry with the entrepreneurs who were the sons of the guy who founded Game Stop …
BC: Rich kids.
BI: You made a comment about never investing in rich kids. Were you caught up in the heat of the moment, or do you always look down on privilege?
BC: It's not that I look down on it. It's harder for a kid with privilege and successful parents, it's harder for them to succeed if they're going to be in business for themselves. I'm not talking about in corporate America or investment banking — all those connections play to your advantage, I think, along with education.
But what I do believe, and I truly do believe it, is that if you're a rich kid and come from a family of privilege, it's so much harder to succeed in your own business because you're missing the most valuable card, which is called "need." You don't need to succeed. And so all your landings have been softened for you your whole life.
The best way to think of a solution in business when you're slammed up against a wall is to try to think of five different solutions to get around it and keep going. But when you know that you have a trust fund, you know that you can always fall back on your parents, and you know that you can get additional funds, you get cheated out of thinking of those spur of the moment, very needy ideas that get you through.
So I do not invest in businesses owned by rich kids. I just don't do it because I can't get the taste of them. I can't take a bite out of the entrepreneur and feel a tremendous pressure, and so I can't identify with that. I like to work with people that I feel I can really align myself with, and I get them and they get me. There's a great magic that happens there that you can't fake.
BI: So the main thing you're looking for in an entrepreneur is that need for success?
BC: Yes. And I another thing I must say I'm biased against is a well-educated entrepreneur. I'm going to tell you something: Everything in the education system encourages left-brain thinking, and the better the school (not always) and the better the privilege, where the crowd you're hanging with is made of very affluent kids …
BI: Are you talking about MBAs?
BC: I'm talking about even undergraduates at really fancy undergraduate schools. I love the brainpower. You could see that the kid is so smart. But that generally doesn't bring with it street smarts. I really want those kind of smarts. The kind on the street. Those are the ones that win in business.
BI: What is it like often being the only woman among the "Shark Tank" investors for an episode, or at least just one of two? Does that affect the dynamic?
BC: Well, it's better having two women on the set, definitely. Because I was the only woman on the set for three years.
It's much better having another female in one way because we have a camaraderie and can gang up against the guys, which we don't often do, surprisingly. I don't know why we don't. I'm going to try to do that next season the best I can. It'd be good for the show!
What is interesting to me is that I'm very comfortable with men. I really am. I have no issue with it. I could usually manipulate a man much more easily than I could a woman, because they're more vulnerable to manipulation from a female. They're not expecting it.
I was in a man's world. Even though you think of brokerage as a female business, it's worked by women but owned by men. So everybody in my ballpark that I competed with, it was in a business owned by men and usually second or third generation. So I'm used to that. You can stick me with a bunch of men and I'm my best. If you stick me with women and I have to switch off from female topics to business, I'm not as fluid. I'm not used to it.
I also had four brothers, which helped, and I was older than all of them, so I pushed them around from the beginning. And so that was second nature to me, you know? [laughs]
The one downside from having another female on the set? I had a great advantage as a lone female shark, which was I got a lot of the consumer products that the men just didn't understand. They didn't shop for food; they didn't buy clothes for the girls. I'd say about 40% of what comes on "Shark Tank" is understood better by a female than a male. And so that was my little secret sauce, you know?
But now, of course, Lori [Greiner] has got a female and a very bright perspective, which is unlucky for me! I lost a little of my edge. [laughs]
BI: Of the investors, is there one you most prefer working with? In a recent interview, Mark Cuban said he most preferred working with you.
BC: It's mutual. You know why? Because he's buttoned-up, he does the due diligence fast, he closes the deals, he's smart — not to take anything away from the other sharks, who are smart in different ways — but he's particularly smart in more ways, I think.
I'm smart in certain ways, but I know all the stuff I'm not good at. He seems to be smart across the board. And so, my odds of winning with Mark are better. More importantly, I like efficiency. So if a deal's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. Boom. Done. And he's cut from the same cloth. Whereas the other sharks, I think they take a lot more time and are more thoughtful, more cautious in their deal making.
BI: In this season, was there a moment that got particularly heated or emotional that you can take us behind the scenes of?
BC: There's this one coming up where two women ball their eyes out. I thought they were gonna take a stretcher and haul them off. And they cried so much, I thought for sure it wouldn't air, and it is airing.
I'm like, geez, how did they edit that one down? I hope they took their 30 minutes of tears and cut it down to like a 10-second clip! But I don't know how they're going to do that, because even in their pitch, they're weeping.
Ay, ay, ay! If they weren't going to be taken out of there, I was going to be taken out. And I bought them. Not because of the tears, but I had to listen between the tears to really get what the heck they were talking about.
So there you have it: weeping women. Not my favorite, but this will hold the record for the most weeping women in an episode. [laughs] I still can't believe I closed on that.
BI: Do you think you got wrapped up in emotion with that deal?
BC: Never. It's a great business and I'm very happy. They're solid entrepreneurs.
Usually when anybody starts crying, female or male (and I've seen more men cry on that set, by the way), I would have to say that turns me off totally. I get a little embarrassed for people.
How I got over that one, I don't know. I'm going to have to see the episode and tell you after the fact why I went forward! [laughs] It doesn't sound like my style at all.
Corcoran with Pipsnacks founders (and siblings) Jeff and Jen Martin:
BI: Do you have a favorite deal you've made on "Shark Tank"?
BC: Oh, definitely. Already I can tell you it's Pipsnacks. They're two kids out of Brooklyn, a sister and brother. They're terrific. They're both in their own right phenomenal entrepreneurs. And they're together! Do you know how exciting it is to get two for the price of one? Usually you have a winning entrepreneur and a sidekick who's a quanter [numbers person]. Or you get the quanter running the show and the sidekick has to be pushed up above them, and that's tricky business. I've had to do that. When you have two rock-solid entrepreneurs, each with talents that are also complementary to one another, that's the trifecta, three for two.
BI: What do you think was the best pitch on the show?
BC: The best pitch that always comes to mind is Cousins Maine Lobster. Those two guys, again, are two phenomenal entrepreneurs. They're like Pipsnacks.
I love getting two phenomenal entrepreneurs at once. They don't come up so often, but when I see them it's like I'm drooling, but I keep my mouth shut so I'm not dribbling all over myself.
But the best pitch to date, even through this season, was clearly Cousins Maine Lobster. Because they were clear, they were good-looking (you couldn't take your eyes off them), they were high energy, and they answered every question and objection like geniuses. Genuine, rock solid, and perfect answers.
I remember thinking to myself, "My God, these guys are amazing!" And you know why they answered everything so well? They were smart enough before they came on "Shark Tank"— I haven't seen it before and I haven't seen it since — they watched all four seasons of "Shark Tank" before they came on. They role-played. They worked on every objection any shark had ever asked an entrepreneur. Reams of paper. And they practiced the answers.
You want to know the one question that none of us thought to ask when they were on that set? It was "How long have you been in business?" All they said was, "Sales this month are the highest ever," and nobody asked, "Of how many months, or years?" And we always ask that. But they were so buttoned-up that none of us thought to ask that.
It wasn't until I did my due diligence that I found it was just three months. But that's how solid they were. I thought they were seasoned businessmen.
BI: What about the worst pitch?
BC: Oh, there are so many different ones, who do I pick? Very often the worst pitch is the most interesting, also, I have to tell you. Because you can't believe this person's doing this.
Of course, there's the guy with the Bluetooth device that you surgically put down your ear canal. And then if it runs out of battery, you have to surgically remove it and change the battery. He was an engineer, dead serious — tight lips like a military guy. That was the worst pitch. I think if you ask the other sharks, they would agree.
But then you have the wacky dentist whose toothpaste put you to sleep at night, the chubby lady who said her lipstick makes you lose weight … I mean, the claims we hear on there, they're laughable.
Or maybe this one rivals the Bluetooth engineer — a Rhodes scholar, his thing, and he had charts and film to prove it, he would turn seawater into pure gold. Would you believe that? He was at least friendly. He wasn't as scary as the Bluetooth guy. He smiled a little. But crazy things. They keep it interesting.
BI: What are you working on now? How do you balance it all?
BC: Well, my real-estate investments I stopped making probably seven years ago, believe it or not. I always bought properties, four- to six-unit buildings that were up and coming. And that's the investing that I had done over the years. And then in New York you start to look like a genius because they all accrued so much value.
But I haven't done that. I have no time. I thought ["Shark Tank"] was a side gig, but it's not. It's a full-time gig. Because it's not just the shooting schedule of the actual episodes, you then have the updates, and then we're flying around for the [coming spinoff].
How do I balance putting my eye and nose on what's important and dropping the rest with my entrepreneurs? I have such a simple system.
I close on the corral of business that I do for the season — this season I closed on five deals. I'm like a bunny rabbit with each entrepreneur for Skype calls, or in person if they're within shooting range. I help them with everything they do, I make to-do lists, I make sure the follow-through is there. I do that probably four months straight.
And then I decide who the winners are.
After I sign a deal, I have everybody send me a photo of themselves. I frame it and I put it on my wall. After that four-month period — it used to be six months, now it's four, and I think I'll make it shorter — the minute I realize they're not a great entrepreneur, I flip the frame over. I keep the frame on the wall, but this way every time I look up, it's my symbol: Don't spend any time on this. I put all my focus on my good ones.
Because each season you pick up more and more and more. You can only really put your efforts into your winning horses, your best bets.
BI: How many businesses are you invested in now?
BC: You know, I'd have to count the photos to be exact, but I'd say about 26 or so. But ask me how many are right side up on my wall. That's the key question. I'm actually looking at the wall. Let me see. Yeah, there are exactly nine. Nine are up right now, and I'm sure I'll flip a couple over in the next couple months and be back to seven. [laughs]