We Fact-Checked Seven Seasons Of Shark Tank Deals. Here Are The Results.
On Shark Tank, the deal you make on camera often isn’t the deal you end up getting — if it happens at all.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
The hit ABC show that gives entrepreneurs a chance to pitch celebrity investors depicts some business owners walking away with life-changing deals. But more often than not, those hand-shake agreements change or fall apart after taping.
FORBES found that 319 businesses accepted deals on-air in the first seven seasons of Shark Tank. We spoke to 237 of those business owners and discovered 72% did not get the exact deal they made on TV. But tweaked terms or dead deals don’t necessarily spell doom for a business; for many contestants we spoke to, the publicity of appearing on the show ended up being worth more than the deal.
Shark Tank New Dat: Nick DeSantis, Forbes staff
About 43% of the people we spoke with said their deals didn’t come to fruition after the show. They attributed this to sharks pulling out of the agreement or changing the terms to ones that didn’t work for them. Others canceled deals after getting term sheets that included unappealing clauses. And occasionally the deals ended amicably.
Another 29% of the people FORBES interviewed said the equity and investment amount offered on-air changed after taping — but they chose to take the deal anyway. They said that the changes often occur during negotiations or in due diligence, an investigation into a person or business before signing a contract.
Although our analysis was not exhaustive (FORBES was able to interview 74% of contestants who got deals on camera), the numbers suggest that some investors are less likely to change their deals after the cameras stop rolling. Mark Cuban, who by our count closes more deals than any other shark, changed the agreements he made on-air change only 12% of the time.
Design: Nick DeSantis, Forbes staff
ABC is transparent about the due diligence process and isn’t accountable for how deals pan out during negotiations. ABC did not return requests for comment by time of publishing.
We contacted as many of the 319 businesses as possible, but some refused to share how and if their deals evolved, and others simply did not respond. While the results aren’t comprehensive, this is the most complete record of how often deals change after taping and why that occurs.
The goal of entrepreneurs going on Shark Tank is to make a deal and see it close. But if it falls apart, it’s not always a tragedy. About 87% of the businesses we spoke to that didn’t get deals are still operating. The remainder have shuttered, were acquired or sold.
Matt Canepa and Pat Pezet appeared on season four of Shark Tank to pitch their company Grinds, which sells chewable coffee pouches. They agreed to give Daymond John and Robert Herjavec 15% equity for $75,000. However, the deal died in negotiations.
“Pat and I went on the show 100% wanting to get a deal,” Canepa said. “Regardless of whether or not you get the deal, there are a lot of success stories.”Design: Holly Warfield, Forbes staff
In 2012, before their episode aired, Grinds made about $300,000 in sales. The month their segment premiered, the company saw $330,000 in sales.
Grinds brought in $1.35 million the year their episode aired, and have watched that number rise. This year, they are expecting do over $4 million.
Grinds isn’t alone. Nicholas and Alessia Galekovic, cofounders of the grooming accessories company Beard King, made an agreement with Lori Greiner during season seven last year. But around the time they filmed their episode, business took off, and the deal no longer met the needs of the company.
Design: Holly Warfield, Forbes staff
The agreement broke down in negotiations. But in the year after the episode aired, the company did around $700,000 in sales. This year, they are expecting over $1.6 million.
“I think that [Shark Tank is] absolutely amazing,” Nicholas said. “For anyone considering trying out or going for it: It’s well worth it.”
You have, what you think, is a fantastic idea that will make millions and be perfect for Shark Tank but you don’t know what to do or where to start. Here is a list of the first things to do:
After starting the process, you will see that there is a lot to do before you spend money on a patent or on prototypes. There is help available and it will take time. Just Keep Inventing Daily!
We just wrapped up our Deal Flow Summit in NYC and it got me thinking about how pitches go wrong. Here are 7 ways to bomb a pitch:
1) Dear Sir/Madam: If I read Dear Sir/Madam or similar generic greetings, it’s an instant-archive. It’s not because I think so much of myself that I need you to spell my name right but I do need you to address it to me. Dear Sir/Madam is the clearest possible signal you could send that you are blasting your pitch to anyone and everyone.
2) Buy Now! and other used-car tricks: investing in or acquiring a business is a serious, long-term investment decision. Pressure tactics and hard sells are not only inappropriate, they’re often counter-productive. Respect the process and don’t pressure the investor the way a used-car salesman would.
3) Fail to follow-up: You can make the best pitch of your life and have the investor on the edge of his/her seat, but if you don’t follow up it could all be for naught. Remember that your pitch settles in somewhere between the other 20 meetings, phone calls, and pitches that a busy executive will have any given day.
4) Cheap Out on Presentation: It is inexcusable today to have a cut-rate presentation. Whether you’re using PowerPoint or Indesign or a top-end software, make sure that you take the time to edit your presentation and make it look professional. Send it around to friends and family. An executive that we’re partnered with recently sent his presentation to his mother for review and guess what? She caught more mistakes than I or anyone else who reviewed it did. Lesson: it only costs you time to edit your presentation and it can cost you millions to skip this step.
5) Talk about everything but the main event: You’re meeting with the prospect to talk about your company or deal and you want to build rapport so you talk about your kids, what sports you both enjoy, and every other topic of conversation EXCEPT what you’re both there to discuss. I don’t know how many meetings I’ve thoroughly enjoyed but left without any idea what the company did, what they were seeking, or how I could participate. When you’re meeting with a busy executive you’re working in a set time window and if you spend 50% or more of your time building rapport, you don’t get any extra time or brownie points for knowing that he likes fishing or has a cousin who lives in your hometown.
6) Forget the financials: When I’m meeting with a potential acquisition target or a company seeking funding, I’m zeroing in on the financials. Too often, I attend what I expect to be a formal, serious meeting to discuss a potential investment but the other party is ill-prepared to discuss the numbers. Not only is this a sign that you’re unprepared, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. I and a lot of other potential investors will likely reschedule the meeting for a time when you have the necessary details to have a real discussion. Some investors, though, won’t give you a second shot.
7) Meet with the wrong person: I recently scheduled a call to introduce a company we’re invested in with what would be a huge account. The team prepared for the meeting and when I jumped on the conference call we quickly learned that my contact wasn’t the decision-maker and was unfamiliar with the company’s sector. The lesson I took away is to make sure that the person you’re meeting with is A) qualified to make the decision B) familiar enough with the sector and C) taking the meeting seriously. In my case, the person we were meeting with was a principal at the firm (meeting criteria A) but a friend and thus willing to take any meeting I set up (violating criteria C) and unfamiliar with the sector (violating criteria B).
I hope that these lessons I shared help you craft an amazing pitch.
The Private Equity Investment Group
Key Biscayne, FL