Want to learn how to get on Shark Tank? So does everyone else and their mom. In fact, over 45,000 people apply to be on the show every year and only 0.5% of those companies ever get picked.
So yea, it’s anything but easy…
However, it is worth it.
If you land a deal, not only do you get the funding, experience, and network you need to scale your business, but also the massive spike in real world sales. Heck, even if you end up getting called a fraud by Mark Cuban or cussed out the room by Mr. Wonderful, you’ll still probably see a spike in your sales anyway from the exposure alone.
Of course, don’t go in there thinking you can pull a fast one. You’ll get wrecked.
Neither is anything guaranteed if you do make it.
But if you’re a real entrepreneur with a real product that solves a real problem, especially in a category like cosmetics or luxury brands, then you’re a right fit. So with all of that said, let’s talk about how to get on America’s most popular reality-based business show.
1. Decide How You Want To Apply
There are two ways to apply to Shark Tank.
The first option is to apply online. In this application, you’re just filling out a few questions about yourself and your business. It’s a fairly simple application that should just take you a few minutes to complete. This is the easiest option of the two.
The second option is to attend an open call. This typically involves an in-person pitch where you’ll typically have to travel to unless you already happen to live in the same area the open call is being held in. These locations change every year, so make sure to check where they’re being hosted when you apply.
To maximize your chances of getting picked, go for the open call.
Now, regardless of which route you choose, if you do get picked by the producers, you’ll need to fill out a 17-page handwritten application.
This application covers everything from your business to the rights of your audition video. So use this as an opportunity to really stand out. Be super specific, give lots of detail, and create a story that was born to be told on TV.
2. The Secret To Getting Picked Without Applying
Like most things in business, you can either reach out and take what you want or you can sit back and attract your opportunities towards you.
Now, while applying is the most reliable way to appear on the show, you can also just be directly invited by Shark Tank producers without applying. Of course, only a few companies every season get picked this way, but it does happen.
So how does it work?
Shark Tank casting producers are actually always checking out what new companies are being launched on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. They also monitor trade shows as well. They’re even Etsy sellers who appear on the show. So if you’re lucky, you can actually end up with an offer from a producer to appear on the show.
Of course, this is not a direct “skip the line” deal.
This just means you can skip the initial application process.
Now comes the hard stuff.
3. Blow Them Out With Your Audition Video
Once you’re done applying, you have to wait to be called. Do not pass go until you’ve been called. But once it happens, you’re onto the next step. And in this step, you’ll do multiple things like phone interviews with the producer.
Most importantly though, you’ll need to submit an audition video.
This video is what will primarily decide whether you get on the show or not.
The key here is to remember that the producer’s primary job isn’t to help you land a deal with a shark. It’s to deliver quality television content.
This means a show that is interesting, inspiring, unpredictable, emotional, and maybe even a little tragic. Basically, anything but boring. It also means you need to have a decent enough “presence” in front of the camera. Of course, no one expects you to be a trained actor, but you should try to be as professional as you can to give yourself the best possible shot.
This means the best thing to do is go all in with your video.
In fact, it’s highly recommended that even spend some money to make the quality of your video as great as possible. For example, you can buy a DSLR, grab a mic, write out a killer pitch, use props, and even hire a professional videographer who can edit.
So if you started a super nerdy supplement brand, make it exciting!
You want to make it as easy as possible for producers to imagine you on the show as a successful and entertaining contestant. So make your video to reflect that.
4. Prepare For The Real Show
You just heard from the producers. They liked your audition and officially want you on the show. Congratz! Now it’s time to get ready for the real thing.
There are 3 main things you want to worry about here…
Your business financials
Every Shark’s preferences
Your Shark Tank pitch
Shark Tank is famous for the probing questions every Shark asks every entrepreneur, such as questions about your business model. Mess this part up and you’ll have little to no chance of landing a deal. Not to mention the potential bad PR it can bring since it’ll probably be highlighted once the episode airs. So to make sure you get this part right, hire a CPA and memorize the crap out of your numbers.
You need to know all of your numbers inside and out.
Remember, you’ll be asked more numbers than what you just see on the show. So you can’t just go with what you see people usually get asked when they’re on. What you see is only a fraction of what actually gets asked.
Next, you need to really understand who you’ll be pitching too. This means knowing exactly what makes Lori Greiner, Daymond John, and the other Sharks fall in love with certain entrepreneurs. You also have to understand exactly what they don’t like so you can avoid any huge mistakes.
To overcome this hurdle, you’re going to want to watch a lot of Shark Tank episodes and really track every Shark’s negotiating patterns. To use a sports analogy, think how athletes will watch tape of their opponents to analyze every action and pattern they make. By the end, they have the data they need to not only make a plan to beat the other team, but also have specific plans to beat specific key players. This is the same process you want to copy.
You also want to do any additional research you can outside of the show.
This way, you can come up with a plan to woo every Shark.
Last, but not least, your pitch.
For obvious reasons, this will be the most important part of your preparation. So treat it that way. This includes preparing for a 60 minute pitch, which is the actual amount of time you’ll be presenting and answering questions. Like your original video audition, you want to be exciting, informative, and persuasive. It’s also extremely important to be proactive when it comes to objections. You need to have great answers for every possible question, while also even including some of the most important objections in your pitch to get ahead of their worries.
5. Landing A Deal With A Shark
You’re now in the big leagues!
Here is where all of your hard work bears fruit. If you impress the Sharks with your numbers, business model, presentation skills, and overall pitch, you might actually get a few offers. There are no guarantees here though, so whatever happens, happens. But there are a few things to understand that may help.
The first is to remember that the entire presentation, from the pitch to the deal, will last about 60 minutes. However, most of what happens will not be aired. So if you want to not just land a deal, but get the PR that can double the size of your business overnight, you need to make everything entertaining.
This means showing your personality.
This means having a great hook that grabs their attention.
This means getting great reactions from the Sharks themselves.
In other words, if makes for good TV, you’ll maximize your chances of getting the great press just from being on the show in first place, regardless of how large or small the deal you get. So your storytelling matters.
However, there’s one thing to remember…it’s still a business meeting.
So don’t be ridiculous with your asks, nothing is really guaranteed even if you accept a deal on air, and if you give up part of your company to a Shark, don’t play it off as a joke because it’s as real as it gets.
Besides that, best of luck!
After the show, you’ll be notified 2 weeks before your episode goes live on air. So use this time to take advantage of being on America’s favorite business reality show.