Getting a new business going is a fishing trip through shark-infested waters. But if you can see the world as a shark sees it, you up your chances of making it to higher ground, and ultimate victory.
There’s one step that any competent marketing person or entrepreneur does as second nature but if inadvertently omitted or abbreviated can produce negative results.
L. Ron Hubbard discussed this simple yet essential point in his article of 18 October 1979, “VIEWPOINT”:
“A person is quite capable of momentarily shifting his identity to another identity and getting an idea of the impressions or ideas that will occur to the identity shifted to.”
This applies to all forms of presentation, including pitching your idea to investors.
On ABC’s Shark Tank, entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of celebrity investors in hopes of acquiring capital and partnership in a new business or product launch.
The “sharks” include FUBU (“For Us, By Us”) clothing founder and CEO, Daymond John; the “Queen of QVC” (Quality, Value, Convenience) network, Lori Greiner; and billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban.1
From the cringeworthy to the downright brilliant, Shark Tank contains excellent insights into the spectrum of VIEWPOINT.
The following Shark Tank pitches got NO DEAL, for different reasons, both related to VIEWPOINT:
One pitch involved an object called the NoPhone, a piece of plastic resembling a phone “designed” to curb people’s addiction to their cell phones. The problem, besides the dubious value of NoPhone, was that it wasn’t clear if NoPhone was satire or serious. NoPhone = No Deal.2
One entrepreneur CEO presented TEC (Technology Enabled Clothing), wearables that inconspicuously carry your smartphone and gadgets. The pitch was going well; TEC (aka SCOTTeVEST) had made $5 million in sales and its CEO was interested in licensing and distribution. But the exchange devolved into a spat between Cuban and the CEO (a former lawyer) about patents, and he walked out with no deal and some dubious publicity.2
These Shark Tank pitches sealed their deals:
An 18-year-old entrepreneur, Lani Lazarri, presented her line of skincare products, Simple Sugars. She gave a lucid presentation with a clear-cut business plan and quickly answered questions with numerical facts. She secured a deal with Cuban, and Simple Sugars has since made $6 million in sales.3, 4
Scrub Daddy CEO, Aaron Krause, did what amounted to a live infomercial for his unique scrubbing pads. Krause had demand for his product and knew his business model and projections inside out. A bidding battle ensued and he secured a deal with Lori Greiner. Scrub Daddy has gone on to make $50 million in sales.3, 5
In an interview with Forbes, one of the sharks, Kevin O’Leary, aka “Mr. Wonderful,” known for his abrasive approach, in addition to lamenting not getting Scrub Daddy, described the three components to a successful pitch:
1) In 100 percent of cases an entrepreneur can articulate their idea in 90 seconds or less. 2) The team can articulate why they’re the right people to execute the business plan. 3) The entrepreneurs know their numbers inside out.6
The first point Mr. Wonderful makes is of course your “elevator pitch”—the one-minute pitch you can give during an elevator ride. This pitch should be concise, clear, compelling and irrefutable.
The short-form pitch (which is given on Shark Tank) is 5–10 minutes and encapsulates the problem, your solution, the team, your plan, market, competition, financial highlights and your goals.
The long-form pitch, 20 minutes or less, follows the same rules but is more detailed. Any pitch to angel investors or venture capitalists should focus on objective, rather than subjective, statements.7
How does one get into someone else’s head? How do you know what other people are thinking and how they will react?
Mr. Hubbard devised a simple drill for marketing people and entrepreneurs alike:
“One can practice this. Just walk around for an hour or two being Joe the ad copywriter and think what he would think and do what he would do.
“And then open some magazines or walk through some stores and, for a couple of hours, just be a middle-class public and think all the things about everything that is seen that that public would think and see.”
He goes on to describe doing the same drill as a “bum” and “Mr. Gotbucks” and so on, seeing what others see and thinking what they think.
“One can keep up such actions until one actually can do it in the flash of a second.”
“It gives one a brand-new world. In fact, one can have a lot of new worlds—one for every public he assumes the viewpoint of.”
“The ability to do this is quite valuable.
“In fact, it is the difference between success and failure in marketing.”
Here’s to howling success in a sea of sharks!
- “About Shark Tank.” http://abc.go.com/. ABC Studios, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2016.
- Feloni, Richard. “The 18 Worst ‘Shark Tank’ Pitches Ever.” com. Business Insider, 23 Sept. 2016. Web. 30 Dec. 2016.
- Feloni, Richard. “The 18 Best ‘Shark Tank’ Pitches of All Time.” com. Business Insider, 17 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Dec. 2016.
- Levitt, Shelley. “How Simple Sugars Survived the ‘Shark Tank.’” com. SUCCESS Magazine, 7 Jan. 2016. Web. 30 Dec. 2016.
- Feloni, Richard. “How a Sponge Company Became the Biggest ‘Shark Tank’ Success Story, with over $50 Million in Sales.” com. Business Insider, 17 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Dec. 2016.
- Schaefer, Steve. “Why Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary Is Betting on Women This Season.” com. Forbes Media, 25 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 Dec. 2016.
- Wise, Dr. Sean. “3 Investor Pitches Every Startup Founder Must Master.” The Huffington Post.com, 25 Jun. 2015. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.
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