How To Get On Shark Tank

How To Get On Shark Tank: Application Process

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur and you have a business idea that you wish to bring before the investors at Shark Tank, you may be wondering “How do I even get there in the first place?” If that’s you, you’ll find this guide helpful. Shark Tank has grown to become a hit TV show synonymous with entrepreneurial dreams and investment opportunities. It acts as a Launchpad for aspiring entrepreneurs to turn their dreams into reality.

In this article, we’ll share with you helpful info to your burning question: How do you get on Shark Tank? We’ll take you through the necessary steps on how to apply for Shark Tank and tips to increase your chances of getting a deal for your startup. We’ll also discuss helpful tips on how to make your presentation stand out and what to do in case you don’t secure a deal with the investors.

How to get on Shark Tank:

How to get on Shark Tank

In this section, we’ll discuss a beginner-friendly step-by-step process on how to get on Shark Tank for those who have never done it before:

Understand Shark Tank eligibility requirements

Just like any other reality show, there is a set of Shark Tank requirements for anyone who wishes to join the show. Therefore, it’s important to understand these requirements and ensure you meet them.

Understand Shark Tank Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for Shark Tank application:

1. You must be a US citizen or legal resident of the US

For you to be considered for Shark Tank USA, you must be a US citizen or have been granted permanent residency.

But don’t get it wrong; you don’t have to live in the US to become eligible for the show.

However, you need to have been granted permanent residency or citizenship even if you live outside the country.

2. Have your parent/guardian fill out your form (if you’re under 18)

As you already know, the average consent age in the US is 18 for most states. This age rule is also followed when it comes to limiting who can be allowed on the Shark Tank.

But children usually appear on the show, right? So how do they get featured?

If you’re below this age, you’ll need to have your parents or guardian sign the application papers given to you by the producers.

3. Meet the criminal record and a set of other requirements set by the show

All the convicted felons are not allowed on the show. In case you have any pending felony or misdemeanor charges, your application won’t go through.

You or any of your immediate family members must not be employees of any of the companies involved in the show production, including Finmax LLC, Sony Picture Television Inc., etc.

You should also not be a candidate for any public office for you to be eligible.

You must also agree not to run for any public office until a year is over following the initial broadcasting of the last episode you’re featured in.

4. Have a patent for your business

While this may not be a requirement for the show, the sharks are fond of asking about patents to entrepreneurs who present their innovative businesses.

Therefore, we advise you to have a patent or at least have a pending due to legal reasons.

Moreover, having a patent is a good idea to help you eliminate any knock-offs that may arise following public exposure.

Imagine getting your idea rejected by the sharks and then having it ripped off by someone out there. That would hurt!

Patent application submission requires a fee of about $200 to $500 on average.

If you go with the option of hiring an attorney to help with the application, then you’ll need to spend another $5,000 to $10,000.

The application process

Now that you know what’s required for you to join Shark Tank, let’s get into details on how to make an application.

The application process is your ticket to the show, so you need to ensure you do it the right way for your submission to stand out.

Shark Tank Application Process

There are several options when it comes to Shark Tank apply:

  • Apply online
  • Attend an open call.
  • Accept an invite to the show auditions

Let’s discuss how each method works:

Applying online

This method involves filling out a one-page preliminary application form on ABC’s official website. It’s probably the easiest way to apply for Shark Tank.

You simply fill in the blank by following the included instructions and then click submit.

If the producers review your application and wish to pursue your application, they’ll contact you and you’ll need to fill out a 17-page Initial Application Packet.

This packet usually includes your short application, submitted materials release, and audition release. We advise you to read it carefully and fill it out fully (try to be as honest and legible as possible).

Keep in mind that your application will be read by someone who knows nothing about you or your business, so it’s important to provide as much detailed info as possible.

Have someone go through your application to ensure it’s easy to read and understand.

The casting producers just won’t waste their time trying to go through your application if it’s difficult for them to read/understand.

Also, you should keep in mind that the producers will be more impressed with compelling stories when going through the applications.

Therefore, look for opportunities to help your application stand out. Include appropriate info about yourself to make the producers want to meet you and know about you.

For instance, you may consider pointing out the unusual, amusing, or altruistic way you came up with your business idea or the challenges you’ve overcome.

Attending an open call

This method involves attending a live casting call. Shark Tank usually accepts applications all year round.

As such, there are chances that your application can get lost in the shuffle as the staff tries to finalize the contestants and film the episodes.

This makes the open call a more viable option for you to get to the show compared to online Shark Tank submission.

The show schedules its open calls in at least 5 cities around the country, though the location tends to change from year to year.

You can check the ABC website for more info about the location, date, time, and other important details.

Here are a few things to do before attending a live casting call:

Practice your pitch

You’ve got only one minute to present your pitch, so you want to make sure you give it your best shot. The best way to prepare for the open call is to practice your pitch over and over again.

DO it in front of your loved ones, then in front of your colleagues, and finally in front of strangers.

Before the open call day, be sure to fill out the initial Application Packet and take it with you to the auditions. Present it to one of the casting team members or to the producer interviewing you.

Be on time for the audition

When the day finally comes, be sure to get to the location on time for issuing the wristband. The casting crew usually hands out the wristbands from 9 to 11 a.m. You may want to check the schedules for more precise info.

Note that everyone who shows up gets a wristband, but that’s not a guarantee you’ll get an audition. People with low-numbered wristbands are more likely to get an audition.

Shark Tank Application

Once you get your band, all that’s remaining is to wait. During this time, you can go back to your car and practice some more, nap, meditate—do whatever feels good for you.

If you’re the social type, you can also get to interact with the other entrepreneurs.

How to present your pitch

Your wristband number is finally read and you carry yourself to the pitch booth. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for!

But remember you’ve got one minute, so how do you ensure you give the best one minute of your life?

Walk in enthusiastically, with your head up, shoulders rolled back, and with a big smile. Immediately you make an entrance, establish eye contact with the casting producer.

To help you win the heart of the producer, you want to keep in mind that he or she isn’t the shark.

How to present your pitch

They’ve got no interest in investing in your business and probably care less about your revenue and numbers. Besides, you’ve already provided all this info in your application.

They’re simply casting for a reality TV show, so they’re looking for great products in addition to exciting and interesting personalities.

So, focus half of your pitch on your business, and the other half on the great of a person you are.

Make it easy for the producer to see that you’re passionate about your business and you can easily withstand the withering comments from sharks without getting ugly about it.

And try to be as authentic as you possibly can!

Once you’re done with your pitch, the producer will have a few questions for you and you’re done.

You may consider leaving something behind for the producer to remember you, e.g. a sample of your product if possible. You never know, this might work wonders for you!

Getting an audition invitation from Shark Tank

If you’re a budding entrepreneur with a brilliant idea, the Shark Tank may send you an invitation to audition for their show.

The casting crew usually scout crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter and trade shows for entrepreneurs or new companies to recruit.

If you’re one of these lucky entrepreneurs, you’ll get a phone call from the casting producers to send in a video pitch or appear in person for the audition.

Getting an audition invitation from Shark Tank

But unlike what most people may think, getting a direct invitation doesn’t place you at a better chance of being featured on Shark Tank compared to the other applicants.

You’ll still have to undergo the rigorous selection process (more details coming up later in the post) just like the other applicants.

After the auditions, what’s next?

After you’re done with the auditions, you’ll need to wait for a phone call from the casting crew if you’re among the lucky entrepreneurs who got picked.

However, it doesn’t end there as you’ll continue with the selection process.

In case you haven’t been picked, then you may receive an email or letter, or you may never hear from them again.

After receiving the phone call, you’ll then receive materials (usually the application forms) in your mail.

You’ll need to fill out these forms and send them back as per the instructions.

Time for background checks

Now, the producers will be occupied as they do due diligence, run background checks, search your product to see if it’s indeed new, run patent checks, etc.

They may also want to check your website, so you want to make sure it has a professional appearance, is easy to navigate, and is a true reflection of your business.

Their ultimate goal here is to confirm that what you told them is indeed true. This is crucial to ensure they don’t mislead the sharks or the show viewers.

Expect a phone interview

Several weeks after receiving the confirmation letter, the casting producer may conduct a phone interview with you.

They may ask for more details regarding your business, including what inspired you to start it, your general background, what you have to make your business work and any other noteworthy experiences.

If you have reached this point, it’s safe to say you’re a semi-finalist and your chances of getting featured on the show are pretty good!

Expect regular interactions with the producers

Throughout the waiting process, you may find yourself interacting with several producers (of course via phone calls).

This is a continued process that helps weed out any entrepreneurs or businesses that don’t fit the Shark Tank show.

We advise you to take things easy during this rigorous process and keep in mind that the producers are just normal human beings like you. Try relating them on that level.

You may also have common interests or be easy to talk with. In this case, you’ll develop a “bond” with them and they’re less likely to cut out someone they feel they know.

Submit an audition video

As time goes by, the producers may request you to submit an audition video. The video producer will guide you on what’s expected of the video.

You can then submit it to them via email or any other suitable method.

Make a short (5 to 10 minutes) pitch video for your product or service and try to be as professional as possible.

Think of the video as your final ticket to the show; the better it is, the higher your chances of being booked to enter the tank!

Be sure to include important details like how great and unique your product is, why it deserves funding from the sharks, any financial info reflecting on your business, how you’ll give back, etc.

Other interesting details to consider include a personal story that makes you stand out.

The final call!

If all goes well, you’ll eventually receive a call to inform you that you’re going to Shark Tank. This would be quite a relief after the long Shark Tank application process. You deserve to celebrate!

When you get this call, it means you still have a few months to prepare, and we advise you to start doing it right away.

However, if you don’t get selected, you shouldn’t be discouraged as this isn’t the end for you and your idea.

In fact, you did a great job coming all the way to this point. Think of all the other applicants who were cut out at the first step of the application. Just don’t give up.

You might even want to give it another trial. You may be surprised to find out that some entrepreneurs try up to 4 times before they finally get their moment on the Shark Tank!

Tips for a successful Shark Tank appearance

Assuming that you were accepted, you’ll need to start acting like your life depends on it, because it actually does! Appearing on Shark Tank can be a life-changing opportunity and you need to grab it with both hands.

Tips for a successful Shark Tank appearance

Below, we offer you helpful tips to help you make the most of your time in the tank:

Tip #1: Prepare your pitch (and rehearse it!)

The first thing you should do is prepare your pitch and rehearse it. You may consider elaborating on the 1-minute pitch from your original audition.

This is what you’ll present when you get in the tank.

Though there’s no specified amount of time for tithing your idea, we advise you to keep it to about 2 minutes. This is crucial as you don’t want to drown for too long and let the sharks drift off.

Instead, you want to get their attention and make them feel interested in you and your idea.

In your brief pitch, consider giving a brief info about your business, your business, what inspired you to come up with the idea, and how your business is doing currently.

If (and only if), you can naturally add humor to it, then go for it! It works all the time. Film yourself doing the presentation, if possible.

Tip #2: Listen to your assigned producer

Once you qualify for the show, you’ll get a producer to guide you with preparations for the remaining period of time.

The producer is quite experienced with the ins and outs of the show, so you’d want to pay attention to them and take note of their feedback.

They will provide you with a set of questions the sharks are likely to ask you and you want to ensure you’re well equipped with answers to all of them.

View your product as your go-to person for all questions and concerns regarding Shark Tank.

Tip #3: Forget about trying to hoodwink the sharks

You may think that the sharks can be easily tricked into liking you and your idea by using big words, complicated tech explanations, or insider jargon.

But tell you what—it won’t work! In fact, it may be the easiest route for you to walk out with a deal. The sharks are as savvy as they come.  Don’t try to impress anyone.

Keep in mind that the sharks and the millions of average folks watching you only want to hear straightforward info from you.

They want to know who you are, what your business is all about, its current status, how much funding you seek, and the equity you give in exchange.

Tip #4: Get your numbers right!

Another tip to draw your chances of walking out with a good deal is knowing your business numbers pretty well.

If necessary, hire a CPA to help you answer the financial questions about your business like a professional.

Make sure you know the numbers relating to the following:

  • Cost of your product or service
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Current Inventory
  • Profit margins
  • Projected annual sales
  • Gross sales to date (account for the last 3 years)
  • And your net profit for each of the 3 years

Even if you avoid the numbers part, rest assured the sharks will toss this question and if you have nothing to show, you may lose them all!

Tip #5: Don’t get too greedy

You may have it in your mind that you’re meeting the sharks who have really made it in life—think of the billionaire Mark Cuban, millionaire Kevin O’Leary, and others.

As such, it’s okay to ask them for any amount of funding you feel like.

But the truth is, if you ask for unrealistic amounts of funding, you may walk out of that room empty-handed.

Go through past episodes and you’ll hear them confront entrepreneurs whom they feel are asking for too much money.

A good instance is when you’re asking for funding amounting to $1,000,000 when your business has barely kicked off or is on a downward trend.

In this case, the sharks are highly likely to regretfully pass on your offering. The lesson here is to only ask for the amount of money you’re sure will help your business grow.

Tip #6: Be realistic with your offer

Just as you should be realistic with the amount of investment you seek, you should also be fair with the equity you’re willing to offer the sharks.

Think of how much value the sharks will bring to your business. This includes the funding, their expertise, staff, and their names and reputation.

When you think in terms of value, you’ll feel the need to reciprocate it with a reasonable offer.

Some entrepreneurs on the show tend to ask for high amounts of money in exchange for too little equity in their business.

It has been noted that most of these individuals are usually not interested in any offers. They just want free exposure/advertising for their business.

You don’t want to appear as if you’re one of them.

Tip #7: Go through Shark Tank’s past episodes

Go through the past episodes of Shark Tank to see how successful entrepreneurs do their thing.

Watch and study them from the time they walk in, make their pitch to their negotiation skills, choose which shark’s deal to work with, etc.

Also, be sure to study all the entrepreneurs who failed to sign up a deal with the sharks. What did they do wrong? Learn from their mistakes.

Above all, note any questions sharks commonly ask that the producer may have left out.

Tip #8: Get to know all the sharks well

Every episode of Shark Tank features up to 5 sharks. These can be from the main cast of 6 permanent hosts or there could be guest sharks from time to time.

You usually won’t know the sharks you’ll be presenting, so you need to ensure you know all of them in advance.

Have a few sharks in mind that you’d love to work with in case your main shark isn’t present.

Also, research all the sharks well in advance. Know their companies, the kind of investments they usually bite, etc.

This will help you figure out whose expertise and interests match your business idea.

You should also learn about their personal backgrounds. If you note any similarities between you and one of the sharks, you may want to include it in your presentation.

Tip #9: Research your market well

Having done complete market research on your target clientele can also make a good impression on the sharks.

Still at it, being able to explain other products similar to you can further add to your points on the show.

As they say, there’s nothing new under the sun, so you want to ensure you’re ready to explain to the investors why you think your product stands out from the rest.’

Additional tips to keep in mind:

You should also ensure you have a patent or pending patent for your business (we talked about this in the eligibility and requirements section).

You may be in the tank for 45 minutes to an hour or even an hour and a half. The entrepreneur with the longest stay in the tank was 2 ½ hours. And that was a good thing because the investors were quite interested in his business. If you get out in anything from half an hour and below, then you may have bungled it.

Make sure you’re ready for the show filming. The producers require you to set aside a potential period of 35 days for filming of the show in Los Angeles.

They’ll give you a 5-day notice for when you should be in the filming location, and you’ll be there for 5 days.

With this in mind, you need to ensure you clear your schedule so that nothing comes between you and the filming process.

The Dee-day: time to enter the tank!

After a looong wait, your day is finally here. The sharks are inside waiting to hear from you.

They only have your name and business idea, but nothing more. This is good so they hear from you about your business and learn about you—a good element for the reality drama.

The walk in…

The doors eventually slide, and you walk down the corridor and stand on the X spot on the carpet.

What’s next?

Firstly, you don’t get in and start your pitch right away. Instead, you’ll need to give the camera crew to get set up.

This will mean about 30 seconds of your time standing there, saying nothing. Feels quite awkward, right?!

Another thing you’ll notice is that the room isn’t holding the sharks only. Instead, it’s quite crowded as there’s an entire camera crew filing from every angle of the room.

Not to forget, each shark comes with his or her cameraperson.

Keep in mind that Sharks also usually wear concealed earpieces to enable smooth communication with the show producers.

What exactly will they be communicating? The producer may tell the sharks to ask you to clarify a point to make it clearer for the TV audience.

Or they may suggest to the sharks to ask you about a certain area of your life that they already know is emotional or unusual—another good element for the reality TV show.

What to do next:

When you enter the tank, the first thing you should always do is nod and smile. This is a warm and courteous greeting.

It also signals to everyone that you’re a friendly person, and people generally like to work with friendly people.

You should also watch your body language. Stand upright and relaxed to exude confidence. Don’t slouch and don’t cross your arms the entire time you’re in there.

The sharks usually shy away from entrepreneurs who seem wishy-washy. Believe it or not, they have even withdrawn from such entrepreneurs.

Be ready to project an image of respectfulness and decisiveness minus submissiveness. Show you’re able to stand up for yourself but in a nice way.

Engage the sharks in your presentation

During your pitch, we advise you to engage the sharks. A good way to do so is by giving them samples of your products.

Engage the sharks in your presentation

If there’s no product to give out, invite the sharks to try out your equipment or service.

The deal is on!

If you did a good job in there, you’re walking out all smiles with a deal! However, just because you got that hug and a handshake doesn’t mean you’re good to go.

After the show wraps filming, the shark and their staff embark on due diligence to ensure all your claims are true. If they’re not, the deal will fall through.

In some cases, the entrepreneur may opt out of the deal before it materializes. In fact, more entrepreneurs are known to walk out of the deals after the show than the investors do.

Life after the deal

After getting out of the shark tank, whether you have a deal or not, your next stop should be at your psychiatric office.

Pitching your idea to and getting into heated negotiations with billionaires and millionaires is by no means a small thing!

The level of stress that comes with entering the tank is quite high and the producers want to that you’re feel well afterward.

The producer’s LAST call:

Even after all is over, you’ll still need to do some more waiting. But this time, the producers will be calling to let you know when your segment will be airing. They’ll do so about 2 weeks in advance.

When you get this call, you’d want to use the remaining time to prepare your website as well as your staff for the high traffic, phone calls, and emails you’ll receive afterward.

Some companies have admitted receiving website traffic amounting to hundreds of thousands in addition to thousands of emails following their presentations being aired.

What to do if you don’t get a deal?

If you don’t get a deal, you shouldn’t feel like you’ve hit the edge. Rejection is part of every entrepreneur’s journey, and how you respond to it is what truly makes the difference.

Here’s what to do if you don’t get a deal after appearing in Shark Tank:

  • Start by acknowledging that the rejection doesn’t reflect the potential of your business or your worth in any way. Many entrepreneurs always face rejection before they achieve their goals.
  • Use the experience as a learning opportunity. Use the feedback you got from the sharks to help refine your pitch, business model, and strategy.
  • Explore alternative funding sources available for your business idea. For instance, crowdfunding sources like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can help you raise capital from folks who believe in your business.
  • You may also be surprised that an investor saw you and your product and is interested in and will reach out, giving your business another chance. It has happened all the time for entrepreneurs who walk out of the show with no deals.
  • Focus on the growth of your business. Take advantage of the exposure you got from your appearance on the show to attract new partnerships and customers.
  • Above all, stay resilient. Remember that building a successful business is a long-term endeavor that involves overcoming various setbacks along the way. Remain persistent and don’t let rejections stand in your way!
If you’re interested in watching Shark Tank and want to know where to catch the latest episodes, check out our guide on Where to Watch Shark Tank. We’ve compiled a list of platforms where you can enjoy the show. Additionally, if you’re a fan of the Sharks and want to weigh in on who you think is the best one, don’t miss our article on Who Is the Best Shark on Shark Tank to join the discussion.

Conclusion

Getting your business ideas on the Shark Tank isn’t as easy as it may seem. The process involves passing the set requirements, submitting an application, and undergoing a rigorous selection process. If you’re accepted, you’ll get to present your idea in front of the sharks. The whole process takes a lot of time and energy before you finally get your day in the tank.

However, preparing and planning everything well in advance is key to making your presentation stand out and walking out of the tank with a good deal. Follow the tips we’ve discussed in the above guide on how to get on Shark Tank. This will increase the chances of your Shark Tank application going through and you securing a deal for your business.

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