When Did Shark Tank Start

When Did Shark Tank Start? A Brief History

Since its inception in 2009, Shark Tank has become a phenomenal reality TV show that has captured the hearts of many viewers across the US and other parts of the globe. It has earned its place as one of the most widely recognized and beloved TV shows of the 21st century.

But how did Shark Tank come to be? How did the creators come up with such a brilliant concept?

In this guide, we’ll go back in time to try and explore how the TV show started, its origins, and the key moments that have contributed to its huge popularity. We’ll also discuss how the show has grown along the way, the impact it has had on the entrepreneurial and innovation space and other helpful info you need to know.

A Brief History of How Did Shark Tank Started:

Shark Tank is a reality TV show that offers aspiring entrepreneurs a platform where they can pitch their business ideas in front of a panel made up of wealthy investors referred to as the sharks.

A Brief History of How Did Shark Tank Started

The business owners hope to secure funding and expertise from the investors in exchange for an equity stake in their companies. The end goal of every entrepreneur who features on this show is to turn his or her dreams into a reality.

Such an excellent idea, right? So, how did they come up with the idea? Who was behind it?

To understand all this, we need to go back in time, even before the Shark Tank was born…

Shark Tank Japanese origin:

Yes, you heard it right; the idea of Shark Tank traces its route to Japan. Long before Shark Tank, “Tigers of Money” or “Tigres do Dinheiro” was aired in Japan.

In this show, the entrepreneurs would bring their ideas before a group of wealthy investors referred to as tigers with the end goal of acquiring investments for their business. Sounds familiar?

Shark Tank Japanese origin

The Japanese reality TV show aired from October 2001 all the way to March 2004 on Nippon Television in Japan. It had a slogan that goes “NO CHALLENGE, NO SUCCESS”.

The creators of this show came up with the name Tigers of Money as a nickname for Japanese imperial general Tomoyuki Yamashita, who was referred to as the “Tiger of Malaya”.

He got this nickname after being responsible for conquering Malaya during the early 1940s Pacific War.

Tigers of Money became quickly successful in the country and was even broadcast in prime time. Nonetheless, the show changed a few times, and would even broadcast simultaneously over the internet Oita TV.

Following the huge success of this show, many countries were exposed to its format, and it became a worldwide phenomenon.

Enter Dragons’ Den—The UK version of the show

Now, Sony Pictures Television International realized how huge the show is and decided to sell its format to other countries around the world. BBC Manchester warmed up to it and renamed it Dragons’ Den.

The show was launched in the United Kingdom for the first time on January 4, 2015. It borrowed the same format as the Japanese version—with a panel of five investors (referred to as dragons) analyzing pitches and proposals from entrepreneurs.

Dragons’ Den—The UK version of the show

As you can easily guess, Dragons Den was a hit in the UK and aired close to 200 episodes. The show aired on BBC 2 from 2005 to 2020 and on BBC 1 from 2021, with Darrell Olsen and Samantha Davies being the producers behind the show.

The show was so successful that it won a precious reality TV award, the Banff Rockie Award, in 2005. It was also nominated for other awards in the following years; 2006 and 2007.

The birth of Shark Tank—the American version

In 2009, ABC (American Broadcasting Company) picked up the Dragons Den show format and found a more suitable name for it, Shark Tank! The show’s first season premiered on August 9, 2009.

It’s, therefore, safe to say that Dragons Den was the predecessor to Shark Tank.

The American version made a few adaptations to suit the US audience. The new show’s fast-paced and high-stakes nature quickly captured the attention of viewers all over the United States, setting the stage for its enduring success up to date.

To be precise, the premiere of the show attracted a great viewership of up to 4.23 million.

birth of Shark Tank—the American version

The first set of investors in the show’s premiere were Barbara Corcoran, Kevin Harington, Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec, and Daymond John.

Kevon Harington would later be replaced by Mark Cuban in 2011 while Lori Greiner would become part of the main cast of the show from the 4th season (2012).

By 2013, during season 5 of Shark Tank premiere, the show had reached a staggering 6.86 million viewers!

Despite the show being an instant hit, it had its own fair of challenges at the start. For instance, the entrepreneurs were bombarded with tough questions and even engaged in tougher negotiations with the sharks.

Likewise, the sharks found themselves navigating the risks and rewards that came with investing their money in young, unproven ventures.

Milestones and achievements of Shark Tank

As the Shark Tank continued being popular, it underwent several changes in its format as a way of keeping things interesting and engaging.

Some of these changes include the introduction of guest sharks, innovations in the pitch process, and the introduction of themed episodes.

These changes have only contributed to the success and appeal of the show.

Along the way, the show has made some memorable pitches and deals. Thanks to the show, the Americans had been treated to anything from innovative products to heartwarming stories.

Some of the pitches have even led to blockbuster deals while others have left the sharks with regrets.

For instance, in 2014, Scrub Daddy, one of the companies that had investment and exposure from the show crossed 18 million in sales, further endearing the show to the people.

In season 5 episode 9, the Shark Tanks let go of the Doorbot pitch, an innovative idea that would later flourish and be acquired by Amazon for over $1 billion. To date, this remains one of the deals the sharks regret never taking.

Milestones and achievements of Shark Tank

Shark Tank has also received unique awards as its growth and popularity continue to spread across every corner of the earth.

Some of the most notable awards include:

  • Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Structured Reality Series (2018, 2016)
  • Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Structured Reality Program (2016, 2015, 2014)
  • Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Reality Series (2015)
  • Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Reality Series – Competition (2014)
  • TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Reality (2013)

Besides the awards, the show has also made a significant impact on the entrepreneurship space. It has inspired many entrepreneurs to work on their dreams and even chase investment opportunities for their innovative ideas.

Thanks to the “Shark Tank effect”, a surge in entrepreneurship and the creation of many new businesses have been on the rise across the US.

The international versions of Shark Tank

The Shark Tank’s appeal isn’t confined to the US. Following its phenomenal success, the show has been adopted in many other countries across the world, with the same format of entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to a panel of investors.

For instance, in 2015, Australia and Portugal scheduled their own version of Shark Tank. Shark Tank Brazil premiered in 2016 and Shark Tank India premiered in 2021.

All these international versions have helped further expand the global reach and influence of the Shark Tank brand.

international versions of Shark Tank
f you’re curious about the intricacies of advisory shares on Shark Tank and how entrepreneurs navigate this aspect of the show, explore our article on What Are Advisory Shares on Shark Tank. Additionally, if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to join the Shark Tank journey, be sure to check out our article on Shark Tank Application to learn more about the application process and what it takes to get on the show.


Shark Tank has come a long way. It traces its origin to Japan’s Tigers of Money, which aired back in 2005, and then the Dragon’s den, which is Shark Tank’s predecessor. However, the format has remained the same across these different versions of the Japanese show. The entrepreneurs present their ideas to wealthy investors with the hope of securing funding and expertise that will help propel their businesses to greatness.

Since its inception in the US in 2009, Shark Tank has been quite successful. Its fan base and viewership have only grown wider and have changed the entrepreneurial landscape forever. Many entrepreneurs in the US have secured deals that have made their businesses prosper while others who had exposure to the show experienced immense growth in their business. 

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