Audiences worldwide are familiar with Shark Tank, the reality TV show that puts entrepreneurs from all walks of life in front of investors who can fund their dreams. If you haven’t seen an episode of Shark Tank, it’s worth a watch.
It’s hard to watch a reality TV show and not think that they’re dramatizing it for the ratings. However, Shark Tank provides some of the most realistic situations where the support of a single investor can take an entrepreneur’s dream and turn it into reality.
In fact, Shark Tank’s producers even had to enact a “no-shop” clause in 2017 to avoid participants from leveraging the offers they received. That goes to show you how lucrative some of these deals can be.
Have you ever wanted to get on Shark Tank and pitch your product or business idea? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
Are you ready to learn how to get on Shark Tank? Let’s get started!
Why is it So Hard to Get on Shark Tank
Some people might say it’s easier to start a business in college than get on Shark Tank. However, the effort required to apply for and get on Shark Tank does one thing and does it well.
It weeds out those who apply on a whim or don’t have their ducks in line when it comes to business. If you’re not serious about what you’re doing, the producers at Shark Tank don’t have time for you.
The reality of a reality TV show like Shark Tank is that the producers receive tens of thousands of applicants every year. Every time the show puts out a call, it’s overwhelming how responsive the entrepreneurial community is.
At the same time, you have to remember that Shark Tank is, above anything else, a reality TV show. This means that if you don’t give the show something to boost its ratings, they’re probably not as interested in you as someone who can.
Basic Eligibility Requirements to be on Shark Tank
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of applying to be on Shark Tank, here are a few basic requirements you’ll want to meet. If you can’t meet them, it’s not worth your time to continue.
- Must be 18 years of age
- Must be a legal resident or U.S. citizen
- You cannot be a felon or have any pending criminal charges
- You cannot be running for public office or run for public office within a year after your season segment airs
- You, your family members, or anyone who lives in your home cannot work for or be connected to Shark Tank, companies owned by a shark, the American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., UAMG Content LLC, or Sony Pictures Television Inc.
If you pass all these preliminary prerequisites, keep reading to see how you might be able to get on Shark Tank.
How to Get on Shark Tank
Millennial entrepreneurs can certainly make their own wealth in this day and age. Applying to be on Shark Tank is just one way among many.
1. Apply Online
The easiest way to get on Shark Tank is to apply online. Complete the one-page application and submit it to enter yourself in the running.
If the producers want to continue your application process, they’ll contact you and send you the Initial Application Packet. This packet is really an extension of the application you sent in but you should fill it out as if you’re introducing your business idea for the first time.
After all, the producers reading your application know nothing about you. This means you should take advantage of the opportunity to represent your idea in the best way possible with every piece of the necessary information.
2. Attend an Open Call
If a whole lot of paperwork can’t do your idea justice, consider attending an open call. There are open calls throughout the year in at least five cities around the nation.
Locations will vary from one year to the next, but you can visit the Open Call Schedule to see where the open calls will be held and when. It’s important to fill out the Initial Application Packet we mentioned previously before the open call and submit it there.
Auditioning is an all-day affair. You should arrive between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. to receive your wristband that details when you’ll be auditioning and then it’s just a waiting game.
Don’t count on any sort of support for your audition. This means you may not have the power to give a visual presentation, so be prepared for making the most of your presence.
When you enter the room for your audition, stand out as much as you can. Spend half of your pitch on your business idea and the other half on why you’re the person to bring this idea to light.
Producers may ask you questions at this point. It’s also a good idea to potentially leave a sample they can review if it gels with your idea.
3. Receive an Invitation to Audition
Producers know that not everyone who shows up at the auditions or applies online will fit the bill. That’s why they scan the many crowdfunding websites popular among entrepreneurs, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Personal invitations from Shark Tank producers can feel like a VIP pass, but they’re just the same as an invite you might receive if you applied online. However, you should take the opportunity seriously if you want to get the most out of your Shark Tank experience.
Overview of the Application Process
Applying and auditioning are time- and energy-consuming activities. However, they’re only the beginning of a much longer process.
Once you’ve applied and auditioned, you may be called back to continue the process. Here’s what each step can look like, depending on how the producers run things.
Phone Calls and Paperwork
It’s truly put up or shut up time when it comes to filling out paperwork and answering questions over the phone from Shark Tank producers. Be as honest as you can with the numbers you have, because each producer is measuring up the candidates to find out who they’ll pursue further.
Should you pass your phone call with the producer, you’ll need to fill out more paperwork. You’re probably sick of all that paper at this point, but it’s the facts and figures the show needs.
This stage of the process can take months, as the producers are checking into your background and that of your product or business. Patience is key during this time.
Producer Telephone Interviews
If you receive a telephone call after this round of paperwork, you’re officially a semi-finalist. You’ll speak with the producer to tell them more about yourself and the business and answer any questions they have remaining about what you’re all about.
Once you’ve cleared the telephone interview, you’ll be asked to prepare an audition video. This video is typically about five to 10 minutes long and distills what your pitch is, who you are, and what you’re looking for.
Producers will work with you to submit the video, but acting swiftly can help your cause. A better video will get a better response, though you shouldn’t lose sight of your purpose or let creativity take over too much.
Finalist for Taping
In many ways, the process for applying for Shark Tank up to this point has been easy compared to what you now face should the producer let you know you’ve been selected to appear on the show. Be prepared for even more work.
You’ll be matched with a producer who will help you prepare for your appearance. You’ll elaborate on your pitches from previously to give a performance potentially worthy of the sharks’ investment.
Never underestimate the power of preparation when it comes to Shark Tank. The more you know about your business and the industry, the better your experience will be at crunch time.
One of the best ways to prepare for your pitch is to watch old episodes. Note what the sharks liked and what type of behavior or response they shied away from.
What America Sees
During the taping of the show, you’ll be in front of the sharks for about 45 to 90 minutes. In some cases, you may spend more time debating should the sharks throw out offers and express interest.
Leading up to this point, the producers will require you to be in Los Angeles for filming for five days at a time. You’ll get a five-day notice of when you need to be in LA, but the producers require 35 days total to set aside for filming should they need to reschedule.
When you walk onto the set, the sharks only know your first name and your product. They wear earpieces so that the producers can communicate with them for clarity or provide a nudge this or that way.
Non-verbal communication is everything, especially when it comes to impressing the sharks. With that said, involving them in your presentation can go a long way in breaking the ice.
Each entrepreneur is required to meet with an on-set psychiatrist after their taping. Should your segment get aired on TV, you’ll be notified about two weeks ahead of time.
This alert is really a notification telling you to prepare for the hordes of people who will search for your product online. If you’re not ready for the influx of customers, you’ll likely regret your lack of preparation.
Shark Tank Considerations
Learning how to start a business with no money or how to grow a business once you’ve established it is one thing. Knowing how to take advantage of appearing on Shark Tank is an entirely different story.
Before you apply to appear on the show, consider the following:
- A deal isn’t completely sealed, even if it appears to be on TV. The sharks will go back and make sure everything is in order before signing on the dotted line.
- Just because your pitch is filmed doesn’t mean it will appear on TV. Producers ultimately choose which pitches are best for television. Even if your pitch was filmed, it doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the limelight.
- Discrepancies or false information on your application can cause any shark’s offer to be rescinded. The sharks will go through your paperwork to ensure you represented your company and yourself accurately. If that’s not the case, any deals on the table are rescinded.
- Accepted deals often come with hands-on experience from the sharks. The sharks bring more than just money. They also offer their expertise on various business matters, though you may need to give up some power to access it.
- Even if the sharks don’t bite, you’re not out of luck yet. If your pitch sees the limelight, you could be contacted by investors outside of the shark tank, who want to fund your product or service.
There are many fringe benefits to getting on Shark Tank, many more than even the best entrepreneur books can teach you. If you plan to start building generational wealth, learn from the sharks in any way you can.
It’s incredibly difficult but achievable to get on Shark Tank. You have to stand out from every other entrepreneur who applies and offer the sharks something they’ve never seen before.
No, it does not cost anything to get on Shark Tank. However, you may need to spend money to complete the application and various paperwork throughout the process, depending on how well you can answer the questions.
You can patent your product or service before you appear on Shark Tank, but it’s not a requirement. The sharks look favorably on this decision as it shows your commitment, but it all depends on what service or product you offer.
Swimming with the Sharks of Shark Tank
The drama of fortunes made or lost plays out on the TV show Shark Tank, but how can you not watch people from all walks of life try to find their million-dollar idea? It’s an addicting concept that makes Shark Tank the success it is.
We hope you’ve found this article on getting on Shark Tank helpful and even enlightening. There’s a lot more that goes into getting on the show than you might first think.
At the same time, even having a chance to see the sharks in person and get your business out there can do wonders for your luck. If a shark doesn’t back you, perhaps another investor will.
All of this goes to show you that if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, there are ways to make a name for yourself in this world. It might take facing the sharks to do it, but if you can hold your own in a room full of powerful investors, you’ve got nothing else to worry about.