Shark Tank’s worst question you can receive after ‘pitching’!

As an entrepreneur, innovator or salesman, ‘pitching’ is an essential method used to present a new idea to others. The concept relates to the opportunity of meeting a possible investor or potential client in an elevator and having a limited amount of time to catch their attention. An ‘Elevator Pitch’ is also a practice for the entrepreneur to fully understand the product and being able to synthesize its value in a concrete way. Those few seconds or minutes might be the once in a lifetime opportunity to either make-it or break-it.

Shark Tank has become one of my favorites resources to learn from real examples. Definitely, there is a wide variety of knowledge that can be absorbed either from the Sharks or from the entrepreneurs. Sincerely, the American and Mexican versions are worthy to watch including a comic touch. (At the end of the article, I leave two links of the episodes I considered the most iconic.)

The method requires time, practice and confidence since being in front of your potential investors can be intimidating. Just imagine having the opportunity to ‘pitch’ for them, knowing your numbers, having great sales, great margins, and the most amazing product.

Everything goes perfect until you end up your ‘pitch’ and one of the Sharks asks: “Sorry… I didn’t understand… what do you sell?…. what’s your product about?”

Oh my… that’s the worst question you can receive after ‘pitching’! That means the following:

  • Unfortunately, you lost their attention…maybe since the beginning.
  • They might have lost important details, including the value proposition.
  • The first impact was vanished, and the enthusiasm in the repetition isn’t the same anymore.
  • Now, they are confused and you have an extra job: catch their attention again.
Figure 1. Shark Tank

To avoid the unfortunate event, I want to share a general guide to prepare a concrete ‘pitch’ while trying to tackle the most important details needed to be mentioned:

  1. Problem: Explain the context with the objective of making them relate to the situation. Maybe they have experienced the same complication which can ease the necessity’s identification. Include shocking statics to demonstrate the magnitude of the problem. Try to use words such as scarcity, lack of, deficiency, rise, etc.
  2. Solution: Excitement and confidence are some of the most important characteristics needed when introducing this section. It’s a must to clarify if it’s a product, service, system, etc. It can be difficult, but if you are able to understand what are you really selling, you’ll can easily avoid a confusing explanation.
  3. Value proposition: This is a crucial element when completing the Business Model Canvas. Make it simple and try to start your phrases using words such as create, provide, increase, reduce, eliminate, etc. These statements should really mention the differentiator about the necessity your are trying to cover.
  4. Market segmentation: How much can you extend in this section depends on the amount of time given. However, it’s a must to specify the target market. Choose a profile that matches the attributes from your potential clients. In case there is enough time, include insights from the qualitative research to validate the idea.
  5. Numbers: Be careful because this is usually the reason why the Sharks are out of the deal. As a good deal-maker, never forget to include justice in the offer. Value the company with backed numbers to justify the proposal of the percentage you are willing to give in exchange of a certain amount of money and expertise.

Remember this is a general guide, and depending on the occasion, the order might be altered. Still, the elements mentioned can help you to structure a script that can keep you away from the worst question you can receive after ‘pitching’!: “what do you sell?…. what’s your product about?”.

Shark Tank’s Iconic Episodes:
[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4U2AuWm4Tw
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggi3yfUv0Mo