If you follow STEPS 1-7 EXACTLY you will earn a spot on ABC’s Shark Tank, and if you follow STEPS 8-11 you will get a deal!!!
Well, not exactly. But where would the fun be if it was that easy??
Simply put - there is no right or wrong way to end up on this life changing television show. However, I will share some suggestions and our path in hopes that it might spark some creativity in your mind if you are considering applying for the show.
STEP 1: Attend An Open Call
Attend an open call in one of the dozen or more cities that the casting team travels to each and every season. This is not a requirement to get onto the show (you can submit a video application) but I always believe it is more beneficial to be in person versus behind a screen whenever you need to make a memorable first impression. We attended the Open Call in Atlanta, GA in May of 2018. We arrived to the Comcast Business Center at 5am and waiting until 11pm for wristbands to be distributed. Only the first 500 companies in line will receive a wristband. We were #19 and had our 60 second pitch in front of a casting member at around 1pm in the afternoon. Regardless if you make it past this point, it is an incredible opportunity to network with other small businesses and make new connections. We had a blast trying out, our video recap can be found HERE
STEP 2: BE DIFFERENT
OK - I’m going to need you to read this section very closely, as it is one of the most important steps we took to get on to the show. Of course, you always need to bring energy, passion and excitement to any Open Call. You also need to have a great product, in a large market, with a fair amount of sales. It’s what you do above these things that really make the difference. You need to separate yourself from the 40,000 other companies that try out every single season.
For Kanga - we decided to use the power of social media to get noticed. We did not have a large following at the time, only 5000 followers or so on instagram. However, those followers are loyal and willing to help us out when needed!
So - we did some digging to find out who the lead casting director was for Shark Tank. Her name was Mindy and she had recently posted about the ATL Open Call. We asked our followers to go to her post, tag us in the comments and wish us best of luck during our audition. We had an overwhelming number of people blow her up in the comments, and when we met her the next day - the combination of frustration and disbelief on her face let us know that we got her attention! We are now great friends with her, and she’s made it very clear that this strategy will NOT work, so we do not recommend that anyone blow up our good friend Mindy.
However, the point here is to do something that leaves a lasting impression. Think outside the box and then go execute at the highest level.
STEP 3: Have Patience
After you finish your open call, take a deep breath. Casting 150 or so companies from a pool of over 40,000 takes a very long time. Our entire process from start to finish took about a year. We filled out of application in April of 2018 and our episode aired in April of 2019. These things don’t happen overnight! Stay patient with the casting crew, they do an amazing job communicating timelines and managing expectations.
STEP 4: Due Diligence
If you make it to the next round, get excited for some PAPERWORK!!! Lots of it. Be honest with your sales figures and other confidential information - they don’t mess around with this stuff.
STEP 5: Video Callback
After your piles of paperwork is completed, submitted, and reviewed - you may be asked to create a video for them. We recommend that you create a video that truly shows who you are and who your company is. If you have an impactful story to tell - share it. If you have crazy sales figures - share it. Leave it all on the table. We were fortunate enough to lean on some Clemson University resources and film most of our video in the green screen room with a professional camera. This is not required, you can shoot on your iPhone if you’d like, just make sure the video is steady and the audio is clear. We combined our Kickstarter intro with some new information about our company. Our video can be found HERE
STEP 6: Perfect Your Pitch
At this point - if all goes well, you will be assigned a couple producers and work together to make the perfect pitch. In some cases, it will just mean a few tweaks to the pitch you’ve been doing the past few months. In other cases, you will start from scratch and develop something entirely new. I would say ours is about half and half. When I tell you we probably practiced 1000 times, I’m not exaggerating. See HERE for a video of us practicing in my backyard! After you memorize the words, always be thinking of ways to improve your dialect, body language, and stage presence.
STEP 7: More Due Diligence, More Video Submissions, and More Patience
This one doesn’t need much of an explanation, just be ready for more paperwork and train your mind to patiently wait for the next steps!
STEP 8: Fly To LA
It was my first ever time in LA, even my first time in California! We spent 6 days in the middle of September out in this beautiful place. Day 1 and 2 we grinded - got our display ready, put the final touches on our pitch, and made sure we were ready to rock and roll. We knew we were filming on Day 4, so we took Day 3 to relax and explore California. Sometimes it’s best to clear your mind before a big moment. We are very fortunate for this “relaxing” day, and even made a documentary on it - which can be found HERE.
STEP 9: Over - Prepare
Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment, would you capture it - or just let it slip?
Eminem is a smart dude, and the only way to capture a moment like this is to come prepared. TRULY prepared. We watched every episode of Shark Tank, wrote down notes, and had a discussion around our discoveries. We knew our numbers inside and out, and we put each other on the spot whenever we could by throwing random questions out. We even went as far as recruiting a panel of “Shark” -like investors in the Clemson area to grill us for over an hour to make sure we knew our numbers. Take it seriously - they only film once. There are no retakes. Success is when preparation meets opportunity.
STEP 10: Say A Prayer
A lot more patience is required after you film. Just because you filmed, doesn’t mean that you will automatically air on national television. According to this article from USA Today, Season 10 filmed 158 pitches, and only 88 actually made it on the big screen. I’m not a mathematician but that looks like just over half of the pitches air on national TV. Pretty crazy. Keep your fingers crossed and if you don’t end up airing, it’s still a massive accomplishment to make it this far.
STEP 11: Absolute Madness
When your episode does in fact air, you can expect pure mayhem. I don’t really know how to describe it - but it is truly an incredible night. The Shark Tank effect is real. Our website had more visits the night and day following our airing than it has in our entire existence of a company. Make sure you have inventory prepared, retargeting ads at the ready, and get your mind ready for a few weeks of zero sleep.
Six months later, we are still trying to catch our breath - and loving every second of it. Find some enjoyment in the madness.
Feel free to check out our pitch and the final minute of our time on Shark Tank! Thank you for reading!
Shark Tank Pitch
Shark Tank Deal