As an entrepreneur, your job is to get people to believe in your business. Whether it’s attracting investors with your potential profits or customers with the value of your product/service, you need to be able to tell a compelling story of why your product exists. On NBC’s show, the Shark Tank, entrepreneurs pitch their business to investors worth billions with an audience of over 5 million tuning in at home. A successful trip to the tank has the power to reel in both investments and customers. In a study of 495 pitches in the Shark Tank, 58% of the ones resulting in deals incorporated a great story. The best business stories have investors and customers alike on the edge of their seat to buy-into the company.
The Shark known as “Mr. Wonderful”, Kevin O’Leary, can be seen on the show with dollar signs in his eyes saying, “I’m not trying to make friends, I’m just trying to make money” and “the only reason to do business is to make money”. A clear focus on the bottom line does not take away from the power of storytelling, in fact, storytelling can be the best way to convey the vision of your business’ future prosperity to those who are profit-oriented.
Mr. Wonderful echoed this sentiment when asked about the secret to a successful Shark Tank pitch asserting that, “each pitch must tell a story about money: the lack of it, the need for it and how it can be made. Oh, and you better be able to get your story out in less than 90 seconds, or you can pack your bags because my money’s already looking somewhere else.” This advice from Kevin O’Leary highlights the importance of being clear and concise when telling a story in this setting. Potential investors should be able to see the value of what your business does and how it will make them money in the future without the need for a drawn-out explanation.
Entrepreneurs enter the Shark Tank trying to get buy-in from investors, but the audience of millions watching at home can buy-in as customers. In the tank, the entrepreneurs get around ten minutes of free airtime on a national network, reaching millions of viewers. Whether they leave with a deal or not, this is a great chance to attract customers and sell your product or service. The pitch, or story of why your business exists, can serve to both show investors why there is a market for your offering and show the viewers why they need your product. In season 6, episode 8, a veteran came into the tank with his business, the Bottle Breacher. Eli Crane’s story, highlighting his military background, served to illustrate how the bullet bottle opener made by Active Duty service members and Veterans is the perfect customizable gift to honor those who defend our country. In a recent video, Eli and his wife Jen discuss the story behind their brand and their trip to the Shark Tank.
Speaking about the success of the company Eli’s wife concludes the video saying, “It’s just a bottle opener, but that’s what is cool about it. There is a bigger picture and a bigger story behind it than just opening a beer.” This story resonated with customers resulting in over 20,000 orders from their appearance on the show and a $150,000 investment from Sharks, Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary. Now with millions of dollars in sales, Bottle Breacher is a testament to the added value of a compelling story that engages both investors and customers. This business storytelling is as relevant inside the tank as it is outside of it. Entrepreneurs have the power to bring in business from investors and customers by telling the story of why your business exists and what need it fulfills better than anyone else in the market.
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