More About 'The Sharks'

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A Q&A with Kevin O'Leary, one of the stars of ABC's TV show 'Shark Tank.'

June 25, 2013

“Shark Tank” has become one of the most highly-rated shows on television thanks to the always engaging personalities of its motley crew of stars – Mark Cuban, Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran – so-called “sharks” who have become household names thanks to the growing popularity of the ABC reality program, which draws more than 7 million viewers every week.

“The entrepreneurs who dare to enter the ‘Shark Tank’ must try to convince the tough, self-made, multi-millionaire/billionaire tycoons to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they desperately need to jumpstart their business ideas,” the show’s website states. “But the Sharks have a goal, too. They want a return on their investment and own a piece of the next big business idea.”

One of the breakout stars of “Shark Tank” is Kevin O’Leary, who made a name for himself in the educational software industry before selling his company to Mattel for the staggering sum of $3.7 billion. Known as “Mr. Wonderful” to the show’s devotees, O’Leary is the “Shark Tank’s” answer to Simon Cowell, the “tell-it-like-it-is” judge of American Idol fame, who like his musical counterpart will cut you off at the knees if you come unprepared for your moment in the television sun. But like Mr. Cowell, when you dig a bit deeper, O’Leary’s bark is usually much worse than his bite.

The self-made entrepreneur from Montreal, Quebec, recently answered a series of questions about his time on the “Shark Tank” in a section of the show’s website called “Shark Bites.”

Q: What is the best investment you have made to date on Shark Tank?
A: Talbott Teas. Those guys understood that it's all about the money – grow fast, get distribution and get out. No wonder they got acquired by a major public company less than 6 months after they came into the Tank. Now they're rich, and I got a great return on my investment.

Q: Have there been any deals that you had wish that you made in hindsight?
A: Never. If I'm out of a deal I never, ever look back. They're dead to me.

Q: Any service/product that you wish you had invented yourself?
A: I don't get emotionally invested in any one product or another. It's all about the money! That's all I care about. And I think that's an important lesson for entrepreneurs everywhere, too: don't be emotional about your business. Focus on what matters: your bottom line.

Q: Is there anything that has surprised you over the season in terms of the pitches?
A: Every day in the Tank brings new surprises! It's part of what makes Shark Tank so unique and so resonant - because it celebrates American business entrepreneurs - and they are always full of surprises.

Q: Is it possible that someone can have a great idea, but fail in the tank because they can't pitch?
A: I see it all the time. People come in and they aren't prepared enough, or they don't know a key number or they aren't good communicators.

Q: What's your best advice on how to pitch?
A: Know your numbers. And if you aren't good with numbers, bring someone who is!

Q: Do you have to be memorable to make a good pitch?
A: Yes! And if you show me clear how I can make money, I'll remember!

Q: What's the most important lesson an entrepreneur can learn by watching what goes down in the Tank?
A: It's all about the money, all the time!

Q: What's been the most memorable part of being on the show for you?
A: The chance to invest in these great companies. What can I say? I'm in it for the money!