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October 2017
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Why the television show Shark Tank is inspirational for future entrepreneurs



The six sharks in the tank

Have you seen an episode of Shark Tank? If no, stop reading now. And, come back when you have seen at least one episode. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, a doctor, a parent or even a child this show will inspire you to take a chance!

It first aired in August of 2009 and is currently in the middle of its sixth season. To date there are 104 episodes in total.

Now, who are the sharks you may be wondering? – They are 6 self-made millionaire and billionaire entrepreneurs who invest their own money into businesses that need to start, grow or be saved.

To understand how influential this show can be you first need to grasp the concept of pitching your business idea to 6 people. These people are labeled as the “sharks”, and they have the power to make a difference for your business.

First of all, let’s get to know these deadly sea creatures. The first shark is Mark Cuban, a man who sold his business to Yahoo for over 5.7 billion dollars, who owns the NBA Dallas Mavericks, and multiple television, cinema and movie businesses. Next is Robert Herjavec, who moved from Croatia to the United States at the age of 8 and who is now the founder and owner of an IT security company. Lori Greiner, or the queen of QVC (a televised home shopping network), owns over 120 patents and has launched more than 400 products. Barbara Corcoran is a real-estate mogul that started her business off with a $1,000 loan. Daymond John is the creator, and president of the fashion brand FUBU that is worth billions of dollars. Last but not least, the ‘heartless’ shark, Kevin O’Leary, who sold his learning company for 3.7 billion dollars. Woah, right? Feeling rich? Doubt it.

But they weren’t born rich. No, they hustled. A lot. They have understood that you cannot succeed without dedication and perspiration. This show is not only inspirational for current entrepreneurs but for future ones: children or teenagers who invent a product to help fix a problem in society. The youngest entrepreneur that has been on the show was a 6 year old that pitched her idea for a paint-on bandage for kids. Daymond John has even said: “Do you know what I find amazing, those kids who are standing there on that carpet, 9, 10, 15 years old.”

For their 100th episode the sharks interviewed themselves asking what were their favorite pitches, or the funniest moments and they got to talking about how the show has helped create jobs in America. They ask each other why they are still on the show, investing in these businesses that might not work out for them. Mark Cuban said: “We are the new age lemonade stand. It used to be when you had a son or daughter that you wanted to teach about business you had them set up a lemonade stand in the front yard, and now you can watch Shark Tank. It just sends the message that the American dream is still alive and well”.

For the past couple of seasons, the episodes have incorporated a success story update for the skeptics out there. Some people say that the money being invested is not their own, that the deals never work out and that the sharks don’t actually help the entrepreneurs. They are wrong. These updates prove to the non-believers that what the sharks are doing is working! They provide concrete numbers about their sales of the amount of people they have hired. It is so gratifying to see how individuals who have given everything up, their money, their jobs, and their homes and finally see them achieving something.

A very positive and encouraging aspect of the show (though it may not seem like it) is the sharks’ harshness: they are not choosing to invest based on who has the saddest life story, or who is the poorest, but on the entrepreneurs that believe that failure is not an option. Their ruthlessness boosts individuals to try harder, to do better in order to succeed.

Finally for once it is a reality show that is real: no lies, no scripts, and no pretending. Kevin O’Leary once said to a entrepreneur in season 1 “Here’s how I think of my money – soldiers – I send them out to war everyday and I want them to take prisoners and come home so there’s more of them. Your army, every soldier dies.” They are not there to babysit or tell the entrepreneurs that they’ll be fine. They tell the truth whether it is terrifying to hear or not. For once, Hollywood does not always provide a happy ending. But it is beneficial for the viewers, to understand what mistakes to make and which not to, what to do in certain situations, and how to handle them.

You don’t need to have rich parents or a well-established array of connections in order to pursue your dreams of being an entrepreneur. This show motivates individuals to pursue their ideas even without actually going on the show. Robert Herjavec said: “People come up to you and say my 7 year old, my 9 year old love the show and I love that about it because I think in a small way we are a spark to those people.” The show influences children to think more about the business world and understand what problems they can fix. Daymond John said: “The bottom line is, whether you are a mom, a dad, a kid, an immigrant, you walk onto that carpet [the set] and being an entrepreneur is the ultimate equalizer and everybody has a shot.”

Overall this show does not only revive the idea of the American dream but inspires those who believe that they have lost their chance. So start watching the show to inspire you, your kids, or your parents!

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