15 tips for making a killer pitch from 'Your Shark Tank' mentors

Mike Ehrmann/ Getty.

Shark Tank is giving budding Aussie entrepreneurs a second chance.

Teaming up with Optus, the Network Ten TV program has designed a competition to give Australians who missed out the chance to audition for the television show to now throw their pitch to the sharks in Your Shark Tank.

Back for a second feeding frenzy is original shark Janine Allis, founder of Boost Juice, who will be on the panel of judges.

Australian entrepreneur Jodie Fox, co-founder of Shoes of Prey, will mentor the five finalists to hone their pitches.

“I wish the show had existed when we started Shoes of Prey (SOP),” she said. “We had to learn a lot of it by giving poor pitches to investors.

“If I can pass on any knowledge that will help these guys work faster in their business journey then that’s a win for me and for them.”

Your Shark Tank will “give viewers a second chance and help nurture innovation and foster a startup culture in Australia,” said Rohan Ganeson, Managing Director of sales at Optus.

Business Insider asked Allis and Fox for their advice to make the perfect pitch.

Here are the 15 things they shared.

You know the show? It’s not going to be much different.

Allis said Your Shark Tank won’t differ much from the televised program.

“We’ll ask probably exactly the same questions as we’ll asked on Shark Tank – What’s your business, what’s your vision, what’s your passion, what are the economics of the business, and where do you see the business going?,” she said.

Pitching makes perfect.

Fox says, if anything, the show is great practice.

“Even if you don’t turn out to be the person who wins, you have the opportunity to pitch your idea out loud, refine that pitch and get other people excited about it.”

A long pitch is fine… if it’s provoking interest.

“The longest pitch on Shark Tank was over two hours,” recalled Janine, “but that went very quickly because there was a number of us who are interested in it.

“If it’s that long you find that before we make a deal you want to drill down as much as you can on the numbers and information, and then it gets quite complex because on the fly you’re trying to work out a deal that works for us and works for them because all good deals are win-wins.”

She said the average pitch went for “45 minutes to an hour.”

Know your numbers.

It’s one of the most important aspects of a pitch.

“All of us are pretty much able to smell something that’s not going to work. We pretty much know the numbers don’t make sense, or they exaggerate the numbers and don’t show proof of concept,” Allis said.

“If you don’t understand your numbers and how your business ticks then it’s very difficult to grow, and it’s very difficult to fix your business. Knowing your numbers means you can see the things you need to work on.”

Show consumers want it.

“We’re looking for a business that potentially has proof that the consumer wants it. What you’re looking for is that intelligence to actually do the research to ensure that the businesses that they’re putting forward have longevity,” said Allis.

“You need to do some work to prove to us what you said on the show is correct.

“At the end of the day we want these people to be successful because we want to see a return on that money we have invested in it.

“Whatever help they need, we’ll be there for them.”

Be concise.

“I’m looking to help them find a clear way to express their idea in one sentence. I want to make sure that they’re clearly demonstrating what the problem is that they need help solving and do so in a really compelling way,” says Fox.

Beat nerves.

Fox recalled a simple, but effective technique that she uses when pitching her own brand.

“There’s only three people in the world who are experts at Shoes of Prey, it’s my two co-founders and myself.

“Thinking this way there is nothing to fear, and if the idea gets challenged that’s a good thing. That’s when you going to get some of your best strategy sessions from incredible brains like Janine Allis, who otherwise would be inaccessible to you.”

Show sincerity.

“The deals are emotional decisions, the judges have to believe that you can make this idea happen, and do so successfully,” said Fox.

“They have seen a huge amount of passion in you. You need to look and feel the part as much as the words you’re sharing.”

Be confident, but not cocky.

“I think you have to approach it confidently but I don’t think you can afford to be arrogant about it,” says Fox.

“You need to get in there and confidently present the idea, and the basis on which you have come to that idea, but to demonstrate that you are listening when your idea is challenged, and then enter into a dialogue if you’re invited to.”

Be likeable.

“I really have to like them. If I’m going into business with someone it’s very much like a marriage – you spend a lot of time with them,” Allis said.

“They don’t have to be my best friend and come to dinner with me but with business you have to solve problems and work through issues, and you have to be able to be honest.

“It’s important for me to find someone who I look forward to mentoring, I look forward to catching up with them and helping them. No matter how good the business is, if you can’t work with them then there’s no point.”

Don’t lie.

“Like a marriage if I can’t trust them then there’s no point. I need you to be able to tell me 10 years from now if you have problems that we can sit down and fix together rather than tell me what I want to hear,” said Allis.

“I would much rather people tell me ‘I don’t know Janine but I’m going to get you that answer, then try and fluff it and wing it.”


One thing the TV viewers aren’t privy to is the amount of advice the Sharks share with the entrepreneurs.

“Our objective is that even if they don’t get a deal they’ve learned something from the experience. We all see it as a mentoring opportunity,” said Allis.

But she said people must be willing to hear it.

“Some people are stuck in their own ideas… and you’ve just got to let them go. If you can’t listen I can’t help you.

“[But otherwise] they’re getting the chance to get some great advice.”

Learn to read the room.

Fox will teach her mentorees to “read the room” during a pitch in order to gauge the judges thoughts, and understand why they might ask you something.

“The judges might want to talk to you about lifestyle to see if you’re committed. There may be certain cues that start out by sounding very conversational but I’m hoping I can help them understand where they judges will be going with those questions, and why they are asking them.”

Don’t waste time.

Allis said if you’re not prepared for the pitch and don’t know your numbers either don’t enter or get ready to lose your credibility.

“I lose a lot of respect for those people because not only is it a missed opportunity, but they have taken a spot that somebody else could have taken.”

Walk in with passion.

The last thing Fox will say before entrepreneurs make their final pitch is “Be passionate”.

“I’m not talking about jumping on couches, I mean walk in there and passionately believe in what you are going to say. Through all of those pieces of doubt out, there not going to serve you at this point.”

Your Shark Tank entries close on March 11.

See more about entering here.

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