- Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran talked to Business Insider at Ignition 2018 about the type of entrepreneurs who are most likely to be successful.
- Although she has “rich kids” of her own, she finds that those who grew up less privileged are more determined to succeed.
- Watch the video above to see why she would rather invest in poor kids.
Julie Zeveloff: This kind of ties into your own background, so you grew up with ten siblings in a two-bedroom apartment. Now you are raising two kids in a five-bedroom apartment, you told me two maids. How do you explain the fact that you still say you don’t invest in rich kids? And would you invest in your own kids’ businesses?
Barbara Corcoran: Well they will probably hit me up, I imagine I will.
Corcoran: My son is 24 and my daughter is 13, I’m one of the oldest mums in New York, I hold a record actually.
Zeveloff: I get that.
Corcoran: The reason, it sounds harsh: I don’t invest in rich kids, which isn’t really true but almost true, because rich kids on “Shark Tank” come with a couple of attributes that disturb me, ok? And then I’ll go on to my own rich kids in a minute. They’re not in the audience are they? OK.
Rich kids come in with a couple of disadvantages I feel, ok? They have had the right jobs because they had the right contacts, so they had the right apprenticeships in different right companies in their summer months when they’re teenagers. You know, they get the right introductions, ok? Poor kids are usually waiting tables and scrapping, dealing with customers, spilling coffee and getting shouted at, a little different, ok?
Rich kids, when starting businesses on “Shark Tank,” the ones I see on “Shark Tank,” typically have gone to the finest schools and what comes with going to the finest schools, especially business schools, what comes is a certain attitude that they know it. That’s a dangerous attribute to have in anything when you’re starting out in anything. But what they do know, is that they know all about business as an observer but they don’t know business as a player. Whereas poor kids tend to have had hardship. They have had to be a player earlier. They have had to contribute to the family, they have seen their parents struggle. They know the power of a buck. They have never gone on a fancy vacation, so they aspire to the vacation. I’m giving you all kinds of s—, right? OK. But I do believe in it.
And then the last is an injured poor kid is, for me, a guarantee that I’m going to make money if he’s got the ego to prove somebody else wrong. I had the great advantage of my first business partner telling me I’d never succeed without him, he handed me an insurance policy for success. I would rather die than let him see me not succeed. And so I have many of my partners, Sabin never had a dad, his dad looked him up once he became half-way famous on “Shark Tank.” Wanted to start up a relationship again, you know, Sabin is making a lot of money, how insulting is that? Never saw his dad.
I have injuries in a lot of my best entrepreneurs and it fills you with passion to prove something. The love of money doesn’t make a good entrepreneur. Most great entrepreneurs really aren’t focused on the money at all, it kinda just happens because they’re focused on being phenomenally successful.
And so, wait, did I even answer your question? What did you ask? Oh, about rich kids, oh let me go on to my own rich kids. I think I lost myself over that ridge, ok? Alright, my own rich kids, I got a couple of very lucky breaks. Thank God, not that I was praying for them, but I got a couple of very lucky breaks. They’re both severely dyslexic and what that does for a child, is provide a struggle. It also provides a child with self-doubt, when they don’t measure up, they’re not the smart kid in class, and so I have two nice, dyslexic kids that had to scrap and claw their way to even learn how to make it at school, with passing grades, you see? And so my son Tommy, I’m very proud of him because he got rejected from all the best schools and then just realised, he saw his life, you know? And he graduated at almost top of his class at Columbia. How did he do that? He clawed his way, he learned and learned, he studied and studied and studied, and studied and studied. So he’s a good rich kid. He’s used to scrapping.
Now I got my daughter Kate, who can’t even read on a second-grade level. I don’t know how I’m going to bring her up. I just want to get her to fourth grade, then she can get her driver’s exam, you get it? You need fourth grade to pass a driver’s exam. But what I love about Kate is that she’s a struggler. She’s like, I’m trying my best. So I might spoil them with too many Christmas presents but they don’t spoil themselves with their struggle and that’s kind of saving their a– in my book. But will I give them money when they want to start a business? I’m sure I will. I’m a sucker like every other parent out there.
I can’t pretend I won’t. And it’s too bad, because God bless the child that makes his own. It’s so much more satisfying, you really know, you say I did it and I did it and I did it versus, I did it, but could I have done it? Could I have done it without that help? It’s a little different kind of self-confidence.
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