Kevin O’Leary has seen far more “Shark Tank”-style pitches than any of the other Sharks.
In addition to six seasons of “Shark Tank,” he’s gone through eight seasons of “Dragon’s Den,” the Tank’s Canadian predecessor.
“I’ve seen thousands of presentations,” O’Leary tells Business Insider. “If you look at the common thread in all of the companies that got financed, regardless of the outcome [i.e., if the company later became successful or not], you find three common attributes.”
Here are the three things O’Leary looks for in a pitch:
1. “They’re able to articulate the opportunity in 90 seconds or less.”
While “Shark Tank” pitch segments average 10 minutes in length, the unedited pitches can last an hour. But if an entrepreneur can’t convince at least one of the investors within a minute and a half that they will be missing out on a fantastic chance to make a ton of money, then all the time in the world won’t be enough to win them over.
2. “They’re able to explain why they are the right people to execute the business plan.”
A great product isn’t enough. The entrepreneurs need to convince the investors that no one else understands the product or its customers better, and that their passion for the business can’t be matched.
3. “They know their numbers.”
“I’ve seen so many deals fall apart after the first two have been achieved, and then you ask questions about anything to do with the numbers side and if they don’t know the answer, they just evaporate,” O’Leary says. If an entrepreneur suggests that an investor can help teach them about their industry’s market size and their product’s ideal margins, then it’s game over.
“You lose confidence immediately when someone doesn’t understand the numbers.”
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