During his South by Southwest keynote, Mark Cuban revealed some behind-the-scenes “Shark Tank” secrets.
“Shark Tank” airs every Friday night on ABC. Each week, entrepreneurs present their startups before a panel of judges, including Mark Cuban. The judges, or “sharks,” can either decide to invest in the startup or pass.
Cuban revealed the secrets during an hour-long keynote. We recorded the conversation and pulled out the best quotes, organising them into relevant topics.
Here’s what Cuban had to say:
What a typical day filming ‘Shark Tank’ is like:
Mark Cuban: We get there in the morning. We go on stage at 8:00 which means I get there about 7:45. I rush my suit on. That gives them less time to do makeup and more time to screw up my hair.
They start bringing in the deals at about 8:15. We sit there, they set up the set-up thing that you see then the stage manager or producer basically says, “It’s [X-Person] and [Y-Person] and those are the two names.” Then they come in; we’re not allowed to use our phones or our tablets. You see us pick up whatever pads we have and pick up our pen and we start taking notes and they start pitching.
Is it real or staged?
MC: It’s all real. There’s nothing fixed and nothing staged. Literally those deals go from 30 minutes for just stupid-arse ones to 2.5 hours for some people.
How the sharks really react to pitches, both good and bad:
MC: The people who are true entrepreneurs, I want to be as supportive as I can. I want to protect them against Kevin [O’Leary].
…There are some gold diggers, which is someone who’s just doing it for the PR and they have no intention of doing a deal. You can tell because [in one case], they had $US600,000 in sales and they wanted $US100,000 for 1% — some amount that doesn’t reflect the valuation.
…I love the scams. “With these life pills you can go 8 days without eating.” Obviously [ABC] edits [the pitch] so it goes down from 2.5 hours down to a half-hour down to 8 to 14 minutes. And so knowing it’s going to be edited, I’ll rail into them and say like, “F*ck you, there’s NO WAY…” I love to mess with them.
Do the Sharks/judges all get along?
MC: We all get along but when you’re there from 8:00 in the morning until whenever we finish, and there’s 8, 10, 12 deals coming through and you’re shooting 8 — 9 hour days, just like any family you get annoyed as all get-up.
We all have our ways of doing things. I’ll try to give [entrepreneurs] advice and this and that, Lori [Greiner] wants to tell a story about how when she had nothing and this and that, Robert [Herjavec] wants to talk about his family being from Croatia…and all the other Sharks, their minds are everywhere else and I just can’t help but have a reaction so that’s when they show me making these dumb-arse faces all the time.
What happens after the show, and how many deals actually close:
MC: We get the opportunity to do due diligence. 60 — 70% of my deals close.
In [one] case, it was from some tiny town in the state of Washington, there were four owners, but the husband of one of these owners thought it was unconstitutional to pay income tax. He had never filed his taxes ever. I’m like, “Ok so, it’s going to be on national TV, what do you think happens next? They’re not coming after you, they’re going to come after me.”
Why Cuban loves “Shark Tank”:
MC: The reason I love doing the show — and it’s a lot of work — it’s the #1 show on television watched by families. Everyday I have people coming up to me saying, “My son…” “My daughter…they love the show and we watch it together on Friday nights.”
Every parent wants their child to live the American dream. Shark Tank reinforces the American dream is alive and well.
…The show is real, it’s our money, we get along, but it does get intense.