After Ben and Eric Kusin reveal on reality pitch show “Shark Tank” that their father, the founder of GameStop, invested $US2 million into their business, things get personal.
“I feel very badly saying this to you, but I, as a matter of principle, don’t invest in rich kids’ businesses,” Barbara Corcoran tells the brothers.
Despite the Kusins shocked expressions, they ended up leaving with a $US150,000 investment from investor Lori Greiner for a 15% stake in their fabric freshener company Reviver.
On Reddit, Eric writes that the episode was edited in a way that made them look more insulted than they actually were: “Ben and I both had some really good conversation about it in the Tank that unfortunately just got left on the edit room floor. I honestly think Barbara heard us out, and felt bad about generalising us.”
Regardless of how that particular discussion played out, we spoke with Corcoran recently, and she told us that she stands by her words, with some additional context.
During the Reviver pitch, the other Sharks tell Corcoran that her prejudice against privilege is silly, because even though she’s self-made and the daughter of a blue-collar father and stay-at-home mum, she’s the mother of rich kids.
But, Corcoran tells Business Insider, “it’s not that I look down on [privilege]. It’s harder for a kid with privilege and successful parents … to succeed if they’re going to be in business for themselves. I’m not talking about in corporate America or investment banking — all those connections play to your advantage, I think, along with education.”
To Corcoran, an entrepreneur from a wealthy family doesn’t need to start a business to make a living, and that is a critical difference when things inevitably get difficult. She believes that if you have a safety net, you won’t be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
“The best way to think of a solution in business when you’re slammed up against a wall is to try to think of five different solutions to get around it and keep going,” Corcoran says. “But when you know that you have a trust fund, you know that you can always fall back on your parents, and you know that you can get additional funds, you get cheated out of thinking of those spur of the moment, very needy ideas that get you through.”
Above all, Corcoran looks for an entrepreneur with street smarts and hunger.
“I like to work with people that I feel I can really align myself with, and I get them and they get me,” she says. “There’s a great magic that happens there that you can’t fake.”
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