The new season of reality pitch show “Shark Tank” is chock full of celebrity guest investors, from actor Ashton Kutcher’s debut on the season premiere to music-industry big shot Troy Carter, who will appear on Friday night’s episode.
Carter has spent most of his career behind the scenes. He’s managed artists like John Legend, Meghan Trainor, and Lady Gaga through his agency Atom Factory.
In 2011, a friend introduced him to Palantir cofounder Joe Lonsdale as an initiation into Silicon Valley. Soon Google Ventures founder Bill Maris became Carter’s investing mentor.
Carter has made smart early-stage investments in companies like Lyft, Warby Parker, and Wish and is operating a tech accelerator called SMASHD.
Despite his background, Carter told Business Insider he got cold feet before his “Shark Tank” appearance because, as a fan of the show, he was familiar with each of the Sharks’ uniquely aggressive styles and wondered if he’d feel comfortable in that setting.
He was pleasantly surprised. “Off-camera, the Sharks were like really cute little guppies,” he said. “They weren’t sharks at all!”
Carter said he was most surprised by how Mark Cuban carried himself. Despite having a tendency to be exceptionally aggressive when it comes to making deals, Carter found him to be the most warm and inviting on set, allowing him to feel comfortable.
Some time after the shoot, Carter ran into investor Lori Greiner at a restaurant in Martha’s Vineyard. Even though she was a fierce competitor in the Tank, they hit it off. Now they’re good friends, Carter said.
The “Shark Tank” experience served as a reminder that every great investor has two sides. While you need to be practical, blunt, and competitive, Carter said, you also “have to be empathetic, you have to be open minded, and you do have to be a bit of a people person as well.”
You need to find ways to make money, but through genuine relationships.
“It’s balance,” Carter said.
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