How to get on Shark Tank | Full Easy Step-by-Step Guide

Knowing how to get on Shark Tank is one step to achieving your goal of receiving funding for your business.

Even if you don’t land a deal with one of the five sharks, it’s still an opportunity to showcase your business to millions of potential customers.

That’s why you must get your application and everything else right. You should know that you are not the only person applying for funding.

In fact, over 40,000 people apply to get on the show, and less than one percent of the number get to pitch their idea to the sharks, and eventually make it on TV.

So, if you want to get on the show, you need all the information you can get on how to scale through.

And all the information you need is contained in this article.

Let’s start with some background knowledge.

About Shark Tank

Shark Tank is a reality TV series where entrepreneurs, inventors, businesspersons, creators, and innovators, are given the chance to make their business grow immediately.

Whether its just an idea that you have, or you’re a startup already operating looking to expand, or you feel you have a lucrative business product and need financial backing, then Shark Tank is the show you need.

The show is designed for entrepreneurs who can pitch their breakthrough business concepts, products, properties, and services to moguls in hopes of landing investment funds.

If selected, you’d have the opportunity to pitch your idea or business to five self-made brilliant but tough investors (known as the Sharks) who could be willing to part with their own hard-earned cash to give you the funding you need to jumpstart your business.

However, it’s important you know that the Sharks aren’t just out to invest in your business, they also want a piece of it.

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How to Apply to Shark Tank

Before you decide to apply to Shark Tank, you should realize that the process is a long and tedious one.

More so, you are not the only one seeking for funding. So, the earlier you realize that the odds may not be in your favor, the better for you.

The producers of Shark Tank make the procedures purposefully loang and tedious.

The aim is to weed out entrepreneurs who are not fully committed to their business.

There are tens of thousands of applicants every year who are determined to succeed and have all the qualities it takes to establish and operate a successful business.

So, if you are serious about getting funding for your business, here’s how to apply to Shark Tank.

#1. Make sure you meet the requirements

Shark Tank isn’t for everybody. This means that if you want to pitch to the sharks, you must meet some requirements. The criteria include;

  • You must be 18 years of age (or the age of majority in the state in which you reside) or older; or if below 18 years of age (or the age of majority in the state in which you reside) your parents and/or legal guardians must apply on your behalf and must also sign and agree to all documents related to your potential participation in the Series.
  • You must be a legal resident of the United States.
  • You must be and remain legally present in the United States during your participation in the Series and legally authorized to participate.
  • Neither you nor any of your immediate family members or anyone living in your household may currently be, nor have been within the past one (1) year, an employee, officer or director of any of the following: (a) Finnmax LLC, UAMG Content, LLC, Sony Pictures Television Inc., American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., any television station owned or operated by American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., any entity owned, controlled or affiliated with each of the foregoing, or any direct and/or indirect parents, subsidiaries, affiliated or related entities of each of the foregoing; (b) any person or entity directly involved in the development, production, distribution or other exploitation of the Series or any variation thereof; (c) any known major sponsor of the Series; (d) any Shark or any entity substantially owned or controlled by any Shark; or (e) any person or entity supplying services to the Series.

You can find the full requirements by clicking the button below.


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#2. Apply to participate in the show

There are two methods of application. It’s either you apply online, or you attend an open call.

a. Apply Online

You’d have to fill a one-page preliminary application form online to apply for the show.

Fill in all the blank sections accurately and click on “submit.”

If your application makes it to the next stage, you’d be required to download the Initial Application Packet.

The packet includes the Short Application, Audition Release and Submitted Materials Release. Read it carefully. Fill out the application fully, honestly, and legibly.

Here are a few tips to consider when filling your online application;

  • Be very detailed about your business. Bear in mind that the person reading your application doesn’t know you or your business.
  • Be very direct, straightforward, and clear about your business. Nobody is going to waste time on your application if its difficult to go through.
  • The producers look for compelling stories on your application. So, ensure to include something fascinating about you or your business.

Click the button below to apply online.


b. Attend an Open Call

The next method of applying to Shark Tank is to attend an open call. Shark Tank schedules open calls in at least five cities around the country. The locations vary from year to year.

However, due to COVID-19 all application process has been moved online, and all calls canceled.

The casting team will review all online applications and you don’t need to attend an in-person casting call to be considered for the show.

Once you submit your application, the team will contact you if there’s a need for more information.

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#3. Accept an invitation to a phone interview

If your application gets to the next stage, then you’d receive a confirmation letter which sets you on the track to becoming a finalist.

Several weeks after you have received your confirmation letter, you will have a phone interview with a producer.

The casting producer will ask you for more details about your business. Questions like what motivated you to start it, what you have done to make it a success, your general background, noteworthy experiences, and lots of similar questions.

After the phone call, you will receive more materials (usually additional forms) in the mail. Fill out the forms accurately and send them back as requested.

#4. Invitation to audition

If your application process moves up to the next stage, then you’d receive a phone call inviting you to audition in person or send in a video pitch.

When sending a video audition, it’s important that you are as accommodating as possible.

The video producer will tell you what is expected and how to submit the video through email.

Film a 5- to 10-minute pitch for your product as professionally as possible. At this point, your video has a role to play in moving you up the ladder.

The better the video, the better your chances of getting booked. Include in your pitch how great your product is, why your business deserves to be funded, how you will give back, and any financial info that reflects well on your company.

Don’t forget to show how entertaining you are. Don’t forget your personal story.

If you have not been selected, you may receive a letter in the mail, or you may never hear from them.

What to do when you get accepted to the tank

Finally, you survived the long audition process. You were able to convince the convincing producers that your business, your story of perseverance, your enthusiasm, charisma, and confidence are ready.

You’d be notified a few months in advance if you made it to the finalist stage.

But, don’t think there is enough time. Those months will fly by sooner than you think and if you are not prepared, you may just lose an opportunity of a lifetime.

During the audition, you’d be under the bright lights of show biz, with multiple cameras aimed at you, recording you give your pitch to famous millionaires and billionaires who are interested to learn about you and your business.

Here are a list of things to do if you get accepted to pitch.

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#1. Prepare and rehearse your start-off pitch

You don’t have to go to the Sharks with a fresh pitch idea or talk. You can elaborate on your initial audition video in your one minute pitch.

I’m not saying it’s just one minute you have to pitch to the Sharks, but its best to prepare yourself for anything between 1-2 minutes.

You don’t want to keep blabbing on and on, making the Sharks lose interest. Your aim with the pitch is to get them interested in your business and the deal you have for them.

While preparing, bear in mind that the sharks will ask questions. Most times, the questions may throw you off balance because they may be something you had no intentions of saying out loud.

So, while preparing and rehearsing your pitch, know the following;

  • Film yourself
  • In your opening, include condensed information about your business, your background, what compelled you to start the business, and how the business is doing. If you can add humor naturally, don’t miss the chance.
  • Know it inside out and upside down, so that you can provide the information without sounding like a robot.

#2. Don’t try to fool the sharks

Don’t try to make this mistake at all. The Sharks are as intelligent and as smart as they come. So don’t expect to impress them with big words, jargon, or complicated nonsense.

More so, keep in mind that its not just the sharks that you are pitching to. You’re talking to millions of Americans, other billionaires who may be interested in your product. So you’d want to keep it simple.

Go straight to the point. Let them know who you are, what your product is, the status of the business, how much of an investment you want from the sharks, and how much equity you are willing to give them. 

#3. Know your numbers

This is the point that interests the Sharks the most. Know your numbers well. Hire a certified public accountant (CPA) if you must, so that you can answer all financial questions thrown at you.

Know the cost of goods, profit margin, customer acquisition cost, current inventory, projected sales for current year, gross sales to date by year (last 3 years) and your net profit for each of those years.

#4. Be realistic when asking

When preparing for the D-day, it’s important you know what exactly you’re going to ask. Be realistic when asking.

For instance, if your business is barely off the ground or if you are losing money, asking for $1,000,000 is not going to win you a deal.

So, ask for something that you can get.

#5. Be realistic with your offer

Similar to your ask, you should be realistic with your offer. If you are unwilling to give up a reasonable amount of equity in your company, the sharks will pass.

Ensure you provide a balance point between what you want and what the Sharks want.

Also, keep in mind that these guys are not just giving you money but expertise, name, connections, their staff, and so much more.

So, you do want to get this right. After all, it’s an investment, not your family donation.

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#6. Watch past episodes of Shark Tank

When getting ready for your own turn, do this. Watch past episodes of Shark Tank, study those videos, take notes on successful entrepreneurs.

Why were they successful? Study the entrepreneurs who failed to get a deal. What went wrong?

Note any questions that you need to add to the list the producer gave you.

#7. Research the Sharks

Learn as much as you can about the Sharks. Get to know their companies and who they’ve invested in. Find out whose interests and expertise best match your business.

If possible, learn about their personal background also. If you find similarities between you and a shark, mention them.

However, be sure you have the right information. Don’t go about with incorrect information. It can jeopardize your mission.

Sometimes, a good strategy is to play the man.

#8. Be prepared to explain products similar to yours

If there are similar products to yours, then be prepared to explain them and why yours is better.

#9. You’d be in the tank for long

You will be in the tank for three-quarters of an hour to an hour and a half. This time may feel like 10 minutes or 8 hours depending on how things are going in there.

So, if you’re done in about 30 minutes, then you most likely did something wrong.

It’s money that’s being talked about in there. Money takes time!

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#10. Have a Patent

A patent prevents other people from stealing your idea and relieves the sharks of concerns about knock offs and lawsuits over theft of intellectual property.

So, get one if you can and improve your chances of becoming selected.

The D-day; What to do when you are in the tank

The D-day is finally here. It’s time to pitch your idea to the Sharks. You walk into a room filled with people.

Stop at the “X” sign on the carpet. Then stand silently while the camera crew gets set up. It will likely be the longest, most awkward 30 seconds of your life.

When you walk into the room, you may be surprised how crowded the tank is. Asides from you and the sharks, there are 10 or more camera people. Each shark has his or her own camera person.

Beginning, the sharks only know your name and what your product is. This makes it more of a reality TV show as people want to see their reaction as they learn about you and your business, and decide if they want to invest.

Here’s what to do when you walk into the room.

#1. Communicate Non-verbally

The first thing to do when you walk in the tank is to nod and smile. It is a warm and courteous greeting, and people like to work with friendly people.

Take note of your posture. Stand upright and do not slouch. Don’t even cross your arms! Staying in this position makes you appear confident.

The Sharks take note of your body language. So you’d want to appear confident, be able to stand up for yourself but in a nice way.

#2. Involve the sharks in your presentation

The best way to engage the sharks is to give them a sample of your product or whatever it is you have to offer.

If possible, create a personalized version of your product for each shark. If there’s no product, then let them try whatever service, anything at all that you are offering.

#3. You got yourself a deal!

If the Sharks are interested in your venture, then they will offer you a deal. However, nothing is certain. That approval, or hug or handshake that you get doesn’t seal the deal.

After the normal on-air deal, the sharks and their staff do their due diligence to make sure that all your claims are true.

If they find any loopholes, the offer will be rescinded. Or you could be the one to pass it one if you don’t think it’s good enough of a deal.

Bottom Line

While applying for Shark Tank, don’t depend on it. Not every startup that applies for Shark Tank makes it on TV or even gets the investments they want.

As a matter of fact, no deal is final until the money is in the bank and all the parties involved have signed off on the deal.

Regardless, Shark Tank is a really god place to source for funding. So give it a try!

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