If all goes well on Shark Tank, an entrepreneur’s pitch will end with a Shark springing from his or her seat, hand outstretched to shake on a deal.
But, it turns out, that handshake doesn’t always mean the investment will happen.
Following an in-depth investigation into the outcomes of last season’s deals, Fairfax journalist Cara Waters determined that the vast majority never proceeded after the cameras stopped rolling.
“Of the 50 businesses which appeared on Shark Tank last year, 27 received investment from the sharks on television, however only four of these investments actually went ahead,” she wrote.
Though the pitches are vetted by the Channel 10 program’s producers prior to filming, the millionaire investors also conduct their own due diligence on the business’ proposal once an agreement is made. It’s during this process that some deals break down.
Shark/tech investor Steve Baxter previously told TV Tonight that doing due diligence on a deal typically takes four months.
“Shark Tank gives you the impression that it is exciting: ‘Let’s go and do it now! Sign a cheque and let’s get it done!’ But ultimately this is my kids’ money. Their inheritance. So I’m not going to stuff it up,” he said.
— Cara Waters (@carawaters) May 17, 2018
Perhaps most notable among the failed 2017 deals was the breakdown of Andrew Banks’ $2.5million investment in coffee pod company, iCapsulate – the largest in Shark Tank Australia’s history.
As News Limited recently reported, the recruitment entrepreneur called off the deal after doing due diligence.
Rick Coles and his wife Tracy, founders of Fresh Meals 2U, also ultimately walked away without their investment. Janine Allis and Steve Baxter had agreed to inject $200,000 for a 25 per cent stake in the business, but the deal never went ahead.
“We did not know that there was a show deal and then a real deal; we thought it was just one deal,” Coles told Fairfax.
“There is an element of disappointment,” he says. “But we were more looking for mentorship and being able to tap into their experience and we did get to do that in some respects.”
The relatively low number of successful Shark Tank deals isn’t unique to the Australian version of the program. In 2016, Forbes spoke to 237 business owners who had received investment over seven seasons of the US show and discovered 73 per cent did not get the deal they made on TV.
In a statement issued to Mamamia, a spokesperson for Shark Tank’s creators Endemol Shine Australia said it is important to remember that the Sharks are investing their own money.
“As in any proposed business investment, even one where the pitch and deal is filmed, comprehensive due diligence is required before the investment proceeds.
“There can be many reasons for a deal to not proceed. That said, even where deals do not go ahead, the Sharks often provide their assistance, mentoring or invaluable introductions for entrepreneurs.
“We take our duty of care extremely seriously. The entrepreneurs have access to a dedicated show psychologist and support team throughout the entire production and broadcast.”
You can read Cara Waters’ Shark Tank investigation via Fairfax.