I am Barbara Corcoran, of ABC’s hit show Shark Tank. I will be answering questions here from 12pm – 1pm ET.
For all of you entrepreneurs out there who don’t know where to start… bring me your burning questions! Want to know about the best insider Shark Tank secrets? Well, you’ve got to ask the right things. Just need to know if the male Sharks are really that good looking…? Yes, they are!
I’ve been warned about ducks/horses and I expect this to get weird.
Kill, marry, fuck, do business with: Mark, Kevin, Daymond, Robert?
Sleep with Mark Cuban any day – and do business between the sheets. From what he looks like in a suit, I’m sure I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Like everybody else I’d like to kill Kevin on a daily basis for all the right reasons.
In my opinion Robert should come out of the closet.
I’d like to have a beer with Daymond because he is the funniest man alive.
Did I get off topic?
How did you get that first $1000 loan?
Easy. A guy walked into the diner, while I was waitressing, gave me a ride home that night… and the rest is history.
Is it 100% true that the sharks have never been told anything and have no awareness at all of the businesses or the people before the minute they enter the tank? Do you all get a brief of what’s coming up?
Every time the doors open, I say to myself “I wonder what we have here…?” We don’t know a thing until they step into the tank.
Today if you had to start real estate from scratch, what would you do? Would you do differently that what you did when you started ?
I would have slept with my boyfriend sooner rather than waiting 6 months. I could have gotten my hands on that $1000 earlier and been off and running.
Barbara, I am very excited to be able to ask such an impressive person a direct question. I recently created a product I am very excited about and am in the process of perfecting my prototype. The product I hope will be sold on a website and in distribution to big box stores. What can you recommend for initial distribution? Thank you for your time!
Wow, you’re a schmoozer!
Use your schmooze ability to take one prototype out to the big box stores NOW and see if they buy it, and if sell it, what price?
Spending time perfecting things and getting ready always keeps you at the gate. You need to get in the race.
What percentage of the deals that you’ve made on the TV show actually get finalized and proceed once you and your team vets the finances and research your new partners? Also, do you think there will there be a time when you and the other sharks will have to leave the show because you have too many companies / partners?
Roughly 65% get closed. No need to ever leave the show because I work diligently with every business but the minute I spot an unsuccessful entrepreneur in my lot, I turn his photo upside down in my office to remind me not to spend anymore time with them. So I always have room for a new, great entrepreneur.
Ever since Mark Cuban got the producers to remove the requirement that companies that show up on Shark Tank must give up 5% of their company or pay a 2% royalty, there’s been a noticeable uptick in the number of ‘gold diggers’ that show up just for publicity and with ridiculous valuations. Any thoughts on that?
That stuff happens all the time, and it never bothers me. Put yourself in their shoes: a producer calls and says “how’d you like to be on prime time TV with 8 million people watching you?”. Who in their right mind would say no?
Have you ever fired a gun in the air and gone “ahhh”?
I’ve thought of killing my husband at least a hundred times, but lucky for him I don’t have a gun.
How fun was it to see Kevin crash and burn so ignominiously on Celebrity Jeopardy? Should it be turned into a SNL skit?
I didn’t know he had. Send me a link, I can’t wait to rub his nose in it.
What is the biggest mistake you see small businesses making? What advice would you give to avoid this mistake?
Pissing away money on patents and PR. The right dance steps are: 1) make the product 2) get some sales 3) make the big guys envy you and only then get a patent.
But what gets in the way of all young business is self-doubt. The little poisonous voice inside all of us that whispers “don’t go there. You can’t do it. Don’t take the chance.” It took me 20 years to kill that voice and set myself free.
What have been your most successful and unsuccessful ventures through the Tank?
I won’t even mention my least successful, because they’re suing me for outing them last time! But clearly my most successful are Cousins Maine Lobster. Because they’re making me the most money, they’re the smartest guys in the bunch and they’re damn good looking. Even better they have the common decency to airbrush photos of us together – my face only – before they send them to me.
What books would you most recommend an aspiring entrepreneur to consume, before venturing out with their brilliant idea?
You shouldn’t be reading any books before venturing out. Get out there now and then read them as you’re working. Still the best business book I’ve ever read is “How To Win Friends and Influence People”. Nothing better.
What is your opinion of Kevin O’Leary?
Kevin, in real life, is a sweetheart. When his wife walks onto the set he is visibly shaking in his knees. Really.
What is your favorite shark species?
Why would anyone have a favorite shark species? Are you nuts? The movie Jaws ruined swimming in the ocean for me forever.
Are you a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones and if so who’s your favorite character?
I am a fan of GoT – my favorite is Tyrion and he has redefined, for me, what makes a man!
Which deal do you most regret not making in Shark Tank? Outside of Shark Tank?
Notehall took my offer and then the two young guys shopped it around for a larger offer. And they sold the company, by year end, for $10 million. I regret not stuffing both of them in my luggage until the deal got signed.
What do you think about the marijuana industry and the potential bubble/boom that would result from full legalization? Will you be investing?
Not my kind of investment, but when I was out skiing in Aspen I visited two phenomenal pot stores with décor that put Starbucks to shame. They were each doing more business than anyone else on the street.
I was asked to leave the second one when the cops came in because I couldn’t prove I was over 21. It was so embarrassing, you’ve gotta believe me.
In your opinion, can introverts be successful entrepreneurs?
Only if they join themselves at the hip with a great extrovert who is people smart. My partner Esther was quiet as a mouse, but I was her opposite as she was mine.
I’ve heard that to get ahead in business it’s not about what you know, but who you know. Is true?
Who you know gets you in the door, but if you don’t learn it real fast, they’ll show you the door.
If you had an opportunity to pick a partner shark to go in on deals with who do you think you’d pick the most? The least?
Mark is always my first pick because I honestly think he is the smartest, and he’s got the most bucks.
Least likely partner? Robert. Because with Robert, immediate fun always comes before business. Maybe I’m jealous?
How were you able to go from straight D’s to being successful?
The great thing about being a stupid student, is you have the whole damn day to day dream. And day dreaming, about who you want to be, is a heck of a lot more useful than a rock-solid business plan.
I have recently opened up a hot dog cart and am in the process of expanding to a second location. I have having difficulty figuring out how to entice someone to work a hot dog cart for an hourly rate when I am only able to operate from 12am-2:30am. I am debating giving up a percentage of the earnings to get someone to work it so I can focus on running a second one to increase revenue all around. What do you think I should do?
You should do what I did to find the right babysitters for my daughter. I went to the local high school and hung out on the playground as the kids broke for lunch (by the way, 12-2:30). I decided who I liked best and propositioned them to work for me after school. They took the job and they job share it. I’m sure I have the best girls in the whole school and I pay them $10/hour.
Get a team of high school kids and open your next ten stands soon.
I would like to know if the Sharks inform the producers of the industries they are interested in investing in, so when the producers are deciding who to put thru to the tank, they know the industries you each are most interested in?
It’s not necessary. Because, the producers watch Shark Tank just like everybody else. They know that Mark loves technology, I love food products, Daymond loves textiles, Robert loves toys, Lori loves QVC and Kevin loves himself.
It’s pretty easy to schedule.
At face-value, does having immense wealth truly make life better day-to-day?
Wealth complicates things. I’m not really sure who my real friends are now… and so I keep my original circle small. When I cashed out on my business, everybody I knew suddenly had a $10,000 problem.
But I’m not giving the money back.
Do I have any hope of making money off of the thousands of Beanie Babies my mother bought in the 90s?
You can make some hobby money, but not real money. Go on Ebay and see what they’re selling them for.
But if you’re under 25, don’t do it till you’re over 30 because it might be the greatest gift in the world for your own kids.
How do you see the future of the real estate business changing due to technology?
The internet has been the game changer. My NYC real estate firm was the first online, and in the first week we had two sales out of London. I knew that moment, that the power went into the hands of the buyer.
They’re in charge.
I have $10k siting in the bank. What is the best investment?
That’s a ridiculous question. The ONLY thing worth investing in is yourself. And so the real question is… what do you feel passionate about? Is there an angle you could work that would make you some money?
After having been on the show for six seasons now, how do you manage all of the businesses that you’ve invested in? Are you able to devote yourself to all of them, or do you have someone within your organization that oversees them?
I have a genius kid on my team that helps me with all of the businesses. But the real key to doing a lot at once, and doing it well, is figuring out every morning what you’re a priorities for the day really are, as there are very few.
The items I attend to first are the ones that answer well to the query – how dramatically would this affect my business?
Where do you see this real estate market headed?
There is no end in sight in real estate right now. We are still making up for 5 lousy years and most houses are still a good deal.
Try renting the house you’re thinking of buying instead – it’ll cost you a lot more.
Which deal on the show you or any other host made , thought that it was a good decisions but later realized that it was a mistake in judgement and how would you have helped in fixing it?
You had to bring up the failures did you? Thanks a lot!
I actually have a list that I burnt in my fireplace along with the money that was wasted.
I invested in a soda company that went no where, an exercise company that went belly-up, a medical device company that all the doctors hated and believe it or not… a lipstick that ruined my lips! I won’t address this subject ever again.
What’s your faveorite movie and why is it Paul Blart Mall Cop?
That movie sucks.
Still my all-time favorite is Dr. Zhivago… and I bought that exact hooded fur coat that Tonya wore in the snow scene when I made it big.
But I quickly realized it only looked good on her.
Edit: My brother-in-law has it now.
What is your opinion on the current income equality plaguing America?
It’s a shame. I think what the country needs is a total dedication to the belief that it is everyone’s responsibility to help the poor become middle class, and the middle class to become rich. You can’t build anything great with a have and have not attitude. You need a team.
But I’m not giving back my money, I’m holding onto it!
What was your first major project/idea/business that really got you into the world of business? At what point did you realize that the world of business would be your career?
My first business failed miserably. It was a flower of the week club, for only $3.95 a week. I would later build my very successful real estate business.
Ironically, the guy who put me out of my first flower business, was none other than a real estate broker. He owed me 47 weeks of flowers for both him and his mom – at $3.95 a week!
I had a cash flow problem and went under.
What do you think is the most common personality trait that holds people back from being successful entrepreneurs and what would you suggest is the best way to overcome it?
Fear. The fear of failure.
The real question is… what makes you fearful of failing? It’s usually lack of self-esteem (or your parents did a number on you).
What advice do you have for me as a solopreneur who has no interest in having a cofounder when it comes to landing an angel investor?
Then don’t have a co-founder. Use your own energy, and the typical funding from family and friends. Or go to the SBA (small business association) for a loan. After you work your business for a few years, revisit the question then.
After the deal is done, how much do you see the owners of the companies you invest in?
A lot more than you would expect. Just like some people are high maintenance and others aren’t, some of my investments need to be told “I love you” daily, and some never call unless I call them.
Did you know any of the other sharks personally before Shark Tank? How do you get along with everyone now?
Working 10 hour days with my fellow Sharks builds friendship, in much the same way army guys in a bunker.
We all met first on set, and that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. We’re pals, we are all pals.
Next to sales/profit, What is the most important quality you look for in a company you are considering to invest in?
The head of the company has to be able to sell. You need a salesman at the helm. Because if he can’t sell the product/service who can?!
As a NY native living outside of the tri-state area, do you feel being born and raised in NY gives you a competitive advantage of sorts in business?
My mother always believed that the meek would inherit the earth. Not so in New York, where the biggest loud mouth reigns supreme.
Realizing that completely shaped how I do business.
Would you rather fight 100 duck sized Mr. Wonderful’s, or one Mr. Wonderful sized duck?
I don’t even like Mr. Wonderful. In any form. So the duck.
But in all seriousness, when they married us on Shark Tank… I didn’t want to admit it but, he has lovely soft lips.
Sometimes, as a female in the business world, I find it hard to rise above the males in the room, so to speak. How has being a woman impacted you and what is the best advice you can give me from your experiences?
I never looked at myself as a woman. And on those occasions where I’m not speaking up, not asking for what I want, or justifying why I didn’t want it in the first place, I stop and ask myself: “What would a man do?” And then I do exactly what a guy would do!