One – Beat The Crowds To Open Casting Calls
I took my BladeButter™ shaving product to an open casting call for Shark Tank in Miami in January 2015. Although we arrived about 8am for the 9am start time, an enormous line of hundreds had already formed. Casting agents worked the lines hard handing out color-coded wristbands and paperwork to each applicant. We were given a 2pm time slot for our group to move to the pitching room, however, casting ran way behind schedule. Two o’clock came and went. We passed the time by meeting other entrepreneurs and perusing the wide gamut of products moving through the hallways of the convention center. We finally got to make our pitch at 5:30pm. Unfortunately, casting was so far behind schedule that they were only allowing 2-minute pitches instead of the standard 10-minute pitch. We felt we did well despite being mentally drained from the very long day. My advice is to arrive way before the start time to guarantee you’ll get a full ten-minute pitch.
Two – The Sharks Do Not Attend Open Calls
You pitch to a casting agent, not an actual Shark Tank investor. I really wasn’t expecting to see any of the Sharks. Open Call Casting is run by a third-party company named Finnmax. Their casting agents will have you fill out paperwork right away which helps filter you through the process. When casting agents talk to you directly, they will ask you questions like “which Shark do you think would most likely make a deal with you?” My advice is to put some passion into your responses. Casting agents see thousands of candidates each year and you need to stand out from all of the rest.
Three – Sell Yourself Before You Sell Them On Your Business
The casting agents give you this very important instruction early on in the process. They want to hear story of you first. Information about your product, service, or idea is really secondary to them. How did you become an entrepreneur? Did you overcome adversity your life? Is your business backstory interesting? In my case, I turned a sticky protein bar problem into a top-ranked shaving product. That short statement seemed to get their attention. My backstory can be found on the BladeButter website.
Four – Attending An Open Call May Not Be Necessary
As it turns out, I did not need to attend open casting to get the attention of Shark Tank. I had filled out ABC’s online application and got the interest of producers from that submission. You can find the application page here. Although my open casting was exhausting and agonizing, I would still recommend attending an open casting call it if you have the opportunity. You’ll get to hone your pitching skills and you’ll get candid feedback from fellow entrepreneurs. In my case, it showed me that BladeButter™ was something that a lot of people could relate to. Who knows, you may even create some new customers like I did.
Five – Callbacks Occur A Couple Of Months Later
I received my first callback from a show Producer, Steven C., two months after I submitted my online application. The first callback is a short phone interview which is another part of the filtering process. I did well and I moved on to a more detailed casting process that involved more phone interviews and requests for more information.
Six – If They’re Interested, Get Ready To Work
The first callback is followed up by a request for more detailed information on you and your business. Obviously, they want to avoid putting sketchy people and shady businesses on television. Immediately after the first callback, they’ll send you an email with a more detailed application to be filled out, a release form for you to appear if chosen, and an outline of requirements for your 10-minute video. They will give you about two weeks to complete these requests. In my case, they also requested BladeButter™ samples. Personally, I found the 10-minute video assignment to be very difficult because it’s not a lot of time to sell yourself and your business. You’ll send everything together when it’s completed. You should expect that they will do a full background check on you.
Seven – You May Go Far Through Casting And Still Not Make It
I went further than most do in casting process, however, I did not make the cut. That’s okay. I’m better off for having this experience. I knew going into it that very few entrepreneurs make it onto the show. Of the ones that do, only a small percentage get offered deals. Those handshake agreements are not guaranteed. There’s a due diligence process that sink most deals before they are finalized. And there’s another outcome that’s rarely talked about… Read the story of Project Repat who made a deal on the show and their segment never aired.