Starting a new business is tough. Getting someone to believe in it enough to put their money at stake is even tougher. That’s the premise of ABC’s show, Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs are invited to present their business idea for a chance to make a deal with one or more of the show’s “shark” investors.
An Assumption bachelor’s degree in business grad, Rob Bouley ’94, recently appeared on Shark Tank, where he presented his Halloween-themed product Switch Witch. His product and presentation illustrates important lessons relevant to business students and young entrepreneurs alike.
1. A product should solve a problem
Many new business ventures begin with an idea on how to solve a real consumer problem. For example, concern over children’s sugar intake during Halloween is a problem for many parents. Simply taking the candy away is one option but it defeats the enjoyment children get from Halloween activities. Switch Witch is a book and a doll that solves this problem. It brings to life an idea of a witch that accepts Halloween candy in exchange for prized gifts. The product helps parents encourage their kids to give away their candy in hopes of getting something better.
2. Seasonality of a product matters
Products associated with a holiday generally have a shorter shelf life as the demand drops after the holiday is over. This may not always be an issue as preparation for some holidays such as Christmas can span several months. In the case of Switch Witch, the product has the greatest appeal in the few days leading up to and following Halloween, making the selling period very brief. While there are many successful products sold within a span of a few weeks, making a strong case to an investor can be challenging in this scenario.
3. Numbers are proof
If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank, you’ll note that each presentation eventually gets to the numbers — the part when investors ask specifics on product sales, cost of production, profits, etc. This is because when it’s all said and done, and the story — the idea, problem it solved, and customers it won — is shared, the numbers are the proof that demonstrate potential in the eyes of investors. For Switch Witch, the numbers were not impressive.
If you missed the Shark Thank episode featuring Switch Witch, check out the full episode on ABC’s website.