Much-loved entrepreneurial television show Shark Tank Australia has been “rested” by Channel 10 and will not be airing in 2019 after a successful four-season run, with indications from the sharks it may have been cancelled entirely.
Sources from the network has told SmartCompany they hope the show will be renewed for a fifth season in 2020, however, no concrete decision has been made one way or other. SmartCompany was referred to a tweet from show host Sarah Harris, which said the show had “wrapped up”.
“We had a good run! After four seasons, tens of millions of dollars worth of deals … [Shark Tank Australia] has wrapped up,” Harris said.
“So thrilled to have had such an incredible experience and met such amazing people. We’re out!”
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Shark Tank Australia is produced by Endemol Shine Australia, and the Australian version is licensed by media giant Sony, which produces the long-running American edition.
The show pulled in solid ratings of between 520,000 to 650,000 viewers across its four seasons, and was immensely popular within the business and startup community, regularly being recapped by SmartCompany and other media organisations.
A number of businesses have received investments from Naomi Simson, Glen Richards, Janine Allis, Steve Baxter and Andrew Banks — the five ‘sharks’ who head up the show.
In the last season, the total amount invested was just shy of $5 million, with Banks and Richards leading the pack with eight successful investments a piece.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Simson said she was sad the show had been rested for 2019, but was hopeful for its return in 2020.
“I think people love the show because everyone’s got a business idea, and it promotes a real swell in entrepreneurship. It’s also a family show, which is rather unusual for the subject matter,” she says.
“I think it’s a great franchise that Australians love.”
Banks agreed, saying it was remarkable how many people loved Shark Tank, noting he regularly gets stopped in public by fans of the show.
“We had a fun four seasons and we all felt it was a very ‘constructive’ reality show. Plus, all the feedback we got was positive,” he says.
Steve Baxter said he was proud of the run the show has had over the past four years.
“It was a great four years, and I think I engaged with close to 400 different teams while having the honour of calling myself a ‘shark’, and I hope we managed to dispense some relatively valuable advice,” he told SmartCompany.
“Overall I’m disappointed it’s gone the way it has, but I’m very proud to have had four seasons.”
A mixed bag of done deals
Some notable Australian companies have had their success kickstarted by Shark Tank investments, including challenger bank QPay, which locked in a $380,000 deal on the last episode of season four, and Cardly, a greeting card startup, which got a $250,000 investment in season three.
However, the largest-ever Shark Tank Australia investment ended up also being the largest-ever dodged bullet for some of the sharks.
Coffee pod company iCapsulate ended up agreeing to a whopping $2.5 million investment from Andrew Banks, but it was revealed later the deal had failed to pass due diligence. Just as well, as the company was marred by controversy in the months after the episode aired, and fell into administration in September last year.
Some other companies who did not receive investments from the sharks, despite agreeing to them on air, told SmartCompany last year they now feel better off, with some accusing the sharks of putting pressure on founders for a return on investment.
However, Simson told SmartCompany at the time any entrepreneur who thought they weren’t going to be asked tough questions by their investors was “naive”.
“It’s a fair and reasonable question, and if you think that’s pressure then you’re clearly not up to the game. I have investments from season one, two, three and now four, and I will certainly be expecting a ‘defining moment’ from them,” she said at the time.
“It really is naive to think investors will just put money in and not ask questions about when they’re going to get that money back, and quite frankly, it’s disrespectful.”
The show and its investors were also plagued by a run of fake cryptocurrency advertisements, which falsely claimed sharks such as Baxter and Allis had invested in numerous Bitcoin trading startups.