There’s one truth to life as an entrepreneur, says Boost Juice founder and Shark Tank investor Janine Allis: “Shit will happen”.
Viewers will get to see Allis stare down countless nervy business hopefuls from next week, when season four of Australia’s Shark Tank kicks off on Tuesday night.
Having heard hundreds of pitches and invested cash in a range of companies over the years — including a $100,000 in health food business Foddies in 2017 — Allis says she now looks most closely at the person behind the product.
“I’m looking for the X factor in that person. At the end of the day, the idea is what it is: the execution is the real thing,” Allis tells SmartCompany.
“It’s about the grit to be willing to go through with things, because shit will happen. We’re looking for those people that can look through that.”
Viewers can expect to see the sharks continue to bicker among themselves this season, with Allis saying fellow sharks Naomi Simson and Steve Baxter keep up their “healthy rivalry” this season.
“Steve seriously does crack it one time and walk out,” she says.
The fourth time around also held some lessons for the sharks about pre-conceived ideas. Season four of the show saw the sharks arrive to the stage before the entrepreneur for the first time, meaning the potential investors were able to see the product and pitch setup before the founder actually arrived.
Allis says this meant the sharks often formed a quick first impression of an idea, but their perceptions changed when they met the entrepreneur behind the pitch deck.
“There were a couple of things I found really interesting about this season, because when we walked on set, sometimes we had seen the product and all gone, ‘oh my god, can we get to lunch as we can?’ But then [the founder pitching], well, they’ve seriously blown us away,” she says.
“Like there was this really creepy doll thing where I said, ‘Seriously?’ [when first seeing it], but it turned out to be a ripper.”
The sharks love process, so dot your ‘I’s
Getting an investment deal with one of the sharks is only the first step to success. After the cameras stop rolling, the time comes to open your books so that the investors can do due diligence.
Not every deal captured on camera ends up making it to reality, but Allis says there are key, basic pieces of information that all entrepreneurs should be ready to show investors at a moment’s notice.
“We’re all very process driven — when we each get off the show, we give them a due diligence kit [to companies offered investment],” she says.
The sharks want clear information, including profit and loss and a business plan going forward. However, it’s the most basic things, like a timely reply to a question, that Allis holds as ultimately important when it comes to working with an early-stage company.
“For me, the actual process of due diligence is just as important as the actual numbers. So get things back to us in a timely manner,” she says.
With so many other things on her plate, Allis says she will absolutely not wait around for a company to collect itself when she needs a question answered, and she will not follow-up if she doesn’t get the info she needs. She says if a company takes a long time to respond during the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship, then that’s never a good sign.
“All these things are important. And the one thing I say, to the girl that helps me with this process, is ‘do not chase’ [companies that don’t respond],” she says.
Shark Tank season four will premiere at 8:30pm on Tuesday, May 15.
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