Ever wondered if your product idea or disruptive new business concept could hold muster after being cross-analysed by a panel of Shark Tank investors?
Thanks to one Adelaide-based entrepreneur, you might not have to wonder much longer.
Andrew Bensley is the creator of the official, Sony-endorsed Shark Tank Entrepreneur app, which allows aspiring business owners to put their ideas to the test through a set of rigorous questions — almost as if you were being grilled by Steve Baxter himself.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Bensley says he came up with the concept for the app after hearing about a family friend who, after recently retiring, poured his life’s savings into investing in a startup.
“He had minimal investment experience and ended up losing it all. At that time, I thought there needed to be some sort of assessment tool for investors and entrepreneurs to help them assess the potential of their venture,” Bensley says.
Bensley is a former creative director at numerous advertising agencies and the Shark Tank app is his first foray into the world of entrepreneurship, although he had been running marketing and innovation workshops for entrepreneurs at the University of Adelaide.
Through this experience, Bensley had seen many startup founders pitch ideas without doing any due diligence, or without a solid understanding of the market, so he decided to do something to help them.
“Over the last three years I’ve been interviewing entrepreneurs, professors, angel investors, and VCs and put together a list of essential questions one needs to be asked as a startup founder,” he says.
“I also thought about what would be the responses to those questions, and what would be the feedback from experts if people answered in a certain way.
“I can say that there’s quantitative research behind the app — I’ve got the street smarts from the investors, along with the academic rigour.”
But after running his own app idea through his own set of questions — which are designed to help other founders find out what they need to make their project succeed — Bensley found the missing piece. As he suspected, he needed some form of third-party endorsement for the app, otherwise it would just “fade into the ether”.
Identifying Shark Tank as a perfect brand to back the app, Bensley engaged in some LinkedIn stalking, and quickly got an invite to London to discuss the app’s potential.
Just like that, the app was Shark Tank-endorsed.
Stephan Zingg, head of international distribution, licensing and digital for Sony, said in a statement that Song is proud to be part of Bensley’s app.
“Who would have thought that Andrew, all the way from Adelaide, who decided to get on a plane to London to pitch an idea for an app, would acquire the Shark Tank license to create the Shark Tank Entrepreneur app. This will change the way start-ups, entrepreneur’s and SME’s assess their ideas,” Zingg said.
The app is currently partnered with Network Ten in Australia, which is promoting it via the show and on its social media channels, but an international rollout is also planned. The app originally cost $9.99, but has since been switched to a ‘freemium’ model.
Reflecting on his journey, Bensley says it has been a lesson in how to back yourself successfully, advising other aspiring entrepreneurs that it’s not just about your confidence, but also about your follow-through.
“It’s not just about backing an idea, but also about doing your complete homework on your target market, your engagement, and how everything will work out if you do it. You need to have everything you think’s required to create what you want to,” he says.
“You need to back your idea to the point you’re willing to get on a plane to London to pitch it.”