If you could increase your business I.Q. by sitting in front of the TV, would you do it? What if I told you that as a bonus, it would be entertaining too?
If you want to get a free business education, watch Shark Tank. Shark tank airs Friday Nights at 9 PM on ABC.
Here is the premise of the show from the Shark Tank Website:
The panel of five Sharks [Venture Capitalists] will hear pitches of the best business and product ideas from some of America’s brightest entrepreneurs, ranging from start-ups from stay-at-home moms and dads, to simple yet brilliant ideas in a wide range of areas including children’s products, music, sports, automotive, and even the nightclub scene….
The entrepreneurs who dare to enter the “Shark Tank” must try to convince the tough, self-made, multi-millionaire/billionaire tycoons to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they desperately need to jumpstart their business ideas. But the Sharks have a goal, too. They want a return on their investment and own a piece of the next big business idea.
In exchange for the Sharks’ cash investment, the entrepreneurs give up a percentage of their companies’ equity. When the Sharks hear a great idea, they’re ready to fight each other for a piece of it. Then the once-desperate entrepreneur can rejoice that the Sharks find value in their product, service or business. But if the pitch is poor, the Sharks will tear into the ill-prepared presenters and pass on the idea with a simple “I’m out!”
What Will You Learn?
These businessmen will teach you how capitalism really works.
Sometimes they expose the dark side of business–as when they attempt to buy a business in order to liquidate it. The sharks are looking to maximize profits even though they may destroy the entrepreneur’s dream. It is not personal; it’s just business.
Sometimes they tell an entrepreneur to stop doing what he is doing. This is merciful, as when the business model does not make sense and doing more will only lead the entrepreneur (who already has a second mortgage on his home) into greater debt.
These VCs do not suffer fools gladly and they do not provide false hope.
Sometimes they spot a great business. When they do, they fight each other to obtain a stake in the viable business. Pay close attention when they fight each other for a piece of a winning business because they are exposing the secrets of entrepreneurial success.
By watching the show you will learn:
- How venture capitalists (VCs) think about money
- How VCs decide to bet on a successful business
- How to price a business (business valuation)
- What entrepreneurs need to do to be successful
- Why VCs bet on the entrepreneur as much as the product
- What does not work and why
Now, you can watch passively and simply enjoy the show, but I would suggest that you watch with a yellow pad and take notes. Keep a dictionary handy or Google terms you do not understand. If you do this, you will be taught valuable concepts that we teach in our students in our MBA program.
Look for trends. Within the first 5 shows that you watch, you will begin to see certain patterns emerge (e.g. what makes a business attractive to an investor).
Teach Your Children Well
Want to teach your children real lessons about economics?
Download full seasons and watch them together. In 12 hours, you will teach your children more about how the economy works than they learn from 12 years in public school.
The show airs Friday at 9 PM on ABC, but you can watch a few back episodes on the Shark Tank Website. You can also download the first 4 seasons from Amazon. Single episodes are $1.99, but when you buy a season, each episode is only a buck.
What other educational TV shows can you recommend? I would love to hear your thoughts.
-Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.
November 21, 2012
Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University