The cutthroat world of business makes for great TV, as devoted viewers of NBC’s Shark Tank know. On the show, now in its eighth season, entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors, or Sharks, who don’t hesitate to ask tough questions of their would-be business partners.
Part of what makes Shark Tank such compelling Friday-night viewing is that it’s real. The Sharks — Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John and Robert Herjavec — put up their own money to invest in the fledgling businesses. True, the deals sometimes fall apart off camera, and other products flop, but a few runaway successes have also come out of the show. The Scrub Daddy, a reusable smiling sponge Shark Lori Greiner invested in, has done $50 million in sales. Robert Herjavec saw the potential in Tipsy Elves, a line of ugly Christmas sweaters that were later featured in The Night Before, starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Overall, the Sharks have invested more than $87 million in businesses featured on the show.
The Sharks are able to pick winners because they’ve each spent years building successful businesses of their own. “We have lots of cash; we’ve all come from different sectors; we’ve all run businesses,” O’Leary told Entrepreneur in 2012.
Those years of experience also mean the Sharks aren’t afraid to drop some hard truths on starry-eyed contestants. Watching people pitch quirky products is definitely part of the fun of watching Shark Tank, but the free advice on how to run a business, manage your career, and handle your finances almost makes watching TV educational. Though you may not always agree with them, there’s no doubt they have some provocative things to say about the stuff that makes the world go round. Here are 15 of the Sharks insights into money, how it works, and what it can do for you.