Reflection on Shark Tank

“Da-Dum… Da-Dum… Da-Dum Da-Dum Da-Dum!!!”

Just the phrase “shark tank” makes the Jaws theme pop into my head, which is not a comforting sound when you are pitching your business idea for the first time in front of a panel of esteemed judges and critics!

Before the holidays (Happy 2012, by the way!) the Fellows all had a week to prepare a presentation before a panel of unknown critics for a “shark tank” pitch. We had fifteen minutes to make our case and then some time for Q&A afterwards for feedback and comments. It was sort of like the American Idol of the business world and leading up to the event rumors of more than one Simon Cowell were circulating strongly!

However, despite the fear and nerves, and perhaps because of them, the “shark tank” pitch went by quickly (and relatively painlessly) and ended up being really beneficial.

Describing my (somewhat unconventional) collaborative design studio for-benefit business model in a concise and articulate manner was a challenge. I realize now how important it was that we had a concrete deadline for presenting this so early on. Even though I was uncertain of some aspects of my business model, I made decisions and stood by what I presented. No more wishy-washy maybes – this was it folks! It was a relief to have something definitive together, even though it was nowhere near perfect.

My business has evolved since this presentation, and some aspects and elements have changed or been removed completely, but it was helpful to try the different ideas on for size and see how they fit – and to see how people reacted. The “shark tank” panel zeroed in on things I had hardly even considered, or had taken for granted as “givens”. They challenged me to rethink some of my preconceived notions and tendencies. In the end, that is what will make my company stronger in the long run. So, while someone pushing you on something that is incredibly personal and precious to you may be slightly uncomfortable, it is worth it. Hands down.

So next time the “Da-Dum, Da-Dum” starts up again, I will probably be just as nervous, but I know it will be worth it.