Many inventors and entrepreneurs dream of going on Shark Tank, but what does it take to actually get a chance to pitch your invention to the Sharks? Before you send in an audition application, here are a few questions that the Sharks commonly ask, and how you can be better prepared to wow them with your answers.
Do You Have a Patent?
A common question that the Sharks ask entrepreneurs during their pitch is if they have a patent. What the Sharks are looking for through asking this question is your investment in your product. Patents can be expensive and obtaining one shows a dedication to the lengthy process of ensuring that your product is unique and that you’re credible as an inventor. Since the patent process can take years, if you don’t already have one, you should apply as soon as you can. This can help your invention itself, but also your credibility with the Sharks and as a business owner. Remember, if you're waiting for more investment, or you need to do more preliminary work before submitting a patent application, a provisional application can give you "patent pending" status for a limited amount of time.
What Makes Your Product Unique?
Many inventors believe their idea is unique, but a patent search can determine if it really is. Hiring a patent search company like Global Patent Solutions allows inventors to conduct a patent search with the assistance of professionals. In a patent search, patent professionals are looking for prior art, which is any evidence of products that are similar to your idea. If prior art exists, your product idea may need to be altered or scrapped. If not, you can move forward in the patent process. The patent search step is extremely important, as it can save inventors from investing thousands of dollars into an idea that isn’t original. The Sharks know this, as the number one thing they are looking for in worthwhile investments is uniqueness.
Another method that you can use outside of conducting a patent search is to test your product in the market. In today’s digital age, crowdfunding through online platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo allows inventors to gauge the public’s response. This not only raises awareness about your product, but can even lead to pre-sales, something that the numbers-centric Sharks will definitely inquire about.
Do You Have An Actual Product?
A tangible product is often the first thing that the Sharks and viewers at home see when an entrepreneur walks into the The Tank. Many entrepreneurs have displays next to them as they pitch that has the product name, logo and items on it, letting the viewers at home see what they’re pitching. The Sharks may even ask to see the product or entrepreneurs will pass them out, often individualized to each Shark’s personality. It’s not required to customize your product to impress the Sharks, but if you can, it could certainly give you a leg up. At the very least if you’re able to, having a tangible product allows the Sharks to get a real feel for the product you’re trying to sell them and how it functions. This can potentially increase the chance of a Shark’s investment in your product, because they can see the functionality and determine its longevity and potential value in the market.
If you have a dream of being on Shark Tank in the future, but would like to first determine your invention’s uniqueness, Global Patent Solutions can help provide you with a patent search. We have many skilled patent professionals that will use advanced search strategies to meet your deadlines and help you determine your product’s uniqueness in the market. For more information, contact us here.