Shark Tank Q&A: Mark Cuban Talks Life In The ‘Tank’

Mark Cuban knows a thing or two about wise investments. As a self-made billionaire, who now listens to aspiring entrepreneurs peddle their wares on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” he can smell a good idea when he sees it.

But where can “Shark Tank” hopefuls go wrong? And how much money has he spent in the “Tank” over the past few seasons? caught up with the mogul to talk about life in the “Tank.” What has been the best pitch you’ve seen on ‘Shark Tank’?

Mark Cuban: Wow, there have been a ton of really good businesses. I think the best is Not only was it an original business idea, creating two different flavors of lip balm that spark when you kissed, but they knew their business cold and were ready to work hard.

Access: What has been hands-down the worst product/pitch you’ve seen on ‘Shark Tank’?

Mark: It’s a tie between the PowerBalance watches, which were a complete and absolute scam and the guy who brought out his nieces with glow-in-the-dark patches that he put on the back pockets of their jeans. I asked one of the girls if she would wear one of the patches on a date and she couldn’t answer. Her uncle didn’t know how to respond to that and a pitch for a horrible product went downhill from there.

Access: Do you go into each show with a set amount you’d be willing to spend or does it all depend on what you see?

Mark: No. I go into each pitch excited and hoping that it will be an investment that will make me a lot of money. If I thought every deal on the show made sense, I would invest in every deal.

Access: What is the most you’ve invested on a single product/pitch to date?

Mark: So far, it’s been about $600k for Tower Boards. They keep on selling more and more, so I keep on investing money into inventory for them.

Access: What would you estimate is the total you’ve invested on all ‘Shark Tank’ products/concepts since you joined the show?

Mark: I have no idea. I’m pretty sure it’s more than $2 million.

Access: Best piece of advice for a potential contestant on ‘Shark Tank’?

Mark: Know your business inside out and know your industry better than anyone in the world and be prepared to discuss it all in the Tank.

Access: Is there one product that another Shark outbid you on that you’re still kicking yourself over today?

Mark: Not that I got out bid on. I kind of wish I had invested in Big Chef Shake. I knew he would do well, I just didn’t know the frozen food business enough. Now I have a company, Frozen Naked, that would have been a great complement to Chef’s business.

Access: Biggest fatal flaw a potential entrepreneur can make during their presentation in the ‘Shark Tank’?

Mark: Misleading us. There is a lot of pressure in the “Shark Tank.” It’s tough not to get excited and start embellishing a little. At some point, we get to the truth and call you out on it. That isn’t good for your business when you get busted on national TV.

Access: What’s your strategy in going up against the other Sharks? Is it every man/woman for themselves or is there a sense of teaming up against the hopeful entrepreneurs?

Mark: I hate teaming up with the other Sharks. I will do it because sometimes they have an expertise that will help the deal. I will always do the right thing for the entrepreneur. There has been many a time when I thought a Shark was trying to take advantage in a deal and I have jumped in to try to outbid or to educate the entrepreneur on why they are getting taken. Not all the Sharks are as nice as I am.

Access: Bigger thrill – outbidding a fellow Shark for a great product… or the Dallas Mavericks beating the Lakers on a last-second shot in LA?

Mark: The Mavs every time. It’s so easy to beat the other Sharks. If this were the NBA, I would be 82-0 against them.

Access: Who is the toughest fellow Shark to negotiate against?

Mark: Probably Lori [Grenier]. Simply because she does a good job of trying to make every product work on QVC. If it’s not a QVC type product she has no shot, but for those type of consumer products, she is good.

Access: If you were an aspiring businessman, which Shark other than yourself would you most want to do business with?

Mark: Depends. Each of us has our own skillset. On the flipside, I would be least willing to do a deal with Mr. Wonderful [Kevin O’Leary] because he is rarely a strategic investor, he is typically a financial investor.

Access: Why was this something you wanted to be involved in? Clearly, you’re not in need of any extra income.

Mark: I think it’s important to take responsibility in this type of economy to help businesses create jobs. I don’t think I can do enough to help create jobs. This country has done amazing things for me, investing in companies that I can help grow, whether it’s on ‘Shark Tank’ or outside, is one way I try to give back.

Access: Any celebrity friends we can expect to see appearing on this season’s show, whether as fellow Sharks or making pitches?

Mark: There are a ton of celebs this year. I was really surprised at some of the connections that entrepreneurs had. It was fun!

Catch Mark and his fellow Sharks every Friday night when “Shark Tank” airs on ABC.

-- Eric Anderson

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