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Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran answers questions on Onevest webinar

15 Oct

Screen shot 2014-10-15 at 1.56.40 PMBarbara Corcoran, one of the favorite Sharks on ABC’s show, explained what makes her invest, stressed the importance of the entrepreneur and debunked some widely-held convictions.

First, she said she has 24 investments and loves doing it because it brings her back to her youth as a 23-year-old waitress. Well, except now she would be a very wealthy waitress. She said these investments aren’t charity, it’s about making money, and she looks for people who have the drive and backbone to make that happen. 

Q1: What makes you invest?

1. Entrepreneurs that can handle objections and stress

“My clear winners, my most successful salespeople and entrepreneurs – who are also salespeople – are fabulous at overcoming objections every single day of their life and they have an inability to feel sorry for themselves,” she said.

She admits these may not be the smartest people, but that doesn’t matter. Their tenacity and quick recovery time leads to success.

2. Plain talk

Corcoran said stay away from using complicated lingo – your pitch should make sense to a 5-year-old.

“When someone talks too fancy, I know they’re overeducated, it gets in the way of success right now,” Corcoran said. 

She wants to her – this is my business, this is why it works, this is my plan.

3. Long-term passion

The first three months in a relationship are the honeymoon stage. Corcoran wants to find entrepreneurs who will maintain that excitement, enthusiasm and passion for the long haul. 

4. Marketing maven

Entrepreneurs need a marketing difference because marketing is half the success of the business.

Q2: Can you speak to a time you failed you failed and what you learned from it?

Corcoran has a background in real estate, and one of her first ideas was Homes on Tape (she recognizes the acronym was HOT), so people could pick apartments from home. “I blew $71,000 on that stupid idea.” In an attempt to save face – she put the homes on tape on Internet, and well, it was hot.

“Every huge success I had was on the hind of failure,” she said. 

Q3: How important is intellectual property in your decision to invest?

She said it’s overrated, “It breaks my heart to see people spend a lot of money on patents before they have their first sale. The right time to do all of that work is after you have people who want to buy.”

Business schools may say patents are important, but Corcoran said it’s “grossly overrated.” 

Q4: How actively involved are you in each startup your involved with and how do you allocate your time?

After two years of spending way too much time on the startups, Corcoran started allocating her time differently. Now, in the beginning, she spends spend as much time as possible learning the business and getting to know who she signed up to work with. 

“The minute I sense the entrepreneur isn’t smart, enough fast enough, I don’t spend any more time with them. In my heart of hearts I think they’re never gonna make it, they don’t have what it takes.”

She will even goes as far as to take the framed picture she has with that entrepreneur and turn it upside down. She’s not that harsh – she’ll still support them and answer their emails, she just won’t look at their faces every day. Sounds fair. 

Q5: What role does barrier to entry make in your analysis in making an investment?

This is another one of those terms we’ve probably all read in our business books, like patent, that Corcoran calls “overrated.” Barrier to entry and competition don’t faze her.

Q6: When you’re about to make an investment decision, what signals do you look for before pulling the trigger?

She said on Shark Tank there’s a lot of show business and she signs up without having all the information. She takes into account how they can compete, price, distribution, revenue, etc.  

On crowd-funding site Onevest she can spend time analyzing carefully. But again, it all comes down to the people.

“If the entrepreneur isn’t good, no matter what the paper work says, no matter what the analysis says, if they’re not gonna make it they’re not gonna make it.”

Q7: What factors take place in valuation of a startup?

“I don’t like stuff with no revenue,” she said. “There’s too much stuff with revenue. Until there’s a sale I don’t believe it.” So she probably won’t invest in SnapChat or Instagram anytime soon, but peanut butter has a better shot. And I just bought the WIld Friends peanut butter that she invested in on Shark Tank – it’s delicious!

Q8: What is your greatest fear and how do you manage that fear?

Corcoran said she uses her insecurities as a motivator. She used to feel dumb at school for not knowing the answers.

“If I’m feeling insecure…I stop the tape and I have a new tape that goes like this, “fuck you!” I have just as much right to be successful, and watch me do it. It stamps out that old tape. I feel prideful that I reached out rather than talked myself out of it.”

Q9: How important is market size to you and financials?

The piece of the financials that makes a difference is sales, cost to produce and revenue.

“Market size is market size, weak entrepreneurs revert to market size when they run out of stuff in their belt,” she said. 

 She also doesn’t trust projections. Who can really predict the future, or trust someone else to predict it?

Q10: What are the top three reasons why you’d pick a startup?

1. The entrepreneur

2. It makes reasonable common sense

3. There’s a lot of people who can use it. “The more people that would buy, the bigger the mass out there.”

A paper clip for only doctors’ papers would be a bad market to invest in, she said. When Daisy Cakes pitched on Shark Tank, Corcoran said she thought, “How big is the cake market – who the heck knows? How many people watching tonight eat cake . . . her sales went through the roof and never stopped.”

Q11: Can you talk about some of your best investments to date?

She said sock company Grace & Lace has brought the best return on her investment. Cousins Maine Lobster has the best upside potential, and she got her original investment back. They have an online business, they’re opening restaurant, sold 9 franchises and have 3-company owned trucks. These are the kinds of entrepreneurs she loves.

“They’re 2 phenomenal entrepreneurs, they’re never happy, and always want to bite off more than they can chew,” she said.

Photo credit: Onevest.com