Last Updated on Monday, 23 May, 2022 at 8:18 pm by Andre Camilleri
Maria Farrugia is External Communications coordinator at Malta Enterprise
Shark Tank Malta has become a Sunday night staple, providing exciting and innovative pitches which showcases some of the ideas that the Malta Start-up community has to offer.
As the main sponsors of Shark Tank Malta, Malta Enterprise has been supporting the production in order to promote entrepreneurship and the mainstreaming of investing in start-ups. We have had the opportunity to briefly meet with the contestants prior to their pitches and have kept a relationship with any of the start-ups that wanted to know more about our support measures.
Although passion and a good idea are a must for a successful entrepreneur it would be remiss to undervalue the importance of getting funding, especially in the early stages of a business. While getting in front of investors can be unnerving, it is an essential skill which every entrepreneur must learn.
Looking back at the episodes which we’ve already seen one thing is certain, the sharks know what they’re looking for. We’ve compiled a list of what we think are the best lessons we’ve learned so far, both about pitching for the sharks as well as lessons which are valuable in business.
Lesson 1 – Investors buy into people as much as ideas
An interesting idea is crucial, being innovative and knowing the ins and outs of your business is a must, but you must be as likable as your business is.
Your passion is what will get investors excited and what will make them trust you enough to invest their money in your idea. People invest in people as much as they invest in ideas so be ready to sell yourself.
Lesson 2 – Be prepared
Pitching to a potential investor can be stressful enough as it is, don’t make it worse by not preparing everything beforehand. The sharks, and any investor, will ask about every detail of your business, including your finances.
When you’re going to a meeting or pitch, practise enough that you can talk about your business even in stressful circumstances. The most successful people are usually over prepared.
Lesson 3 – Equity isn’t everything
It can be scary to give up equity in your business, but don’t let it keep you from taking on investors. If the investor has the right skillset or experience, it’s worth the trade-off. Equity is certainly valuable, but so is having a mentor.
Is it better to have 100% of a company with no funding or a lesser percentage of a company which is growing and thriving?
Lesson 4 – The right partner offers more than financial terms
There are some great businesses that are giving up huge chunks of equity for a seemingly small amount of money.
Although this may seem scary, the right investor is worth it and will bring much more than money to the table. Experience and the right connections in the industry are priceless and can get you places that money will not be able to.
Lesson 5 – Always think long term
Investors love entrepreneurs who think long-term. You should have a six-month, one-year and five-year plan for your product or idea. This proves you are looking beyond the short-term and well into the future.
Long-term thinkers are not blinded by small issues in the present because they know where they are going and how to get there. As much as they value dynamism and flexibility investors also want to see a plan and usually have more confidence in someone who has their eyes on the future.
Lesson 6 – Learn to accept constructive criticism
Criticism is an important part of business. Without criticism you wouldn’t know what to change and improve in your product or service.
Although it can be hard to accept criticism, it is most important when you receive it from the people who can potentially invest in your business.
Lesson 7 – Go all in
Being an entrepreneur is all about risk and reward. To get the latter, you need a healthy dose of the former.
While we understand that it is important to do what you feel is best for you, the “sharks” have been clear about what they want, and so would any investor. They need entrepreneurs who are all in for their business and who are willing to make it their main focus. In this first Shark Tank edition, we have seen the “sharks” insisting on the importance of giving yourself a wage and getting paid from your business.
Lesson 8 – Master the art of pitching
Unless you’re self-sufficient and can fund your own ventures, you will need to ask for resources at some point. Whether you’re asking someone you know or an investor, a good pitch is essential.
It should be simple but detailed enough that it excites the potential investor. Confidence is key, however, overconfidence can be a downfall. Do your research beforehand and anticipate what questions might be asked so that you can have a solid answer instead of having to think of one on the spot.
Lesson 9 – Is your product proprietary?
You’ll hear the word “proprietary” thrown around a lot on Shark Tank. That’s because investors are interested in something that is both unique and promising.
When pitching your idea, make sure you provide concrete details about some proprietary feature of your product and what sets it apart from the competition. If you haven’t already patented or trademarked your output, then volunteer with an explanation of how you will be going about it in the near future.
Lesson 10 – Rejection isn’t always the end of the road
Rejection from investors isn’t always the end of the road. While you may not land a deal, a meeting could open the door to other opportunities.
There are multiple ways to get your business off the ground and Malta Enterprise can help. There are multiple schemes which can help all types of businesses in different stages of their growth.
Through the launch of the StartinMalta platform by Malta Enterprise start-ups now also have a live repository where they can find information about schemes, start-up meet ups, private and public entities and the opportunity to list their business and get noticed by investors.