Move over Monopoly, Scrabble and Jenga; there’s a new game in town, and I seem to be playing it every day. My guess is the other Sharks are playing it too.
Official kick off starts at 7.30pm on Sunday nights in close to a million homes across Australia, but it’s played outside those hours too. Who knows, it could become a new national sport. The game I’m talking about is called ‘Pitch It’.
When we started filming Shark Tank, it was hard to imagine how Australia would react to the show. Would they love or loathe it? Would they respond well to Aussie innovation on screen? Would it encourage them to take their own ideas to the next level?
What I’m finding delightful is how many people are truly embracing the idea of the pitch. We’ve seen incredible pitches, where the person paints a picture of what could be and takes us on a journey from start to finish. We’ve also seen some pretty undercooked pitches (and that’s putting it nicely!). Like any sport, practice makes perfect in this game – you have got to put time into it before you can be the world champion of anything, and this game is no exception.
Here are some links to some posts by some of the Aussie Sharks on the dos and don’ts of how to play ‘Pitch It’:
- Janine Allis: Never Lie
- Steve Baxter: Don’t call Naomi ‘darling’
- Naomi Simson (Me): Seven secrets to nailing a pitch
We see pitches every week on TV, but the action doesn’t stop when 8.30pm rolls around. People have caught the bug, and ideas are popping up all over Australia every day – even in restaurants. I was at dinner the other night when a glass of wine was placed in front of me with a pitch attached. True story!
My son is in his final year of school and he said Shark Tank discussions have made it to his business management classes. We are receiving similar feedback from parents and schools around Australia. What a thrill to know Shark Tank is having this effect, inspiring children to dream big. I was chatting to my son on the phone and he said, “My mates keep coming up with inventions.” At that point he then put me on the phone to one of his budding entrepreneur buddies. (Now I’d like to note that this is highly unusual behaviour, as teenage boys normally don’t like to risk situations in which their mother may embarrass them.)
His mate pitched me his idea, and so I asked:
- Are there a lot of people who have this problem?
- Has anyone done this before?
- Do you want to invent it?
- What would it take to produce a prototype?
- What makes this idea unique?
- If it’s a success, do you want to run this company?
These questions inspired him to dig a little deeper and find out more about his potential idea, and whether or not there was a commercial opportunity there. He came back to me a week later and said someone is already manufacturing it. But he promised he would keep the ideas coming. He is playing ‘Pitch It’ well.
I think one of the most exciting things about being on Shark Tank is hearing the excitement of people coming up with ideas. And it is our job to keep them coming by encouraging innovation. Whether it is your kids, your colleagues or your parents who are beginning to play the game of ‘Pitch It’, please encourage them.
Who knows where their idea might end up?
This article first appeared on Smart Company in March 2015