If you’re an entrepreneur with the confidence to pitch your business before six renowned investors and a nationally televised audience, then the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit (ES) is where you need to be!
Hundreds of entrepreneurs and business leaders will convene in Houston for the 22nd annual Entrepreneurs Summit, from May 17–20. Each year, BE’s signature event empowers small business owners with financial and motivational advice, resources, and tools needed for success. On top of that, this year attendees will have a special opportunity to audition to be on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Now in its ninth season, the award-winning reality competition offers entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their business to investors in hopes of getting the sharks to bite. The featured sharks include Daymond John, author and founder/CEO of FUBU, real estate titan Barbara Corcoran, billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner aka the “Queen of QVC,” Robert Herjavec,the owner of a $125 million tech firm, and Kevin O’Leary, chairman of O’Leary Funds and media personality.
This year, BE has teamed up with Values Partnerships, which is currently hosting a nationwide casting tour for Shark Tank that will make a stop at the summit on May 20. In an interview with BE, Brandon Andrews, a senior consultant at Value Partnerships, talked about what attendees can expect at the casting call.
- Tells us more about the ABC Shark Tank Casting Call Diversity Tour.
Values Partnerships works with our longtime friend and Shark Tank Producer Mark Burnett to bring diverse ideas and voices to Shark Tank. We started the Shark Tank Diversity Tour to diversify the pipeline for the show and support entrepreneurship around the country. I lead the tour each year. I work with the casting team to choose locations, often taking the brand to places big brands may not normally go. Communities like East Austin in Austin, TX; Anacostia in Washington, DC; and this year Brownsville in NYC. I build relationships with accelerators, co-working spaces, colleges, investors, local government, and other stakeholders in local ecosystems around the nation. The best part is, I get to travel the country and meet thousands of diverse entrepreneurs each year. The spark and grit needed to be a successful entrepreneur exist in every community—that’s why we do this.
- Why is it important for the Shark Tank Diversity Tour casting call to make a stop at ES?
We have to go where the entrepreneurs are! The spark and grit needed to be a successful entrepreneur permeates ES and the origin story of Black Enterprise. Yes, we want to diversify the pipeline. We also are driven to support entrepreneurship in every community. Having a casting call in a setting that gives entrepreneurs opportunities to learn, grow, and connect is incredible. Also, Houston has an incredible small business legacy. Houston-based black entrepreneurs like SWAG Essentials CEO Lydia Evans and Chris Spencer of Hydromax have appeared on Shark Tank!
- What can participants at the Entrepreneurs Summit expect during the casting call and how should they prepare?
The beginning of the casting process is a conversation. We want to get to know you, your business, and why the product/service you deliver is important to you. It is a supportive environment. Mr. Wonderful will not be there making snarky remarks about your business. Entrepreneurs can expect to pitch their business to the casting team with q/a to follow. We do pitch prep throughout the day and will have local entrepreneurship/small business resources available. We want you to leave better than you came, whether or not you move forward with the show.
- What will the judges look for when deciding who makes the cut?
Passion! Passion is the most important piece to a successful pitch at the beginning of the casting process. Convince us that you are uniquely qualified to solve the problem your business was created to solve, take advantage of the market opportunity, and scale your business. Find a way to connect your business to your personal story. Know your numbers. Traction looks different for every business. Whatever metric you use, know it and deliver it confidently. Every business has to make an ask during their pitch. You must say “I’m here for $____ in exchange for ___% of my company.”
- What does it take to win over the Sharks?
Businesses that have traction and are ready to scale are good opportunities for the Sharks. Entrepreneurs with spark, grit, and good listening skills do well on the show.
- How many people will be chosen during the casting call at ES?
We want to take as many people as possible to the next step in the casting process.
Attendees will also have an opportunity to meet Andrews in person at the summit. He will moderate the “Why it Pays to Swim with the Sharks” panel on May 18, which will feature a discussion with Shark Tank alum about gaining access to capital. He said he “will also discuss funding opportunities for entrepreneurs beyond venture investment, and the unique opportunity Shark Tank and other business shows present for entrepreneurs.”
During the “Shark Tank Panel” on May 18, he will be joined by SWAG Essentials CEO Lydia Evans and Sworkit CEO Ben Young in a discussion about their progress since appearing on Shark Tank along with their advice for entrepreneurs pitching at the ES casting call.
REGISTER NOW to learn more about entrepreneurship and business success at the 2017 Entrepreneurs Summit on May 17–20 in Houston.
Selena Hill is the Associate Digital Editor at Black Enterprise and the founder of the award-winning talk show, Let Your Voice Be Heard! Radio. You can hear Hill and her team talk millennial politics and social issues every Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.
Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @MsSelenaHill.