Winning Big On Business Reality Shows

When it comes to small business, it's nice to have an investor who believes in your brand. It's even nicer if that investor is a billionaire “Shark” or “Profit” master.

Combined, the self-made entrepreneurs of "Shark Tank" and Marcus Lemonis of "The Profit" have invested nearly $100 million across their respective seasons in hundreds of business hopefuls and their startup operations.

To understand the odds of taking a bite out of that multimillion dollar pie, we examined 780 contestants from "Shark Tank" and 76 from "The Profit" to show the deal-closing traits, as well as business models that have the most success on each show. Curious about what your odds might be if you step into the spotlight? Keep reading to find out.


Shark Tank Deal Winners

So what does it take to close a deal on "Shark Tank”? Besides having a killer product and enough confidence to stand in front of Mr. Wonderful, there are a few traits shared among the 780 "Shark Tank" winners examined.

Of the men and women who managed to land a deal with the Sharks, almost two-thirds had brown hair. While it may be hard to tell Mr. Wonderful's natural hair color before its current state, fellow Sharks Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec have brown hair and may take a liking to contestants they can see a bit of themselves in. More than half of participants also had short hair, and nearly three-quarters had no facial hair. Aaron Krause, the founder and CEO of Scrub Daddy, fits this bill perfectly and is one the biggest winners in "Shark Tank" history.

It's no guarantee, but your odds might be better in the Tank if you have brown eyes (like 75% of contestants who've managed to bag an investor in these shark-infested waters) and are Caucasian (like 80% of winners). And even despite Kevin O'Leary's positive position on female entrepreneurs, over two-thirds of Tank winners to date have been male.


Diversifying The Shark Tank Portfolio

So how does race and ethnicity play into the odds of striking a deal with the Sharks? Of all Caucasian contestants on “Shark Tank,” 57% obtained a deal. However, Asian-American entrepreneurs had the best record of bagging a Shark for their products and services (68%). And of all Hispanic and African-American contestants, 45% and 39% were successful deal-makers, respectively.

Despite the odds, “kidpreneurs” Madison and Mallory Boyd landed a combined $60,000 in late 2016 for their line of lotions, Angels and Tomboys, adding to the number of black contestants who've been successful on the show.


What Do The Sharks Like The Best?

Have you ever considered the business models most successful on "Shark Tank"?

Sports and outdoors business ventures had the best odds of catching the eye of a willing Shark. Over two-thirds (67%) of all sports and outdoors-related companies walked away from the Tank with an investment. In 2017, RinseKit landed a deal with Daymond John for $250,000 to help beachgoers and pets alike rinse off after spending a morning or afternoon at the beach.

Home and garden tools were also a safe bet on the Tank. To date, 65 percent of entrepreneurs hoping to score a deal with home and garden products left with a Shark on their side.

Despite Sharks, like Mark Cuban, sharing their optimism for the future of technology, only 53% of tech and electronic companies entering the Tank earned a deal. Cuban has expressed concerns in the past that tech startups, in general, tend to be overvalued, so you may want to look elsewhere if you're hoping to land an investment for your big tech breakthrough. 


The Profit Deal Winners

Airing on CNBC, "The Profit" features “ self-made millionaire and serial entrepreneur” Marcus Lemonis, who invests in struggling businesses with the hopes of turning around their fortunes and ending up with significant – you guessed it – profits. Of the 76 contestants and companies examined on the show, 69% of business owners scoring an investment were male. They were also overwhelming Caucasian (95%) with short hair (70%) and clean-shaven (71%). It seems you'd have the best odds of making a deal with Lemonis if – in addition to having a business he's interested in – you match this physical makeup.

However, when it comes to partnerships, throw all of this out the window! On his new show, “The Partner,” nonprofit program manager Julianna Reed doesn't look like Lemonis' typical winner : She's a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman.


How To Get A Deal On The Profit

After four seasons of "The Profit,” certain industries are a sure thing if you're looking to entice Marcus Lemonis to invest in your operation.

Of the episodes examined, five industries had a 100% success rate when it came to winning big on "The Profit.” Whether they impressed Marcus with their savvy business acumen or wowed him with their potential for profit, their odds of striking a deal were bulletproof regarding tech, entertainment, clothing, beauty, or automotive business models. For example, in 2015, Marcus inked a deal with Blues Jean Bar (now Denim & Soul) for 50% equity and $900,000.

While not a sure thing, you'll still get a fair chance if Marcus comes to help with your restaurant (a 78% rate of landing a deal), home and garden business (a 75% chance), or sports and outdoors company (a 67% chance).

Play to Win

Having the right hair or eye color won't make you a winner on "Shark Tank," and being a Caucasian male won't entirely convince Marcus Lemonis to sign a deal with you in the end. You still need to have an enticing business model – or at least an excellent idea – to earn their attention. If you're open to suggestions, outdoors brands have great odds of being successful on both shows. It might be worth considering given how much money these entrepreneurs have been willing to invest over the years.


Our researchers analyzed 780 contestants on five seasons of "Shark Tank" (representing 510 products or businesses) and 76 contestants on four seasons of "The Profit" (representing 52 products or businesses) by identifying physical characteristics of contestants where possible, and cataloging product types and whether each contestant or product was successful in securing a deal. We considered deals on "The Profit" that were “partial deals” to be included as successful deals.

Fair Use Statement

Here's our offer: You can use the information and images on this page on your own site for noncommercial purposes. In return, we ask you give credit to by linking back to this page.