Shark Tank is a popular ABC TV program where an entrepreneur pitches a group of millionaire/billionaire investors seeking investment for a new product or service. Aside from being extremely entertaining the show teaches a lot about building a solid business. One of the lessons taught is found in the reoccurring reasons why a Shark says, “I’m Out.” after listening to a pitch; because theres absolutely something important to take away when a successful businessman/woman walks away from a deal (assuming the business revolves around a good and quality product/service).
I’m Out Because…
1. Incorrect Valuation
Nothing seems to irritate a shark more than someone coming into the tank and asking 300k for 5%; because in most cases the entrepreneur has greatly over valued his/her business. The most stated reason for over valuation by the sharks is because of sales, if a business has low sales, it absolutely can’t have high valuation, hard sales seem to trump anything else. Now, occasionally a person will get away with a high valuation without sales but it is usually because the idea is extremely good and it’s proprietary and locked up in patents and trademarks.
2. Target Market Too Niche
If a product is designed for left handed elementary school teachers that are allergic to chalk; it has no possibility of sizable growth. The sharks hate products that are too niche, they tend to think big and wonder how the investment can be scaled to reach a maximum return. The product may indeed solve a problem, but if it’s only a problem that exists for a small handful of people, theres no real money in it.
3. Target Market Too Broad w/o Growth Strategy
Having a “something for everyone” business seems fine to the sharks but not a pitch goes by that the Sharks don’t ask the pitcher what they will do with the money to grow the business if they get it. And if the entrepreneur doesn’t have a good answer, the deal never goes through. It is very easy to aimlessly shoot in marketing efforts and burn through a lot of money when trying to tackle a broad target market. The sharks want to know the exact steps that will be taken, they hate when the entrepreneur just keeps saying, “Everybody is going to want to buy this”.
Companies that are successful at building a product or service that is for everybody; usually grow by tackling incremental niches before going after everyone. Facebook is a good example, everyone is on Facebook now, but when starting off, their growth strategy was to tackle smaller niche markets one at a time. Starting with Harvard students, then expanding to more and more universities in the US, then moving to other international countries, then moving to non-students.
According to data from the Time Use Survey put on by the Bureau of Labor Statistics; time spent shopping has been in steady decline since 2003, the first year of the survey was introduced.
In 2003, Americans spent on an average of 48.6 minutes/day shopping; compared to 43.2 minutes/day in 2011 (11% decrease). However, in that same time frame theres only been a 7% decrease in the number of days a consumer shops. So while the actual time spent shopping has decreased, the number of days which a consumer shops has decreased by less. Keep in mind also that the survey takes into account travel time.
So what’s happening? Either people are buying less things or the process of shopping is starting to fundamentally change.
The Consumer Expenditure Survey documents a trend that people are spending more and more; from food products to clothes to electronics. Even if adjusted for inflation, we’d still have to safely think that people are generally buying the same amount of things today as they did in 2003.
So, if it’s not people buying less, it must be a change to the actual shopping process thats causing the time spent shopping to decrease. Here are some of the time consuming parts of shopping that have changed and helped consumers to be more efficient.
1. Travel Time
Customers are driving and traveling to brick and mortar stores less; using online websites (Amazon boasted 306 items sold per second this past 2012 holiday season), which thanks to mobile smart phones, now require zero travel time to make a purchase.
2. Product Reviews
Online communities have helped customers more quickly examine a product category and determine the correct choice for them. Scanning through hundreds of ratings and reviews in just a couple minutes gives customers more confidence in making a decision in a shorter amount of time.
3. Price Comparisons and Matching
There are literally hundreds of tools available to consumers now to compare prices of products. Even if a purchase is made and a couple weeks later there’s a price drop, the merchant usually matches and refunds the difference. Consumers have less fear that they aren’t getting a good price when making a purchase; thus they buy with less hesitation.
4. Shopping Alerts
Shoppers can now use online and mobile alert tools to get notified of a new product listing becoming available or a price drop; instead of continually checking themselves for such information.
5. Personalized Recommendations
Websites and apps are getting better and better at putting relevant products in front of their users i.e. “Other people that bought this also bought these…”. And its resulted in more items sold in shorter amount of time.
The time spent shopping looks to continue its downward trend. The companies that will capitalize are those that provide the time saving tools to their customers to make their purchases faster.
Indulge in reading the occasional guilty pleasure book series; from Twilight to Fifty Shades of Grey. And call me old fashioned but I like books more than ebooks, so I’ll be needing to get real books. Theres just something about actually holding that paper and physically turning that page that intensifies the experience.
While I’m willing to indulge a little on reading teenie bopper nonsense, I don’t however want to spend that much money to obtain it.
Consequences of Failure:
If I fail to acquire and read these literary masterpieces, I may have a chance of leading a more normal life. But who wants to be normal, weird is the new cool.
The Executed Plan:
I go to Resultly and create an interest in the category “Book”. I use the keywords “Complete Twilight Saga” this will keep Resultly on the lookout for a listing of someone selling the four book set. I then set the price range from 0-15 dollars. That would get me the Twilight Saga for roughly $3.50/book. Thats not bad.
A couple days pass and I get a result notification. Its for a posting on Amazon Books, a seller listed the box set for $14.78. I click the Buy button and they are on the way.
For the most part my life goes on unaffected by the reading of the books…Oh except I now have this crazy and unrealistic expectation of how true love works. It ultimately taints my marriage. Three divorces later, I decide to write my own book, it sells more than Stephanie Meyers books. I become rich and famous; but still alone.
Currently, a “Media” interest on Resultly is for following any music or video that is posted on sites like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo, iTunes and more. A media interest on Resultly can be a great tool to stay up to date with new episodes of your favorite shows or tracks from your favorite musical groups without having to continually check yourself.
Lets walk through a couple of examples:
Full TV Episodes and Movies
A lot of times, because of licensing agreements, TV series and movies will appear and disappear randomly on Netflix and Hulu; so knowing when something you are interested in is available to view, can be helpful. Lets say that you were really into Modern Family and wanted to watch full episodes on Hulu.
You’d type “Modern Family” as the keywords and select the category “Media”. Then select “Video” as the type of media results you want to receive, this will eliminate any potential audio only results (perhaps podcast interviews or something of the cast). Then select Hulu from the channel list. You then would select the media length, a good one would be 9-60 minutes. Creating a minute minimum length is helpful to filter out all the short clips that sometimes appear on Hulu.
You’re all set, every new episode that hits Hulu, you’ll be notified in real time.
Lets assume you are a DJ Kaskade fan and you want to know anytime his music hits the web.
Create an interest with the keywords “Kaskade” and select the “Media” category. Then click follow.
You’ll see results stream like “Kaskade album debuts on iTunes” or “YouTube video of Kaskades latest set at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas”.
These are just a couple examples, there are many ways to follow any type of media interest on Resultly.
A product interest is an interest in anything tangible that is bought and sold. Could be a smart phone, laptop, coffee table, or even a wedding dress. Resultly helps you get notified the minute one is listed for sale that matches the price, make, model, color or size of what you were thinking for. And just like using google search or any other website on the internet for discovery, there are some good tips to get the best results on Resultly. Lets take the example of adding iPhone 4 to my Resultly interests to help illustrate some of these tricks.
It will always depend on what you want. If you’re interested in receiving results for iPhone 4 cases and bumpers, you’ll add the interest and its filters totally different than if you wanted results for just actual iPhone 4’s.
For this example, lets say you wanted just the phone, no accessories. So the question becomes how do you setup the interest so that you receive results for actual iPhone 4’s and nothing else. And there are a couple ways to accomplish it.
1. Adjust Price Slider (set a high price as well as a low)
Most phone accessories are generally less than 50 dollars, while most iPhone 4’s are more than 100 or 200 dollars. By simply adjusting the price slider while creating the interest so that it only shows results for $50-400; I ensure that I will be delivered results that are a good deal and also not accessories or broken iPhones that are being sold for cheap.
2. Add Parentheses to Retrieve Exact Phrasing
If you simply add iPhone 4, a listing for 4 iPhone 5’s technically matches your criteria. By adding parentheses to parts of your interest you help guarantee better results. When you add “iPhone 4” to your interests, only listings around the web that contain that exact phrasing will return results.
3. Negative Keywords (words that shouldn’t be in results)
By adding a minus sign in front of a word in your interest, you tell Resultly to not deliver results that contain that word. The interest, “iPhone 4” -case -charger, tells Resultly to look out for listings/posting for the exact phrasing “iPhone 4” but to not deliver results if the listings or postings contain the word case or charge. Thus we filter out any results for accessories when were only interested in results for the actual phone.
4. Descriptive Keywords (color, size, make)
The more descriptive keywords you put in your interest the more exact and precise the results will be. You don’t want to over do it though; because you may not get any results. If you know that you want the black iPhone 4 and also prefer to get the larger storage size. Adding the words Black and 32GB can help narrow down the results.
These four things will help deliver more useful results. Already have some interests created that you wish you would have done this with? No worries, it’s possible to edit the filters on an existing interest (just click on the edit wheel next to your interest).
Currently, a “Social” interest on Resultly is any information that is posted by friends on facebook or twitter users that you follow. A social interest on Resultly can be a great tool to stay up to date with important social news without having to continually check yourself and reading and sorting through all the unimportant posts about weather or politics and focusing on the good stuff like baby pictures, major events or stalking your ex (whatever your thing is).
Lets walk through a couple of examples:
1. GooGoo GaGa (baby pictures)
Getting notified of your friends cute baby pictures on Resultly is easy. Lets say your friend has a baby and names her Emma. I would simply create an interest called “Emma” and select the category “Social”. Then you would select the filters “Photos” from the network “Facebook”. Now, only photos, not status updates or comments, that contain the tag “Emma” will be streamed to you.
2. Here Comes the Bride (major life events)
Major life events are one of the best parts of social networks. Everyone wants to know when a friend from high school gets engaged or married. Or if So n’ So gets a divorce from what’s his face. Keeping up with major events is a breeze with Resultly. Simply add a life event name like “Engaged” and choose the category “Social”. Thats it, no need for filters on this one. Now anytime a friend publishes an engagement (Adam got engaged to Marissa!) on facebook, you’ll be the first to know.
3. Stalker Binoculars (keeping up with someone)
Occasionally you’ll want to follow the activity of someone. It may be that the person always post the funniest or witty things. Could be that you used to date the person and haven’t gotten over them yet. Whatever the case may be, Resultly makes following every social media move the person a piece of cake, piece of crumb cake.
Just type the name of the person, lets say, “Dave Ackerman” and select the category “Social”. And thats it. Anytime Dave now does anything on facebook or twitter, you’ll know about it. Whether it be him commenting on someone else’s status or creating a status himself. Posting a picture or video. Sending a tweet. Doesn’t matter. This Resultly interest will keep you notified of all his activity.
These three examples are great use cases for following social interests on Resultly; but of course aren’t the only ways it can be used. Make sure to connect your facebook and twitter accounts to Resultly to utilize this social interest tool.
Its a new year and I have a huge bucket list of stuff that I want to do in 2013. Sky diving, scuba diving, cliff diving, any type of diving really. I’m the type of guy that loves to be able to say that, “I’ve been there, done that.” I really want to get out there and be as outgoing as possible and meet new people.
Unfortunately, while my bucket list is very big, my bucket of money to accomplish all that I want to do is not so big. Pretty much everything I do will have to be done at a discounted rate or else it may not be possible to fund the fun.
Consequences of Failure:
If I never bungee jump in a Spider-Man suit, base jump in a Batman suit, scuba dive in an Aqua-Man suit, fly a plane in a James Bond suit; I’ll probably just wind up in an old bathing suit, sitting in an inflatable pool near a van down by the river. And thats no bueno.
The Executed Plan:
I go to Resultly and add multiple interests in the category “Deal”. This way I won’t have to be continually looking for and checking a ton of websites everyday looking for the deals myself; I’ll be too busy living. And the minute a deal I’m interested in gets posted, I’ll know about it.
I create an interest with the keywords “Scuba Certification” and add a price filter for $0-$250. Normally it costs about 500 dollars to get scuba diving certified, so 250 or less would be a great deal. I then create the interests, “Sky Diving”, “Flight School”, “Bungee Jumping” and “Gym Membership”. Oh since I’ll be doing a lot of physical things I also added “Massage” for under $30.
A day passes and Resultly tips me off to a massage deal running on Groupon. Snatch it up and hold onto it for later. A week passes and I get a result for a sky diving deal on LivingSocial. A month later, a result for Amazon Local runs a Scuba diving offer. It’s all coming together, cheaply might I add.
I need to find a new pen due to the fact that I have been checking off so many things from my bucket list. I am now cool, outgoing and gosh darn it, people like me.
I’m the stereotypical early 20 year old that couldn’t find a good job after graduating college. I ended up taking a job that is a total labyrinth of lameness. I need to find a better job. One that is more related to finance; which is what I went to school for and am interested in and what I excel at.
My school wasn’t very good at providing good connections for internships, thus my painful transition to a real job. My parents don’t know a lot of people in the finance industry either; so no getting a job because my dad knows a guy. I also have trouble keeping up with all the job postings, it always seems that the week I forget to check all my job sites, is the week that Fidelity Investments posts a new Financial Rep position at one of the branches near me. Are you kidding me?
Consequences of Failure:
If I don’t find a better job, I won’t have enough money or positive energy to take a girl on a date. If I don’t date, I won’t get married. If I don’t get married, I won’t have kids. If I don’t have kids, I will have fewer headaches. Wait, there may be chance for happiness in the end after all. Just kidding, I want kids, lots of them, bakers dozen.
The Executed Plan:
Rather than hitting the search button every three seconds on Craigslist, Monster, and CareerBuilder; I go to Resultly. I then create 4 interests in the category “Jobs”. The first interest has the keywords “Fidelity Investments”. This will let me know in realtime when Fidelity posts a job. The second interest is “Charles Schwab”. The third interest is “Edward Jones”. These are the main companies in the in financial industry that I’d like to work for. But I also add a fourth interest, “Trader”. This will bring me results from various companies that have openings for trading, something I’m also really interested in.
I don’t put any salary requirements in the filters of the interests because all these companies offer competitive salaries and I’ll also pretty much take any salary to get my foot in the door.
A couple weeks pass. I get a few results for job postings here and there, mostly for option trader positions. But in the third week, Resultly tips me off to a new opening at Fidelity. And it’s my dream title. A lot of the time they only fill this position with an inside hire, but I apply really quickly and become one of the first responders to the outside posting. I get an interview, then another, then another and I nail them all. Get the job and start in two weeks.
I’m living my dream of wearing a Mad Men-like suit everyday and climbing corporate ladders while making uber amounts of money. I get married and have 9 kids.
I hate the neighborhood I currently live in. I moved to Chicago a year ago for a job and was unfamiliar with the city and ended up picking a bad spot to live. Now that I know the area better I want to find a new apartment in a way cooler neighborhood called Lakeview at the end of my current lease.
Because Lakeview is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Chicago, apartments go fast. When a nice apartment gets posted to craigslist, it gets a lot of responses, usually gets shown and signed that same day.
Consequences of Failure:
If I don’t get into a better apartment I’ll be sad, mildly depressed and possibly lose the capacity to fully enjoy life. Oh and I might get stabbed because my neighborhood is sketch like that.
The Executed Plan:
Rather than hitting the search button every three seconds on Craigslist, Apartments.com or HotPads; I go to Resultly. I then create an interest with the keywords “Lakeview” because all I really care about is the neighborhood. If I cared about stuff like having a washer and dryer I would add something like “W/D” to the keywords also.
I set the price range to $1,000 to $1,700. $1,700 is the absolute max I can spend per month on the new apartment. And I have the floor of $1,000 because the apartments that cost less than that in this area are not very nice or worth looking at.
A couple days pass and I get a result for the perfect apartment. It’s within my price range, in the neighborhood I want. It’s actually only a couple blocks from the CTA brown line, which goes to my work. I send a message to the lady who posted it; i’m one of the first responders. I go check out the apartment that night and sign.
I have a great apartment now, in a neighborhood that has the coolest restaurants, bars and comedy clubs. I’m walking distance from the train. I feel safer than I did in my old apartment. Aside from a small population of Frat Boy Douches, it’s a perfect situation.
I just started working at a new office. I’ve been trying to socialize and make friends but people don’t seem to talk about normal stuff like sports or movies here, they talk about the fiscal cliff; which I know nothing about. I need to educate myself on the topic and keep in the know of new developments so that I can contribute to conversations around the office.
I’m super busy so finding time to keep up with the news is harder. The one thing I happen to know about the topic is that there is two sides. So I also want to have an understanding of both sides of the matter.
Consequences of Failure:
I will not be able to contribute to good conversation and thus i’ll sound dumb and no one will be my friend. When layoffs happen in the company I’ll be the first to be let go because no one will miss me.
The Executed Plan:
I go to Resultly. I start an interest with the keywords “Fiscal Cliff”. Then I choose the category “News”. I select that I want to receive articles from Fox and CNN. I do this because I want to at least cover my bases with getting information from a more conservative news source and a more liberal news source.
The articles start to stream into my Resultly iPhone app. I quickly learn more about the situation. Get a clearer understanding of the two big schools of thought; raising taxes and spending cuts.
A group of people are talking the next day at work about how the bill that congress passed will effect each of them. I was able to chime in with some thought provoking commentary that was basically regurgitated sentences from an article I had just read (good thing Will Hunting wasn’t there to call me out). The group decides to finish the conversation at lunch and they invite me for the first time.
Not only did I get smarter by being more in the know of current events. Almost everyone at the office is my friend. I’m marrying one of the girls there and one of the guys is my best man. Thanks Fiscal Cliff!