Shark Tank: Boon or Bust for CEO Branding?

“Shark Tank” and similar reality TV shows: boon or bust for a CEO’s brand? Why?

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

1. Boon: These Shows Inspire Entrepreneurs

Most reality shows are there to help you escape. Watching them takes you to someone else’s problems. Shows like “Shark Tank” are inspiring, showing people that if those ideas work out, maybe theirs will, too. I’ll admit that show has inspired me because with one deal and your good idea, success will come. Entrepreneurship is the future, and we need to inspire people to start businesses!

- Kyle Clayton, Jackrabbit Janitorial

2. Both: It Depends on the Person

These shows can give you great exposure to the pros and cons of things. It’s all about you — not them. Some of the people on “Shark Tank” have done a great job showing their entrepreneurial skills, and it is definitely a boon. Others could completely go the other way and actually really hurt their brands.

- Pablo Palatnik, ShadesDaddy.com

3. Both: It Depends on the Performance of the CEO

The goal of these TV shows is ratings, and if a CEO falls into the trap of being too arrogant or greedy, it will turn off investors. However, if a CEO’s eyes light up when talking about the business and he has a proven track record of working hard and achieving goals with the business, then the CEO will get tons of offers either on the show or after it has aired.

- Derek Capo, Next Step China

4. Both: It Depends on the Business

Dramatically increasing exposure to a business that has solid fundamentals and a proven and profitable idea can be like adding gasoline to a fire. However, if the business is fundamentally flawed (such as lacking the ability to scale or not understanding the market), then participating on a reality show can do more harm than good.

- Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

5. Bust: There’s Always Drama

Reality TV needs drama to pull in viewers, which means that such shows have an incentive to look for problems or otherwise cause drama. That can be a problem for entrepreneurs. If you can’t provide a good story without letting the show focus on something that’s actually wrong, it’s probably best to stay away.

- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

6. Bust: It’s Not Worth It

Did you know they take 5 percent of your company just to go on the show? 5 percent. It might be worth it if you are selling peanut butter or something.

- Jordan Fliegel, CoachUp, Inc.

7. Both: It Depends on How You Present Yourself

It depends on how you present yourself. Stephan Aarstol went on “Shark Tank” as an unknown SEO expert that was the CEO of Tower Paddle Boards. Now, he has an investment from Mark Cuban and is viewed as an industry leader.

- John Hall, Influence & Co.

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