What’s the difference in pitching your business to a billionaire than to a regular investor, besides a chance for more funding? Billionaires are savvy business people. No one makes a billion dollars without knowing their industry inside and out. But if you think making a deal with a billionaire is more difficult (not to mention more intimidating), you’re wrong.
While there are many (some might say too many) billionaires in the world, there are only two with TV shows where they are pitched business ideas. One is Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who has appeared as a judge on Shark Tank for the past 9 seasons. The other is Tilman Fertitta, the new owner of the Houston Rockets, and the star of his own show Billion Dollar Buyer.
Both shows share a similar premise. Businesses are vetted by casting companies before their founders appear on the show to pitch a business idea. Shark Tank has been around for nine seasons and the contestants on that show give their pitch to a panel of judges, including Cuban. The judges then decide to invest in the company or not, and oftentimes end up battling for a stake in a great company.
The method of Billion Dollar Buyer is a little different. First, there is no panel of judges to win over, only Fertitta. Second, Fertitta acts as a buyer for his restaurant and casino properties, making orders from the companies with the best products. He does not invest in the contestant’s company.
So what are the chances of getting an investment or winning a purchase order from a billionaire? Let’s take a look.
In the first nine seasons of the show, you might be surprised to find an average of 54% of all contestants closed a deal with one of the judges on the show (409 deals closed from 759 pitches), according to the database. In fact, the chance of a contestant getting a deal has only gone up over the course of the show (perhaps contestants are tailoring their pitch based off winners they’ve seen) from a low of 42% in season 1 to a high of 73% in season 9.
However, pitching to a billionaire turns out to be an even better bet for contestants on the show. Cuban agreed to 16% of all pitches made on the show (122 of 759) and offered more money than the other three judges (29 million total over 9 seasons, with the next closest being 23 million).
In terms of accepted pitches by Cuban, the numbers are even more favorable for contestants. If you have a winning pitch, 29.8% of the time you will be making a deal with billionaire Mark Cuban.
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Billion Dollar Buyer
Making a deal to sell your company’s product to a billionaire is even more of a sure thing. Fertitta doesn’t invest in the company but agrees to buy their products for use in his restaurant properties.
In Season 1 of Billion Dollar Buyer, Fertitta accepted 66.6% of all bids made to him by contestants (8 of 12 companies). Season 2 was just as good for contestants with Fertitta agreeing to 62.5% of all bids (15 of 24 companies).
Since Fertitia is buying products and not investing in the business, winning bids could be as low as $20,000 or as high as $2 million, in the case of 44 Farms. Either way, once you are on the show, chances are good you will make a deal.
The billionaire spending spree
So why do billionaires make more and higher deals than other investors? There’s no easy answer to this question.
On one hand, billionaires are experienced investors who know that to make money you have to spend money. That’s what got them to be billionaires, after all. Not to mention, the companies that make it through the casting process have been pre-screened and are a better bet than most companies that pitch to them.
On the other hand, billionaires may be more aggressive because they have more money than the average investor. A failed investment will not trouble them as much as someone who is merely a multimillionaire. Psychologically, they may feel as if they are playing with house money.
Whatever the reason, as a business owner pitching your idea to a billionaire TV star the odds are ever in your favor.
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Author: Ken Sterling