It is feeding time in the shark tank.
Dare enter with a half-baked idea for a new business and get eaten alive. But sometimes entrepreneurs on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank” come armed with the perfect recipe for success.
“Shark Tank” has captured the essence of the American dream: that everyone is just one good idea away from striking it rich. And it has paid off, making it the No. 1 show in its time slot and hitting record ratings this season.
In the real world, the stars of the show are pretty big fish -- millionaires, even billionaires in real estate, fashion and finance. Ruthless in weeding out the million-dollar ideas from those that won't make a penny.
This is no game show. This is real money, their own money. And the stakes are high.
The two lady sharks on the show are real estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran and queen of QVC Lori Greiner. They say they have a secret weapon the male sharks don't.
“We have a different perspective on the product,” said Corcoran. “Most of the men here have trophy wives, they're wealthy men, they don't shop, they don't buy their kids' clothes, they probably don't shop for groceries.”
“I think that I bring compassion,” said Greiner. “I understand what they feel like. So when the entrepreneurs come into the tank, I know what it felt like 17 years ago to be them.”
Now, for the first time ever in the show's five seasons, the two female power brokers are battling in the shark tank at the same time. Whatever the secret is to building a brand, these women have it figured out.
Greiner holds 120 patents and has sold more than half a billion dollars’ worth of her swiveling jewelry organizers, nesting cosmetics containers and other storage simplifiers. She's used QVC as a launch pad not only for her own products but the “Shark Tank” businesses she's invested in, like a yellow, smiley-face sponge called Scrub Daddy.
Corcoran made her millions starting the first female-owned real estate brokerage firm in New York City. She sold her real estate company several years ago for $66 million. And now she's on the hunt to buy her dream home in Manhattan, which might be a $14.5 million penthouse in the sky.
She's earned it. But acknowledges that to get ahead as woman in the male-dominated boardrooms of America, you gotta play up your assets.
“Any woman in a boardroom, a powerful woman, is under suspicion,” said Corcoran. “She's not accepted. So if you're gonna be looked at in a serious way, and be taken at face value, you may as well play up your cards. I say that's your feminine card.
“I wear short skirts, bright suits. I make sure I have makeup on and I flirt like crazy with the men. And guess what. I get into them that way.”
Corcoran and Greiner now share the spotlight on the show. But the sisterhood of sharks only goes so far. They're ready to battle it out if the deal is right. They may be competitive but are quick to defend the budding business women when the male sharks start to circle in.
“I will definitely jump in to defend them because I think it's wrong and I don't like when anybody puts anybody down,” said Greiner. “But I think I'm more protective of the females that come in, if that happens with the male sharks.”
In the shark tank, the big mama fish are making room for the next generation of women to cut their teeth.
“I'm tougher on women because you know why?” explained Corcoran. “I'm tougher on anyone who will use any excuse as to why they didn't get ahead because I've walked in the shoes of knowing that I had a million excuses I could have used and chose not to use them.”
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- Barbara Corcoran
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- Lori Greiner