Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran: Here’s the one thing that kills a business pitch

“It makes me want to leave the room.”


Barbara Corcoran (left) says there’s one thing that makes her mentally check out of a business pitch. (Adam Larkey/ABC)

Barbara Corcoran, one of the investors on ABC’s “Shark Tank” show, hears more than her fair share of pitches from entrepreneurs, and she says she “bends over backwards to give anybody money who seems even the least bit capable.”

However, “there’s one terrible red flag that turns me off so fast it makes me want to leave the room,” she said. It’s what she calls “fancy talk.”

“It’s someone who went to the right school, knows all the lingo, who has a perfect business plans and is throwing words around that I have no idea what they mean,” Corcoran, a real estate mogul and founder of the Corcoran Group in New York, said during an interview. “I keep meaning to go home and look them up so next season I know what they’re talking about — but I don’t.”

Related: Mark Cuban’s start-up pitch advice

Corcoran, who had testified moments earlier before the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee in Washington, noted that too many entrepreneurs walk on the set acting like “they have everything buttoned up” and already know exactly what obstacles they’ll face as they attempt to build their company. The moment they give off that impression, she said, “mentally, I’m out of there.”

“They’re too know-it-all, and nothing happens the way you planned when you get out in the real world,” said Corcoran, who invested in roughly two dozen companies during the first four seasons of Shark Tank.

Moreover, she doesn’t think she’s the only one on the show with that pet peeve.

“If you were to ask the other sharks, whether they’re aware of it or not, I bet they do the same thing,” Corcoran said.

Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he runs the On Small Business blog.
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