Daymond John of ‘Shark Tank’ Reveals What He’s Looking for in a Pitch

What does it take to stand out on Shark Tank? It’s not enough to have a great idea, Daymond John says. The FUBU founder opened up about what he is looking for when he hears a pitch from an entrepreneur and why he’s stuck with the show since it premiered in 2009. 

Daymond John is looking for entrepreneurs who’ve ‘been through the journey’

Daymond John
Daymond John | Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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John and his fellow sharks Barbara Corcoran and Kevin O’Leary talked about their hit ABC show during a panel discussion at Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees virtual event on August 16. Moderator Dominic Patten, Deadline’s senior editor and chief TV critic, asked John what he was looking for when a person arrives on the Shark Tank set to pitch their idea. 

“You know, I look for people who have been through the journey,” John said. He explained he was looking for people who have “the passion, the drive.” 

“They’ve learned how to overcome,” he added. “They’ve learned how to use little to no resources. And they’ve learned how to surround themselves with the right people. And morally, I have to connect with them.”

Why he’s spent more than a decade on ‘Shark Tank’  

Kevin o'Leary, Lori Grenier and Daymond John listen to a pitch
Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, and Daymond John on Shark Tank | Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

John has been on Shark Tank since its inception. But he says he hasn’t tired of working with eager business owners who think they have a million-dollar idea. For one, he says he learns things from the people trying to get him to invest in their business. 

“The reason I keep coming back to Shark Tank is twofold,” John explained. “No. 1, I’m getting educated myself by the amazing new generation that’s coming on the show.” 

But that’s not all. John also said he feels he has the opportunity to be show that anyone can be a business owner.  

“Growing up as a young African-American male, I never got to see anybody [who looked like me] who didn’t come from sports or music. Who just made it by their bootstrings,” he shared. John says he wanted to show that everyone, no matter their background, had the potential to succeed. 

“That carpet doesn’t care about your religion, your sex, your gender, your color, your creed,” he said. “That carpet gives you a shot to live the American Dream.” 

Barbara Corcoran shares how the coronavirus pandemic has changed ‘Shark Tank’

Shark Tank premiered during the depths of the Great Recession. Now, the United States is facing another major economic crisis. Corcoran says the devastation that’s been triggered by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is already apparent in the pitches the sharks are hearing for season 12, which is currently filming in Las Vegas. 

“The people we’re seeing now are remarkably different. They have more at stake,” she said, adding that they’re so committed to being on the show that they’re will to spend days in quarantine. 

“They’re mostly the people who have the least amount of hope and feel their situation is never going to change and that’s what’s so very sad about it,” Corcoran said. “When you’re not born into the right family, you don’t get a shot. Nobody listens to your idea, nobody’s going to hand you anything.”