‘Shark Tank:’ Barbara Corcoran Talks About Her Most Successful Entrepreneurs … And the Ones That are the Most Fun

Barbara Corcoran of ABC’s Shark Tank has been on the reality show panel since its premiere in 2009. Hearing countless pitches over the years, the real estate mogul has learned which aspiring entrepreneurs have the potential to make successful business partners.

Corcoran recently revealed which one of her deals has brought in the biggest return on her investment, and which pair of entrepreneurs are the most fun.

Barbara Corcoran  attends the Tribeca Talks Panel: 10 Years Of 'Shark Tank'
Barbara Corcoran of ‘Shark Tank’ | Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

‘Shark Tank’ star focuses on the entrepreneur rather than the business

As a sought-after Shark, Corcoran tends to go with her gut on making deals. The millionaire investor pays more attention to the pitcher than the product when an entrepreneur is in the Tank.

“When I’m sitting on the Shark Tank set, I’m looking for something far more important than a good business,” she told Parade. “I’m looking for someone I can trust and I’m shopping for talent.”

When it comes to choosing a partner, Corcoran isn’t interested in fancy degrees or credentials but rather wants a business owner who is resilient when times get tough.

“I want to buy into the entrepreneur who can take a hit and keep on ticking,” the real estate guru shared. “They don’t have to be the smartest person, but they have to be the most persistent. When I choose the right entrepreneur, the business always works out. And when I don’t, I lose my money.”

‘Shark Tank’ success story

When Brian and Michael Speciale appeared in Season 9 on Shark Tank, they were seeking a $50,000 investment for 20 percent of their blanket-sweatshirt hybrid company, The Original Comfy. After receiving offers from Robert Herjavec, who wanted 50 percent of the business, and Corcoran who was asking for just 30 percent, the brothers went with the real estate icon.

Corcoran’s investment paid off big time, where the product is now the most profitable of all her deals. “My most successful company to date is The Original Comfy,” the Shark Tank star said. “It’s an oversized blanket-sweatshirt created by two smart brothers and comes in a bunch of colors. At $39.99 each, everyone seems to want one, so we’ve made $150 million dollars so far.”

Despite having to relinquish more equity than they anticipated, the Speciale brothers have no regrets. “Even though we ended up giving up 30 percent of the business, it was well worth it,” Brian explained. “There is nothing like having the power of a Shark behind your company. Our goal was to get a deal, and we got it.”

Barbara Corcoran prefers the company of Cousins

Always up for a good time, Corcoran has a soft spot for a pair of entrepreneurs she invested in during Season 4 on Shark Tank for their food truck business specializing in a seafood delicacy.

“I have the most fun with Jim [Tselikis] and Sabin [Lomac] of Cousins Maine Lobster,” Corcoran revealed. “They are smart, energetic, super hardworking and they’ve made me a lot of money. On top of that they are young, good looking and always flirtatious! What more could a girl want?”

Corcoran struck a deal with the cousins in 2012, investing $55,000 into the company for a 15 percent equity stake. Four years later, the company brought in $20 million in sales and has grown into franchising, kiosks, and restaurants. “Barbara’s influence on the company was felt from day one,” Tselikis said, according to CNBC. “Our relationship with Barbara went way beyond the short segment on TV, becoming a true, long-term partnership.”

With many small businesses facing major drops in sales due to the coronavirus crisis, Corcoran has been encouraging her entrepreneurs to think of innovative ways to reach their customers. She recently praised Tselikis and Lomac for pivoting their business to focus on neighborhood delivery after a serious decline in foot traffic.

“Their sales were off almost 70%,” the Shark Tank investor said, according to Yahoo! Finance. “Now, they’re off 40%, that’s a sizable difference.” Cousins Maine Lobster also created take-home kits for people to make their own lobster rolls at home and is consistently donating meals to hospital staff.

“My Shark Tank companies are making me very proud right now,” Corcoran wrote in Business Insider earlier this month. “They continue to blow me away with their creativity and dogged efforts to reinvent themselves and change their business models.”

Watch ABC’s Shark Tank on Friday nights!