Cathy Yang with Kevin O’Leary on ANC’s The Boss
Some business advice from Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank
KAPAMILYA DAY - Kane Errol Choa (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2018 - 12:00am

Nowadays, it is easy to start a business and earn extra income on the internet. But years before Facebook Marketplace and Instagram made it possible for anyone to sell almost anything without spending on advertising costs, a TV show in the US called Shark Tank gave entrepreneurial individuals the break they needed to grow into profitable businesses.

The show, which first aired in 2009, gives small business owners the chance to pitch their idea to a panel of business “sharks” — business lingo for potential investors.

One of Shark Tank’s success stories is cupcake-in-a-jar brand Wicked Good Cupcakes owned by a mother and daughter team who went on the show and successfully won over head Shark Tank judge Kevin O’ Leary with their excellent storytelling skills and their grasp of finance. Overnight, their media exposure put their brand on the map.

What was their formula for success? Kevin, a billionaire investor and venture capitalist who provided Wicked Good Cupcakes with a $75,000 investment, shared the “cold hard truths” of business needed in order to succeed on the latest leg of ANC’s Leadership Series at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza with ANC anchor Cathy Yang as moderator.

The long-time entrepreneur who became known for his no-filter approach to business and mentorship gave attendees in Manila a taste of straightforward style of laying out the truths of business.

The author with Kevin

According to Kevin, the Wicked Good Cupcakes owners first succeeded in growing exponentially because they had a good story to tell, and repurposed their TV interviews on social media to get people talking about their brand.

He also pointed out the main skills every businessman needs to hone before anything else: communication smarts, executional skills and a strong grasp of numbers.

“It takes 90 seconds, max, to win or lose potential investors. If you’re still talking five minutes later you’re dead — because in life, in business, in politics, if you can’t explain where you’re going, no one will follow you,” said Kevin.

He also said entrepreneurs have to equip themselves with the right skills and data to make it come to fruition.

“The owner of Wicked Good knew her numbers to a pin,” said Kevin. “Even if you have a winning idea and the right skills, if you don’t know your numbers, you deserve to burn in hell in perpetuity,” he added.

Four years after they went on the show, Wicked Good Cupcakes continues to grow as a multi-million brand. Kevin credits them as “the best investment” he’s ever made on the show, and it all started with free exposure on a reality TV show.

Kevin is the fifth international speaker ANC has brought to the country for its Leadership Series, which gathers the country’s business and industry leaders to listen and learn from some of the world’s most respected personalities and speakers.

ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes

Previous speakers were the founder of Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Mandalay Entertainment Group chairman and CEO and executive chairman of the Golden State Warriors Peter Guber, and leadership guru Stephen M.R. Covey.

In the forum, Kevin warned against hiring friends and family in business, saying one should always want to hire the best person for your business.

“The biggest challenge of this generation is the transfer of wealth,” said Kevin. “The worst thing you can do to a child is give them money and not let them work,” he said.

In fact, Kevin shared that his mother “cut him off” after college, and his children know that they’ll be cut off once they’re done with college, too.

Kevin’s ideas may come off as “cold and hard” — for Kevin, business is business — but if you look at his history of starting, growing and even failing in business but coming back stronger, maybe he’s right, after all. 

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