“If people aren’t laughing at your dreams, you’re probably not dreaming big enough.” - Nick Taranto
Nick Taranto, co-founder of Plated, is a businessman, humanitarian, and adventurer who has proven his entrepreneurial prowess by, along with Josh Hix, taking the culinary world, boxing it up, and shipping it to our front doors. Nick is a man that lives life to the fullest – from aspiring to run 100 miles to making a difference overseas, this Harvard alumnus, Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, and United States Infantry Officer (now in the reserves) faces every challenge head-on. This is how he and Hix managed to impress Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary on Shark Tank, turning their business proposal into a reality.
We had the honor of meeting with Nick so that we could get a better understanding of how an effective and well-planned business proposal can mean the difference between making it on Shark Tank or starting again from square one. Nick, enjoying his day out in a Triple F.A.T. Goose Logan, shares his professional insights on startup capital, preparing for a pitch, and handling an offer or rejection.
“It’s less about the amount of capital you have raised and more about how much traction and progress you have made.” - Nick Taranto
When it comes to seeking investment capital, strong starting numbers are good, but Nick firmly believes that it also takes a certain amount of initiative and character: “If you can prove that you can bootstrap your way to success, then investors will be more likely to put their capital behind you.”
“We were able to combine proven execution, vision, and knowing our numbers. That’s what investors want to see.” - Nick Taranto
In order to present the best possible version of your proposal, you need to “practice, practice, practice,” as Nick says. Too often entrepreneurs fail on Shark Tank because they were unprepared, not having the market education or energy to command and retain attention for the short window allotted.
After all, three minutes is a seemingly short amount of time to pitch an idea that may have taken years to develop. “Investors are busy people with short attention spans, so make sure your pitch is tight and compelling, and keep the energy level high.”
But not everyone is a public speaking expert, and even Nick finds it difficult. “I still get nervous when I speak in front of a large crowd,” he shares, “and I have done it hundreds of times.”
There is always a way to overcome these inhibitions, and for Nick, he believes “the best antidote is knowing your material like the back of your hand, and bringing a ton of energy to the table.”
Tips for a Shark Tank Pitch
When it comes to his experience with Shark Tank, Nick offers a little clarification for those who are interested in getting on the show: “Shark Tank is first and foremost a TV show. They do well when they have entertaining people who carry the program. Even if your product is great, if you don’t bring the energy, then you won’t get the opportunity to pitch in front of 10 million households on primetime TV.”
A few tips: Nick tells us to “focus on why your product is different and better. Are you targeting a different customer demographic? Does your product have more premium ingredients? Are you using a new and better distribution channel? Very few products are truly innovative, and when they are, a lot of market education is required. So you need to ground both investors and customers in what your product is and how it compares to other solutions.” This is what will get the Sharks interested in your proposal.
“If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, then you should find something new to sell.” - Nick Taranto
Knowing your product and bringing all of your energy means nothing without the characteristic that binds them together: confidence, not only in what you’re trying to sell, but yourself. “If you believe in yourself and your business and product, then let that authenticity carry the pitch,” Nick advises.
“Dealing with rejection is a necessity” - Nick Taranto
The reality is that even if you have an innovative idea, a strong proposal, and prepared for countless hours, not every pitch will result in an offer.
When it comes to rejection, every opportunity is a learning experience. Nick shared some of his insights on what it means to have your business proposal rejected: "For every hundred people you talk to raising money, only three will say yes and that's just the harsh reality ... you're going to get rejected. That doesn't mean your idea is bad or you yourself are personally to blame, it just means you have to persevere through it and find the right people who are going to buy into you and your vision."
Remember, the road to success is never clear, and there will be obstacles to overcome. But as long as you “keep persevering and dream big,” as advised by Nick, your aspirations and determination will be rewarded.
After the Show
“An on-air offer was just the start,” Nick tells us when we ask what happened after their Shark Tank appearance. “The next step was reviewing paperwork to making sure that the terms match what you discussed,” which Nick emphasizes is crucial before finalizing any deals. “Lawyers are expensive, but don’t skimp on hiring a lawyer to review the deal documents.”
There’s no better feeling than providing people with a service that can change their life (and health for that matter). For Nick and Josh, their success came as the result of dedication to a unique idea and perseverance. It earned them capital, recognition, and the interest from Shark Tank investors, ultimately leading them to a $200 million dollar deal with Albertsons, and a company now catering to 95% of the country. As we conclude our beautiful day out in Madison Square Park, we thank our interviewee for his time and insight on how to perfect the art of business proposals. Bon Appétit, Nick!