The hit television show, Shark Tank, has captured millions of viewers with its exciting, high-stakes pitches from entrepreneurs seeking investments for their creative innovations. Based on the pitch and the product or service, wealthy investors, also known as the “sharks,” get to decide if these ideas are worth their money and we want you to be able to use Shark Tank in the classroom! Beyond just entertainment though, Shark Tank can also be used as a valuable educational tool for teaching entrepreneurship in your classroom. There are so many creative ways to integrate the show into your classroom that contribute to a more well-rounded, real-world learning experience.
Key Questions We’ll Answer in This Blog:
- What can students learn from Shark Tank pitches?
- What are some of the best Shark Tank pitches to show students?
- How to use shark tank videos in class?
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Why is Shark Tank Useful in the Classroom?
#1 Learning the Art of Pitching an Idea
One of the most valuable skills an entrepreneur can have is knowing how to effectively communicate their ideas with passion and excitement that meaningfully engages their audience. On Shark Tank, contestants must present their business ideas in a concise and compelling way that captures the investors’ attention. By watching and analyzing these pitches, students can learn some of the key elements of an effective pitch, and take note of the pitches that might need some more work.
#2 Developing Critical Thinking Skills
Problem-solving and critical thinking are consistently necessary as an entrepreneur. As students watch businesses be presented on Shark Tank, they will learn the strengths and weaknesses of different business ideas, as well as the potential risks and challenges associated with being an entrepreneur. Following the pitch, the Sharks have an opportunity to offer feedback and ask follow-up questions about the company. This part of the show is a great way for students to analyze what aspects of a new company are most important and most concerning to potential investors.
#3 Understanding Market Research
Before launching any business, it is necessary to determine whether or not there is a need for that product or service. Conducting market research is another essential aspect of being an entrepreneur in order to be prepared to enter a specific industry. The Sharks often ask contestants about their competition, how they figured out their pricing strategy, and what makes them different. By watching the show, students can identify some of the key areas of market research that are the most effective for developing a business model and understanding the importance of being knowledgeable about the industry an entrepreneur is entering into.
#4 Understanding the Financial Components of Entrepreneurship
The Sharks often scrutinize the financials presented by contestants to determine whether or not to invest. This aspect of the show highlights the importance of having a solid understanding of finances, including profit margins, cash flow, and revenue. These financial skills are helpful for students to learn about financial planning and management in the context of entrepreneurship. Additionally, students learn that when seeking investments, entrepreneurs do not always receive exactly what they are looking for. They may need to be flexible when making a deal or choose not to compromise and not receive any money at all.
#5 Learning About Different Business Models
Using Shark Tank in the classroom allows for great knowledge expansion because Shark Tank features a wide variety of businesses ranging from food and beverage companies, to tech startups, and consumer products. The varying business models for each company offer insights into the unique challenges that are associated with each, as well as the significance of identifying a target market and tailoring a business to meet customer needs. Students will be able to expand their thinking and understand that developing a business model has endless possibilities for creativity and innovation.
Best Shark Tank Pitch Videos to Show Students
Check out our Classroom Friendly Shark Tank Pitches playlist! Each episode clip features a completely different business, entrepreneurs with varying backgrounds, and a mix of fun and engaging pitch examples as well as emotional and socially driven ones which makes it super easy to use Shark Tank in the classroom. Don't forget to save it to your YouTube library, so you can continue to refer back to it!
How to Use Shark Tank Videos as Classroom Lessons
#1 Company Analysis Project
- Have your students create a comprehensive analysis of a Shark Tank pitch of their choosing
- They can identify strengths and weaknesses of the company’s overall presentation, the way they respond to investor questions, and how well they know their target market, finances, and overall industry
- Additionally, ask them to provide some areas for improvement or something they might have done differently.
#2 Mini Shark Tank/Elevator Pitch Project
- In groups of 2-3 students, allow students to create a company of their own
- This can be a one-day project or over a period of time
- Students can use a large poster board or online tool to map out an overview of their idea, who the target audience is, what kinds of resources are most important, and why they think they are the best people to solve the issue
- They will then create an elevator pitch for their company and present it to the class, allowing time for feedback.
#3 Business Model Research
- Students will choose 3 different companies that have been featured on Shark Tank, and do a cross-examination of the business models
- They can look for similarities and differences, identify whether the business model is common or unique, and determine what elements of each model make it most effective for the specific product or service
#4 Students Become the Sharks
- Play an episode of Shark Tank and pause it after the contestants give their pitch
- Allow the students to discuss in small groups whether or not they would want to invest in the company, what questions they still have, and what elements of the pitch were compelling
- Continue playing the episode to hear what the real Sharks had to say
- Afterward, students can discuss whether or not they were surprised by the results, and if their groups’ analysis was similar or different
It’s important to note that Shark Tank is not without flaws. The emphasis on high-stakes investments and dramatic confrontations with investors is not a completely accurate view of the business funding process. It can also overshadow the educational value of the show. In this sense, it’s important for educators to use the show as a supplement to a broader entrepreneurial curriculum, rather than relying on it as the sole teaching tool.
Not only are there educational benefits, but Shark Tank is a fun and engaging way to teach entrepreneurship. By allowing students to watch and analyze pitches from real-life entrepreneurs, the show has the ability to bring entrepreneurship to life in a way that textbooks and lectures simply can’t. It also provides a platform for students to develop their own business ideas and practice their pitch skills in a supportive and constructive environment, inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs!
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