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Do You Have To Pay To Be On Shark Tank? The Costs And Process Of Appearing On The Show

The hit ABC show Shark Tank provides entrepreneurs with a unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of potential investors. Scoring a deal with one of the ‘shark’ investors can lead to business growth, publicity, and credibility.

But does it cost money to actually get on the show in the first place? Let’s dive into the details.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Contestants on Shark Tank do not have to pay any fees directly to the show to participate or pitch to the investors. However, there are costs associated with preparing for and appearing on the show.

Applying and Auditioning for Shark Tank is Free

One of the great things about Shark Tank is that the initial application process is completely free. This means that anyone with a great idea and a compelling business plan can apply without having to spend any money upfront.

The show is always on the lookout for innovative and exciting entrepreneurs, and they want to give everyone an equal opportunity to be considered.

So, whether you have a product or service that is just starting out or if you’ve been in business for years, you can apply to be on Shark Tank without any financial commitment.

Applying and Auditioning

The initial application process is free

When it comes to getting on Shark Tank, the first step is to fill out an application. This application asks for basic information about your business, such as your company’s name, the problem it solves, and your revenue numbers.

You’ll also need to provide a short video pitch explaining why your product or service is unique and why you believe it would be a good fit for the show. The application itself is free to submit, and you can find it on the official Shark Tank website.

Pro Tip: Make sure to take the time to craft a compelling application that highlights the most important aspects of your business. This is your chance to grab the attention of the producers and stand out from the crowd, so make it count!

Auditioning in-person has some costs for travel

If your application is successful and you make it past the initial screening process, you may be invited to audition in-person for the show. While the application itself is free, auditioning in-person does come with some costs, particularly if you don’t live near where the auditions are being held.

You may need to cover expenses such as travel, accommodation, and meals during your audition. These costs can vary depending on your location and the audition venue, so it’s important to plan ahead and budget accordingly.

Pro Tip: Consider reaching out to local businesses or organizations in the area where the audition is being held to see if they offer any sponsorship or support for entrepreneurs participating in Shark Tank auditions.

Some companies may be willing to help cover your travel expenses in exchange for exposure or a potential partnership.

You Must Cover Business Valuation and Due Diligence Costs

Obtaining a business valuation

One of the costs you need to consider when appearing on Shark Tank is obtaining a business valuation. This is an essential step to determine the worth of your company and to negotiate a fair deal with the sharks.

While the show does not cover the cost of the valuation, it is a necessary expense that you will need to incur. Business valuations can range in price depending on various factors such as the size and complexity of your business, industry standards, and the expertise of the valuation professional.

On average, a business valuation can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. 

It is important to invest in a reputable valuation firm or professional to ensure an accurate assessment of your business’s value. This will not only provide you with a solid foundation for negotiations on the show but also give you a better understanding of your company’s worth in the market.

Providing due diligence paperwork

Another cost to consider when appearing on Shark Tank is the preparation of due diligence paperwork. Due diligence is the process of thoroughly investigating your business to assess its financial and legal standing.

The sharks will require detailed information about your company’s financial statements, contracts, intellectual property, and any potential liabilities.

To ensure a smooth due diligence process, it is recommended to seek professional assistance from lawyers and accountants who specialize in due diligence. These experts can help you compile the necessary documents and ensure compliance with legal requirements.

While the show does not cover the cost of due diligence, it is crucial to allocate funds for this expense. Depending on the complexity of your business and the amount of documentation required, the cost of due diligence can vary.

It is advisable to budget for legal and accounting fees to ensure a thorough and efficient due diligence process.

Pro Tip: Research different valuation firms and due diligence professionals to find the best fit for your business. Look for firms with experience in your industry and positive reviews from previous clients.

For more information on business valuations, you can visit Investopedia. They provide comprehensive resources on the topic, including methodologies, considerations, and industry standards.

Remember, while there are costs involved in appearing on Shark Tank, the potential benefits of exposure, investment, and mentorship from the sharks can outweigh these expenses. Properly budgeting for business valuation and due diligence costs will help you navigate the process with confidence and increase your chances of striking a deal on the show.

company's financial statements

Producing a Pitch Segment Has Expenses

Appearing on Shark Tank can be a dream come true for aspiring entrepreneurs, but it’s important to be aware that there are costs associated with being on the show.

From building a pitch set to covering travel and lodging expenses, entrepreneurs need to budget for these expenses in order to make the most of their opportunity on the show.

Building a pitch set and props

When entrepreneurs walk onto the Shark Tank set, they are not only presenting their business ideas but also creating an engaging and visually appealing pitch.

This means investing in a pitch set and props that will grab the attention of the sharks and the audience. The cost of building a pitch set can vary depending on the complexity and design, but entrepreneurs should expect to allocate a portion of their budget for this expense.

Travel to filming location

Shark Tank is filmed in Los Angeles, California, which means that entrepreneurs from all over the country (and sometimes even internationally) need to factor in travel expenses.

Whether it’s airfare, gas money, or other transportation costs, entrepreneurs should be prepared to cover these expenses in order to appear on the show. It’s important to note that these costs can vary depending on the distance and mode of transportation.

Lodging during filming

Since the filming of Shark Tank takes place over multiple days, entrepreneurs also need to consider the cost of lodging during their time in Los Angeles.

This includes hotel expenses or other accommodations that will provide them with a comfortable and convenient place to stay during the filming process. The duration of the stay will depend on how far entrepreneurs progress in the show, but it’s important to budget for this expense as well.

It’s worth mentioning that while appearing on Shark Tank does come with expenses, the exposure and potential investment opportunities that come with being on the show can far outweigh these costs.

Many successful businesses have been launched or grown exponentially as a result of their appearance on Shark Tank. So, for entrepreneurs who are confident in their business idea and are willing to invest in their future success, the costs of being on the show can be seen as a worthwhile investment.

Rules Regarding Money Spent Before the Show

Appearing on Shark Tank can be a life-changing opportunity for entrepreneurs looking to take their business to the next level. However, there are certain rules and guidelines that participants must adhere to, especially when it comes to spending money before the show.

Here are some important considerations regarding the costs and financial aspects of appearing on Shark Tank.

Limits on marketing budgets pre-show

While it’s important to create buzz and generate interest in your product or service before appearing on Shark Tank, there are limits to how much you can spend on marketing.

The producers of the show want to ensure that all participants have an equal chance to succeed, regardless of their financial resources. Therefore, they impose certain restrictions on the amount of money that can be allocated for pre-show marketing efforts.

It’s crucial to carefully plan your marketing budget and make sure you stay within the designated limits. This can be challenging, as you want to create maximum visibility for your business without overspending.

Finding creative and cost-effective ways to market your product or service can be a great strategy in this regard.

Disclosing financials and spending

When you apply to be on Shark Tank, you will be required to provide detailed financial information about your business. This includes disclosing your revenue, expenses, and any investments or debts you may have.

The producers and the Sharks want to have a clear understanding of the financial health and viability of your business before making any investment decisions.

Additionally, you will need to disclose any money you have already spent on your business, including marketing expenses and product development costs. This transparency helps the Sharks evaluate the true value of your business and determine whether they want to invest in it.

It’s important to keep accurate records of your spending and have all the necessary documentation to back up your financial claims. This will not only help you during the application process but also give you a solid foundation for negotiating with the Sharks if you make it onto the show.

For more information about the costs and process of appearing on Shark Tank, you can visit the official Shark Tank website where you can find additional details and resources.

The Benefits Outweigh the Costs for Many Contestants

Appearing on Shark Tank may require an investment, but for many contestants, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Here are some of the reasons why:

Major publicity and exposure

One of the biggest advantages of being on Shark Tank is the major publicity and exposure that comes with it. The show has a large and dedicated audience, with millions of viewers tuning in each week.

As a contestant, you have the opportunity to showcase your product or business to a wide audience, which can greatly increase awareness and generate buzz. This kind of exposure is hard to come by and can have a significant impact on the success of your venture.

Opportunity for investment

Another significant benefit of appearing on Shark Tank is the potential for investment. The show features a panel of successful entrepreneurs and investors who are willing to invest their own money in promising businesses. 

Securing an investment from one of the sharks can provide the capital needed to scale your business and take it to the next level. Additionally, even if you don’t secure an investment, the exposure on the show can lead to other investment opportunities from outside investors who saw your pitch.

Opportunity for investment

Validation and credibility

Being on Shark Tank can also provide validation and credibility for your product or business. The fact that you made it onto the show and had the opportunity to pitch to the sharks is a testament to the potential of your venture.

This validation can be highly valuable when seeking partnerships, securing distribution deals, or convincing customers to trust and buy your product.


Appearing on Shark Tank requires no upfront payments to the show itself, but contestants should be prepared for expenses related to auditioning, filming, and due diligence requirements.

For many entrepreneurs, the opportunity to pitch their business before millions of viewers makes these costs well worth it. The association with Shark Tank gives your business instant credibility and can open doors that may have otherwise been closed.

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