Written on the 15 June 2017 by Ben Hall


SHE'S a keen investor and supporter of the startup community in Australia and RedBalloon founder Naomi Simson remains passionate, and very direct, when it comes to identifying business talent and providing advice.

Is it the business idea itself that gives someone the impetus for success, or is it a tech innovation or disruptive concept that helps create a company that has the potential to change the world?

"What I'm looking for is 'has this business got traction and has it got numbers and customers'," Simson says.

"But most importantly it's about the entrepreneur themselves, because some people are not meant for the entrepreneurial journey.

"The first thing I want to find out is: are they going to stick with it? Are they going to give up because it gets a bit hard?

"Do they have a deep sense of purpose and are they a leader? Can they take care of the details? Do they respect and honour the funds coming into their business?

"And ultimately will we be able to scale this business? That's important as well."

As one of the five "sharks" on the business entertainment show Shark Tank which begins airing its third season next Tuesday, Simson says the quality of the pitches on the program had improved since series one.

However, just like in the "real world", some entrepreneurs need to learn humility before they have any chance of getting ahead.

"The quality of the pitching has improved but we still get some people who walk in and think they know more than us. We tend to sort them out pretty quickly."

A big part of the appeal of Shark Tank is that the sharks, which also includes internet pioneer Steve Baxter, Boost Juice founder Janine Allis, international businessman Andrew Banks and Greencross founder Dr Glen Richards, run the rule over the startups and put their own cash on the line to turn the next big idea into a profitable venture.

In exchange for equity and the chance to fast-track their idea into the big-time, the aspiring entrepreneurs must convince at least one shark that their idea is original, their product is worth pursuing, and that ultimately they can demonstrate the opportunity to make a lot of money.

Simson says she happily opened her chequebook this time around.

"How could I resist? There were some really fabulous ideas and some fabulous people," Simson says.

"The question I always ask is 'do I want this person in my life?' Because you need to spend a lot of time with them and fortunately there were a few 'yes's' and of course there were a few 'nos'."

"I can't say how much or how many but there were some very mature ideas and some significant offers were made."

And as for straight up advice for those inventors or entrepreneurs who want their idea to become the next big thing, Simson says the desire to put in pure, simple hard work is essential even before the basics come into play.

"They need to understand how their cash runs through their business and they must have a clear picture of who their ideal customer is.

"And they need to have a sense of purpose because if they're just in it for the money, it's very hard to inspire people."

Series 3 of Shark Tank airs on Ten next Tuesday at 8.30pm.

Read our other stories from Shark Tank here:
Richards looking for scaleup potential in next Shark Tank class
Janine Allis' special blend to boost success

Shark Andrew Banks on why Australian startups need to get a bit of American attitude
Startups are 'not for the faint hearted': Steve Baxter exclusive interview part 1
Brutal honesty on earning the 'gift of investment': Steve Baxter exclusive interview part 2

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Author: Ben Hall





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