- Nathan Lee
From his New York office, Daymond John tracks the performance in more than 60 companies he’s invested in over the last eight years of “Shark Tank.”
Besides being a hit show, it’s given John a new revenue stream and a chance to branch out into industries far from the clothing world where he built a name for himself with FUBU.
Inspired by his relationships with the small businesses he invested in through the show, he’s created a new company, Blueprint + co, housed in the same building where he and his team operate the Shark Group. It’s a coworking space for small businesses more mature than what you’d typically find on “Shark Tank.” But unlike a place like WeWork, the entrepreneurs will have access to John and his team for guidance.
Business Insider recently met with John to discuss this new venture, as well as his other investments. He told us that when he’s considering investing in a company, there are five basic criteria he looks for in an entrepreneur.
1. They get along with him on a personal level.
John says that when he meets an entrepreneur, he asks himself, “Do I want to speak to this person potentially every day for the next 10 years?” If the answer is no, he’s not going to make the investment, even if he’s interested in that person. “When I invest on people on ‘Shark Tank,’ often, if the business is going to fail, then we’re going to start another business together.”
2. They understand failure and know how to react to it.
John is wary of entrepreneurs who are too green, and haven’t experienced what it’s like to have a project fail. That way, he can avoid a situation where a founder loses composure and focus as soon as they hit an unexpected challenge.
3. They are surrounded by supportive people.
One of the main reasons John decided to build Blueprint + co is to bring together a group of smart entrepreneurs in the same place, where they could share ideas and resources with each other and his own team – he wants a small business ecosystem of like-minded people with different specialties. He said even when he’s in the Tank, he looks for indications that the entrepreneurs before him are surrounding themselves with a team that shares their vision and will support each other through ups and downs.
4. Their company is scalable.
A great idea with a capable entrepreneur isn’t enough to compel John – or any of the other Sharks, for that matter – to invest in a company. It needs to be able to take an investment and grow exponentially, so that the company and the investors both make money. “Some people have companies that are great just for them, they don’t need investors, and even though I like the product, I’ll just buy the product. I don’t need to invest in the company,” John said.
5. They have skills and resources that will benefit him, and he has those that can benefit them.
John invested in the sock company Bombas, to use an example, because he could offer them connections in the apparel industry. They could show him new ways of doing business online, and how to integrate a charitable aspect into a company. John likes to occasionally invest outside of his comfort zone, but not at the expense of his portfolio, or at the entrepreneur’s potential.
“I can feed off of them; they can feed off of me,” John said of the perfect partnership.