With Barbara Corcoran, Real Estate contributor to NBC’s TODAY, Angel Investor on ABC’s Shark Tank
The TV reality show Shark Tank, now in its 8th season, catapults entrepreneurs into the winner’s circle or into the rejection pile, depending on the judgment of its business savvy panel of potential investors, the so-called sharks.
One of those shark investors, Barbara Corcoran, who brings her experience as an outstanding business leader, author, and career builder into the “tank” each week, visited The Steve Pomeranz Show to discuss the somewhat startling changes we’ll see on the show this year, as well as to offer a few comments on her contentious real estate dealings with one of our presidential candidates by the name of Donald Trump.
Barbara characterizes the new Shark Tank as confused, heated, and shocking. Not only does it bring the concept of cut throat competition into a new dimension, but it also goes out on a much edgier limb with some unconventional deals and entrepreneurs. For their part, many of the entrepreneurs are, in Barbara’s words, “getting greedier” by valuing their companies with astronomical numbers, partially because some have already raised a bundle by crowd-sourcing, which places a false monetary worth on the venture.
X-rated TV in primetime? Barbara said she questioned one offer that was so shocking it rendered her speechless for 45 minutes wondering how it ever got by the lawyers in the first place. Even though the segment was doctored up so as to not offend anyone of any age, Barbara said, “When you see it, you’ll know which one I’m talking about. Shocking!”
When asked which of her recent deals was the most successful, Barbara answered unequivocally that it was the little knit sock company called Grace and Lace that turned into a $40 million business within three years. On the other end of the spectrum, her greatest disappointments were three deals she ended up losing to Lori Greiner this season and to discover the details, she says, again, you’ll have to watch the show.
The Corcoran Group, which Barbara began in 1973 with a $1000 loan from an old boyfriend and partner, went on to become New York’s largest and most successful real estate company. That level of accomplishment continues to drive Barbara to mentor and invest in other startups. When asked about a recent rumor that she and fellow Shark Kevin O’Leary were interested in investing in the cannabis industry, Barbara countered that, although it would be a great money maker, marijuana was hardly in her game plan as an investment.
Because of all her success, Barbara believes in paying it forward, which was the impetus behind OnDeck, an online contest she developed to allow a would-be entrepreneur the chance to pitch an idea that, if accepted, grants an award of a $10,000-no-interest loan, a trip to New York, and one-on-one coaching with Barbara herself.
As for Donald Trump, Barbara Corcoran reveals that at one time they enjoyed a mutually beneficial business relationship. As a real estate developer, Donald built the properties that Barbara, as a real estate broker, sold. Until, that is, they made the biggest real estate deal in the United States for which Barbara’s company, The Corcoran Group, was entitled to a $5 million commission that Trump refused to pay and instead countered with a $5 million lawsuit. Barbara won that suit in court, and The Donald was ordered to pay the $5 million in monthly installments. Admitting that he’s the greatest salesman she’s ever known, she also says she’s surprised that he’s come this far since she’s never known him to follow through with his promises.
Barbara’s business acumen is legendary and her commitment to helping energetic and innovative young entrepreneurs sincere, stretching well beyond the desire to snag the best deal on the Shark Tank. To see how this season plays out for Barbara Corcoran and the rest of the sharks, we’ll just have to tune in.
To win $10,000 for your business and a coaching session with Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran click here.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily United Capital. Interviewee is not a representative of United Capital. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions. Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances. The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital.
Steve Pomeranz: I’m pleased to have back on my show smart, talented, and successful Shark Tank investor panelist Barbara Corcoran. Hey, Barbara, welcome back.
Barbara Corcoran: Thank you, Steve, nice to be invited back. It doesn’t always happen, you know.
Steve Pomeranz: Oh, yes, somehow I don’t believe that. Hey, you know Shark Tank has entered its eighth season with a bunch of Emmys under its belt, and I understand that this season is a bit different. It’s a bit edgier, I understand. What’s different this year?
Barbara Corcoran: Well, first of all, we have a couple of really wacky entrepreneurs. How they found these people I don’t know, I’m not sure. Well, you’re going to have to see by watching, who gets the investment dollars. A lot of people leave with no cash, but that makes it more interesting. Then, also, the real deals that are funded are huge by comparison—so huge that I was thinking of quitting every single week. Afraid that I have to keep up with that old Mark Cuban, who’s thrown millions of dollars out the window, but I try to hold onto my wallet and pick up smaller deals, but so far so good.
Steve Pomeranz: I did read that the deals are getting bigger and some of the $50,000 deals really aren’t showing up that much anymore, and so that’s what’s happening there?
Barbara Corcoran: Yeah, but I’ll tell you what also happens is the entrepreneurs are getting greedier. They’re coming into the show and thinking they could value their companies with astronomical numbers, and, of course, if they can’t reach that dollar amount, they don’t get anything. That’s the rule of the show. Also the online fundraising, you know the crowd-sourcing is even affecting our show. People are coming in, they’ve already raised $200,000 just for promising the idea that they had in their head, and then they’re trying to value their business at a really high value, which makes no sense whatsoever. Getting a little wacky out there.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, you know, you guys started it, it’s your fault, you know.
Barbara Corcoran: Don’t blame it on us, don’t be so nasty, Steve, you seem like such a nice guy. Let’s blame it on the entrepreneurs.
Steve Pomeranz: Let’s blame it on modern technology.
Barbara Corcoran: You got it, that’s more true.
Steve Pomeranz: You characterize the new season as confused, heated, and shocking. What’s going on there, what are you guys doing there?
Barbara Corcoran: Oh, my gosh, well, I don’t even know—I should have really asked before getting on the line with you here—whether we’re allowed to describe the shocking…but I guess maybe we’re not supposed to give it and let the cat out of the bag. You’ll see a few weeks from now…there is an entrepreneur, and the way they demonstrate their product, I actually had to wonder if I was inside somebody’s dream. I mean there was such a shocking scene there, and I’m thinking “this is owned by Disney, how could this be?” How could they allow this on air for children to watch? Then I learned later on that they had a way of doctoring it up so that no one at home would be offended, but it was so shocking I was speechless for an entire 45 minutes. I’m never speechless; I just couldn’t talk. When you see it, you’ll know which one I’m talking about. Shocking!
Steve Pomeranz: The whole idea is we got to watch this stuff in order to see what’s going on. I think that the show’s getting a little more cutthroat. Is that a great characterization?
Barbara Corcoran: Definitely, and I was faulting myself on the seventh day we were shooting this past fall; I was actually reprimanding myself for my evil thoughts. I’m usually a very friendly person—“hey, I lost, I lost, no big deal,”—but I was disliking my fellow sharks, and that’s not like me. I mean, what’s happening here? It’s almost like the bad kids came to town this season, and I was trying to stay nice, but I have to be honest with you, I went for a couple of deals just to beat out the other sharks. Even deals that I wasn’t interested in, just to beat them out and get even. That’s kind of weird; I think I need a shrink.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, I think you need some business advice. I’m available at any time if you need a backup.
Barbara Corcoran: Okay, Steve, you calm me down anyway. I think I’ll put you in my seat next season; see how you handle it.
Steve Pomeranz: I don’t know about that. What was your most recent best deal you felt you made?
Barbara Corcoran: Definitely Grace and Lace because they started out with a little knit sock company and they turned it into a $40 million business within 3 years. I never saw that one coming. I knew I liked the entrepreneurs, so I’m thinking, okay, a sock company; how much money can you make with a sock company? Of course, they have like 80 different lines of women’s clothing now—they’re very hip, they’re very young. It’s all online; they’re just starting to break into the stores, but remarkable their passion and their work ethic. You know what they do with all the money, too? (I think maybe God’s rewarding them for just being lovely people.) They took all of their profits, with very small salaries for themselves, and they built 7 orphanages in India and a halfway house for girls that are in the slave trade. These are remarkable people, just remarkable people. Why I really like them, truthfully, because I had probably a 7,000% return on my money to date, and the checks keep rolling in. Go figure.
Steve Pomeranz: What about your greatest disappointment? Anything that really just teed you off, that you thought was a home run, and it turned out to be a dud?
Barbara Corcoran: I would say three deals I lost to Lori Greiner this season, and I really had a hard time having dinner with her that night, I was so annoyed. I can’t tell you what deals they were. The other seasons… probably the most disappointing one was two kids came in called Note Hall and they were pitching a business. It was very simple; they went into a lot of the large universities, had the consent and, basically, the smart kid in class sold his notes to the dumb kids in class. They married all these people online and the smart kid got so many dollars a page.
Well, I bought 10% of the business for $50,000, and I had a feeling about them, I said, “You’re not going to shop this, are you?” No, no, no. They went right out and shopped it, sold the business for $10 million one week later, and I never got the deal. I felt sad for about a minute, and then I decided it was going to put a line on my face, so I’d better let it go. I’d rather have less lines on my face and be a big loser than be worried about it.
Steve Pomeranz: You got to get over it. You got to move on; I mean that’s the whole thing to becoming a successful entrepreneur. There’s going to be a lot of disappointments, a lot of failures, but you’ve just got to pick yourself up, learn from them, and move on, right?
Barbara Corcoran: Steve, you know what I’ve really put my finger on after all the years of picking great sales people, and I’ve built the Corcoran Group business, and now picking great entrepreneurs, same kettle of fish, same type of people. They’re all great sales people. You know what I’ve learned? I’ve learned to watch how they take the very first big disappointment, my ears are going, my eyes are going. I’m really paying attention as to how they react to their first big disappointment on Shark Tank. You know, the minute someone starts feeling sorry for themselves, which comes in the form of blaming the next guy, the guy who didn’t deliver, the product that was at fault, the patent that wasn’t as solid as the attorney said, blah, blah, blah. The minute they feel sorry for themselves, I know I’m losing my money, and that has never failed to surprise me. If they take the hit, you got it right on there. That’s the mark of a great entrepreneur.
Steve Pomeranz: Talking about investing, I read in an article that you and Kevin O’Leary made it clear that you’re very much interested in investing in the cannabis industry. What are some of the opportunities you guys are seeing there?
Barbara Corcoran: The what kind of industry, I never heard of this?
Steve Pomeranz: The cannabis, cannabis, cannabis, marijuana.
Barbara Corcoran: No, no, listen, first of all, someone from the marijuana—is that how you say it?—trade was interviewing us, and they asked us what we thought about marijuana, and I said, “I thought it would be a great money maker.” Somehow that got translated like we’re really interested in investing. My mother would roll in her grave; she wouldn’t let us smoke a cigarette never mind marijuana, I couldn’t do that to her memory. Let Kevin have it because all he cares about is the dollar and cents, you know that, so he could have my end of the deal if he thinks I’m interested in that.
Steve Pomeranz: What a minute, you invested in Daisy Cakes, maybe they should make a pot-based pastry.
Barbara Corcoran: You know, Steve, you haven’t met Daisy; she’s wild because she’s got a great personality, but she’s a southern girl. There’s no way, and her mother bakes every cake right on her right hip. There’s no way she’s ever going to do anything bad like that, no way. You got the wrong baker on that one.
Steve Pomeranz: In a minute, I want to get to your relationship with OnDeck, but the last time that you and I spoke, really, it just kind of came out in conversation and it seems to be even more important right now, we spoke a little bit about your business dealings with presidential candidate Donald Trump. Now we are not a political show in any way shape or form, but I know you had some personal dealings with him some years ago, and I’d like you to tell us about it.
Barbara Corcoran: Well, I had many dealings with Donald; we grew up in the business together, as you know. He as a real estate developer, and I as real estate broker, so I sold his properties and he built the buildings, it was really a very good both beneficial relationship. Until we made the biggest deal in the United States and we were entitled to a $5 million commission, and instead of paying the commission, of course, he hit me with a $5 million dollar lawsuit. We had to chase it and litigate it and finally, luckily, not luckily, but deservedly, our company won the lawsuit and he had to pay out the $5 million dollars in monthly installments. Which is kind of a comedy, getting monthly installments from The Donald, but that’s what the judge ordered.
What is great about Donald is there’s no better salesmen that I’ve ever met. I’ve met great sales people in my life, but there’s also no better guy that will promise the world and not deliver. I just find it remarkable that he’s still in this race; I never saw this one coming. I’m telling you, I’ve lost my intelligence, I never thought he would get to first base, I’m really shocked at how far it’s gone.
Steve Pomeranz: You had also said that he thought you’d never amount to anything in the business.
Barbara Corcoran: No, no, you’re mixing up my men. No, that was my first boyfriend who loaned me the $1,000 to start the business. No, I never heard those words from The Donald at all. Not his style.
Steve Pomeranz: My mistake.
Barbara Corcoran: What the difference is is he will talk behind your back, that’s frontal. “You’ll never succeed”— that’s not his style. He’ll say you’re amazing, you’re amazing, then behind your back, he’ll label you.
Let’s talk about small business because I know you have a lot of listeners that have small businesses, and I really am here to help them out. We’re talking about some good advice, but you have to tell them about this contest. It’s so easy, it’s so easy to enter, just on Facebook.com/OnDeckCapital. It takes one minute, and you get to come to New York, and you have me as your one-on-one coach—and I’m really really good at that—then you go home with $10,000. Come on, why wouldn’t you enter? You should enter, you have to have a business idea in your head, Steve.
Steve Pomeranz: I do, I do, I have many business ideas. Now you mentioned just a second ago that you started with a $1,000 loan. OnDeck actually loans money to entrepreneurs, as well, and that’s the nature of that business right?
Barbara Corcoran: Yes, and the reason that kind of business, as well as many of their competitors, have come to the fore is because it’s so hard for entrepreneurs to get money from the banks or any kind of traditional source. When I was building my business, once I’d proved myself I was able to borrow money and get increased credit lines and go and continue to build my business. Now you’re better off entering a contest on Facebook to get that $10,000 no interest loan, and also get my one on one counseling.
Steve Pomeranz: Where do they go to sign up for this contest?
Barbara Corcoran: Facebook.com/OnDeckCapital. Easy as that.
Steve Pomeranz: My guest, Barbara Corcoran; just a delightful person, very very positive and very very smart. My favorite kind of person. Barbara, thank you so much for joining us.
Barbara Corcoran: Thank you, Steve, I’m marrying you, you’re my third husband coming up.
Steve Pomeranz: You got it, I’m available.
Barbara Corcoran: I’m not.
Steve Pomeranz: You’re not, I’m not either, but that’s okay.
Barbara Corcoran: Okay, we’re just flirting.
Steve Pomeranz: Take care.
Barbara Corcoran: Thank you.