Did you notice a few fins poking out of the water? Don’t be alarmed — those are just some sharks who smell fresh money in the water.
Branded as the “Decade of Dreams,” season 10 of Shark Tank is about to surface, and this batch of episodes boasts “big surprises and shocking outcomes that leave the Sharks’ mouths agape,” promises showrunner Clay Newbill. “I think it’s our best season to date — we have amazing and ingenious ideas that will help people simplify their lives, and a few wacky ideas that will have people scratching their heads, frankly.”
In addition, several new guest Sharks will enter the room, the show’s most romantic moment to date will unfold, and a few entrepreneurs will even try to persuade the panel that they can lucratively rehab the image of bats. Before Shark Tank begins season 10 on Sunday with its 200th episode (10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC), allow Newbill to pitch you the highlights.
Charles Barkley hits nothing but net worth
The NBA legend and TNT talking head shows off his entrepreneurial skills as a guest Shark — and the filter-free Barkley brings his swagger from the court right into the business world. “What makes him great for Shark Tank is he’s willing to say exactly what he and everyone watching is thinking,” says Newbill. “He’s very colorful and hilarious. The most unforgettable moment is his take on a male-grooming company for the nether regions. The other Sharks about fell out of their chairs.” Barkley puts some bit behind that bark, though; he committed to investing $1 million in female entrepreneurs this year, reports Newbill. “He takes his investing and his opportunity to join the Sharks very seriously,” he says. “He had some funny comments like you would expect from Charles, but also he made some very smart comments that maybe other sharks weren’t seeing.”
Speaking of guest Sharks, Ring founder Jamie Siminoff (who did not land a deal when he pitched on the Tank years ago) is back as an investor, and the show also will put Miami Dolphins exec Matt Higgins in a seed-money seat. Returning guest investors include Sarah Blakely, Bethenny Frankel, Rohan Oza, and Alex Rodriguez, and for the first time ever, two guest Sharks will sit on the same panel, with colorful results. “Bethenny took on Rohan and Lori [Grenier] for a company that has a kids’-meal-delivery business led by a really impressive husband-and-wife team,” says Newbill. “It went back and forth many rounds. I don‘t want to reveal the outcome, but I’ll say it was surprising.”
Brace for true commitment during one pitch
Two more-than-business partners leave the Tank in a different situation than they entered it. “When the pitch was over, the male entrepreneur took a knee and proposed,” reveals Newbill. “You could just tell that these two people were made for each other.… They were pitching, oddly enough, engagement rings.” What percentage of their wedding gifts will Mr. Wonderful get?
And look forward to the show’s first female-majority panel
In November, which is Female Entrepreneurship Month, you’ll see Grenier, Blakely, and Barbara Corcoran sit together on the panel. “We have some great, really impressive women entrepreneurs this season,” says Newbill. “There’s one woman who came through — she quit her job, had an idea, bootstrapped her entire operation, starting a kombucha-at-home kit with less than $1,000, and the company’s really fantastic now.”
There will be an utterly Wonderful deal that doesn’t involve Mr. Wonderful
One entrepreneur will strike a deal with a Shark who clearly has been taking notes on Kevin O’Leary’s royally shrewd strategies. “There was a deal made this season where the offer initially was made and then during the negotiation, the Shark changed it to a deal [in which] the full amount of money was being made as a loan with interest,” says Newbill. “And then on top of that, they got a royalty. And on top of that, they got some equity. It was business that there was a lot of risk involved, and this particular Shark was balancing that risk.”
Another deal will hook all the Sharks — and their charitable instincts
In one deal, “all five of the Sharks are impressed and go into together,” reports Newbill. “As part of the deal, they say that they’re going to take whatever profits they have from the deal and they’re going to donate it to charity.”
A few teenagers may find out that it pays to be positive
Minors will make major impressions again this season. “We have a group of teen girls that have created a new social media site for teens that only allows positive messaging,” says Newbill. “No bullying, no troll intimidation. Made for teens, by teens.”
One pitch will have the Sharks swimming in tears
Shark Tank is all in on an emotional pitch that taxes the tear ducts, but “I don’t think we’ve ever had one where all the Sharks were tearing up and the entrepreneurs weren’t,” says Newbill of three children who seek a deal for their late father’s product. “His dream was to pitch on Shark Tank, but he passed away from cancer, so they’re carrying out his legacy by pitching for him. It’s a great product and obviously a heartbreaker to watch. It’s amazing how strong these kids are after losing their father.”
Some see big profits in being zitpicky, others in being batty
“We have a product that satisfies the unique pimple-popping obsession,” says Newbill. “It’s actually ingenious, and they’ve got incredible sales, so there is a desire out there for this thing. We learned after these people applied that there are a lot of videos online of the thing — not the product, actual people doing this. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that’s squeamish.”
There are also a couple entrepreneurs that aim to change “the negative PR around bats — flying bats — with their designer bat houses used to host bats on your property to combat disease-carrying mosquitos and other insects,” says Newbill. A designer bat house? To reference the other kind of bat, this sounds like a big swing.
While several inventors get clever, others may be dogging it
Expect to see some smart inventions — one product senses when you have a leak in a pipe and alerts you; another serves an emergency spare battery for an electric car — but also what might be called a fashion faux paw: a onesie for dogs of multiple sizes. “You might ask yourself: Why does a dog need to be wearing a onesie?” says Newbill. “The functionality of it is that it catches all the hair and dander that a shedding dog will put all over your clothes or your furniture. And this is the bonus — the guys that created it got a lot of feedback from vets that said it also helps dogs who suffer from anxiety attacks. It’s like a swaddling a baby. The dogs feel hugged.” How does the poor dog go to the bathroom? “They have an answer,” continues Newbill. “They’re like, ‘Well, we’ve got a zipper.’”
Here’s a new way to tell off telemarketers
Any interest in a telephone answering service? Wait, don’t hang up yet. This one “seeks to get revenge on telemarketers by wasting their time using numbers and human-like robots to keep them on the line,” says Newbill. “I’m telling you, it’s brilliant. It’s a guy who has been working in the telephone industry his entire life and had a bad experience with a telemarketer speaking with one of his children. [He] decided enough is enough — and has the knowledge and he figured the way to take on telemarketers down is to eat up their time. The longer he can keep them on the line, the less calls they’ll be able to make to disturb other people.” If this guy doesn’t score a deal, he should at least be in the running for a National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
After the premiere, Shark Tank will air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.