Big dreamer? Don't fear failure says 'Shark Tank' boss Kevin O'Leary

Cathy Yang and Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 12 2018 02:44 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2018 04:10 PM

Venture capitalist, author and 'Shark Tank' host Kevin O'Leary speaks at the ANC Leadership Forum at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Manila on Nov. 12, 2018. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Filipino entrepreneurs should learn to "absorb failures" if they want to turn their ideas into game-changing ventures, according to a venture capitalist and reality TV show host who helps big dreamers scale up to multi-million dollar businesses.

Cultural barriers are starting to go down and will soon come to startups in the Philippines, one of the world's fastest growing economies, said Kevin O'Leary, chairman of O'Shares ETF and lead shark on US TV network ABC's "Shark Tank."

"You have to be able to absorb failures. Entrepreneurs get better after mistakes because they learn from these," O'Leary said.

"When you’re passionate about a product, you don’t do it for big money. Entrepreneurship is about the pursuit of freedom," he said.

O'Leary spoke exclusively to ANC's The Boss before going on stage for ANC's Leadership Forum, where one lucky Filipino could get a chance to get funded by "Mr Wonderful."

On Shark Tank, the 64-year-old O'Leary heads a panel of "sharks" that fire off difficult questions to entrepreneurs who think they have the next million-dollar idea, but lack the funds to scale up.

In blunt fashion, contestants are told that their margins are too small or their ideas are unoriginal and unsustainable in the long run. In the end, the sharks offer a deal in exchange for money or a guaranteed cut in profits.

On Season 4, O'Leary offered a mother-daughter team from Boston $75,000 in exchange for a $1 share for every bottled dessert sold until they pay off the seed money.

After the $75,000 is paid, O'Leary asked for a $0.50 share, which the Wicked Good Cupcakes businesswomen brought down to $0.45.

O'Leary is invested in at least 16 ventures through 'Shark Tank,' including Honeyfund, an online gift registry for honeymooning couples and BenjiLock, the world's first rechargeable padlock with fingerprint technology.

Some ventures are as practical as they are innovative like Illumibowl, which solves the problem of walking into dark bathrooms in the dead of the night by giving a soft glow to the inner bowl of the toilet.

On his website, O'Leary said he combined his mother's merchant heritage and his father's Irish charm and got his start scooping ice cream at a neighborhood shop.

He made it big with software firm SoftKey, which he later sold to US toy giant Mattel.

O'Leary bounced back, launching O'Leary Funds, O'Leary Fine Wines and hosting Discovery’s "Project Earth" and CBC’s "Dragons’ Den" before "Shark Tank."


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