From having the “CEO of Doglapan” as a judge on the debut season to facing allegations of only funding profitable start-ups, the judging panel of Shark Tank India has been swimming in troubled waters. However, now Shaadi.com founder, tech investor and one of the memeable Shark Tank India judges, Anupam Mittal, has broken his silence.
Mittal comes off as no less than a PR spokesperson for the finance reality show at this point as he has been constantly defending Shark Tank India online since February 2023.
I know you meant it in jest so with all due respect sir, I think u reacted to what appears to be superficial, biased & incomplete data. Happy to learn from stalwarts, but just to clarify, like u, the sharks 🦈 don’t bleed red, we bleed blue 🇮🇳 & that’s why we do what we do 🤗— Anupam Mittal (@AnupamMittal) January 24, 2023
Then, on June 10, Twitter (arguably the only online platform suited for the Shark Tank demographic after LinkedIn) harboured an argument where another entrepreneur claimed that he procured some information from a handful of Shark Tank India contestants. What beans did these ex-Shark baits spill?
These contestants claimed that the judges were delaying funding to several start-ups even after these start-ups received promises of funding on camera. Now, 18 days later, Mittal took to Twitter and LinkedIn to offer his own answers.
In (perhaps) an AI-generated artwork that he shared on Twitter, Mittal seemed to pitch a new show for the show’s haters, aptly titled “BARK TANK”. With a strange caption that read “IYGIYGI … If not, here is the cheat sheet”. Even the Gen-Z peers of the writer of this article are not aware of what the abbreviation “IYGIYGI” stands for. (Although looks like it is If You Get It You Get It, get it?)
Coming to his “cheat sheet”, Mittal had linked it to a LinkedIn post where he offered his and the judges’ side of the story.
Addressing the multiple allegations right from the start, Mittal opened his statement with,
Without naming him, Mittal questioned the claims that erupted from entrepreneur Anmol Sharma’s viral Twitter thread from June 10. He questioned how the allegation of “delayed funding scam” is an “ill-intentioned narrative” rooted in “no data, no real names”.
In terms of data and facts, Mittal pulled off a below-the-belt jab at sarcasm saying “yes, there is such a thing”. The Shaadi.com head honcho added that Shark Tank India offers an unscripted narrative of integrity and this can be measured through the Completion Ratio (CR).
For those unacquainted with Shark Tank lingo, CR is an aggregate of data that gauges how many deals on the show actually went through.
To quote Mittal, “Globally, but more specifically in US Shark Tank, ~60% of the deals go through. Shark Tank India S1 saw the completion of 2/3rds of the deals, which is a record of sorts. S2 CR will be available in August and based on deal momentum, I am confident it too will be healthy.”
Mittal also tried breaking down the CR process in the LinkedIn post, mentioning how many of the contestants’ proprietorships need to be formally converted into companies first. He then added that some deals can’t be completed in case the founder has a change of mind or if the company fails some legal and financial parameters.
Further, some founders of the selected companies can renegotiate or shop for other deals that can also delay a deal’s completion. “Personally, I don’t encourage this but am always open to finding win-win structures as many of my investees will attest to,” Mittal writes.
The LinkedIn post has understandably gone viral and everyone on the LinkedIn start-up community has something or the other to say about Mittal’s replies.
Ex-Shark Tank India contestants who managed to gain funding also commented on Mittal’s LinkedIn post to express their positive experience with the show. These young entrepreneurs also managed to throw in some self-promotion along the way.
For instance, Season 2 contestant Arth Chowdhary expressed the gratitude he got for his drone-manufacturing company insideFPV. Specifically impressed by CarDekho CEO and Season 2 judge Amit Jain, Chowdhary mentioned, “Shark Tank has given entrepreneurs like us an incredible platform to showcase our innovative ideas and visionary businesses like insideFPV.”
14-year-old Anoushka Jolly, who made her Shark Tank debut at the age of 13, also had similar words of praise for the judges. Mentioning how she secured funding from Jain and Mittal who were also very communicative after the deal, Jolly said, “My venture was perhaps the smallest and the one which would not have given a great upside, but still the support is great. Shark Tank gave me exposure, PR and great confidence.”
The teenager secured Rs 50 lakh in funding for developing an anti-bullying mental health app called Kavach. Subtly promoting the app’s follow-up Kavach 2.0, Jolly defended Mittal by saying that the critics aren’t investors or entrepreneurs themselves but just “troubled souls”. She added, “My mental health app Kavach 2.0 will really help them.”
Ninad Vengurlekar, the CEO of an ed-tech start-up called Utter, offered some solutions that can help in making Shark Tank India come off as more transparent.
Instead, he suggested that a better idea would be to announce that Sharks are willing to offer a term sheet for their investment ventures that can be subjected to due diligence.
“While this may reduce the excitement quotient of the show, it represents what truly happens with any financial investment in a startup.”
Further, the ed-tech executive also suggested that each Shark Tank India episode can throw in a 5-minute segment that tells audiences who the successful start-up founders are doing now and why some founders were unable to close funding.
67 businesses got deals in @sharktankindia this season, of which -— Anupam Mittal (@AnupamMittal) February 3, 2022
59 [87%] had founders with no IIT/IIM degrees
45 [67%] had at least one co-founder<25 yrs
40 [60%] had never been funded
29 [43%] had at least one woman👩founder
20 [30%] were from #Bharat 🇮🇳 & rural #India
Talking about numbers and transparency, digital marketing specialist Atishay Jain asked for “more specific data on the completion ratio and deal momentum for Shark Tank India Season 2”.
Mittal replied that the numbers are still not out there as “August is the best time to take stock”.
As for Anmol Sharma, the man who started the delayed scam debate based on his alleged interactions with contestants, he is yet to pen a reply. Are we seeing an intense “LinkedIn finance dudebro debate”? Seems like it!