Mr. Wonderful believes in investing correctly, pitching wisely and devouring cupcakes to succeed in business.
On Monday night, Mr. Wonderful, also known as Kevin O’Leary, an entrepreneur and a star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” spoke at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. He was paid $95,000 to speak at the hour-long event hosted by the UF Accent Speakers Bureau.
Before O’Leary entered, Accent chairman Greg Wolf warned more than 1,700 audience members if they presented a business pitch that night, they forfeit their opportunity to present on the show.
The audience sighed together.
For about 50 minutes, O’Leary discussed his golden rules of investing, how to pitch an idea and how he will not give his children money after college to save them from entitlement.
“Entitlement is a disease in a family,” he said. “The dead bird never learned how to fly.”
O’Leary said “Shark Tank” has featured thousands of pitches over the course of 10 seasons.
Any good pitch, especially the successful ones on the show, must follow three rules: articulate the plan in 90 seconds or less, convince investors that you are the right team for the business and know every number about the business model.
“If you can’t do this, then I guarantee you will fail,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary scored the most profitable deal in “Shark Tank” history with two entrepreneurs and their cupcake shop: Wicked Good Cupcakes.
After the show, thousands of customers saw the cupcake business on social media posts and local news stations.
He said the business didn’t have to spend a single dollar on advertising to gain new customers. He made his $75,000 investment back in 28 days.
“What’s more of a commodity than a cupcake?” O’Leary said. “Cupcakes don’t sell for $8. Theirs do.”
On the show, fellow investor Mark Cuban inhaled a jar of Wicked Good cupcakes, which made people think the products must be good without even trying them, O’Leary said.
After the presentation, O’Leary answered questions about his stint in Canadian politics and getting into business at a young age.
“For those of you graduating, you are getting into a fantastic market,” he said. “You are the luckiest.”
One of O’Leary’s points that stuck to Stephen Lawrence, a 20-year-old UF mechanical engineering sophomore, was to pursue a career in engineering in order to succeed.
Having someone as successful as O’Leary speak at UF will help other students become successful by following a business icon’s advice, Lawrence said.
“He’s gotta be different than the rest of us,” he said. “He gave me a lot of confidence in my future.”