Why you need to know him: Abe Minkara leads the team at Mark Cuban Companies tasked with growing its portfolio companies acquired on Shark Tank.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been a regular shark for eight years. The show is now airing its 11th season. Minkara says audiences see just a portion of the full pitch that entrepreneurs make to the sharks—each segment is edited down to the few minutes that air on TV from an exhaustive and expansive pitch that typically lasts from one to two hours.
When Cuban makes a deal with a business owner on Shark Tank, that’s when Minkara and his team roll up their sleeves and go to to work. “When you have a commitment and it’s a handshake deal, it is a true gentleman’s agreement,” says Minkara, managing director.
He and his team at Mark Cuban Companies look for any inaccuracies in the pitch: Perhaps revenue or sales figures don’t quite match what the entrepreneur boasted. Or, maybe the business owner oversold on its vendor commitments. Minkara looks into all metrics, sales, and debt figures. And then there is the question of patents and ensuring airtight intellectual property. Each of these, Minkara says, plays a role in whether Cuban ultimately makes a deal. (According to a 2016 Forbes article, Cuban has the highest rate of deal closings on Shark Tank at 88 percent, whereas the average for all sharks was about 69 percent.)
“We treat Shark Tank companies like we would treat any new investment,” Minkara says. “It is the same due diligence criteria whether you’re on the TV show or not.”
The entire process takes about three months. The deals that do close end up airing on the show. But because filming occurs the summer before the season starts in the fall, sharks also get the chance to coach their newly invested companies to ready them for prime time. Minkara says the show is strict about what can be marketed before the show airs—there can’t be any mention of whether the company received an investment, for instance—but producers typically give a two-week notice of air date.
Ahead of the episode, Minkara and his team take a hard look at company websites and ensures it is able to handle the additional traffic, because crashing could mean losing out on thousands of potential customers. There is also the question of how much inventory companies should have on hand to fulfill incoming orders. Minkara helps entrepreneurs with all of its supply chain details so that products are manufactured, packaged, and delivered to customers in a timely and efficient manner.
“Here comes the direct-to-consumer model over the internet that is just kind of stress-testing the traditional brick-and-mortar channel.”Abe Minkara
Minkara is the first to denounce the idea that retail is dead. Instead, he says, many brick-and-mortar companies are experiencing market corrections. “What we’ve seen is a shift to direct-to-consumer. Here comes the direct-to-consumer model over the internet that is just kind of stress testing the traditional brick-and-mortar channel,” he says. “It’s not that the traditional retail model is flawed; there are just a lot of inefficiencies that have built up over time. Inefficient companies are dying, and the ones that are able to provide digital efficiencies are the ones you are seeing survive.”
The services Mark Cuban Companies offers its portfolio businesses doesn’t stop there. It offers everything from branding and legal services to help with accounting and supply chain for its roughly 90 companies acquired on Shark Tank.
Throughout Cuban’s eight years on the show, he hasn’t always picked successful companies. Minkara says a few companies have quit operations and a few more are hobby businesses. But Minkara says the insight gained from having Cuban as a mentor is invaluable.
“Whether you’re a small company or one of his larger investments, Mark gives every investment the same amount of focus and attention,” Minkara says. “He is accessible. And what Mark does really well is offer feedback at every stage of the business. You can send him an update at 3 a.m. and he responds at 3:05 a.m. with detailed feedback on strategy.”
When asked about the most successful company to ever appear on Shark Tank, Minkara doesn’t flinch: Doorbot—a WiFi-enabled doorbell that allows you to see video of and talk to people as they arrive at your front door—didn’t make a deal on the show when it appeared in 2013. Today it is the $1 billion company Ring. “It’s a company that all the sharks said ‘no’ to,” Minkara says. “Ring was purchased by Amazon in 2018. Last season, they brought [the owner] in as a guest shark. What a success story: To be there pitching, being rejected, going out and making it happen, doing a billion-dollar sale, and then having the Shark Tank producers call you back to be a guest shark? Wow. That’s got to be No. 1.”