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Reality Check
3 Lessons About Pricing From AEs Storage Wars
image credit: A & E

As the abandoned locker door is opened on A&E’s Storage Wars, the teams have only a few minutes to decide if there is anything of value among the old furniture, books and mystery boxes. While you probably don’t spend your days sorting through castoffs, small-business owners must often make quick decisions without having all of the necessary information.

Just like on Storage Wars, informed decisions on purchasing and pricing is often the difference between being in the black versus the red. On each episode of the show, professional buyers bid on storage units and then resell everything of value at their own consignment stores or to buyers directly.

Related: Why Some Entrepreneurs Are Turning Pricing Power Over to the Public

Here are three things you can learn about pricing your products and services from Storage Wars, without even having to step foot into a storage unit:

1. Get the best price possible from your vendors. The teams on the show often act disinterested in a locker or even hide behind another bidder just to get the lowest price. While feigning disinterest might not be the best tactic for your business, you should have a firm budget in mind before negotiating with vendors.

image credit: triblocal | ivyhill

The phrase "you never get a second chance to make a first impression" doesn't apply to the 13 designers in the new season of Project Runway: All Stars. The designers returned to the workroom recently to compete in challenges for the ultimate grand prize: fame, fortune, and their own fashion line.

But this show is also about redemption. Each designer was a fan favorite, and four were runners up from their respective seasons. So, what did the designers learn from their first stint on the show?

Related: What 'Project Runway' Can Teach You About Business

We caught up with season nine's Laura Kathleen Planck and season eight's Peach Carr to discuss the new season and find out what happens when you get a second shot at your dream. Both designers have turned their time on the runway into businesses, and shared some of the lessons learned in the pressure cooker of Project Runway.

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image credit: Think Mobile

Ever wonder what it was like during the early days of Facebook in Mark Zuckerberg's dorm room or as Twitter was born in Jack Dorsey's apartment? BravoTV hopes to capture that kind of excitement in Start-Ups: Silicon Valley, a new show that "explores the intertwining lives of a group of young entrepreneurs on the path to becoming Silicon Valley's next great success stories."

But remember, this is the channel that brought us The Real Housewives franchise -- a fact that quickly becomes apparent as the show's cast behaves more like reality TV stars than the success-driven computer nerds they insist they are. 

image credit: The Guilt Trip

Ever tried to market your business with your mom in tow? That's the premise of the upcoming movie The Guilt Trip. Beyond enjoying watching a business owner squirm under his mom's critical gaze, this movie's got a tie-in that's going to interest inventors. There's a contest tie-in that will land one lucky entrepreneur a spot selling their product on the Home Shopping Network (HSN).

In the movie, Seth Rogen plays the inventor of a green cleaning product, and is planning a week-long road trip to sell it door to door. His mom, played by Barbra Streisand, guilts him into taking her along. In other words, it's a classic road-trip comedy setup, with an entrepreneurial twist.

image credit: Shark Tank

Do you have a question you'd like to ask the sharks? You can ask it LIVE when we host a special Google Hangout with 'Shark Tank' stars Barbara Corcoran, Kevin O' Leary and Lori Greiner on Nov. 1 at 12 p.m. PT/ 3 p.m. ET. You can also tweet your questions with the hashtag #EntLive.

On a recent episode of Shark Tank, likability netted David and Nique Mealy $150,000. The Florida couple owns Bubba's Back 9 Dips, a line of chicken dipping sauces. Offering the sharks a 15% stake in their company, they shared samples, sales figures and their personal story.

Four sharks dropped out, all claiming insufficient knowledge of the food industry. When it looked like the Mealys weren't going to get a deal, Lori Greiner, who had been the first to drop, jumped back in saying "I really like you. There's just something about you." Robert Herjavec came back in, too, partnering with Greiner and telling the Mealys "everyone deserves a chance." The Mealys walked away with $150,000 for a 25% stake in their company.

Sure, everyone deserves a chance, but plenty of entrepreneurs leave the tank without one. How did the Mealys soften the sharks? 

image credit: Big Brother

Dan Gheesling returned this past summer to CBS's Big Brother, the reality show where contestants are trapped in a house for three months while evicting their fellow houseguests. After winning 2008's competition largely by forming personal bonds with each houseguest, then helping plot their evictions, he served both as coach to a team he selected as well as a contestant on the most recent season.

This season, he finished second, earning another $50,000. Now, the Union Lake, Mich.- based reality star coaches individuals and small business owners on networking and personal branding.

image credit: Mobcaster

It's hard to get noticed when you're just another small startup in the big apple. Two young business women have a unique marketing strategy for cutting through the noise: They've teamed up to create a reality-TV show pilot about their businesses.

Now the pair are trying to raise money to turn it into a series on crowd-funding broadcast site Mobcaster. The pilot, Startup: NYC, chronicles a day in the life of PA for a Day owner Charell Star and Morgan Gantt, owner of the online wig-sales site, Swigch'd.

I took a look at the pilot, which gives you a quick appreciation for how hard reality-TV producers have to work to create hit shows. It's not as easy as it looks, as Star and Gantt are discovering. Their Mobcaster bid to raise $40,000 has brought in just $765 in pledges so far, and has under 40 days left in the bidding period.

image credit: Shark Tank

Want to get an angel investor to pony up money for your startup? Better be ready with a snappy pitch that can beat the competition.

Thanks to the popularity of the ABC reality show Shark Tank, more and more entrepreneurs are finding that angel investors are open to hearing their pitch if they present it in a quick, contest-style format. Sure, there are still plenty of angel connections happening from networking and pitching individual investors. But the opportunities to get in front of an angel without an introduction at a competition are growing.

Related: The Email That Snagged an Investment from Shark Tank's Mark Cuban

How does pitching an angel panel work outside of Hollywood? Here's a look at the setup for a couple of upcoming Shark Tank-style angel pitching non-televised events happening around the country:

image credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Every week, inventors and entrepreneurs tune in to watch startup founders pitch the heavy-hitting investors on ABC's Shark Tank. Judging from the number of emails I get from people who'd like to know if I can introduce them to QVC's Lori Greiner or put them in touch with the show's producers, everybody now sees a TV appearance as their ticket to angel investor money.

But there's more than one way to get an investor's attention, even a mega-high profile one like Shark Tank's Mark Cuban. That's what Ryan Ozonian found out last year, when he dashed off a quick email to Cuban through Cuban's blog.

Ozonian reports that he heard back from Cuban "within eight minutes."

"At first, I thought no way it was really him," Ozonian says. "But after a couple more notes back and forth, it became clear it was."

5 Lessons on Preparing for an Incubator Program From TechStars

It's the dream of many entrepreneurs to get into an incubator program where they could hone their business model, get advice from mentors, and get connected to angel investors or venture-capital firms. However, as Bloomberg TV's TechStars reality show revealed, simply getting into an incubator is no guarantee of success.

Several of the budding businesses in the New York round of TechStars flamed out. Their business ideas didn't work, and after the show quite a few of the startups closed.

Related: Not All Entrepreneurs Are Cut Out to be 'TechStars'

There were some success stories, though, including Onswipe, which makes publications more dynamic for use on mobile browsers. The startup had just landed $1 million in funding from Spark Capital when its TechStars program began, and the company went on to land $5 million more shortly after the program aired. Staff has swelled from four to 27employees.

Here are five lessons from Onswipe on how to make the more of your chance in an incubator program.

5 Things Your Family Business Can Learn From Animal Planets Tanked
image credit: Animal Planet

Is your family business one big happy family, or would you benefit from calling in the SuperNanny to teach you all how to get along? On a recent episode the Animal Planet reality-TV show Tanked, family business is on display in all its bumps and warts. 

Custom Las Vegas aquarium builders Acrylic Tank Manufacturing create extravagant fishtanks for their upscale, celebrity clients. The ATM staff includes the company founder, his son and his daughter and her husband, all trying to get the work done without losing their minds and wringing each others' necks.

Related: 7 Steps to Landing and Profiting from Celebrity Customers

5 Things Startups Can Learn From Great American Food Truck Race
image credit: Real Screen

Every new small business that an entrepreneur starts faces daunting challenges. If you'd like to see them all summed up in a single hour, consider tuning in to Great American Food Truck Race, the popular Food Network show that recently kicked off its third season.

Hosted by celebrity chef Tyler Florence, Great American Food Truck Race gives eight teams a tricked-out food truck that advertises their chosen brand and culinary theme. The three-person teams must try to sell their food in various cities as the race progresses across the country.

Related: What You Can Learn About Branding From 'Project Runway'

In other words, it's like trying to launch a national food brand from scratch -- in miniature. The food can't appeal to just one region of the country -- it's got to work everywhere.

The team with the lowest-grossing truck goes home at the end of each episode. The winner gets $50,000 cash and gets to keep their truck. In other words, they're set up in business at the end of the show.

Five Tips for Transforming Your Hobby Into a Business From Travel Channels Toy Hunter
image credit:Travel Channel

"Do what you love and the money will follow." Entrepreneurs have heard this advice countless times through the years. What's wrong with it? Most people who try to turn their leisure pastimes into a business fail at it miserably. They end up with a big, expensive hobby, not a successful small business.

Related: Do You Have a Small Business...or a Big Hobby? 

Then there are the lucky few, who successfully combine their passion with business smarts and create an income that revolves around something they love.What makes the difference? A great example of how to run a hobby-based business is on Travel Channel's new show, Toy Hunter.

One Entrepreneurs Rocky Road to Success After Shark Tank
image credit: Go Girl Finance

Tiffany Krumins was a contestant on the very first episode of ABC's reality series Shark Tank. At the time, her idea for a fun kids' medicine dispenser, AVA The Elephant, was little more than a thought in her head. She had no sales. She didn't even have a finished product.

"I went in there with five clay elephant prototypes," she says.

She managed to stand up to the Sharks' fierce scrutiny and scored a $50,000 investment and a mentor in real-estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, who took a hefty 55 percent equity stake. With Corcoran's help, AVA was soon on the shelves at CVS, and more big retailers followed.

7 Steps to Landing and Profiting from Celebrity Customers
image credit: EW

Every business would love to have a movie star or pop idol rave about (and be photographed using) their product or service. These kind of endorsements have been known to make business skyrocket. But dealing with celebrities can be tricky. Celebs get millions of sample products in the mail from businesses hopeful of catching their eye, and they are notoriously hard to please.

Recently, on the Animal Planet reality-TV show Tanked, the custom-aquarium builders of Los Vegas-based Acrylic Tank Manufacturing got an opportunity to build a massive shark tank in the basement of the New Jersey home of 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan.

Here's how they played that celebrity connection for maximum effect:


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