A great activity for everyone

Shark Tank

Level up your team-building skills with Shark Tank: Pitch, Fund, Succeed!

Shark Tank
By Jon Zajac

What is Shark Tank?

The Shark Tank Icebreaker Activity is an engaging and entertaining way to encourage collaboration, creativity, communication, and persuasive skills among participants. Drawing inspiration from the popular television show “Shark Tank,” this icebreaker invites teams to invent a new product or service and pitch it to a panel of judges, known as sharks. The objective is to foster teamwork and presentation abilities in a lighthearted atmosphere.

In this activity, participants are divided into teams, each responsible for creating an innovative product or service idea based on given criteria or themes. Teams then develop their concept by naming the product, defining its unique selling points, understanding the target market, devising a business model, and preparing a compelling pitch. Creativity is strongly encouraged, with the aim of crafting out-of-the-box ideas that impress the sharks.

Following idea development, teams work on their pitch presentation, which may involve scripting, assigning roles to each member, and creating visual aids or props. During the pitch session, teams present their ideas in front of the sharks and other teams, aiming to persuade the sharks to invest based on feasibility and the quality of the pitch.

After all pitches, groups reconvene for reflection, sharing what they’ve learned from the activity and highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship, risk-taking, and resilience in business. The facilitator leads a debrief to discuss the key takeaways and areas for improvement, emphasizing the educational aspect of the exercise.

Variants and adaptations of this icebreaker include extended sessions with market research, prototype design, or mock investors bringing pretend funds, as well as tailoring themes to suit specific contexts or participant expertise. Overall, the Shark Tank Icebreaker Activity is an excellent method for breaking the ice, cultivating innovative thinking, and enhancing teamwork and presentation skills in a memorable and enjoyable format.

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Rules for Shark Tank

  1. Participants will be divided into teams, each responsible for creating a new product or service idea.
  2. The activity consists of several stages: Idea Development, Pitch Preparation, and The Pitch.
  3. Teams must name their product, define its unique selling points, understand the target market, devise a business model, and prepare a compelling pitch within the allotted timeframe.
  4. Creativity is highly encouraged; innovative and out-of-the-box ideas are favored.
  5. Each team will present their pitch to the sharks (investors/judges) and other teams within a limited timeframe (3-5 minutes recommended).
  6. Sharks provide constructive feedback, discuss potential concerns or challenges, and may express interest in investing based on feasibility and pitch quality.
  7. After all pitches, groups will share what they learned from the activity and discuss the importance of innovation, presentation skills, and teamwork.
  8. The facilitator will highlight notable pitches, teamwork exemplars, and touch on the significance of entrepreneurship, risk, and resilience in business during the debrief.
  9. Adaptations can include extended sessions with market research, prototype design, or mock investors bringing pretend funds.
  10. Themes may vary to suit the context or participant background (e.g., technology, social good, sustainability).

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Materials needed for Shark Tank

  • Notebooks and pens: Participants will need notebooks and pens to brainstorm ideas, take notes, and plan their pitches.
  • Markers and flip charts or whiteboard: These visual aids will help teams sketch out their ideas and make them more understandable during presentations.
  • Presentation aids: Depending on the teams’ preferences, they might want to use additional presentation aids such as posters, PowerPoint slides, or props to enhance their pitches.
  • Optional materials: You may consider adding optional materials like costumes or music to make the activity more fun and engaging. These can help create a lively atmosphere and add a touch of drama to the presentations.

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Setting up for Shark Tank

To set up the Shark Tank Icebreaker Activity, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the participants: Determine who will be participating in the activity. This could include students, employees, or attendees at a workshop or conference. Make sure that the group size is appropriate for the activity (ideally broken down into smaller teams of 3-6 members).

  2. Select a facilitator: Designate an individual to lead and manage the entire icebreaker session. This person will be responsible for explaining the rules, setting time limits, guiding participants through each stage, and facilitating discussions during debriefing.

  3. Designate sharks: Choose one or more individuals to act as investors (sharks) on the panel. These can be volunteers from within the group or designated by the facilitator. For larger groups, consider having team representatives take turns acting as sharks after they have presented their pitches.

  4. Divide participants into teams: Split the entire participant pool into smaller groups of 3-6 members each. Ensure that teams are diverse and balanced in terms of skill sets, backgrounds, and experiences to promote collaboration and creativity.

  5. Choose themes or criteria for idea generation (optional): If desired, provide specific themes or criteria to guide teams in brainstorming their product/service concepts. This could include focusing on particular industries, issues, or trends relevant to the group’s context.

  6. Select a presentation area: Find a space suitable for hosting the pitch presentations. Ideally, this should be a large open area with enough room for teams to gather around and watch other presentations while maintaining social distancing as needed.

  7. Set up presentation materials: Prepare necessary materials for teams to use during their pitch preparations, such as notebooks, pens, markers, flip charts, whiteboards, or any other relevant presentation aids. Ensure that these are readily available and easily accessible to all teams.

  8. Establish a schedule: Based on the total duration allocated for the icebreaker activity, create a timeline with estimated timeframes for each stage of the process (introduction, idea development, pitch preparation, pitches, feedback, reflection, and wrap-up).

By following these setup steps, you’ll be well-prepared to facilitate an engaging and successful Shark Tank Icebreaker Activity that promotes creativity, teamwork, communication, and presentation skills among participants.

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How to play Shark Tank

1. Divide Participants into Teams: Divide the participants into small groups of 3-6 members each. These teams will work together to create their innovative product or service idea.

2. Introduce the Activity and Provide Criteria: Explain the Shark Tank Icebreaker Activity, its objectives, rules, and stages. Share any specific criteria or themes for the ideas to guide brainstorming. Encourage creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.

3. First Brainstorming Session (5 mins): Give teams 5 minutes to come up with a market-disrupting idea based on the provided criteria or themes.

4. Idea Development (15-30 mins): Allow time for teams to elaborate on their product/service concept, including naming the product, defining USPs, understanding the target market, devising a business model, and preparing a pitch.

5. Pitch Preparation (10-20 mins): Have each team work on communicating their idea effectively by scripting, designating roles for the pitch, and creating visual aids or props if desired.

6. The Pitch (20-40 mins): Have teams take turns presenting their ideas in front of the sharks and other teams within a limited timeframe. Encourage active engagement and persuasion skills during these pitches.

7. Feedback (5-10 mins per pitch): After each pitch, have the sharks provide constructive feedback, discuss potential concerns or challenges, and consider whether they would ‘invest’ in the proposition based on its feasibility and pitch quality.

8. Reflection and Wrap-up (10-15 mins): Bring all groups together to share what they learned from the activity and highlight the importance of entrepreneurship, risk, resilience, innovation, presentation skills, and teamwork.

9. Debrief: Lead a debrief discussion on the importance of innovation, presentation skills, and teamwork, focusing on both successful pitches and areas for improvement. Keep discussions educational, kind, and supportive.

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Benefits of Shark Tank

  • Fosters Creativity and Innovation: The Shark Tank Icebreaker encourages participants to think outside the box and come up with unique, market-disrupting ideas. This process stimulates creative thinking and can lead to valuable insights that may be applied in real-world scenarios.

  • Enhances Teamwork and Collaboration: By working together in teams, participants learn to leverage each other’s strengths, communicate effectively, and build rapport. These skills are crucial for success in both personal and professional settings.

  • Improves Presentation and Public Speaking Skills: The pitching aspect of the activity pushes participants to articulate their thoughts clearly, engagingly, and persuasively. This experience can significantly boost confidence and proficiency in public speaking, a valuable skill for various aspects of life.

  • Cultivates Entrepreneurial Mindset: Through simulated investment pitches and constructive feedback from the sharks, participants gain an understanding of what it takes to turn ideas into viable businesses. This exposure can inspire some to explore entrepreneurship as a career path or simply instill an appreciation for risk-taking and resilience in any endeavor.

  • Promotes Active Learning: The immersive nature of the Shark Tank Icebreaker ensures that participants are fully engaged throughout the activity, absorbing lessons and developing skills through hands-on experience rather than passive listening or reading.

  • Encourages Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: As teams refine their ideas, they must consider potential challenges, target markets, revenue streams, and other real-world factors that could impact the success of their product or service. This process hones critical thinking skills and demonstrates the value of strategic planning.

  • Boosts Self-Esteem and Motivation: Achieving a successful pitch or witnessing the progress made by fellow participants can be highly rewarding, fostering self-confidence and motivating individuals to continue developing their talents and abilities.

  • Facilitates Networking and Relationship Building: The interactive format of the activity encourages connections between participants, paving the way for future collaborations or support networks that can benefit all involved.

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Skills built with Shark Tank

  • Creativity: The Shark Tank Icebreaker Activity encourages participants to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas for a new product or service. This process stimulates creative thinking and helps individuals develop their ability to generate unique solutions to problems.
  • Teamwork: By working in small teams, participants learn to collaborate effectively, build on each other’s ideas, and leverage individual strengths to create a cohesive pitch. This experience fosters trust and communication among team members, enhancing overall group dynamics.
  • Presentation Skills: The activity offers ample opportunities for individuals to practice their public speaking and presentation abilities. From structuring a compelling narrative to using visual aids effectively, participants hone their skills in engaging an audience and delivering clear, concise messages.
  • Persuasion and Influence: Playing the role of entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to potential investors, participants must learn to be persuasive and convincing. This experience strengthens their ability to articulate the value proposition of their ideas and influence others’ perceptions, which is beneficial in various professional and personal settings.
  • Resilience: Receiving constructive feedback from the sharks can be challenging, but it also teaches participants to be resilient and adaptable. By learning from criticism and refining their pitches based on the judges’ insights, individuals develop a growth mindset and improve their ability to bounce back from setbacks.
  • Business Acumen: The Shark Tank Icebreaker Activity exposes participants to key business concepts such as target markets, unique selling points, and business models. This exposure enhances their understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape and equips them with essential knowledge for navigating various commercial environments.

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Why I like Shark Tank

As a facilitator, I appreciate the Shark Tank Icebreaker Activity because it effectively combines icebreaking, team building, and learning elements in one engaging package. Its structure allows participants to exercise their creativity, communication, and collaboration skills while having fun. I enjoy witnessing how teams innovate and adapt to given criteria or themes, leading to a wide variety of product and service ideas that often surprise and impress the sharks.

The pitch preparation phase is particularly interesting as it showcases each team’s unique approach to presenting their idea compellingly. This stage fosters public speaking skills, critical thinking, and strategic planning while encouraging participants to think on their feet in a high-pressure situation—skills that are valuable both in professional and personal settings.

Furthermore, I find the feedback segment crucial as it provides constructive criticism and highlights potential areas for improvement. This aspect of the activity emphasizes continuous learning and development, ensuring participants take away valuable insights from the experience.

Overall, I like the Shark Tank Icebreaker Activity due to its multifaceted benefits, adaptability, and entertainment value. It effortlessly fosters a positive atmosphere where collaboration, creativity, and communication flourish—resulting in an enjoyable and productive session for all involved.

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Tips for making Shark Tank more inclusive

  • Tip: When forming teams, ensure diversity in perspectives, backgrounds, and skills to promote inclusivity and foster creative problem-solving.
  • Tip: During idea development, encourage teams to consider how their product or service can cater to a wide range of users with different abilities, ages, cultures, and socioeconomic statuses.
  • Tip: Provide all participants with accessibility options such as large print materials, screen reader compatibility, or sign language interpreters if necessary.
  • Tip: Emphasize the importance of respectful communication by modeling inclusive language and addressing any insensitive remarks or behaviors that may arise during the activity.
  • Tip: Create a safe space where participants can express their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without fear of judgment or ridicule. Encourage active listening and empathy among team members.
  • Tip: Consider incorporating multilingual support in the form of translation devices, bilingual facilitators, or materials translated into multiple languages to accommodate non-native speakers.
  • Tip: When selecting sharks, ensure a diverse panel that represents various backgrounds, experiences, and areas of expertise. This will help provide well-rounded feedback for all teams and promote an inclusive environment.
  • Tip: Be mindful of time constraints during the pitch preparation phase to ensure that participants with different processing speeds or learning styles have ample opportunity to contribute and prepare their presentations.
  • Tip: Encourage sharks to provide constructive criticism focused on improving the idea rather than personal attacks, ensuring all teams feel supported and valued throughout the activity.

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Reflection questions for Shark Tank

  1. What specific aspects of your team’s pitch do you think resonated most with the sharks? This question encourages participants to reflect on their successful communication strategies and what made their product or service idea captivating for the panel.

  2. How did your team handle receiving constructive feedback from the sharks, and what lessons can be applied in future collaborations or presentations? By asking this question, facilitators prompt participants to think about receptiveness to feedback and how to grow from critique in a professional setting.

  3. In retrospect, is there any additional information you would have liked to include in your pitch that was not covered during preparation? This reflection point allows individuals to identify gaps in their presentation and consider further research or preparation for future projects or pitches.

  4. How did working together as a team influence the development of your product/service idea, and what strategies were particularly effective in fostering collaboration? By discussing team dynamics, participants can understand the importance of collective creativity and unity in achieving goals within a group setting.

  5. What did you learn about entrepreneurship, innovation, and risk-taking throughout this activity that may inspire you to think differently when approaching challenges or opportunities? This question encourages participants to explore how the Shark Tank icebreaker experience can influence their mindset and actions in real-life scenarios related to business, problem-solving, and personal growth.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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