'Shark Tank' star offers tips for competing in the digital economy

Jul 10, 2018

Some local entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses picked up some free tips from billionaire investor Kevin O'Leary from the ABC television show "Shark Tank." O'Leary headlined the kickoff of Facebook's Community Boost event being held in Buffalo this week.

Kevin Shark Tank O'Leary helped kickoff Facebook Community Boost, in Buffalo, Monday.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

O'Leary, nicknamed "Mr. Wonderful," shared some of the lessons he's learned during his career including his ten years on 'Shark Tank' with hundreds of people at Erie Community College's City Campus Monday. He spoke for nearly 40 minutes and afterward told reporters in the  digital economy it's hard for businesses to make money without social media.  
    
"The number one reason that companies go out of business, within three years, is they never figure out customer aquisition costs. You have to use social to bring in customers. You have to know how to use it. And, if you don't know how to use it, you're at a wicked disadvantage to your competitors that do."  

In 2018, he says social media not a "maybe tool" anymore.
    
"I've got 35 portfolio companies now. We spend a lot of time and money optimizing social to figure out how to tell our story to customers, how to aquire them into our ecosphere, and how to make sure they feel they're being well serviced. It's all done on social. And when you fail, when you make a mistake, social is your enemy, because you get an unhappy customer they don't call customer service anymore they go nuts online. And they do a lot of damage. So you have to understand how to deal with that as well."  

O'Leary says anyone thinking of starting a business who doesn't know how to use social media probably won't succeed. He was in Buffalo as part of Facebook Community Boost, an initiative to provide digital skills and training for entrepreneurs and workers nationwide.