A Yale MBA Dives Into The Shark Tank

Mark Cuban invests in a Yale MBA student's SAT test prep company

Mark Cuban invests in a Yale MBA student’s SAT test prep company

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Last spring, Shaan Patel waited nine hours to do a 60-second pitch. The wait apparently paid off.

Tonight, on Jan. 29, he’ll appear on ABC’s Shark Tank, the reality-TV show that puts entrepreneurs in front of a panel of investors—the so-called “sharks”—who decide whether or not they’ll invest.

The 26-year-old dual MD/MBA student was in his first year at the Yale School of Management when he heard about open-call Shark Tank auditions in New York. He hopped on a train and got in line.

The tryout led to an invite to travel to Los Angeles to film a segment for the show last June. He’s known for a while what will happen, and whether or not he’s getting new investors.


“What I can say is, I was looking for a decent amount of investment to help expand my company,” he said. “But you also have to think about how the exposure to million Americans can be very helpful.”

Shark Tank has been running for seven years, and this past fall, drew nearly seven million viewers by the fifth week, according to TVLine. Though not every entrepreneur who goes on the show leaves with the deals he or she hoped to make, there have been success stories in the past simply due to exposure from being on the show.

One such entrepreneur was Jamie Siminoff, who appeared on Shark Tank in 2013. He was seeking $700,000 in return for 10 percent of his company, DoorBot, which allows users to speak with people who ring their doorbell, even if they’re not home.

Siminoff left the Shark Week without raising any money, but according to Inc., viewers who had seen him on TV started to buy his product. Siminoff changed the company name to Ring, and by 2015, Ring was valued at $60 million.


Patel has been building his company, 2400 Expert SAT Prep, for five years. It started when he wrote an SAT prep book. Patel said several publishers initially rejected his book idea because they thought the market was too saturated. So he developed a SAT prep course to go along with the book. Eventually, his book was published by McGraw-Hill and became a bestseller on Amazon.com.

He’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In elementary school he sold Pokémon cards. In middle school he sold CDs. And in high school he sold items on eBay. After scoring a perfect 2400 on his own SAT test, he started compiling his tricks and strategies, and ultimately spent thousands of hours developing course materials.

He likes to keep the strategies simple. One trick for the writing portion of the test has to do with the word “being.” According to Patel, the word is almost always used incorrectly on the test. So if students encounter it as a multiple-choice answer, they should tread carefully.

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