I recently watched an episode of the ABC Network’s Shark Tank television show. As a part of the show, entrepreneurs pitch business ideas to a group of investors (known as “business sharks”). After making their pitches, entrepreneurs hope to partner with one or more of the sharks to enhance their businesses.
In this particular episode, Belinda Jasmine pitched a product called Skinny Mirror, which provides a slimming full body view for users. She said the mirror was designed to boost self-esteem and help people feel better about themselves when they look in the mirror.
The investors were intrigued until Jasmine mentioned that she also sells the mirrors to retail stores, which helps customers see themselves from a slimmer perspective, when trying on clothes. The sharks suggested that using the skinny mirror to influence purchasing decisions was a deceptive business practice.
Jasmine responded by showing that the Skinny Mirror logo was posted in the bottom corner of the mirror, so customers could see that they were viewing a special mirror. The sharks believed the logo was too small and was not genuinely aimed at informing customers they were using the Skinny Mirror.
As seen in the video clip below, one of the investors suggested that the product was a sham and advised all other investors to avoid making a deal with this entrepreneur.
Skinny Mirror believes the company was misrepresented on Shark Tank, since some of the presentations are edited to fit within the time constraints of the television show. The company claims the product was designed for personal use and they added the logo to the front of the mirror once retailers began buying it for their stores. Skinny Mirror believes the commercial application of their product can boost retails sales, while also boosting the confidence level of shoppers.
I find it interesting that these individuals can have such strong differences regarding their perception of what it ethical or unethical conduct in business. Determining the difference between right and wrong is not always as easy as it seems. Are you prepared to face these types of situations in your career? Take the survey below to let us know how you would handle this situation.
Always remember, Leadership is a Lifestyle.
— Ryan W. Hirsch
Operations Manager, NASBA Center for the Public Trust (CPT)