Mark Cuban has harsh words for 'Shark Tank' scammers

On a recent episode of the NPR podcast "How I Built This," host Guy Raz asked Mark Cuban why he could be so, well, mean on "Shark Tank."

Cuban, the billionaire serial entrepreneur who owns the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and is a regular investor on the hit TV series "Shark Tank," answered that he was not always mean — in fact, he said, there's one major determinant of how he acts on the show.

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Mark Cuban business quotes

#1: "I still work hard to know my business. I'm continuously looking for ways to improve all my companies, and I'm always selling. Always."

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#2: "When you've got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?"

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#3: "Because if you're prepared and you know what it takes, it's not a risk. You just have to figure out how to get there. There is always a way to get there."

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#4: "Go out there and get rich. Get so obnoxiously rich that when that tax bill comes, your first thought will be to choke on how big a check you have to write."

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#5: "​In the past, people used to tell me to shut up a bit. But what I believe is to put out your opinion and let everyone else react. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong."

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#6: "I've learned that it doesn't matter how many times you failed. You only have to be right once. I tried to sell powdered milk. I was an idiot lots of times, and I learned from them all."

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#7: "Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you."

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#8: "Forget about finding your passion. Instead, focus on finding big problems."

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#9: "It's not about money or connections -- it's the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone when it comes to your business. And if it fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time."

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#10: "What I've learned is that if you really want to be successful at something, you'll find that you put the time in. You won't just ask somebody if it's a good idea, you'll go figure out if it's a good idea."

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Here's Cuban:

"If there's an entrepreneur who's got their life tied up in something, I'm not going to be mean. I'm going to be supportive, and I'll come up with suggestions, even if I'm not investing.

"But if you're trying to scam me, if you're trying to pull a quickie, or your product's a scam, I'm going to nail you. Because I know that people see these products and they'll go to buy them."

He added: "Those situations, I'm going to crush you."

As an example, Cuban mentioned Pavlok. In the season-seven finale, Maneesh Sethi appeared on "Shark Tank" to pitch the Pavlov wristband, which is designed to help users curb bad habits by shocking them.

During the episode, as Business Insider's Richard Feloni has reported, the sharks argued over the product's validity. Cuban called Sethi a con artist. Ultimately, Sethi turned down an offer from Kevin O'Leary and left without funding.

On "How I Built This," Cuban recalled that Sethi presented research on aversion therapy in general and not on Pavlok's effectiveness specifically.

"I called them out on it," he told Raz. "Why don't you just use a rubber band?"

In a September "Shark Tank" roundtable discussion, Cuban said scam artists made up one of the three categories of entrepreneurs he saw on the show.

For example, as Feloni has reported, in season six, Cuban called Tycoon Real Estate founder Aaron McDaniel "scammy" because he thought McDaniel's business was taking advantage of unsophisticated people.

In season three, Cuban labeled Esso Watches, which is described by its creators as using negative ion technology to improve decision-making and balance, a scam as well.

On the other hand, if Cuban detects that you've put honest effort into building a business, he'll play nice — even if he doesn't plan to invest. "If your heart's into it, and your heart's in the right place, and your effort's there," he told Raz, "I'm going to support you."

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