As Shaan Patel stood in line to audition for Shark Tank, he thought about his slim odds of appearing on the hit ABC show.
About 50,000 people try out nationwide each season, and only 100 aspiring entrepreneurs get to pitch their products or businesses to a group of “shark’’ investors, making his odds of being featured .2 percent.
But Patel knew all about beating the odds. He scored a perfect 2400 on his SAT, beating the measly odds of just .02 percent.
“There were 500 people in line in New York City, where I auditioned,’’ he said. “It was incredibly nerve-wracking, but I figured, ‘Why not give it a shot?’’’
His perfect score was the reason why he was chosen to appear on an episode that will air January 29. Five years ago, after improving his own SAT score from average to perfect, Patel started 2400 Expert, a test-prep company that promises to help students drastically improve their scores. The company offers both in-person and online courses that he said improve students’ SAT scores by an average of 368 points, or the equivalent of jumping from the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile.
“I went to one of the worst public high schools in the country, with a drop-out rate of 40 percent,’’ he said. “I knew nothing about standardized tests, but I developed strategies to improve 640 points, which is the basis for the company.’’
The company’s website claims it’s the “world’s fastest growing test prep provider.’’ Some of that growth is due to his appearance on the show, even if the episode hasn’t aired yet. In what’s known as the “Shark Tank effect,’’ his business will likely benefit from exposure to more than 7 million viewers.
Before Patel dove into the Shark Tank last June, he only had one brick-and-mortar location nationwide. In the past few months, he’s opened 17 more, the newest of which is in Boston’s financial district.
“We thought there was a lot of opportunity since Boston is such an academically focused city,’’ he said. “We only hire instructors who score in the 99th percentile on their standardized tests, so we have one from Harvard and one from MIT. Our first classes will begin in February, right after the show airs.’’
Although there isn’t an open call in Boston scheduled for this season, Patel encouraged area entrepreneurs to consider auditioning.
“You never know whether you’ll get on the show,’’ he said. “But the exposure of it, and the practice pitching can help anyone.’’
Even if the odds aren’t in your favor.