How Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran started the Corcoran Group

He said she’d never
succeed without him — she proved him wrong. Barbara Corcoran

Jamie McCarthy/Getty

  • Barbara Corcoran is a real-estate mogul and a “Shark
    Tank” star.
  • Corcoran’s ex-boyfriend and ex-business partner left
    her for her secretary in the 1970s.
  • The ex told her she’d never succeed without
  • That helped motivate Corcoran to launch her
    own real-estate company and become wildly

“You know,” Barbara Corcoran’s ex-business partner and
ex-boyfriend told her soon after they split up, “you’ll never
succeed without me.”

Anyone else might have felt those words sting and then,
eventually, brushed them off. But for Corcoran, “It just hit me
in the gut and I felt that fever in my body like, ‘I’ll be damned
if you ever see me not succeed.’ I felt like I would kill not to
let that thing happen.”

Four decades later, Corcoran is a real-estate mogul and a star
investor on the ABC series “Shark Tank.” That is to say, she’s
more than proved that ex-boyfriend and ex-business partner wrong.

On an episode of Business Insider’s podcast, “Success!
How I Did It
,” Corcoran told US editor-in-chief Alyson
Shontell how her relationship with that ex-boyfriend, Ramone
Simone, changed her life.

Corcoran was a waitress at a diner when she met Simone. Early in
their relationship, Simone suggested she go into real estate.
Corcoran worked as a receptionist at a real-estate agency; Simone
suggested they start a real-estate company together.

He gave her $1,000 and said she could take 49% of their business,
which was called Corcoran-Simone company.

Seven years later, Corcoran told Shontell, Simone came home and
announced — surprise! — he was going to marry Corcoran’s

After the breakup, Corcoran took a level-headed approach to
dissolving the Corcoran-Simone company. She told Shontell: “I put
the rules down. I said, ‘This is how we’re going to end the
business. You picked the first person [her secretary]. I’ll take
the second.’ We divide our receivables, we divide our cash — the
little we had.”

Corcoran was savvy about starting the Corcoran Group

When Corcoran was starting her real estate company, she placed
her very first business advertisement in The New York Times. She
asked her old boss at the real-estate agency if she could have
one of his listings to advertise. It was the apartment next to
the super’s, and it had an L-shaped living room with a small
bedroom, “like every other apartment in New York.”

Corcoran wanted to make her ad stand out. And so she asked if she
could put up a fake wall in the living room and wrote: “1 BR Plus
Den: 340.” 

She told Shontell, “It fit on one line, right margin, and I
probably got 80 phone calls that next morning. … Within the first
two days I had a check for $340.”

sold The Corcoran Group
 years later for about $70
million in 2001.

Perhaps the sweetest revenge she exacted on Simone right after
the breakup? She told Shontell:

“I moved two floors above him in the same building. I went
immediately to my landlord to ask for a new lease on another
space and it was a tough market. He happily gave it to me and it
was cheaper than my other lease by a few hundred dollars a month.
And I loved getting out of that elevator with Ramone Simone and
his new wife every day and saying, ‘Sorry, I’m going up.’

“Stupid ego lifts that you do in life, right! But somehow that
made a difference. If I was below him, psychologically it would
not have been good.”

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