Malaysian Shark Tank-ed

malaysian shark tank-edPhoto: Amber Leong

You may wonder what we have to do with an American business reality television series, Shark Tank. The popular show sees entrepreneurs presenting business pitches to a panel of investors (a.k.a sharks). These entrepreneurs have to be at the top of their game to persuade these sharks that their company is worth investing in. 

Last Sunday a “girl from a small town in Malaysia”, Amber Leong, was featured on the show! She is the first Malaysian on it, and managed to land a US$800,000 (RM3.36 million) deal with the two prominent investors on the show - Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, in exchange for a 20 per cent stake in her company, according to US business magazine Inc.

“Today, all of us slog away inside a dark office all day. We're not getting enough light, and this is disrupting our body clock and making us tired and unhealthy,” she told the sharks. 

Leong’s company, Circadian Optics, sells small light therapy lamps which help to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, promoting overall better rest and sleep. Going on the show, Leong’s aim was to get a partner which would help her expand into the retail market.

malaysian shark tank-edCircadian Optics products (Photo: The News Crunch)

Circadian Optics is based in Minneapolis and was founded by Leong and her husband three years ago. The company reportedly has online sales of US$4 million with an expected increase of US$1.6 million this year, and an estimated value of US$7.5 million. 

When challenged by the investors, Leong shared her personal story of how the light therapy lamps helped her to overcome irregular sleep patterns and was able to convince them that she had what was necessary.

Her tale of her childhood dream of going ot the United States to further her education after convincing her parents to cash their retirement funds for a one-way ticket to finance her studies and her fight with toxic shock syndrome was a heartwarming one and won the investors over.

“You represent to everybody around the world who watches this show that it doesn't matter where you come from, if you put your mind to it, anything is possible. You represent everything great about entrepreneurship and the American dream, you are freedom,” Cuban told Leong during the show. 

Leong struck the 80:20 deal with Cuban and Greiner with US$50,000 required to be given to Leong’s parents, although she was also offered US$750,000 by another pair.

“I know I should negotiate and be a good business partner. But I'm here for Lori and Mark. You have a deal,” Leong said on the show.