This Friday night, observant Inc. readers will see a familiar face on ABC's Shark Tank: EmazingLights founder Brian Lim. Inc. first wrote about his company, which makes LED-powered light-up gloves and grew up alongside an entire subculture known as "gloving," last summer, when he ranked 189th on the 2014 Inc. 500 list.
Judging from the promo released online this week, Lim did pretty well on the show, a contest where startup founders vie for investment from a panel of veteran entrepreneur judges, known as "sharks."
"You are the best entrepreneur we've ever had here," said shark Robert Herjavec in the 16-second clip. "Twenty million-dollar valuation!" said shark Kevin O'Leary. "You've got to make a decision!"
Lim filmed the segment back in September, after a year-long process of getting on the show. He applied for the opportunity to demonstrate gloving to an audience of millions on network TV--"Anyone who sees gloving automatically thinks it's cool"--and for the chance to tap the expertise of a shark like Mark Cuban or one of the other entrepreneurs on the show as his company took off.
"There's only so far you can go by Googling everything and learning on the fly," says Lim, adding he was looking for help with everything from distribution, to licensing, to wooing celebrity spokespeople, not to mention just having someone review his corporate structure. "Like, does it make sense to have this many departments? This is just something I came up with," says the 27-year-old entrepreneur.
"I've always been a fan of the show, but I couldn't bear watching too much of it. It always made me nervous. Like, why am I not pitching them? What do these entrepreneurs have that I don't?" says Lim, who also runs iHeartRaves, an online shop for rave and festival apparel.
The process of making it on the show was arduous: After emailing an application, he conducted a phone interview, then submitted a 10-minute long video. After he cleared that stage, "we got a pile of paperwork, of course." Next he prepared for the in-person taping.
"It was all hands on deck," says Lim. While he prepared to pitch the business, other members of his team got to work preparing a showcase of gloving, where performers use the light-up gloves to make mesmerizing patterns and shapes in time to music.
On the day of the taping, his team auditioned one more time, then got in front of the sharks. During his almost two hours in the "tank," the judges peppered him with questions. "It's very, very real. There are no do-overs."
But "10 seconds in," he says, he felt comfortable. "The whole time preparing, I'm thinking worst-case scenarios--what if they tear me up? What if they say this, or that?" says Lim. "But it was all positive. It just became a conversation."
Lim didn't reveal the outcome of the show. To find out what happens, check out the episode on ABC at 9 p.m. ET, Friday, March 13.