First Malaysian on hit TV show ‘Shark Tank’ strikes deal with US investors for light invention (VIDEO)

Malaysian Amber Leong presents her pitch on ‘Shark Tank’ season 11. — Picture via Facebook/CircadianOptics
Malaysian Amber Leong presents her pitch on ‘Shark Tank’ season 11. — Picture via Facebook/CircadianOptics

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — Amber Leong was the first Malaysian featured on the hit US entrepreneurial reality TV series Shark Tank last Sunday.

More astonishingly, the woman who described herself on the show as a “girl from a small town in Malaysia” succeeded in landing a US$800,000 (RM3.36 million) deal with the ABC programme’s two prominent investors, Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, in exchange for a 20 per cent stake in her company, US business magazine Inc reported.

“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 was quoted by Inc as telling the investors in the show.

Leong went on the show that is now into its 11th season last Sunday seeking a partner to help her expand into the retail market and pitched 10 per cent stake in her company called Circadian Optics selling small light therapy lamps to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.

The company based in Minneapolis was founded by Leong and her husband named as Kin Mun Chew three years ago and is reported to have chalked up online sales of US$4 million; it is projected to increase the numbers to US5.6 million this year.

The company is said to be valued at US$7.5 million, though this was challenged by the Shark Tank investors, but Leong managed to convince them she had what it takes with her personal story of how the light therapy lamps helped her overcome the disrupted sleep patterns when she was a brand manager before she planted everything into her own start-up.

Her story of how she followed through her childhood dream of moving to the United States for college after convincing her parents to cash their retirement funds for a one-way ticket to finance her education, her TV addiction to Full House, her battle with toxic shock syndrome — a rare and potentially life-threatening condition due to bacterial infections — under a year of undergraduate studies where she was given only a 50:50 survival rate, drew the investors in.

She related how she survived, went on to graduate school and saved enough from her six-figure salary to send money back to her family in Malaysia, but ultimately chose “creativity over certainty”.

“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 was quoted as telling Leong during the show.

Leong struck the 80:20 deal with Cuban and Greiner with US$50,000 required by the duo to be given to Leong’s parents, even though she was also offered US$750,000 by another investor pair Kevin O'Leary and Barbara Corcoran.

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

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