Shark Tank is a reality TV series in the U.S. that gives budding entrepreneurs the chance to present their business ideas to “sharks” on the show, with investors then deciding if they want to strike a deal with contestants. The first Malaysian to be featured on the show, Amber Leong, has just landed an US$800,000 investment from Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner on the show—including a US50,000 payout to her family back home in Malaysia.
Circadian Optics, a company that Leong and her husband set up 3 years ago, makes light therapy lamps that help to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, and therefore helps you to sleep better. The company is reportedly currently valued at US$7.5 million, and is projected to have US$5.6 million in sales for 2019.
Leong, who is from Salak South, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, first came to the U.S. to pursue her further studies—with her family using their retirement funds to purchase a one-way ticket and a semester’s worth of school fees and living expenses. However, she was struck down with toxic shock syndrome 9 months after arriving in the U.S., and was given a 50% chance of survival.
“It gave me a new perspective in life. What am I going to do with my one, wild and precious life?”
The idea for the business came from personal experience, explained Leong in an interview with Mashable. During long winters in Minnesota, where she was based, she started using light therapy lamps to better manage her sleep. However, she was teased about the appearance of these lamps—which led her to start Circadian Optics.
On Shark Tank, Cuban and Greiner agreed to an 20:80 deal with Leong for US$750,000, along with an additional US$50,000 for her family back home in Malaysia. Another paid of investors also offered her a similar investment sum, but Leong chose to go with Cuban and Greiner, explaining:
“I’m here for Lori and Mark. You have a deal.”