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Brian Lim of iHeartRaves: “Know your numbers”

Shark Control is key: The Sharks are vicious not only to the business owner but amongst themselves. They fight to talk over each other and you have to be able to control the discussion which isn’t easy. Know your numbers: They grilled me on my numbers and I was able to answer their questions directly. Practice […]

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Shark Control is key: The Sharks are vicious not only to the business owner but amongst themselves. They fight to talk over each other and you have to be able to control the discussion which isn’t easy.

Know your numbers: They grilled me on my numbers and I was able to answer their questions directly.

Practice Practice Practice: I had multiple mock panels that helped throw our Shark Tank questions and it helped tremendously to answer them to a live panel.


As part of our series about the ‘5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank’, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Lim, a serial entrepreneur who has bootstrapped three eCommerce businesses that include iHeartRaves, INTO THE AM, and Emazing Lights which collectively form The Emazing Group, grossing over 30M dollars per year. He started out with 100 dollars selling out of the trunk of his car, and was able to grow that into a business that employs more than 65 people. Brian was on Season Six of ABC’s Shark Tank where he received offers from all five sharks. On the show, Robert Herjavec said Brian was “one of, if not the best entrepreneur we’ve had here”. He took a deal from Mark Cuban and Daymond John. His companies have also been featured in the annual “Inc 5000” list for the past six years in a row.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit of the backstory about how you grew up?

I grew up very poor. My parents owned a donut shop. They were basically working 24 hours a day. If you wanted to get anything in life, you really had to earn it yourself. Seeing my parents work seven days a week selling donuts for 30 cents apiece inspired me to work hard. Growing up, I would help at my parent’s donut shop after school and work full time during the weekends. After college, I secured a job at Deloitte Consulting.

Can you share with us the story of the “aha moment” that gave you the idea to start your company?

At Deloitte, I did not feel a sense of accomplishment and felt more like I was doing a mundane job. I wanted to work towards something that I could be proud of and would make a difference in people’s lives. My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, fell in love by going to music festivals. What you wear and how you express yourself at these events is a key part of the overall experience. We would always customize our outfits and wear items you couldn’t find in the local mall. We got compliments and asked all the time where we got our clothing. We felt like there was a huge need in the marketplace that no professional companies were filling and thus we started iHeartRaves. I love it because it’s something that I’m truly passionate about.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Getting featured on Shark Tank and other major publications has been huge validation towards the businesses that we are growing.

Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

The classic “If you want it done right, do it yourself” mentality in the first couple of years of the business. I then learned how to better delegate and trust the team and that has completely changed the business. I have fired myself from countless positions in the company and continue to do so as I strive to have smarter people than myself in every position!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are revamping INTO THE AM completely to focus on elevated everyday apparel that we love to wear ourselves. The brand has gone through many transformations but we feel this is the most genuine and exciting future for us. We have cool graphic tees, basic t-shirts, men’s graphic hoodies, boxer briefs for men, and much more.

In lieu of COVID-19, we started designing face masks. Our masks are contoured to fit your face and are designed with elastic straps that comfortably stretch to fit over your ears. The masks are antimicrobial, reusable, and use water-based inks.

For each mask that is purchased, we are donating one non-printed face mask to nonprofits supporting those on the front lines. So far, we’ve sold over 100,000 masks and are excited to help anyone we can! Here are some of the organizations we’ve donated masks to so far:

– Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, San Pedro

– Lompoc Valley Medical Center

– Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Orange Coast

– The Bridge Fund of New York Inc.

– Baltimore Donation Hub

– Gold In Fight

– REACH Air Medical Services

– Chinatown Service Center

Ok, thank you for all that. Let’s now move to the main part of our interview. Many of us have no idea about the backend process of how to apply and get accepted to be on the Shark Tank. Can you tell us the story about how you applied and got accepted. What “hoops” did you have to go through to get there? How did it feel to be accepted?

I randomly emailed the general Shark tank email inbox at 2 AM one night when I was binge-watching some episodes. I got a weird feeling in my stomach that was telling me I need to go on the show and I was missing a huge opportunity.

I sent a brief bio of the companies and some YouTube videos and I luckily got a call back and the year-long process started!

They required a 10-minute video outlining the business and then we had multiple phone meetings afterward to get ready for the actual taping.

I felt stressed and anxious the entire time as they repeatedly tell you there is no guarantee you’ll get on the show and there is no guarantee they will air your episode even if you make a deal!

I’m sure the actual presentation was pretty nerve wracking. What did you do to calm and steel yourself to do such a great job on the show?

Lots and lots of prep. I think the biggest advantage we had was that we already had proof of concept with over 10M+ dollars in sales before going on the show. I was looking to scale our business and not to get a seed round investment.

So what was the outcome of your Shark Tank pitch. Were you pleased with the outcome?

We got an offer from all 5 sharks and we went with Mark and Daymond! Very pleased with the outcome.

What are your “5 Important Business Lessons I Learned While Being On The Shark Tank”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Shark Control is key: The Sharks are vicious not only to the business owner but amongst themselves. They fight to talk over each other and you have to be able to control the discussion which isn’t easy.

Know your numbers: They grilled me on my numbers and I was able to answer their questions directly.

Practice Practice Practice: I had multiple mock panels that helped throw our Shark Tank questions and it helped tremendously to answer them to a live panel.

What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive and avoid burnout?

Set a target and figure out how to reach that goal with your team. Good companies have stressed out leadership teams and staff that are coasting. Great companies have leadership teams that are calm and the staff is highly pressured sharing the burden to reach goals.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to push the American Dream and reinforce that hard work and self-accountability is the best way of succeeding. I grew up poor with immigrant parents and America is the best country in the world to allow me to carve my own path of success.

I would like to inspire more entrepreneurship and mentor up and coming eCommerce entrepreneurs as I get more free time from my own business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Free up time to work on the business, instead of in the business.” As a bootstrapped founder with 0 dollars of outside investor money, I got caught up in the weeds very easily. I’ve had the mindset of firing myself from every position in the company from the early days and replacing myself with smarter and more specialized team members to continuously improve the company.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Chamath Palihapitiya. The Warren Buffett of our time. He is a role model that I hope to accomplish 1% of what he’s currently doing.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


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