- The husband-and-wife team behind Lollacup (now Lollaland) earned an investment deal on “Shark Tank” in 2012.
- But Hanna and Mark Lim only applied to “Shark Tank” on a whim.
- Once they were accepted, they practiced every single day and sought constructive criticism on their pitch.
It was just before midnight in spring 2012. The kids were asleep, and Hanna and Mark Lim were assembling sippy cups in their living room.
In the background, the TV was tuned to an early season of “Shark Tank.”
“We were watching and having such a great time commenting on what we would have done,” Mark Lim told me. “We said, ‘You know, I bet if we went on that show, we would do great.’ We were like, ‘Yeah, honey, you would do great. We were kind of pumping each other up.'”
They were only joking though. Their business, Lollacup, was still in its infancy.
On his way back from the kitchen, Mark decided, just for kicks, to look up the date of the next “Shark Tank” casting call, in Los Angeles.
“Lo and behold, it was the next morning,” he told me. “We said, ‘You know what? What do we lose? We’ll be a little tired, but let’s just wake up super early, drop the kids off at our parents, and we’ll see what happens.” Still giggling, they filled out an application.
The next morning, they waited seven hours in line for their turn to audition. When they were called back a few months later, things started to feel real – a little too real.
“We asked, ‘Is there any way we could delay this for a year, for next season, so that we can have some more traction and figure out our overall strategy?” Mark remembered.
The team’s answer? “Absolutely not. It’s now or never.”
“So we went through with it,” Mark said. They were scheduled to pitch the sharks in late summer, and in the months leading up, “we proceeded to watch every episode, write down each question, and then have a typed-out answer, like how we would answer.”
Mark went on: “We got in front of people who were not afraid to criticise us.” He and Hanna practiced every single day, he said, “until we were tired of the word ‘Shark Tank.'”
The Lims’ appearance on ‘Shark Tank’ was dramatic
The Lims appeared on season three, episode 12 of “Shark Tank,” requesting $US100,000 for a 15% stake in Lollacup. They explained that the cup was a better alternative to traditional sippy cups with straws, which can damage kids’ teeth. To ensure safety, the cups were made in the US instead of overseas.
Kevin O’Leary made the first offer, $US100,000 for 50%, but he wanted to produce the cups offshore. Daymond John matched O’Leary’s offer, but wanted the Lims to get out of a deal they’d recently made with a sales agent.
Other sharks took the bait, and things got tense.
Robert Herjavec asked the Lims if they had a counteroffer, and Mark came back with $US100,000 for 40%. Mark Cuban jumped out of his chair – “Yes! I’m in!” – but Mark first wanted to see if Herjavec would accept his counteroffer.
John tweaked his offer to $US100,000 for 30%, but when Hanna said they’d rather partner with Cuban and Herjavec, John went back out.
Ultimately, the Lims struck a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec: $US100,000 for 40% of the company.
“That’s the classic thing with business and entrepreneurship,” Hanna told me. “When the opportunity arises, you have to seize it.”
That’s how they approached their appearance on Shark Tank. Hanna added, “We haven’t really looked back.”
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