Brian Lim's parents immigrated to the United States in their mid-twenties so that he and his two other siblings can have a chance at a better life. Lim's parents opened a donut shop in Los Angeles, and would often work 18-hour work-days to make ends meet. Growing up, Lim was no stranger to hard work as he would help at his parent's shop after school and work full time during the weekends. This experience of helping his parents and witnessing them toiling away shaped Lim’s strong work ethic that allowed him to build not one, but three businesses: Emazing Lights, iHeartRaves, and IntotheAM.
Brian Lim first stepped into the Shark Tank 2 years ago with Emazing Lights and blew the sharks out of the water with his pitch. Robert Herjavec called him the most impressive entrepreneur they ever had on the show, compelling all the sharks to make irresistible offers. Lim took on a deal with Mark Cuban and Daymond John ($650,000 for 5 percent equity and 20 percent commission on licensing deals), and since then, his businesses have grown rapidly.
In an exclusive interview with Lim, he shared that he was largely influenced by his parents to start his own business. Seeing his parents work 7 days a week selling donuts for 30 cents per piece inspired him to work hard. Lim paid his own way through college by working part-time and secured an impressive job at Deloitte. But Deloitte just didn’t cut it for him - it was too mundane and he craved to feel a sense of accomplishment. He wanted to work towards something that he could be proud of and make a difference in people's lives.
While working at Deloitte, he started to sell LED-powered gloves to kids at the local Jack In The Box store. He noticed that the kids really enjoyed playing with the LED-powered gloves, and increasingly more kids would show up every weekend to buy his gloves. As demand became stronger, he took the plunge and left his job at Deloitte after 2 years to work on Emazing Lights full-time. And that was a risk he took that turned out incredibly well for him. It was challenging initially, but his passion kept him going and his robust work ethic saw him through many countless nights and days of doing sales and operating the business. He credits his strong work ethic to his upbringing and working for his parents when he was young.
Today, Lim runs a team of 50 full-time employees out of California, operates 3,000 square feet of warehouse space, and is on track to generate over $20 million in revenue this year. He is the sole founder and has remained very much hands-on with the business side of things. Being the visionary that he is, he looks forward to growing the business globally. Amidst all the success, he remains grounded and is very committed to giving back to the community. In fact, he organizes educational programs and community service events, in which he volunteers his time to help other disadvantaged children and kids. Brian Lim’s diligence and humility are definitely some of the traits we can take away and possibly emulate to become a successful entrepreneur like him. Sometimes, it’s not about what you have but what you are willing to give and sacrifice.
Author's note: This is a series of articles featuring 1st generation and 2nd generation entrepreneurs in America to showcase their immigrant story and how they worked hard to start their businesses. The author himself is an immigrant entrepreneur who moved to the United States from Singapore.
Zakiyah is a freelance content writer. She’s a lifelong learner, looking for opportunities to expand her horizons whenever she can. She loves traveling, playing volleyball and reading up on general developments in the industry.