On tonight’s episode of Shark Tank, Chicago entrepreneurs and LuminAID co-founders Andrea Sreshta and Anna Stork asked the Sharks for $200K in exchange for 10% of their solar-powered inflatable light. InTheSharkTank’s Andrew Figgins and Carolyn Baumgarten attended a viewing party for LuminAID, hosted by Clean Energy Trust, ComEd and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Andrea and Anna’s pitch to the Sharks was one of the best I’ve seen — easy to understand the product, clear benefits. A million dollars in sales in the last 12 months also grabbed the Sharks’ attention. Lori Greiner, owner of hundreds of patents, asked about the patent on the product, followed by Kevin O’Leary launching into a royalty offer. One of the quickest offers we’ve ever seen. Daymond John followed up with an offer of $300K for 20% of the company, which was followed up by an offer from Lori for the same amount of equity. After a commercial break, Mark Cuban offered a deal for less equity with a sweetener (for himself) — the ability to lead the next financing round in the amount of $300,000. The founders accepted Mark’s offer and a deal was struck.
In terms of the product itself, the LuminAID was striking to see in person, especially when lit up and inflated (see photo below). It wasn’t too difficult to envision several of the use cases for an inexpensive, waterproof light that charges during the day by sunlight.
In a Q&A after their segment with the founders, Andrea and Anna revealed a few details about the filming of their appearance, which took place last June in Los Angeles. Most notably, ABC removed a portion of the pitch where the women mentioned being from Chicago.
UPDATE: The funding/deal with Mark Cuban has yet to be finalized.
Background information on LuminAID (provided by LuminAID)
LuminAID won first place and a $25,000 cash prize in the 2012 John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC), a business launchpad program run by the Social Enterprise Initiative and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Chicago Booth. The SNVC is one of four tracks in the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC), which helps University of Chicago students turn ideas into viable businesses. In summer 2013, LuminAID took part in the Polsky Center’s Entrepreneurship Internship Program.
LuminAID later competed as team finalist in the 2013 Clean Energy Trust’s Clean Energy Challenge, the Midwest’s leading clean energy accelerator program. The company won the $100,000 early-stage prize.
LuminAID invested these early-stage awards and resources in scaling up production to meet rising demand for the product and to grow their team in Chicago.