Brian Lim, founder and CEO of EmazingLights and iHeartRaves, recently appeared on ABC‘s Shark Tank program, where he successfully brought gloving and the rave-centric culture to a wealthy and interested group of investors.
“I had butterflies,” Lim said of being on the highly rated program. But that quickly wore off.
“After the first 15 seconds of pitching, it turned into a conversation with the Sharks, and it went smoothly.”
As a result of what the Sharks regarded as one of the best entrepreneurial efforts ever seen on the program, EmazingLights and its clothing counterpart iHeartRaves have two new minority owners in Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and FUBU clothing line founder Daymond John. The duo bought in at $650,000 and a five percent stake in Lim’s companies, along with 20 percent on any licensing deals Daymond brought to both brands. While all of the sharks appeared interested, it was the ability to find strategic partners with expertise in the fields that are more closely related to EmazingLights and iHeartRaves that sealed the deal for Cuban and John.
“At the end of the day, it was not about the money, and it’s still not about the money. Kevin’s deal was easy to turn down, as we were not looking for a loan. Lori and Robert were extremely tough to turn down, as they both have a lot to offer and were ready to be hands-on. Our main goal was to find strategic partners, and it’s tough to beat that duo even with more money,” Lim said.
EmazingLights and iHeartRaves’ renown actually extends back six months prior to his ballyhooed recent TV moment. In September of 2014, EmazingLights was spotlighted as one of Inc. Magazine’s 5000 fastest-growing entrepreneur-led companies in America. That article notes the company’s 2,281 percent revenue growth since its 2010 founding, noting the humility of a man who says that he found “the perfect girl and the perfect business” as EmazingLights has grown.
In discussing his team at-present, Lim’s high level of gratitude is still apparent.
“It’s been the extremely gratifying to work with 48 talented team members, enabling them to provide for their families’ lives and also offer quality jobs with a growth path. We’ve been able to impact hundreds of thousands of people, from glovers and ravers to their audiences, with our products and brand… I’ve been able to take care of my entire family. They sacrificed to give me a fighting chance to succeed, and now I’m able to help them make ends meet and we can thrive together.”
When asked about growth models, Brian Lim has a historically aware answer: “We view ourselves at EmazingLights and iHeartRaves as a young skateboard company.”
Similar to rave culture, skateboarding was thought to be a fad in America in the 1960s and 1970s, but a culture grew sustainable in the underground until its mainstream explosion.
“The art form and sport of gloving is still in its infancy, but the passion behind the community is tremendous and extremely impressive. We are confident that it is only a matter of time before gloving breaks out from the underground,” he said.
It’s been nearly three decades since modern American rave culture initially swept through underground scenes in places like New York, Washington, DC, New Orleans, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Similar to aforementioned skateboarding culture taking 30 years to unite with explosive commercial potential with mainstream-recognizable industrial brands, dance now finds itself on the cusp of a similar development.
It has been a “once in a lifetime experience” that Brian Lim says he “wouldn’t trade in for anything,” and ironically enough, it’s gloving’s moment under the lights that could truly signal dance culture reaching the next level of success and sustainability.