LuminAID clinched a deal with Mark on Season 6 of Shark Tank for their solar-powered inflatable lights. Heavy spoke with founders Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta, who gave us a glimpse into the company’s tremendous growth since the show.
The future certainly looks bright for the lights. As for their plans, Stork said, “They involve launching new, higher powered solar charging and lighting products. Our primary reason for choosing Mark Cuban was that saw the potential for LuminAID technology and this really resonated with us. He encouraged us to push the boundary with innovations in design and to think about what’s next for disaster relief aid. This is a great mindset for us to have as a company, and we keep this at our core.”
Here’s what else they told us about…
Working With Mark
Andrea: Working with Mark has been great. We email him weekly and he responds immediately to any questions we have. Specific advice from Mark has included where to find new customers and how to hire the right people. I sometimes am left wondering how he has enough time in the day to be as responsive as he is at times. It definitely makes us want to work even harder to see that he is willing to give us his time even though he is such a busy person.
Anna: He also has a team that works hard for his Shark Tank companies every day as well. Through them, we have been able to land new retail deals with companies like Zulily and Brookstone, and they always have something in the pipeline for us. Mark also gave us an accountant and bookeeper which is a big help since it’s one less thing our small team has to do in the day.
Staff & Facility Expansion Since the ‘Tank’
Andrea: For the first 2 years of LuminAID, our company was just Anna and myself. When we filmed Shark Tank, we were three full-time employees. Today we are four full-time employees plus three part-time interns. We also have a lot of great help outside of the office in terms of manufacturing coordination and fulfillment.
Anna: We are manufacturing more lights than ever. Our monthly production is up roughly 1.5 times since our Shark Tank episode aired in Season 6. We also introduced two new items in 2015 as a part of the Pack Line.
Andrea: 2015 was not only a busy year due to Shark Tank, but also busy because of the tragic earthquakes in Nepal in April. Many of our larger NGO customers did great work on the ground after the earthquakes, and we were grateful to be able to supply them with our solar lights to distribute to those in need. We were able to send 4,000 LuminAID lights through our Give Light, Get Light program to charities working to help those in Nepal. Anna and I also had the chance to travel to Malawi with one of our larger NGO customers, ShelterBox in November. We were able to see first-hand the impact that our lights had after devastating floods that had happened earlier in the year.
Advice to Future ‘Tank’ Contestants
Anna: This is more advice for those who want to apply or become a Shark Tank contestant since a lot of people ask, “How did you guys get on the show in the first place? Did you know someone?” We actually just applied through the website at abc.com. At the time, I don’t think either of us thought that anyone would actually read our application. But lucky for us, someone did and was very interested in our idea.
Andrea: And then for those who make it through the casting call process: Practice! And then take it all in stride. Even just being on the set is an experience, especially if you are a fan of the show as we were. The more prepared you are, the less nervous you will be and the more you will enjoy the whole experience of getting to meet and pitch the Sharks.