Naveen Jindal School of Management alumni Corey Egan, MBA’10, and Swapnil Bora, MBA’11, emerged from the “Shark Tank” reality television show with a $350,000 deal with entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Egan and Bora, who appeared on the episode of “Shark Tank” that aired April 18, developed the idea of smartphone-controlled light bulbs for their Plano-based business, ilumi, as students in the Full-Time MBA program. Ilumi makes LED “smartbulbs” that allow users to control lighting levels and colors through a mobile app.They asked for $350,000 from the “sharks,” well-known business people and investors, in return for 15 percent ownership.
“Your money gets our products into customers’ hands,” Egan told the investors, explaining that they are now in the final stages of development.Cuban offered $350,000 for 25 percent. He then backed out after seeing Egan’s hesitation, but then gave the men a second chance.
“Mark, would you be willing to meet in the middle at 20 percent?” Egan asked.
“I’m going to stick to the 25, guys, because you know I can bring a huge amount of value,” Cuban said.
In the end, the classmates-turned-business-partners accepted the deal and have now welcomed Cuban to their newly formed team. The product began shipping this week.
“The great thing about getting Mark Cuban on board is that we’re able to grow our team,” Egan told a group of about 100 Jindal School administrators, professors and friends at a watch party the school hosted during the TV show. “This is not the destination. This is just one of the milestones along the way.”
Egan, his family and ilumi employees cheered for Egan and Bora throughout the television reality show at a Plano restaurant while Bora, who was in India, joined via Skype.
“This is absolutely as good as it gets,” said Lisa Shatz, Jindal School assistant dean of MBA programs and director of the Full-Time MBA program. “You guys rolled up your sleeves. You did not give up. You kept going.…We are so incredibly proud of you.”
The entrepreneurs met at the Jindal School while earning their MBAs. Egan did a concentration in marketing with a focus on product development, and Bora’s focus was finance and strategy.
“The minute you meet Swapnil, you can tell he’s brilliant; he’s just so bright,” Shatz said. “And Corey is just one of those people that you see so much potential in because he just has it all put together. When I first met him, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do or how he was going to get there, but I had no doubt that he was going to be successful.”
The Shark Tank victory is not the students’ first. Ilumi won the 2010 UT Dallas Business Idea Competition.
After they graduated, Egan and Bora continued to seek input from professors as they developed their business. They were open to feedback and didn’t give up when faced with setbacks, said Jackie Kimzey, executive director of the Jindal School’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “Number one, they were very passionate about their idea,” Kimzey said. “And they were very serious and persistent.”
During the “Shark Tank” presentation, Egan explained that users of the product can program lights to create a sunrise effect, romantic candlelight or even a post-Dallas Mavericks game celebration.
“Mark, represent your team and ours by lighting it up blue and green on game day,” Egan said. “After the Mavericks win, let the celebration begin.” Then, Egan and Bora danced as the lights changed colors.
The pitch worked.
“Mark’s just going to be just like fuel on the fire,” Egan said in an interview on the show. “This thing is going to spread like wildfire, and ilumi’s going to shine across the world.”
During the watch party, Egan thanked his professors and other mentors for their assistance and support during years of hard work developing the business idea.
“In the end, we’re very excited with the outcome that we hooked a big one,” he said.