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Minneapolis entrepreneur gets $750K 'Shark Tank' investment, after making Sharks cry

Amber Leong's story is incredible.
Author:
Amber Leong

A Minneapolis entrepreneur not only convinced some of the best business minds in the country to invest in her company, but managed to win their hearts as well.

Amber Leong has found herself a celebrity after her recent appearance on ABC's "Shark Tank," in which she managed to bring tears to the eyes of "Mr Wonderful" Kevin O'Leary.

What's more, she managed to secure a $750,000 investment in her business, Circadian Optics, from Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, in exchange for a 20 percent stake.

Her company is Circadian Optics, which makes slim LED light-therapy lamps that she was inspired to create when she was working on the short, cold days of Minnesota winters.

But even more remarkable than her successful business is the journey she took to get to this point, as she recounted to the Sharks how she grew up with her poor family in Malaysia.

Her family cashed out their retirement fund and borrowed from friends to pay for Leong to fly to America on a one-way ticket and take a semester of college at Bemidji State University. 

"Nine months after coming, I was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome, and was given a 50 per chance of surviving," she said. 

"My parents couldn't come because they couldn't get an American visa," she continued. "I survived, and that was a gift, gave me a new perspective in life, and made me ask myself, what am I going to do with my one wild and precious life?"

What happened next was she went to grad school, got a 6-figure job that enabled her to send money home to her parents, and saved enough to launch her business.

"You represent why we all do this show," Mark Cuban said. "You represent to everybody in America ... that it doesn't matter where you come from, if you put your mind to it, anything is possible.

"You represent everything great about entrepreneurship, the American Dream, you are freedom."

What's more, Cuban also gave Leong an extra $50,000 to send home to her parents.

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Leong co-founded the company with her husband, Kin Mun Chew, who is also a Malaysian immigrant. The two met when they were studying at BSU.

Leong told the Star Tribune that the investment from the Sharks in her company, which made $4 million in sales last year, will allow her to add better LED tech to her products, increase production and possibly open retail locations.

Circadian Optics' range of lamps can be found here, and cost between $44.99 and $69.99.

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