Mark Lim is the co-founder and Director of Operations for Lollaland. Mark graduated with a degree in finance and worked for The Bank of New York in structured finance. His first taste for entrepreneurship was when he worked at AG Jeans, an up and coming denim brand based out of Los Angeles. A few years later, Mark started his own apparel business, Division One Inc. while pursuing his MBA at UCLA Anderson School of Management. Mark joined his wife, Hanna, full time after the Lollacup was ready to introduce to the market.
1) What is Lollaland and how did you come up with the idea for it?
The idea for our flagship product, the Lollacup, was inspired by my first daughter. When she was nine-months-old, we were at a restaurant, and my wife put a straw to her lips and we were surprised to see her drink from a straw with ease. Then our pediatrician suggested we wean her to a straw instead of a traditional sippy cup, because there are speech and dental benefits to using straws. My wife, Hanna, immediately purchased several toddler straw cups, and realized that our daughter could not get a sip out of any of them because of the spill-proof valves. That’s when the idea for Lollacup was born. My wife wanted to create a straw sippy cup that would eliminate challenges for kids, be easy to use and clean, and be made in the USA, with safety in mind.
The name Lollaland comes from my first daughter’s early take on the word, water. Her word for water, was “lolla,” and she would often as for her lolla-cup, so when we needed to name the cup we were developing, lollacup just made sense. Since we now offer more than cups, we reincorporated to Lollaland.
2) What makes Lollaland different to all the other baby products?
Lollaland creates infant/toddler goods that are innovative, modern, functional, and fun. We strive to create quality products that are well-designed and appeal to both children and parents alike. Our vision for Lollaland remains similar to what my wife and I had in mind when we created the Lollacup. What sets Lollaland products apart from other baby products is their design and our commitment to manufacturing everything we possibly can, especially our feeding products, in the United States. Because we value high design, one can find Lollaland products in specialty boutiques as well as trendy stores like Barneys New York, Whole Foods, and Nordstrom.
3) When did you know you were prepared to get an investment? (A lot of people go on too early)
When we pitched and got a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjevac, we had been shipping product for only three months, so we were on the early side. However, Hanna and I knew we needed extra capital to grow the business, so when the Shark Tank casting call happened, we decided to go for it, because it was an opportunity of a lifetime. Out of 30,000 applicants, we were one of 100 companies who had the opportunity to pitch our business to the “sharks.” This was truly a unique opportunities to get an investment, a business mogul as an investor, and some great publicity.
4) How did your experience on Shark Tank help you and your business?
The national television exposure and subsequent press opportunities that resulted after appearing on Shark Tank were priceless. More than the publicity, the whole experience of Shark Tank has helped our business in many ways. Having partners like Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec motivates me, keeps me accountable at another level – there’s a different kind of pressure when you know a billionaire and multi-millionaire have their money invested in you. Also, the networking with other companies who have been on Shark Tank has been invaluable. We schedule monthly conference calls with various companies to share sales strategies, marketing initiatives, etc. There is so much synergy that can happen when small businesses band together.
5) How has Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec been as an investor and mentor?
Seeing, first-hand, how hard both Mark and Robert work has been hugely motivational. As investors, they could easily take a back seat, but I am always surprised by how much time they are able to carve out for us; they are always the first to respond to late-night emails and challenge us with tough love. If both Mark and Robert are working THAT hard, I should be working even harder. We were one of Mark and Robert’s early investments through Shark Tank. Through the years, they have both built incredible teams to support
6) What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to start a business?
As Mark Cuban would say, sell, sell, sell, and don’t ever let up on sales. It’s very easy for entrepreneurs to lose focus, because they have so much on their plates. Entrepreneurs often spend too much time on perfecting their product and not enough time selling. I, myself, have fallen into this trap many times, so I have to continually remind myself that sales will determine whether my business will sink or swim.
We would like to thank Mark for speaking with us.