News Stories · Start-up - Entrepreneurship

Lili Yeo (MBA 2006) survives the sharks

The alumnus’ apparel company, goumi, secures its financial future.
April 2020
 - IMD Business School

Proof that IMD alumni swim rather than sink, MBA 2006 alumnus Lili Yeo has created a successful babywear company that recently took a star turn on Shark Tank.

Founded in 2011, goumi – named after the goumi berry, a hardy bush that thrives in varied environments –  products are made from organic materials to avoid irritating babies’ delicate skin. The high-end mitts and booties are bestsellers that are available online and in stores across the United States.

Yeo came up with the idea for goumi with fellow mom Linsey Ebuen while she was on maternity leave. After giving birth to her first child, Yeo discovered that the booties and mittens available were too large for her tiny tot — she had to secure them with rubber bands. Setting out to create better fitting, better-looking and better-made baby products, goumi was born.

Yeo received $400,000 in seed funding in 2016 and by 2018, the company had more than $1m in sales. Looking to expand their product line, Yeo and her partner auditioned to appear on the hit American TV show Shark Tank.

The two partners presented goumi on Shark Tank in 2019 and the episode aired on 27th March 2020. Despite some sharks feeling that the company was overvalued, Yeo secured a deal with Kevin O’Leary for a $1m line of credit at 9% interest in exchange for 10% equity in goumi. Although goumi already has a loan with a better interest rate, they were happy to take Mr O’Leary up on his offer.

A wise choice, the exposure is likely to provide a massive increase in sales and countless dollars in free publicity. The future of goumi – and Yeo herself – looks bright indeed.

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