WEST BOYLSTON – Bryan Perla has come a long way for someone so young. Growing up in West Boylston, he struggled with a learning problem that may have derailed others.
Instead, he overcame those hardships to form a company that brought him into the national limelight.
Perla showcased her product, Little ELF, a safe wrapping paper cutter, on “Shark Tank” in December 2019 and got an investment. Seeking an investment of $ 150,000 in exchange for 15% equity, he accepted a deal from Lori Greiner – $ 150,000 for 20%.
And the business has only grown in the past two years.
“I was diagnosed with severe dyslexia in second grade,” said Perla. So rather than stay in the schools of West Boylston, he attended Carroll School, Lincoln, from grades four to ninth – a school specializing in teaching students with reading-related learning disabilities. .
“For me, my dyslexia mainly caused problems with reading and comprehension,” said Perla. He then graduated from Winchendon School in 2017, just two years before his appearance in “Shark Tank”.
“I was an inventor in a way when I was young, I always thought of different ways to solve everyday problems,” he said. “While we were at Winchendon School, we had a few weeks of our senior semester to focus on a project of our choosing. That’s when I invented Little ELF. That time gave me the ‘space to solidify the concept, develop my ideas and present them to my peers. “
After high school, he began to attend Stanford University, where his invention was born out, along with his athletic abilities.
“I was fortunate that Stanford was the perfect combination of many aspects. From the start it was clear that their academic programs were amazing, and the major in product design immediately caught my eye,” he said. declared. “They also have a strong support program, which gives me the tools to continue to be successful with my dyslexia.
“The last aspect is that I am also a gymnast and was lucky enough to be recruited by their Division 1 gymnastics team. Training with the best coaches and athletes in the country was certainly an incredible added attraction. these aspects made Stanford an easy choice for me, ”he said.
Little ELF continues to grow.
“For Little ELF, moving to ‘Shark Tank’ was an incredible next step for the business. I was looking for a partner who could take the business to the next level, through connections, publicity and Mentoring. Presenting my product to this group of investors was a dream come true. It was an amazing experience and I am very grateful for it, “he said.
“It was really intense,” he added. “I grew up watching the show so I knew what to expect, but nothing compares to the moment you walk into this room and the questions start to come in. I practiced my presentation for weeks on end. before and felt confident the moment I walked in. “
For now, Perla has said he is looking forward to enjoying his final year at Stanford “” and taking some interesting courses that will help me build the business for years to come. “
ELF’s slow growth over the past two years has been “unbelievable,” said the inventor.
“We were able to reach more people through our social media, but we were also able to walk into around 20,000 retail stores. For me it has been an incredible experience to see the growth of this business over the past few years and I look forward to where it can be in the years to come, ”he said.