Mark Cuban gives a 17-year-old who pitched him on 'Shark Tank' his top advice for getting ahead

Self-made billionaire Mark Cuban
Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Getty Images

Seventeen-year-old Ehan Kamat went on ABC's "Shark Tank" hoping for an investment in his company. Instead, he walked away with something that could be more valuable — life advice from billionaire Mark Cuban.

In his pitch on Sunday for Solemender, which sells freeze-able rollers meant to relieve foot pain, Kamat explained to the sharks that although he is young, (he was heading into his senior year of high school at the time the show taped) he is dedicated to the business. In fact, he says he's willing to forgo college in order to work on the company.

That plan didn't sit well with Cuban.

"That is a bad idea," Cuban says. His advice instead? "Learn, learn, learn. The greatest competitive advantage is knowledge."

Cuban argued it is crucial to go to school and learn how to run the business.

"Learning accounting, learning finance, learning marketing, the more you can pull together, the quicker you can make decisions, the more competitive you can be, the greater advantage," he explains. "You can run this off the net, and you're smart enough to hire somebody to go to all of the doctors' offices and grow it from there."

Kamat initially created his product to help his mom soothe her foot aches. "I hated seeing her in pain so I figured, there has got to be a way to help her out," he explains on the show.

In designing the product, he got help from his dad who is an internal medicine physician, and his mom who practices rheumatology. Kamat came on "Shark Tank" seeking $75,000 for a 10 percent stake in the business. So far, Solemender has about $25,000 in sales in just under a year, and the product sells for $39.99.

While none of the sharks made an offer, the teenager's hustle impressed Cuban.

"You remind me a lot of me," Cuban says. "My earliest memories are re-packaging baseball cards and selling them. You have that same type of drive. But, I would be devastated if you didn't go to college."


Cuban suggested continuing to follow in his footsteps and pursue business experiences along with education.

"You can do this out of your dorm room, that is what I did," he continues. "As I learned things in college, I applied them to different business ideas, and I got better and smarter and created better advantages for myself."

For guest judge Alex Rodriguez, Cuban's advice was the right call.

"We used to say the only way out of the hood is to hit home runs, or get an education," Rodriguez says. He also declined to invest, and instead promoted heading to school. "I really feel that you should be going to college, that is exactly what I would tell my two daughters," he explains.

But, Rodriguez did make Kamat an offer: "I'll give you my card, when you get out of college, please come and let me know what is next."


Don't miss: Why all 5 'Shark Tank' investors were fighting over this Gronkowski brother's shaker bottle

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook!

Disclaimer: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

This multimillion-dollar business started as a way to help the founders' sick son