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STEM Center USA Swims in ABC's Shark Tank

Lavanya and Melissa Jawaharlal are the founders of STEM Center USA, a company created to help foster STEM learning and find innovative ways to make STEM education fun. The sisters took their company to Shark Tank and the results were pretty awesome.

The Jawaharlal sisters were seeking $150,000 in exchange for a 15% equity in their company. Shark Tank is a platform where budding businesses take their ideas, inventions and companies in hopes of an investment from wealthy sharks who have invested in plenty of businesses.

“Just how the ABC’s are the basis of communications—engineering and technology are the foundation of our modern life,” said the sisters in their pitch to the Sharks.

The sharks included, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner and celebrity guest shark Chris Sacca; a former employee of Google who left his job and funded a successful venture capitalist firm.

Naturally, Cuban, Herjavec and Sacca were interested because of their ventures in the technological world. They loved the appeal of a company that focuses on getting kids excited about STEM learning. Sacca attributed his interest to his own children. Sacca was also familiar with the company’s robotics kit from Kickstarter, which as he recalls, did very well.

“Can you imagine our world without cell phones, cars or the internet? While we’ve become more dependent on technology every day, fewer and fewer people seem to have a basic understanding of how those things work, that’s why we created STEM Center USA,” according to the Jawaharlal sisters.

“STEM Center USA provides students with an experiential education that excites, engages, and enriches through a hands-on, learn-by-doing approach,” according to the company’s website.  

“STEM Center USA inspires the next generation of STEM leaders by developing a passion for STEM careers at a young age and maintaining interest throughout middle and high school.”

The sisters also said that they have a mission to inspire girls in STEM and show them that it’s okay to “be a nerd” (the term they also used to describe themselves). They want girls to know that there is a place for them in the STEM industry from a young age.

The Jawaharlal sisters were able to seal the deal on the popular show. They struck the perfect chord with QVC’s Lori Greiner who loved the fact that they were two strong and independent women and it landed them a $200,000 investment for 20 percent equity in their company.

STEM Center USA offers a robotics kit, a Raspberry Pi kit and two educational games that teach students the ABC’s of technology. They also offer programs such as their in-center courses, seasonal camps and both in and afterschool programs.

For more on ABC’s Shark Tank click here and for more on STEM Center USA click here.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor

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