Sisters Lavanya and Melissa Jawaharlal pitch Stem Center, their learning center concept where they teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math through robotics using their “guided discovery” method of learning, in episode 704. They believe in hands on learning and their mission is to inspire the next generation by developing a passion for STEM disciplines at an early age.
The two young women are extremely well suited for their business. Melissa, in addition to being STEM Center's CEO, is an engineer at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. She studied at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and got her Bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). Lavanya is the President of STEM Center and is the enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of California, Berkeley. Both women are passionate about hands-on, experiential learning and want their STEM learning approach to educate and inspire children.
The STEM Center is located in Pomona, CA where they conduct a wide variety of after school classes for kindergarteners through college ages, all revolving around STEM principles. Students pay a yearly membership fee of $1295, plus additional monies for classes that require additional materials. The membership allows students to participate in an unlimited amount of classes. The also take their “show” on the road to area schools; they've even traveled to other countries with their curriculum.
They center much of their programs around robotics, using their PI Robot. The sisters raised over $100K on Kickstarter in April 2014 to fund the project. The PI Robot is a kit that allows students to build a fairly complex robot at a relatively small price tag ($75). Using the PI Robot gives students hands-on experience, rather than being lectured to.
The Jawaharlal sisters are likely looking for a Shark to expand their centers to more locations. Will a Shark get on board with this innovative education company?
Stem Center Shark Tank Recap
Lavanya and Melissa enter the Shark Tank seeking $150K for 15% of their business. They explain the importance of a STEM curriculum and why they created their learning center. Pricing for membership in Stem Center is $1400-$1800 per year, plus $135 per month. As of taping, they had 85 members and they profited $135K.
Chris Sacca says he remembers their PI Bot Kickstarter. He likes the women because he's raising two girls and he thinks Lavanya and Melissa are mission driven. Kevin says there are too many spokes in the wheel, he's out. Robert says he thinks it's too hard to scale, he's out too. Mark says he thinks they're too open-ended, but he thinks they'll succeed, he's out.
Sacca says their valuation is important and he thinks schools will reach out to them to design curriculum. He offers $150K for 25%, but Lavanya and Melissa want a $1 million valuation because their 2016 sales will be $2.5 million. Sacca says he doesn't need the money back, but wants to know what their vision is; they say they want a STEM Center in every city in the USA. Robert asks if the girls have a counter offer, then Lori says, “I have something to share.”
After a break, Sacca says he'd like to hear a counter offer. Lori says she has story to share, and she proceeds to play the “woman card,” saying she'd be a better partner. She offers $150K for 20%. Sacca asks what they want from a Shark and they reply they need help with franchising. Sacca then pokes fun at Lori saying STEM Center won't sell in an end cap in Bed and Bath or on QVC. He also says he won't share the deal with Lori and offers $150K for 22.5%.
Lavanya and Melissa ask Lori if she'll go to $200K for 20% and Lori says YES!
RESULT: DEAL with Lori for $200K for 20%
Stem Center Shark Tank Update
The Shark Tank Blog constantly provides updates and follow-ups about entrepreneurs who have appeared on the Shark Tank TV show. Stem Center launched a new Kickstarter, called the Fiat LUX wearable electronics kit, on the night their segment aired. They said they'll use their investment from Lori to start franchise paperwork so they can expand Stem Center nationwide.