The STEM Center USA is a learning and educational platform that utilizes a practical approach to teaching. The Center aims to share its excitement and enthusiasm for engineering, with college, middle-school, and high-school students.
The STEM Center is based in Pomona, California, and offers many different types of after-school classes. The Center caters students of all school levels, ranging from kindergartners to college-going students, and bases all its lessons on the STEM methodology.
Students pay a yearly membership fee of around $1,300, against which they get access to an unlimited number of annual classes, as well as any supplementary materials that might be required for the lessons.
The STEM Center has also visited other countries to present and promote its principles and curricula. The platform also makes use of robotics, including its own PI Robot, which is a kit that contains all the materials that the students might need to design a technically-advanced robot at a cost of around $80. Thanks to the PI Robot, students benefit from hands-on experience that complements the theoretical lectures. The PI Robot initiative was launched as the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign conducted in April 2014 which resulted in the sisters generating more than $100,000.
The STEM Center USA was founded by the Jawaharlal sisters – Melissa and Lavanya – in 2011.
Melissa, alongside being the STEM Center’s CEO, also works as an engineer at the Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. She started her bachelor’s at the Edinburgh University in Scotland before transferring to the Southern California University in Los Angeles, where she completed the degree in mechanical engineering.
Lavanya, too, is currently studying mechanical engineering at the University of California, while also serving as the president of the STEM Center.
The sisters have a shared passion for experiential, hands-on learning, and want to use this passion to inspire an entire generation of students.
Is the STEM Center USA Still an Active Business?
Yes, the STEM Center is still operational, having switched to virtual classes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Jawaharlal sisters, over 20,000 pupils have benefited from the Center’s services.
How Did the Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Melissa and Lavanya made their Shark Tank appearance during the seventh season of the show, seeking an investment of $150,000 in exchange for a 15% stake in the STEM Center USA –a company valuation of $1 million. They began their pitch by explaining STEM education and its importance, and the reason that the sisters came up with the idea of the STEM Center. At the time of taping, the Center had 85 students, and was generating a profit of approximately $135,000.
Chris Sacca is the first to speak up, saying that he remembers the sisters’ PI Robot Kickstarter campaign. He appreciates the women, especially since he has two daughters himself, and feels that Melissa and Lavanya are mission-driven.
Kevin, too, was impressed with the Jawaharlal sisters and what they were trying to achieve, and thought that the STEM Center will have numerous opportunities in the future. However, at the moment, he felt that the owners were still not focused enough in terms of business strategy, which is why he would like to go out of the deal.
Robert felt that scaling the business would require a great deal of effort and face a lot of difficulties. Therefore, even though he was impressed by the concept, he decided to excuse himself from the deal.
Mark Cuban said that the sisters were working towards a ‘magnificent goal’, but the business industry was not a good fit for him. He was out.
Chris Sacca, too, felt that the valuation was quite steep. However, he believed in the future of STEM, and was ready to make an offer: $150,000 in exchange for 25% equity. The sisters told him that, even though they respected his offer, they felt that the valuation was quite fair.
Lori, too, found the Jawaharlal sisters ‘impressive’, and also loved the business concept and model. Her offer was $150,000 in exchange for a 20% stake in the company.
The sisters replied that they would love to onboard both the Sharks, and Lori said that she was fine with it. Chris, however, was on the attack, saying that a partnership would just mean that he did all the work while Lori took a cut in the profits. Lori, however, refused to get dragged into a fight, and laughed Chris’ remarks off. She also promised the Jawaharlal sisters that she would be with them every step of the way, and provide them with whatever support they needed. Melissa and Lavanya did not need any more persuasion, and decided to strike a deal with Lori (to be fair, Chris’ aggression did make this win a lot easier for Lori than it would otherwise have been).
After the Shark Tank success, the sisters said that, apart from the better financial offer, Lori’s unwavering support in the company and her presence as a powerful female-role model is what made Melissa and Lavanya choose Lori over Chris. The co-founders admitted that getting Lori on board was a ‘dream come true’.
Our Review of the STEM Center USA:
The STEM Center is a gem for any youngster interested in learning robotics and the likes. The STEM Center has an excellent, comprehensive program for robotics which starts from the fundamentals before moving its way up to more advanced concepts. A major benefit of the STEM Center is that each child gets to choose the classes that most interest them, and can learn at their own pace and convenience. The Center is also very flexible, and can tailor the class schedules to facilitate the children’s extracurricular activities and other commitments. The teacher-to-student ratio is also excellent, ensuring that each child gets the personal attention that they require.
Pros of the STEM Center USA:
- Students can choose classes as per their interest
- Students can learn at their own pace
- Flexibility in class scheduling
- Ideal teacher-to-student ratio
Cons of the STEM Center USA:
- A few of the instructors can be a bit friendlier
Are There Any Alternatives?
Brite, another STEM education platform, is the closest alternative to the STEM Center USA.
Our Final Thoughts:
The STEM Center USA is an initiative that aims to inspire students towards robotics, coding, and other futuristic learning fields. The Jawaharlal sisters, under the guidance and mentorship of Lori, are going from strength to strength, and, since creating the Center in 2011, have catered to more than 20,000 students of all ages and school levels.