Finding success at FBLA Shark Tank once again

Last year's winners emerge victorious, this time for their cooking innovation.

Last year it was PugMug; this year, MyChef. Diamond Bar High School sophomores Anoushka Bhat and Anna Chen scored a deal in the Shark Tank for the second year in a row—this year adding Sriya Ponnaganti to the team—taking home a $100 prize for their efforts.

The Amazon gift card prize was not what motivated the team, however. Instead, they said they participated in the competition for the experience—especially Bhat, whose dream is to enter the real Shark Tank television show as a budding entrepreneur one day.

“I’ve always wanted to be on Shark Tank… so I think this is a great opportunity,” Bhat said.

Future Business Leaders of America’s third annual DBHS Shark Tank competition gave entrepreneurial students the chance to pitch their innovations to judges, who decide which teams will move on.

The competition, open to all DBHS students in groups of up to five people, had two rounds last month.

Each of the six groups had two to three minutes to explain their idea to a panel of FBLA officer judges—junior Ryan Lou and seniors Heidi Luo, Aishwarya Rane and Kenneth Chen—in the first round.

One of the three advancing teams was senior Wesley Lu and his idea, “The Orange,” which he described as a “multi-industry wholesale corporation built on the model of proving anything and everything orange—the fruit, color, style, etc.”

The idea by seniors Serena Yeh, Loretta Chang and sophomore Junjae Shin for a medical vending machine also advanced, but fell short in the end.

“I appreciate the QuickAid usefulness, but couldn’t get over the [$6,000] price point,” explained Kurt Davies, one of six faculty judges.

But the team that came out on top was “MyChef,” pitched by Chen, Bhat and Ponnaganti. Bhat and Chen, inspired by their success in last year’s competition, teamed up with Ponnaganti to invent their product, an automated all-purpose pot that can make entire dishes.

“It’s a programmable pot, so you don’t actually have to do anything,” Bhat said. “You just place the ingredients in the containers… and then you program it on the app that comes with it. I was thinking if you do this, then you can have dinner ready when you come home.”

Before the second round, students had one night to elaborate on their original ideas and prepare supplementary materials such as powerpoints and posters.

The judges this round were DBHS faculty members Davies, Patrick Murphy, Jon Hurst, David Lopez, Ty Watkins and Sabrina Ruiz-Emmons, who scored the advancing teams’ five to 10-minute presentations.

“Trying to… reword the script in time [was hard] because we also had a lot of homework at that time,” Ponnaganti said. “And then, it was also managing our time and basically… splitting the work. We all tried our best to contribute.”