Anaheim, California—November 30, 2014—A team from California DECA triumphed at the DECA Garage Shark Tank session and won the grand prize of $2,500 during the Western Region Leadership Conference this weekend. The winning team was comprised of Ankeeta Lal, Aashna Pandya, and Sonika Patel from Irvington DECA.
A total of 26 teams competed at the DECA Garage, where participants were mentored by OrigAudio co-founder and ABC Shark Tank winner Jason Lucash on either an already-existing business or a business concept. The groups then pitched their businesses, products, or services during Downtown DECA on Saturday, November 15, and conference attendees were able to “invest” in businesses they liked with DECA Money. It was estimated that over 1.5 million words were delivered across 5,000 pitches in 5 hours. The top two winners and a wildcard winner from the “Minnow Tank” proceeded onto the final Shark Tank showoff during the closing ceremony Saturday night. Of these three, two groups were from chapters in California DECA.
A total of four groups from California participated in the DECA Garage. These included:
- Blake Buckwald; Newport Harbor DECA
- Greg Chi; Irvington DECA
- Aismit Das and Sampreeth Moturi; Irvington DECA
- Ankeeta Lal, Aashna Pandya, and Sonika Patel; Irvington DECA
The team of Lal, Pandya, and Patel were joined on stage at the final Shark tank session by the team of Das and Moturi, as well as another group from Nevada DECA. The groups all performed extremely well, and a poll for the winner was conducted by text voting. The sharks had the ability to veto the text voting and decide a new winner but ultimately agreed with the audience members in declaring the team of Lal, Pandya, and Patel as the champions of the DECA Garage.
The winners received a $2,500 prize, sponsored by Microsoft. One of the members in the winning group, Ankeeta, commented, “Honestly it was the most unexpected experience. We came to WRLC thinking it would be an ordinary leadership conference, but instead we got one of the best opportunities of our lives. Speaking in front of all those people was scary, but was worth every minute!”
In addition, the top three all received gifts from Jason Lucash—the revolutionary products made by OrigAudio that impressed sharks on the actual ABC Shark Tank.
WRLC 2014 was the first DECA conference to hold an event such as the DECA Garage. All conference organizers, as well as Jason Lucash and the participants, believed it was a huge success in giving students an avenue where they could put their entrepreneurial talents to a test and ultimately bring a check home.
Congratulations to the winners and all of those who participated in the DECA Garage!