We have a tradition in our family when it comes to taking a break from our regular Indian meals and eating outside. We can only do so when we have a reason to celebrate, may it be getting great grades for the school year all the way to creating a business. Gurnoor and I have been fortunate enough to have many reasons to celebrate, allowing us to enjoy the excitement and happiness of eating outside. But one of these reasons to celebrate remains the most special to us.
The day was January 3rd, 2014, when my family and I took the great step of moving to the United States of America. As a 9-year-old, I was introduced to a whole new world as we moved from Muscat, Oman. The first place we called home was an extended stay hotel, and being the wondrous children that we were, Gurnoor and I immediately entered the room and turned on the TV, searching for some fun shows to watch. We were flipping through the channels and Gurnoor shouted “Look! What’s Shark Tank? That seems pretty fun!” thinking that this show would be about sharks. Well, we eventually did put on Shark Tank, but what we saw on the TV was much different than what we expected. Instead, we saw a 6-year old girl entering large doors and being introduced to a row of adults that looked like they knew what they were doing. Our parents told us about what Shark Tank was and we eventually watched this young girl’s business pitch, seeing how innovative people could really be. After her pitch was over, my mom said to us that she would want to see us on that stage in the future. As children, we took that line as an inspirational moment but eventually did not think about it as there were much better things to think about at the time, such as Barbie dolls and Transformers.
Evolving over the Years: Present Day
Let’s now enter April 2020. Now 15 years old, I am so fortunate to have co-founded a revolutionary social impact company, Groundify. Since January, we had been applying to so many entrepreneurship competitions that I truly lost track of what we were participating in. With the funds that we received from winning a majority of the competitions we took a part in, we were able to start our business successfully. In the midst of applying for so many competitions, Gurnoor also spent one day applying to Shark Tank while sitting in his room. When I asked him what he was doing and he said he was applying to Shark Tank with our idea, we just laughed it off and joked about how we would be qualified to go and pitch our idea. We eventually forgot about that day as we were close to one hundred percent sure that we would not qualify to the next round.
As the month neared the end and we entered May, Gurnoor’s summer college programs began. As a part of these programs, he had the opportunity to attend a virtual Junior Achievement Foundation conference with one of the guest speakers being Mark Cuban. Both Gurnoor and I have been fans of basketball and hearing his name made us really excited. We not only knew him as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks but also as one of the sharks on Shark Tank. Gurnoor told me that I should join in the call as well and listen to what the guest speakers had to say, and I happily accepted. On May 27, 2020, we both sat in the media room of our house and listened in on the call as Mark Cuban then started talking about Shark Tank. Hearing about his experiences as a Shark, I asked Gurnoor if we ever received an update on our Shark Tank application. He laughed and told me that we had not and probably would not as only 2.5% of the people who apply make it to the next round and 0.4% out of everyone who applies gets to pitch in front of the Sharks. Hearing these extremely small percentages made me completely ignore my visualization of actually advancing to the next round and we continued listening to the call.
That One Moment
However, I should have probably continued to visualize us advancing to the next round because at 1:26 PM, we got a call. Gurnoor, thinking it was probably a marketing call, kept his phone to the side. However, I encouraged him to pick it up just in case it was important. So, he picked up the call and went to his room while I continued listening to the virtual event. After a few minutes, I started wondering why it was taking Gurnoor so long, so I decided to go check in on him. I entered his room and asked him what happened. I saw his mouth move as he whispered, “It’s Shark Tank!” while pointing to his phone. I internally squealed in excitement thinking about our talk about Shark Tank before and how all the events just lined up perfectly in sequence. I called my parents up and sensing my joyful emotions, our dog ran upstairs as well. My parents ran up and happily hugged me as I told them what happened, and we continued to hear the call that we got from Shark Tank. They said how we were in the top 2.5 percent of all applicants and we had qualified to the next round! Yes, you read it right. We were in the top 2.5 percent of all applicants! What we had least expected out of everything we were doing had just come true. This moment was too good to be true, but I reminded myself of everything we had done to be here and how proud I felt. Once the call was over, Gurnoor, myself, and our dog jumped in pure joy as my parents started tearing up in happiness. This was a moment that we would cherish for the rest of our lives, we just knew it.
After a few minutes of excitement and thankfulness, we came back to our senses and started discussing what they said in the Shark Tank call. We then received an extremely long email listing everything we had to submit in just one week. Just a reminder that this was in May, near the end of our school year. This meant that we had end-of-year AP Tests coming up in just a few days. Although we were excited, we transitioned into a minor state of panic, worrying about how we would be able to finish this submission within a week. We knew we would have to pull a few all-nighters in the coming days, but we were ready for anything now!
Reflecting on the day, I thought of how coincidental yet magical the afternoon was. All the events lined up perfectly, from us attending a virtual event with Mark Cuban as a guest speaker, to us joking about how we may make it to Shark Tank, and finally to how we actually got a call from them saying we made it to the next round. I do not think any of us would ever be able to explain the emotions we felt at that time because it sure was a mix of everything. Through the rest of the day, we started imagining what it would be like to pitch in front of the Sharks and get a deal from Mark Cuban. We thought of what it would be like if he invited us over to dinner to discuss our deal because he lived near us. These may sound like crazy ideas, but from the previous moments in the day, we learned that anything that you visualize can come true, obviously with a little bit of hard work put in too.
We thought that making it to Shark Tank was a crazy idea, but here we are.
Yes, we did fulfill our parent’s aim of us making it to Shark Tank from January 3rd, 2014. And yes, we did follow our family tradition of eating outside on May 27, 2020 as this was the most special celebration of our life so far.