‘Shark Tank’ Premiere: ‘ReThink’ Has A Powerful Anti-Bullying Message, But Will Kids Use It?

When Shark Tank premieres on Friday night, the sharks will be in familiar territory: hearing from a tech entrepreneur who has created a brilliant new app. What sets Trisha Prabhu apart, however, is that she’s only 16 years old, and her app ReThink has already won multiple awards. But lest viewers assume Prabhu is some out-of-this-world teenager, Prabhu is on Shark Tank to offer a solution to something that plagues many people her age: cyberbullying.

ReThink is a simple concept: it gives teens, or indeed anyone who uses the app, the opportunity to think twice before sending out a potentially hurtful message. Trisha’s mother Bhanu Prabhu told the Chicago Tribune that her daughter’s innovation is evidence of her giving and compassionate personality.

“[W]e have always seen her give voice to the voiceless. We are just in awe of her ability to harness and spread the ReThink movement to motivate her peers around the world to stand up against this silent pandemic of cyber bullying.”

ReThink has been in the works for many years. It started as a middle school project for Prabhu, which she submitted to the Google Science Fair, where she was named a Global Finalist in 2014. According to ChicagoInno, Trisha also exhibited at the White House Science Fair and received the International Diana Award and MIT Aristotle Award.

But the recognition of innovation isn’t enough to get a Shark Tank investment. As viewers of the show are well aware, entrepreneurs who also do good works are often asked whether their concept is a business or a charity. ReThink should overcome this hurdle in front of the panel. ChicagoInno reports that it has not only received thousands of Google Play downloads but is used in more than 1,000 schools around the globe. Michigan has used it in its OK2SAY program that raises awareness about cyberbullying.

In addition to its potential to have wide reach, there is evidence to show ReThink might actually work. CarterMatt, in its preview of Friday night’s episode, questioned whether kids, or their parents, would actually buy the app, either out of a reluctance to use it or a disbelief that one’s child might be a bully. But Prabhu has stats to demonstrate that ReThink does what it promises to do. Her own research shows that 93 percent of teens stop and don’t send a message when given a ReThink alert.

Trisha, a Shark Tank fan, did not imagine she would one day be pitching the panel, but found herself on set promoting her invention. She did not take the experience for granted, as she told the Chicago Tribune.

“It was absolutely surreal. I have seen it on TV, imagined it in my head and practiced it more times than you can count, and then suddenly I was there.

“It was just a really humbling moment as the company founder and CEO of ReThink.”

When Prabhu’s pitch airs Friday night, she won’t be the only young entrepreneur featured. The show will have an update on the founder of 2400 Expert, now called Prep Expert. The ambitious CEO, Shaan Patel, attempted to drive a viral campaign last year to get his episode of Shark Tank the highest ratings in the show’s history.

For the first time in Shark Tank history, all six sharks will appear on the panel at the same time. While viewers used to seeing only five faces on set may have to squint to see everyone’s reactions as the pitches are going on, it may prove to bring an interesting new dynamic to the negotiations.

Shark Tank airs Friday nights on ABC.

[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]