Don't you hate it when your reusable water bottle isn't dishwasher safe and you can't clean every possible spot by hand?

What about if you forget to clean your water bottle for a day — OK, maybe a couple. Do you ever think about all the bacteria multiplying on the opening? Say hello to 313,499 colony-forming units of bacteria per square centimeter.

It may paint a very disturbing image in your mind, but Bakersfield High School students have thought of a solution: a self-cleaning water bottle.

Ultraviolet-C light on the bottle kills bacteria's DNA and RNA so that it can't reproduce. You're left with a squeaky clean water bottle, which is a big help for adventure seekers who might be out exploring Mother Nature for a few days, leaving them without soap and water.

The bottle comes in a variety of sizes, colors and accessories, such as an external filter and straw cap. It can be yours starting at $40 to $50 dollars. 

Well, virtually it can be.

BHS virtual enterprise students are on a mission to continue their three-year state championship title run with another win for their fictional water bottle company, Varuna. Although it may all be for educational purposes, the students get to try their hand at various business aspects.

The 19 students are divided into various departments — human resources, financing, marketing, etc. — and work on similar tasks as professionals in the business industry. Students last week were hard at work finishing up a business plan, creating a commercial for their product, editing a company newsletter and calculating costs.

"In my other classes, they say, 'You’re the sage on the stage.' These kids do it on their own," said teacher Ryker Solano. "You give them something to do and they just take off."

The groups bounced through a few ideas before landing on a self-cleaning water bottle, including an imitation meat restaurant and a business that offers chocolates with antioxidants. They ultimately landed on their current business because of a national and local connection: water is not as easily accessible in many places as others, Varuna CEO Nicholas Pardo explained.

"We’re focusing on that to make pure, clean and healthy water in our bottles," he said. "Even when you’re using our bottles, you’re making sure it’s purified and clean and that the object you’re putting it in is clean."

There is currently one direct competitor on the market, LARQ, that has its bottles starting at $95. It also uses UV-C LED light to eliminate up to 99.9999 percent of bio-contaminants from water and the bottle, according to its website.

But what Varuna "employees" will tell you is that their bottle is far superior. Unlike their competitor that has two bottle sizes (17 and 25 ounces), five color options and a high price range, their bottles come in three sizes (24, 32 and 40 ounces), six different colors and costs about half of LARQ's bottles.

"We have a greater vision, we look toward water sustainability, pure water, and we're financially available," Pardo said.

As they put the finishing touches on their business and gear up for upcoming competitions in San Diego, Bakersfield and possibly New York for nationals, being a part of the class has encouraged many students to consider pursuing business in the future. Pardo said he came into high school thinking he wanted to be a doctor. But things changed for him, and several of his peers, because of virtual enterprise.

"I didn't know anything about business when I started," admitted Chloe Mauldin, head sales associate for Varuna. "But I love talking to people, putting together a sales catalogue ... having a clear path has been eye-opening."

And though it's just a fictional company currently, these future businessmen/women could potentially make it a reality. Solano said the class' beehive company, Bumble, from 2017 — which won first place at the Virtual Enterprise International Competition in New York City — attracted the attention of a couple that owned a small farm.

"I just hope that it opens students’ eyes to opportunities out there," said Solano, noting some of his previous students have received full-ride scholarships to business programs across the country and internships. "Yeah it’s nice to win competitions, but the outlets and avenues that it opens up to students is more rewarding."

Ema Sasic can be reached at 661-395-7392. Follow her on Twitter: @ema_sasic.

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