Children love to hop, skip and jump through their day. Being physically active is essential for their growth and development. There are PE (Physical Activity) classes but they are just for filling up the syllabus. Our traditional educational system curtails this natural need and enforces passive participation on them - the teacher speaks and the students listen to him/her sitting at one place throughout the day. This goes against their natural need for physical activity and makes learning at school boring.
Many startups have contributed their part in the educational space in India. Here we cover Nayi Disha Studios, a startup that attempts to address this problem by making educational games for school children with a focus on the syllabus.
Nayi Disha Studios leverages this fact with its specially designed curriculum that requires kinaesthetic participation from children by using Microsoft Kinect. And, by weaving stories around the curriculum the child is immersed into a 3D virtual world where s/he can actively interact with the educational content, by doing real world actions and gestures like jumping, running, clapping, swiping, hopping etc.
Kartik Aneja and Kushal Bhagia, batch mates from BITS-Pilani, Goa Campus, are the co-founders of the company. Kartik leads the technology efforts with his expertise in gesture recognition coming from his six-month internship at HP Labs. Kushal leads the business development. The company is advised on best practices in K-12 pedagogy and educational technology by Kunal Chawla. Kunal worked as a consultant to Google on Project Gooru before quitting his job to become a Grade 6 school teacher. He is now a master’s student at the Stanford School of Education.
The Nayi Disha Concept
Explaining the business in detail, Kartik says, “To begin with, the hardware investment from the school is extremely low because most private Indian schools already have Smartboards and projectors. The only additional purchase required is the Microsoft Kinect for Windows.”
The games are designed to engage the child on four levels:
- Kinaesthetic: All games encourage physical participation from the child.
- Auditory: All games have music, background sounds and prompts that are composed to reinforce the learning.
- Visual: All games have rich 3D worlds and adorable characters that children love.
- Emotional: All games have short stories weaved around them that give children an emotional connect with the characters. Besides the stories, since every concept is taught via a game, children feel the need to "win" the game and this keeps them thoroughly engaged.
Each lesson plan has activities directly related to the game which the rest of the class is engaged in while one child is playing. The games have been built for every concept for the pre-school curriculum to deliver a comprehensive solution to the school. The Nayi Disha team also invests time in training the teachers to make sure they are comfortable with the technology. “We offer the school an end-to-end solution. We install the hardware, conduct teacher training workshops, share carefully designed lesson plans with the school, and also offer support (technical and pedagogical) for our product,” adds Kushal.
Revenue, Marketing & Traction
The schools are charged an annual subscription fee. The games are updated every few months and new games are continually added. This fee also includes teacher training, sharing lesson plans with the school and support. They also charge a small one-time fee for the hardware installation.
On the marketing front, Nayi Disha plans to have a strong presence at education sector events and exhibitions and in the education media.
Nayi Disha also has tied-up with Ahlcon International School whose teachers are consulted while designing the games. “We have signed up 2 prestigious schools and 2 major pre-school chains (totalling 7 centres) for the coming academic year. Our content currently covers the syllabus for ages 3.5 to 5.5,” says Kartik.
Challenges & Plans
Reaching out to people in the top management of schools who hold decision making powers is something that the Nayi Disha team finds difficult. Also, working in the educational space compels them to stay in sync with the academic calendar. And, then there are the typical startup challenges of finding and keeping quality talent.
Over the next 2 years, Nayi Disha plans to comprehensively cover the syllabus via games for ages 3.5 to 7.5 years. The goal is to have a presence in 5000 schools by 2015.
Are you game for an educational game? Let your kids hop, skip, jump, and deal with their studies with Nayi Disha Studios!