This IIM-A grad left his cushy job to instill creativity in school kids with toys
Education is a huge market in India and it provides a great opportunity for starting up. There is a general dissatisfaction with the education system in the country. Ravikumar Yadavalli realised this first hand when he started teaching after completing his post graduation from IIM-Ahemadabad.
He is the Founder of Maverick Edutech. Ravi completed his engineering in Electronics and Communications from Andhra University in 2008 and then went on to work for TCS for two years. In 2010, he joined IIM-Ahmedabad for his post graduation. It was during his college years that he developed an interest in exploring tools which aid creativity for children. He also started assisting schools by building software for them for different needs and also spoke to teachers to explore this field. However, he didn't get concrete answers, "What teachers told me were a lot of opinions but not hardcore facts," Ravi says.
During his stint at IIM-A, he worked as a policy evaluator of ICT for Schools project for government of Gujarat and conceptualised a rural education platform called Vidya Tarang, an initiative to help students in rural areas, using mobile telephony. He had also worked on implementing total quality management in schools in KDAV School in Jamnagar.
To get to the core of problem, Ravi started teaching at a school. It was during this job he realised that the problem did not lie in technology but in classrooms and the way subjects were taught. When he joined, 30 students out of 60 were failing in the class and by the time he was through with the teaching stint, the failure rate came down to three students out of 60.
"One of my stints during my PGP was being a full time science teacher for Class VII in PODAR school in Ahmadabad. I was always interested in creating technological solutions for teachers. Hence, I went to the school to create market research. But, when I realised that market survey can never give me insights into the life of a teacher, I decided to become one in the same school. I created my own lesson plans, learnt how to understand students, learnt the needs of teachers and parents, and had tons of lessons in making children learn in best ways possible," Ravi says.
He figured out the biggest problem was in connecting what was going on in the classroom to the real world. "They could easily add 1/2+1/2 but they would not even know what a fraction is in real life," Ravi adds.
To continue the passion for creativity in education, Ravi joined iDiscoveri Education where he managed the business development and curriculum development roles. He started and headed the North Eastern region and managed to generate Rs one crore revenue. During this period, he travelled across the country and visited over 100 schools to understand the problem in a better way. However, this was not fulfilling and Ravi was still not able to solve the creativity problem.
He then came across Froebel Gifts which are intricate toys designed by educationalist Friedrich Froebel in the early 19th century. He is also known as the Father of Kindergarten. Ravi studied Froeble Gifts for a long time before starting up in that sector on August 15, 2013.
The company recently raised Rs 65 lakh from Ravi Manth, a Hyderabad-based investor. Ravi says he has seen great reception from schools.
"After receiving good reception from over 1,200 students and parents across Hyderabad, we decided to work with schools to incorporate play in their mainstream curriculum to make students learn faster and deeper. We created our own curriculum called Amazing Classrooms, which uses Froebel Gifts to teach almost all the topics of math and English till Class V," he adds.
At present, the company is working with 13 schools across five States in India. Ravi has a team of 10 people working across content development and sales. He aims to expand to more schools in the near future.