Have you ever heard of a company where the CEO is 10 years old and the CTO just 12? Hailing from Kerala, brothers Abhijit Premji (10) and Amarjit Premji (12) have already kicked off their entrepreneurial journey. The children were also specially invited to Delhi to be part of the Startup India event.
Their vision took shape in 2015, when they heard Prime Minister Narendra Modi talking about Startup India. The curious children asked their father, Premjit Prabhakaran, what 'startup' meant. He told them it was "an idea that can be developed into a business opportunity and pitched to investors so that they put their money in it.”
It did not take the kids long to come up with their own business plan – a startup for toys. They told their amused parents about it, thus laying the foundation for Indian Homemade Toys (IHT). Yes, they insisted they would sell not Chinese toys, but only those that there were made in India.
The company, keeping in mind the Indian government’s vision to arm 400 million Indian youth – half of whom will be schoolchildren – with skills by the year 2022, aims to bring initiatives such as Make in India, Digital India, Global India, Clean India, Skill India, Dream India and Design India under one umbrella, and lead the way towards Smartup India.
The young entrepreneurs' parents have been fully supportive of their vision. Their father believes IHT will help cut down on India’s huge imports of toys — worth $2 billion in forex, mainly from China, and often hazardous for kids. Premjit, a mechanical engineer who was awarded by the Indian government for his contribution to the Digital India campaign, is a firm believer that every child has the ability to innovate and that today's toymakers will be tomorrow's 'technology-makers'.
Premjit also shares the story when his children built the first toys of their life. Two years ago, Amarjit used a motor to rebuild his broken toy plane. "I was elated to see a 10-year-old kid build a motor toy," he says.
According to CEO Abhijit, IHT will not just be an online store but also a source of creativity for kids, whereas Amarjit says that his company is not a startup but a smartup because its mission is to encourage children to be innovators.
Talking about the platform, Premjit says that the idea behind the website is to motivate other children to make such innovations. Currently, he has not opened the platform for sales of toys. However, with the increasing queries, they may consider selling toys via the platform.
He says that IHT sees a business opportunity in making components for toys such as plastic wheels, electronic circuits, gear boxes, and connectors, and envisions a manufacturing cluster of about 1,000 startups that make toys that are both child and eco-friendly.
Amarjit believes that educational institutes can help out in the endeavour, and his brother hopes to see toy-making as part of additional creative activity in schools. He also says that if toy making is taught to kids from the very beginning in the school, the students will create amazing technology using robotics. He adds that his school has been very encouraging in his technology-centric initiative. Premjit and his sons also wish to spend a part of their profits on educating poor children in their country.