Pivot and Persist: Flinto Learning brings preschool experience at home, generates 100k customers in three months
The pandemic has got children across the globe locked in their homes. While edtech companies are making the most of these unprecedented times and helping schoolchildren continue their education from the comfort of their home, preschool children are not sitting ideal either.
Chennai-based Flinto Learning Solutions was quick to identify the gap left behind by edtech giants in the preschool segment during the pandemic.
The startup launched Flintoclass@HOME, a preschool system providing structured early learning to children, in June 2020. The solution is focussing on making children school-ready from the safety of home.
In a conversation with YourStory, Co-founder and CEO Arunprasad Durairaj, says, “While online education for children above the age of six is permitted, the challenge arises for those below six years of age. Excess screen time can be detrimental to their health. We believe there is no replacement for hands-on-tools when it comes to early learning.”
Flintoclass@HOME already has one lakh-plus customers across the country, and the team claims the number is doubling every 10 days.
Pivoting to persist
Flinto was founded in September 2013 by Arunprasad, Vijay Babu Gandhi, and Shreenidhi Srirangam to change the way children between ages two and 12 learn. In the last seven years, the startup has yielded two products — Flintobox and Flintoclass.
Flintobox is an extra-curricular innovation that focusses on 16 key fundamental skills through unstructured play. In 2017, the startup launched Flintoclass — a preschool system that delivers early learning experiences in a classroom setting — irrespective of whether the class is under a tree of state-of-the-art preschool.
However, with the outbreak of the COVID-19, preschools were shut down to contain the spread of the virus. And with more children stuck at home, “We experienced an unprecedented demand for our products during the COVID-19 lockdown. More parents approached us for meaningful engagement of their children, which instilled hope in us,” Arunprasad says.
This led Flinto to launch Flintoclass@HOME, a new product to keep its business going during the pandemic.
According to the team, Flintoclass@HOME works like a replacement for regular preschools. All the materials, along with lesson plans and a dashboard to track a child’s progress, is delivered at the doorstep of users. It focusses on language and literacy development, cognitive development, and creative expression.
During the nationwide lockdown, while the startup was preparing the launch of Flintobox@HOME, it faced another challenge. The logistics market came to a standstill and the movement of only essential items were allowed. “With the main warehouse being closed, the delivery of products was affected. Our business took a hit,” Arunprasad says. Flinto did not register any revenue in April 2020.
However, this was not the first time Flinto was facing a roadblock. Earlier, in 2015, the startup’s warehouse got flooded, and again in 2016, the Vardah cyclone had affected its operations. “Over the last seven years, we have witnessed that our team has a knack of coming up with innovative solutions when the roads get tough,” he adds.
Flinto used its secondary warehouses and that eased the challenges to an extent. In fact, the company says that despite the pandemic, there was no dip in the number of orders placed.
In July this year, Flinto raised $7.2 million in its pre-Series B round led by Lightbox Ventures. The startup said it will use the funds to strengthen its supply chain for expansion and distribution of Flintoclass@HOME across the globe.
The startup’s revenue model replaces the preschool fees, where parents pay term by term. Parents can avail boxes for only one term, or three months for Rs 13,497 (if paid upfront) or Rs 4,499 per month. The annual subscription fee is Rs 40,491 (upfront) or Rs 2,349 per month. The startup has made no-cost EMI options available for parents as well.
Last year, Flinto generated revenue worth Rs 35 crore.
According to YourStory Research, edtech was India’s second-most funded sector after fintech and financial services in H1 2020.
A report by Grand View Research published in June 2020 suggests that the global edtech market was valued at $76.4 billion in 2019, and was expected to grow at CAGR of 18.1 percent from 2020 to 2027. The report also suggests that the preschool segment is expected to register the fastest CAGR in the global edtech segment. It is expected to grow at a rate of almost 20 percent between 2020 and 2027.
“We strongly believe that preschool cannot be shifted online as it (screen time) will do more harm than good during the early days,” Arunprasad says. “The more children interact, play and explore with physical materials, the more likely they will learn. Online classes are no replacement for this,” he adds.
At present, Flinto competes with the likes of Bengaluru-based Magic Crate and Hippocampus Learning Centres, Delhi-based Smartivity, and Indore-based ClassMonitor.
Arunprasad says, “We are receiving numerous inbound requests, not just in terms of funding but business opportunities abroad where the same situation prevails.”
Flinto is soon planning to launch its services in Singapore as well. It has also been seeing demand from the US and countries in South-East Asia and Middle-East, where the startup plans to expand next quarter.
YourStory’s Pivot and Persist series spotlights Indian startups that are pivoting to seize new business opportunities, transforming their business models. and offerings to navigate the current COVID-19 crisis.