This woman entrepreneur’s startup aims to help children with problem solving and critical thinking skills
The popular ad that states children walk to school and run away from it could not ring truer for entrepreneur Shubhada Dayal Basuray.
Long past her days of attending classes and studying for exams, Shubada was discovering formal education the second around as a mother, concerned whether her son’s learning in primary school was efficient enough.
With over a decade’s experience in the financial services sector, she was constantly exposed to high-paced change technology brings to learning on the job. Shubhada has a bachelor’s in computer engineering from Pune University and an MBA graduate from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, and worked at Kotak Life Insurance.
“As a mother, I could not help but think of the different ways I could help my elder son to make the most of his potential when he started attending primary school,” she recalls, as she explains the genesis that led her to start Brainologi with co-founder Sheetal Kapoor in 2014.
The idea was to make children learn in a playful manner and do away with the boredom that is usually associated with learning. The edtech startup also wants to make parents aware of their role in developing their children’s abilities.
Early childhood development
The startup began by developing a distinct curriculum that complements the syllabus with help from child development and curriculum specialists and child psychologists. However, the first challenge the entrepreneurs faced was testing the curriculum for efficacy.
“We tested out in multiple strata of society both in the physical classroom and digital format, received feedback from parents and teachers before finalising the product,” Shubhada says.
Today, the Mumbai-based startup caters to children up to 10 years of age with hybrid learning products, including books and games with access to a digital learning curriculum through the startup’s Android-based app. It claims to have partnered with experts specialising in UX for children to develop its digital solutions and maintains that while the curriculum is research-based, it are gamified to ensure higher engagement.
Starting at Rs 319, the learning products are also available on Amazon, Flipkart, and the startup’s website.
Shortlisted for the ReImagine Education Awards by Wharton from 1,200 firms across the world in 2018, the startup is now looking to enter retail stores. Started with an initial investment of Rs 1.5 crore, its revenue is doubling on a month-on-month basis.
The entrepreneur shares that the introduction of the New Education Policy (NEP) has given the early and critical learning years its due credit. She claims that the agenda and philosophy at Brainologi are in sync with what NEP underlines, paving the way for newer opportunities for the startup.
“The NEP proposes a multi-level, play and activity-based learning during the foundation years. It explicitly proposes a decrease in curriculum content to enhance critical thinking, and we welcome that. The integration of art in learning is the other game-changing step in our view that NEP has proposed,” she adds, welcoming the major change in the education system.
Learning amid COVID-19
The entrepreneur says 85 percent of cognitive development takes place by the age of 10 and this served as a major impetus for her to take the entrepreneurial plunge. “Even though the importance of early childhood development is not widely recognised, research shows every child can harness h potential if their cognitive capacity and development is stimulated at an early age,” she adds.
However, for the startup, the coronavirus-induced lockdown became an opportunity to raise awareness around early childhood development more than ever before.
Despite initial minor hiccups that halted production and distribution work, Brainologi was able to engage children across India after the launch of virtual show, Ask Me Anything. This allowed children to interact with trailblazers and achievers from various field such as a Mount Everest summiteer, palaeontologist, author, car designer and wildlife photographer.
What started with a registration of 30 students rose to engage more than 1,500 students per month where they would learn about the journeys of different people and creatively engage in QnA sessions. Available for free, Brainologi hopes to introduce Padma Bhushan awardee Mallika Sarabhai and Rolex Award winner marine biologist and coral conservator (who declined to share her name) in their upcoming sessions.
The early childhood development space and edtech platforms are growing at unprecedented rates as social distancing continues to be the new normal. Currently delivering to the US via Amazon, the entrepreneur duo is looking to expand its footprint further, beginning with Middle East countries.
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan