This Mumbai-based couple helps parents unlock their babies’ innate learning abilities
Did you know the human brain starts shedding neurons (nerve cells that learn information) in our brains after the age of two? This process is called synaptic pruning.
After learning about this, expecting parents Shraddha and Raghav Himatsingka wanted to make the best of their offspring’s first two years of life.
The duo read and researched further and designed a loose framework to ensure their son grew up, harnessing all his intelligence potential, physically and mentally.
And it paid off. They played physical activities, memory games and many more, which showed effective signs like her son walking at eight months and reading at two years old when most children start reading at six years old.
The duo were inundated with requests from their friends asking them for the same programme for their children. Soon, the couple found themselves guiding many parents over phone calls.
By this time, they had created a formal framework, a prodigy system called The Prodigy Baby that became the first product of Raising Superstars, their latest venture.
Shraddha holds master’s in marketing and advertising from Leeds University in the UK and Raghav pursued master’s in management science and engineering from Stanford University. The couple spent over 2,000 hours researching and learning about early learning and development.
From Khar, a suburb in Mumbai, they are helping over 12,000 parents make the best of their babies’ early learning and developing years.
The entrepreneurs emphasise it is a natural learning process and a parenting technique that resonated with several thousand children. “There won’t be any harm, after all. A child just won’t perhaps learn certain things but this can never have a medical implication at all.”
Shraddha says human babies are born quite helpless and vulnerable and go on to evolve into the most intelligent species.
She explains, “Even though they cannot lift their neck, let alone crawl or walk at birth, they are actually born with innate learning abilities that they can even pick up as many as 5 or 6 languages with routine exposure.” She claims a one-year-old will have a complete working understanding of a language even if they are not able to speak.
The Prodigy Baby aims at unlocking these potentials with the right and flexible set of activities for babies between 0 and 2 years old. This includes a few activities like playing an audio file and other physical exercises spread across the week for five minutes every day with no screen time at all.
They are organised to cover all areas of development like creativity, music, oratory skills, language development, athleticism like crawling, walking, running, and jumping, memory building, reading, math. The entrepreneur says any gadget time would completely defeat the purpose.
The idea is to empower and educate the parents and handhold them to conduct the programme as organising classes is not realistic for the young age group.
As parents themselves, they are aware that children tend to get cranky, sleepy, and need to be fed at different times. However, the key is to consistently dedicate five minutes any time of the day.
The startup provides all the material needed to carry out the programmes.
Although all children are different, Shraddha explains what makes this programme work is the babies’ love to learn new things.
“It is a common trait among all babies. They would rather learn than do anything else. Adults associate learning with stress, pressure, test and performance. But babies simply watch people walking, talking, looking at the world and fascinated by it, and want to do all of that themselves,” she adds.
With an introductory session for Rs 500, the sessions can cost up to Rs 50,000, depending on the learning goals.
Challenges and the next mile
Today, Shraddha rejoices looking through a Facebook community brimming with videos that parents post of their child’s development or doing an exercise.
The startup has grown from a two-people team to ten members and caters to over 12,000 parents across 20 countries. This reach became possible after they migrated the business online in August 2020. Prior to this, demands increased to a point where she could not take on more clients.
With a heavy research-oriented business, she says a lot of investment was of time commitment and the duo are in talks with investors to raise funds.
For Shraddha, time management has been the biggest challenge. "I was managing the house, work, and most importantly, looking after my child. There are moments of self-doubt and lack of self-belief whether it is workable and if I’m doing justice to all the roles," she says, adding that it is a constant challenge and she is still working on it.
At the same time, entrepreneurship, she says, comes naturally to her. Hailing from a business family in Bhubaneshwar, she founded Taste of Madness in 2016 after moving to Mumbai.
At present, the couple is scaling up and focussing on building the team as well as the product. They are also looking to design courses for older age groups.
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan