This woman entrepreneur’s platform connects parents and educators for children’s holistic development

Mumbai-based startup Playydate is easing the hunt for activities for children with classes on Kathak, yoga, storytelling, lego, and coding, among others.

When Anagha Rajadhyaksha was pursuing an executive management programme at the Columbia Business School in 2019, she was closely following the parenting space. 

She began conceptualising a discovery platform that would connect parents looking for leisure and skill development activities for their children and teachers offering such classes and workshops

Anagha says, “It was an extremely unstructured and disorganised market and there was no better way to navigate it than with a Facebook group to test the hypothesis.”

The Facebook Group was an immediate success with more than 300 messages being exchanged daily within a month of its launch. 

Raised by a mother who is also an educator, Anagha was well aware of the challenges that parents and educators face when it comes to co-curricular activities for their children.

“I would speak obsessively to teachers and parents and learnt that although they love what they do — which is just teaching — they need a lot of support with administration-related work such as marketing and promoting themselves and following up on payment was a pain point,” she adds.

A hyperlocal discovery platform

In November 2019, Playydate launched its official website as a hyperlocal discovery platform, as well as a class management tool for educators to keep a tab on their database and payments with ease.

Co-founded with her brother, Aditya Rajadhyaksha, Playydate allows parents to seamlessly look for classes in their neighbourhood, read reviews and ratings from other parents, and even speak to the educator for details without having to hunt through the city. 

This includes a variety of classes on topics ranging from Kathak, yoga, Lego, storytelling, coding, and piano lessons, among many others. It allows parents to try a session or two before committing to a six-month programme.

Considering that most students enrolled through the platform are between the ages of five and nine, Playydate prioritises exploring a wide range of skills to suit their unique interest than imposing certain courses as the need of the hour.

With more than 25,000 bookings on the platform, 47 percent of the transaction are of repeat months which shows high retention, the founder claims.

Bootstrapped so far, the startup charges a booking fee on every transaction while brand collaborations for events and workshops is another revenue stream.  

Aditya Rajadhyaksha and Anagha Rajadhyaksha, co-founders of Playydate

COVID-19 impact 

Piloting with a focus to go hyperlocal and then having to pivot online due to COVID-19 was a major challenge for Playydate. 

“We were so focussed on hyperlocal that two weeks before the country went into a lockdown, we were ticketing partners for four events. We were really in the groove for a big summer carnival and then had to take that step back,” the entrepreneur shares.

Parents were also concerned with their children’s screen time and whether online classes would be the ideal the way forward. On the other hand, educators were trying hard to adapt online by building a curriculum suitable for the online medium. Anagha says COVID-19 brought forward a very testing time.

At present, a few classes have resumed offline while most of them are continued virtually. 

A robust community building

The six-member team at Playydate have harnessed social media platforms to build communities without spending a shilling on digital marketing.

It has attained nearly 35,000 people across Facebook and Instagram, and built local communities with area-specific WhatsApp groups.

“Mothers are our biggest influencers and when they say something is good, we are very happy to amplify those voices,” Anagha says.

Playydate has over 1,000 educators across India, 80 percent of whom are “extremely enterprising women”. 

Moving forward, she says the focus remains to build a variety of classes and new geographies with the educators whose classes are in demand.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta