These two 15-year-olds have designed a kit that makes carting art supplies around easier
Necessity is the mother of invention is not a cliché when it comes to entrepreneurship. With entrepreneurs getting younger by the day, the “big idea” is no longer deliberated upon for too long; it is put to test immediately with astonishing results.
For more than a year, we have been profiling young entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), and it’s no longer surprising that we receive news of a new idea almost every week. The students’ enthusiasm is infectious; their ideas novel and refreshing.
Shweta Joshi and Mahek Jain, students of Class 9 from Oberoi International School, Mumbai, are no different. As avid artists and multi-tasking students on the move, they found it challenging to carry multiple art supplies, especially brushes, while travelling to classes in a busy city like Mumbai.
“Anyone who has wielded a paint brush has dealt with the dilemma of carrying the entire kit,” explains Shweta, introducing their unique product.
She and Mahek, her fellow classmate at YEA!, launched Switcheroo, a unique innovation where one can switch different paint brush sizes in a single holder. This eliminates the need to carry the entire kit to art classes.
“We designed the product together and gave the specifications to carpenters for manufacturing and did the assembling ourselves,” Mahek says.
Switcheroo was launched in 2019 after extensive market research with their peer group and art teachers where an overwhelming majority said such a product was much needed. It is affordably priced at Rs 200.
"Starting a business and getting a sense of what it is like to be an entrepreneur is what we always wanted, and YEA! gave us this opportunity. Under the support and guidance of mentors and guest speakers at YEA! we were able to create a utility-based functional product,” Shweta says.
Over the course of the YEA! Programme, they learnt how to become more responsible and balanced in their approach, develop a business model, learn marketing skills, balance academics with entrepreneurship, and - most importantly - how to deal with failure and never give up.
“Our main support came from the YEA! trade show, which gave us a great launching pad. We managed to sell over 40 brush kits and made around Rs 8,000 in sales! We have been in touch with our customers who have given very positive feedback on the product,” Mahek says.
The duo kickstarted Switcheroo with the prize money received from the YEA! trade show and with some funds they borrowed from their parents.
Working on new ideas
WhatsApp and word of mouth are their primary forms of advertising and marketing, and Mahek and Shweta plan to use other social media platforms, like Instagram and Facebook soon. They also want to organise workshops with art teachers to demonstrate the ease and advantage of using their product.
The Switcheroo team is busy using the time during the pandemic to add new and utility-based features to boost their market presence.
The young founders are working on new packaging ideas, adding new features such as mini-watercolour cakes, watercolour paper, cartoon-themed brushes, and more.
Balancing school and working on their venture has taught them many lessons – time management, prioritisation, and how to reach out and interact with potential customers.
“However, as we scale, we will have to invest in building the right talent and team,” the founders say.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai