A crate of games: Meet the 18-year-old entrepreneur designing fun, educational activities for kids
As a child, Vani Jain always had the urge to do something on her own instead of working for someone else. To develop her entrepreneurial streak and hone her skills, she joined the Thapar Entrepreneurship Academy (formerly YEA!) while studying at The Shri Ram School in Delhi.
And she found the idea for her venture right at home.
“I have a younger brother who spent an excessive amount of time online. My mother and I were worried about the side effects, especially on his health. I started thinking of interesting ways for children to spend their time while being creative and came up with the Mystery Crate,” she tells HerStory.
Vani, now an undergraduate student at Krea University, launchedin December 2021, which aims to tickle the minds of two to nine-year-olds with creative projects.
“Mystery Crate is a subscription box of two activities and two gifts with different educational and fun learning activities and games delivered every month at the customer’s doorstep. The box changes every month, creating an added excitement,” she explains.
Vani says the box can be used for different purposes, such as for a reward system where parents would give their child a task to do, and in return, they would get “mystery crates” as a surprise.
They can also be used as return gifts at parties, or as rewards in competitions or school functions, or simply as monthly surprise boxes.
“I understood the market size for this industry is huge as India alone has a birth rate of 25 million, and education is extremely important, especially with globalisation and increasing need for literacy. The Thapar Entrepreneurs Academy guided me at every step of my business, and I applied various business components taught in the classes that made my journey easier. I also learnt the unit economics model and was able to project the financials of my business,” she adds.
The Mystery Crate for one month is priced at Rs 699 for a month, and Rs 1,899, for three months. This price includes delivery charges for delivery within Delhi-NCR.
“The price is far cheaper than our competitors like flintobox, which is only based on STEAM subjects. Mystery Crate helps children identify their interests and hobbies with its fun learning approach,” Vani says. The skills learnt through Mystery Crate include critical thinking, cognitive, creative, adaptive, and problem-solving skills.
Her initial challenges as a young entrepreneur included finding the right supplier and manufacturer and ensuring deliveries on time.
“I was a teenager, and various stakeholders in the business did not take me seriously at the beginning but I was determined to get my work done. Constant reminders and follow-ups helped me get through the initial phase and overcome these hurdles,” she adds.
Unique products in each crate
Vani uses a manufacturing facility in Gurugram, which has the capacity to produce 50,000 Mystery Crates a month.
Since each product is unique, she had to source different raw materials from the market, but she ensured a seamless flow to make the production process smooth.
“I used the money I had saved over the years; it was limited and so, I could start the business on a medium to large scale. Moreover, since the concept of Mystery Crates is unique, it was harder to explain to parents but with the help of my mentors, I was able to convey my idea well. They helped me explain the business idea in simple words to the customers,” she says.
Vani discussed packaging with her mentors and the printing company head, so the boxes were designed by her but approved by multiple people to gain maximum input on its design. Similarly for marketing, Vani managed it herself but is in the process of recruiting more people for the job, especially, considering potential orders and market size.
Mystery Crate can be ordered through its Instagram account.
“My aim is to gain at least a thousand orders in a year which will give a profit margin of 38 percent and with the Instagram popularity, this goal seems to be plausible. Winning the second prize at the Thapar Entrepreneurs Academy panel has given me funds to build my business and reach out to potential customers,” Vani says.
Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta