Two mothers are shaping a brighter future for kids by replacing their screen time with audio content

Neha Sharma and Sowmya Jagannath started Vobble, an audio OTT platform for kids aged between 4-10 filled with audio stories, game shows, music, and activities.

Two mothers are shaping a brighter future for kids by replacing their screen time with audio content

Monday October 16, 2023,

6 min Read

Four-year-old Myra sat with her headphones on, deeply engrossed in audio stories, and started colouring a drawing, letting the audio's narrative come to life on the paper. Seeing this, her mother, Japnit Kaur, was reassured of making the perfect product choice for her child.

Myra has been using Vobble—an audio OTT platform for kids aged 4-10 filled with audio stories, game shows, music, and activities—for the last two months.

“My daughter is always excited for the part of the day when she has to listen to these stories and do activities. Additionally, this has also lessened the time she spends on the phone or any video platform,” Kaur tells HerStory.

Started by two mothers—Neha Sharma and Sowmya Jagannath—in 2022, Vobble has over 1,000 minutes of content available for kids. After a year of testing and getting feedback on the product, the Bengaluru-based company has fetched 200 subscribers and Rs 6 lakh in revenue since this August.

“The idea of this product is to shift children’s focus from screen to sound and stimulate their imagination and creativity,” Sharma says.

Curtailing screen time

Vobble

Sowmya Jagannath (left) and Neha Sharma (right)

Each month, Vobble adds 250 minutes of original, in-house-made content and an additional 250 to 300 minutes of content from other publications, including Harper Collins India, Amar Chitra Katha, Scholastic Tulika, and more.

"These publications are compensated with payment ranging between 0-30%. In some cases, we establish a quid pro quo arrangement, wherein we create content from that publication, and they, in turn, can utilise our audio content under the Vobble branding," Sharma explains.

At first, parents create their child’s profile on Vobble and add how often they listen to audio. Based on this, the platform determines the child's age and shows only age-appropriate content on the home page. “Every content piece also has the age mentioned in front of it. We have a panel of experts to curate the right kind of content for kids,” Sharma adds.

Further, Vobble records these audio stories by children to make the content reliable and, in turn, offers their parents monetary compensation or Vobble hampers.

Madhumitha Subramanian, mother of six-year-old Kanna, says that trying out voice acting was a new avenue for her daughter. 

“Kanaa loved the entire experience—getting herself set up in the studio, correctly talking into the mike, getting acquainted with the wonderful technicians and how they use the recording equipment. The team provided adequate breaks and made the experience so much fun,” Subramanian shares.

She recalls one session when she saw her daughter running around the studio before each dialogue to prevent any boredom. “Kanaa keeps asking me if she can do more Vobble sessions as she loves to hear her own stories over and over again on the app,” she adds.

Subramanian, also a Vobble customer, finds the content very interesting for children. She says, “The audio experience is top-notch, and kids are truly immersed in the content. Vobble also adds new content regularly, so there are always new stories to binge-hear during long car rides.”

Sharma explains that Vobble’s audio content is intentionally designed to be short, with a maximum duration of 10 minutes. The concise format is thoughtfully crafted to capture and maintain a child's interest and engagement.

“We have found that as children start listening to audio content, their attention span increases with time. So, keeping that in mind, we might increase the duration of the content on our platform,” she adds.

Vobble

A child holding Vobble's starter pack

The company offers a starter pack worth Rs 3,500, which includes a parent-controlled app with six months of free audio content, kid-friendly headphones with volume limiters capped at 90 dB for safe listening, and two activity books. Sharma shares that Vobble will soon come up with a three-month subscription pack at a lesser cost.

While sceptical about the high price, Kaur—who has been using the product for the past two months—now says that the product is worth the money.

As of now, Vobble has raised $400,000 from the Blume Founders Fund, US and India-based tech angel founders, and friends and family. Currently, the company offers a starter pack, which has 200 subscribers. However, the founders have plans to introduce both general subscriptions and box subscriptions in the upcoming months. The founders also aim to sell their box to 10,000 people and get a subscriber base of more than 100,000 by the end of 2024.

“Audio content offers a valuable solution to reduce a child's screen time while nurturing creativity and sparking curiosity, and Vobble precisely aims to achieve this," Sharma adds.

How it started?

Sharma and Jagannath were neighbours when they first met, and soon, their children also became close friends.

Sharma has an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi, while Jagannath comes with a degree in neuroscience from the University of Michigan. She also has expertise in human-centred design that focuses on play and education from Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design, and Technology.

During the pandemic, both mothers were concerned about their children’s increased screen time, and they desperately searched for solutions but to no avail. This was the ‘aha’ moment for Sharma and Jagannath. In September 2022, they decided to quit their jobs to start Vobble.

“The podcast market is picking up in India. However, we don’t have enough audio platforms or content for children. This type of audio content is gaining popularity in the US and will eventually come to India. We thought, why not make the first move (in India),” Sharma explains. 

Vobble

Vobble's starter pack

She adds that the feedback received from their family and friends from India and Singapore “helped us a lot,” and Vobble started making money in August 2023.

Since both their husbands are entrepreneurs, Sharma and Jagannath also learned the nuances of the profession. Sharma adds that the duo complement each other well.

“We have similar interests, but our skill set and nature are different. I handle the operation, marketing, and finance, while Sowmya takes care of the product and creative parts, including content creation and production. Together, we are the heart and mind of the business,” she says.


Edited by Megha Reddy