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Early childhood education is more crucial than graduation. A child’s early years lay the foundation stone for her or his future development. Appropriate early childhood education helps in a child’s cognitive, emotional and social skills development which will directly impact his/her lifelong learning abilities.
Understanding the importance of early childhood education and being disappointed with the pre-school system in India, three parents came up with an ‘out-of-the-box’ idea. Arunprasad Durairaj, Vijay Babu Gandhi and Shreenidhi Srirangam to help other parents’ get their children appropriate early childhood education at the ease of their home came up with Flintobox. Since then, the company has only increased its consumer base and have gone global.
In an interaction with Entrepreneur India, Durairaj, chief executive officer and co-founder of Flinto Learning Solutions, shares the journey of the company and how it has found an opportunity in adversity in recent times.
Three Friends One Problem
Durairaj has been friends with his two other co-founders for over 16 years. All three have kids of the same age and found it challenging to keep their kids away from digital screens. Knowing the importance of early learning and its benefits later in life, three of them wanted to help their kids develop cognitive skills. However, they observed it was difficult for working parents who are unable to engage with their children at length.
Another point that Durairaj realized was the limited access to pre-schools in India. “The sad state of pre-schools is that more than 80 per cent of them are just fragmented mom and pop pre-school networks. I find it difficult to believe that these school networks have qualified educators to teach based on age,” said Durairaj.
He said these pre-schools were more like daycare centres rather than early learning places. On asking why they launched the product for home, Durairaj said, “We believe that home is such a place where children spend the majority of their time and need to be engaged appropriately.”
Thus the three friends in 2013 founded Flinto Learning Solutions which provide products, tools, content and activities to encourage activity-based learning for the age between 2 to 12-year-old children.
The Chennai-based startup in June has raised $7.2 million in pre-series B round and has over a million students enrolled for its flagship product, Flintobox.
For the trio “thinking out of the box’ was not just a phase, as the first product they launched was Flintobox. Flintobox is a fun activity box sent to children between the age of 2-12. The box which is based on a subscription model consists of play-based activities. “Every month the box comes with three to four different activities for children which helps them to create, explore, read and play. The box gives children the right amount of exposure to a wide variety of skill development,” Durairaj added.
Four years later, Flinto launched another product, Flintoclass, to enhance the pre-schools in the country. According to Durairaj, Flintoclass is a structured learning program, where a child learns from us through the teachers. The ed-tech startup ties up various pre-schools on a subscription basis and receives learning material for pre-childhood learning. This learning prepares a child for the school.
Durairaj likes to compare Flintoclass with Intel. He said, “The way Intel powers up a laptop, is the way Flintoclass runs pre-schools in India.”
After receiving accolades, Flintoclass went international in June 2018. Currently, it has reached over 700 pre-schools in eight countries including Singapore, Kuwait, Indonesia, Laos and Qatar, among others. There are more than 125,000 kids enrolled for Flintoclass.
COVID-19: Crisis Turned Opportunity
The outbreak of COVID-19 followed by stringent lockdowns has not only called for a health emergency but also has shrouded the world’s economy. Businesses across the sector have been thrown into disarray.
“For the first 12 weeks, we saw a downward curve in terms of sales and revenue as we were unable to ship Flintoboxes,” Durairaj added. However, Durairaj claimed that the demand never went down.
As the schools and other education institutes continued to remain shut, Flintoclass were out of use. Taking the pandemic as an opportunity, Durairaj and his team modified Flintoclass to Flintoclass@home. If a parent subscribes to this product then the startup will send the entire program kit that was for Flintoclass to the children’s home. “We did this so that children can continue their learning from the convenience and safety of their living room.” The startup has already received more than 4,000 subscriptions for their new launch.
According to Durairaj, in terms of revenue generation, the startup is already clocking more compared to pre-COVID levels.
Currently, the team is investing in technology development to enhance the user experience and hiring more talent.