New Delhi-based Smartivity Labs Pvt. Ltd., which was started by three-IIT Delhi alumni Ashwini Kumar, Apoorva Gupta, Rajat Jain along with Tushar A Amin, has raised $200,000 in a seed round of funding from educational content and services providers, S Chand and Co. Pvt. Ltd.
Founded in January 2015, the startup plans to use the raised fund to expand its product portfolio, strengthen its supply chain and expand its presence into new cities. The company develops physical, augmented reality-enabled and internet-connected activities based S.T.E.M (science, technology, engineering and Math education) learning toys for 3-12 year old children.
Ashwini Singh, CEO and Co-Founder, Smartivity Labs Pvt. Ltd. said, “We will be expanding the S.T.E.M. learning category from eight to 19 activities,” He also added that Smartivity would launch an internet connected learning device next year. “Within the next three months, we will be ready with India’s first robot based learning module,” Ashwini mentioned.
The startup currently retails its range of thirteen S.T.E.M. learning activity boxes (for 4 to 12 year old) and Smartivity EDGE, an augmented reality enabled 3D colouring sheets (for 3 year old and above) through retails stores and eCommerce portals. Over the past five months, Smartivity has expanded its offline retail distribution to over 450 outlets, including retail stores like Hamley’s and Landmark, in over 40 cities across India. It has also partnered with Amazon and SnapDeal, in addition to their own website, for online sale.
Smartivity Activity Boxes are ‘Do-It-Yourself’ kits that are designed to help children understand fundamental scientific and real world concepts, and their application in real life, through play. The instruction book explains the scientific concepts that are applied through the project and an activity sheet suggests further activities that a child can explore through the project with their parents.
S Chand Group was founded by Shyam Lal Gupta in 1939, and is now owned and managed by Himanshu Gupta, Dinesh Kumar Jhunjhunwala and their families. Everstone Capital, a private equity firm, picked up a 35% stake in S Chand & Co. in 2012, for $38 million. The group publishes a variety of books catering to up to 12th standard (or K-12), higher education, competitive exams and children’s books. Besides, it offers digital learning solutions for government and private schools and engineering colleges through joint ventures.
Talking about the market size in the space, Ashwini told iamwire that, “The only local innovation over the past few decades has been in designing board games and puzzles. We are disrupting this with physical-meets-digital tech products and activities that are innovative, engagement driven and fun… while enabling ‘smarter learning’.”
Here is a video which shows how Smartivity works:
The other players operates in this space are Jay Robotix and Avishkaar Box among others. In April, Jay Robotix raised a funding of $250,000 (1.56 crore) from Cross Border Angels (CBA) and Singapore based Thakral Group. In March, Avishkaar Box developed interactive robots for children, Robby and Bonny, to encourage them learn programming. Given that large chunk of the industry in the country is still disorganized, there is a huge opportunity for well-crafted and thoughtfully designed products that satisfy both the parents’ and the children’s need for meaningful engagement.