It is always exciting to meet young entrepreneurs who are creating a positive impact on society through their work. It was, indeed, my good fortune to meet one such dynamic and multi-faceted personality – Rishabh Gupta. He is the Co-founder of Xplorabox, that offers activity-based learning for children. Xplorabox aims to hone children’s cognitive skills, encourage creativity and enhance their sensitivity towards the environment.
Rishabh believes that he and his team can change the definition of ‘Fun’ in this digital era. This interview throws insights on how he and his team intend to do that. Here’s a tete-a tete with Rishabh.
Q. What is the philosophy behind Xplorabox?
Ans – We grew up with very limited interference from technology during our childhoods. TV time was limited by parents, access to Mobiles and PCs came quite late. Our childhood was more about riding bicycles, playing in the park etc. We had so many friends in our neighborhood. Now with technology becoming all-pervasive, we see kids as young as 2 years spending an excessive amount of time on it.
Education too is happening digitally and this is causing the underdevelopment of other developmental skills. We feel that screen addiction is a growing problem among young kids and needs to be tackled actively by parents before its effects become permanent.
- Xplorabox is an attempt not only to reduce screen time by integrating learning with play but also getting kids to DO stuff.
- We want them to use skills they haven’t even developed till now.
- Encouraging them to fall in love with learning, be imaginative and creative is always our priority.
- We want them to choose their own learning path rather than relying on just what the school teaches them.
- In short, it’s not just about the physical effects of screen addiction, we see Xplorabox as a stepping stone towards behavioral changes in the direction of a more wholesome life.
Q. You passed out from one of the premium institutes of the country – IIM. Your brand Xplorabox aims to promote ‘Learning through fun’. Are there some personal experiences that inspired you to make learning fun for the next generation? (in short, your inspiration behind Xplorapox)
Ans – Our education system focuses extensively on rote learning. The entire concept of exams reinforces the same throughout the school. I was lucky to study at two premium institutes where I realized that there is more to education and learning than mugging up things and putting them on paper the next day.
In these places, and during my extensive travel, I have met so many people who have done amazing things, and at young ages too. I realized that they could do so because they tried their hand at other things and not just their curriculum books. They learned by doing and they could, therefore, do a lot of things much before I could, despite me having a high IQ.
The inspiration of Xplorabox originally came from Samarth and Sarah, Rishi’s kids for whom Rishi was looking for ways to keep them away from mobile screens. What we could see is that extensive usage of mobiles is making today’s kids asocial and introverted.
Some of my friends’ kids were getting addicted to screens and they’d always be playing on a mobile even during get-togethers. They were becoming experts at operating gadgets but couldn’t interact with people outside their immediate family.
As an introvert myself, I feel we introverts miss out on some great experiences in life. This should not happen so early in the childhood which is the age of exploring the world and doing something new every day.
I want kids to live in wonder and be awed by the beauty of the world around them rather than spending their time in front of screens.
Q – All founders of Xplorabox are from diverse backgrounds. Will you please share the unique strengths that each brings to the table.
Ans – One of the strongest points about Xplorabox is the founding team.
- Dhirendra is a tech whiz who has spent a decade at some top technology corporates,
- Rishi has vast experience of starting and running businesses in different domains especially product development and handling large scale operations.
- I have diverse experience in Finance, Strategy and Sales & Marketing and together we have all the critical areas of the business covered.
- We also have in-house designers, developers, and a strong customer servicing team to handle any queries from our growing customer base of over 50,000 parents.
- We have a group of teachers, doctors, and child psychologists whom we engage regularly for product development and whose input is critical in developing and launching new products.
Q – In this competitive startup environment, we see new startups coming up every day. What, according to you, are the 3 essentials that help a startup survive?
Ans – Each startup has its own story and challenges. However, I think what has helped us over the past couple of years on our journey is
- Product development and differentiation – We focused on ensuring that our product is the best in the market. We spent more than 2 years with our first few products, gathering feedback from schools, parents and all sources to create something that will be loved by parents and kids alike. This has held us in good stead and helped us create a loyal customer base.
- Customer Servicing is Key – We go out of our way to ensure that no customer is unsatisfied with our services or product. We have a whole customer servicing team in place. They handle customer queries and a no questions asked cancellation policy in place. A lot of the times customers are so impressed with our service that they continued our subscription. This way we are also getting great word of mouth publicity from our existing customers.
- Regular communication – We communicate regularly with our customers through email, SMS, and our Social Media properties right from the time they place an order to the time their box is delivered to their homes. Sometimes, even after that some customers as a lot of customers wish to share the pictures of their kids with us and want them to be published on our social media properties.
Q – You were a consultant to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Government of Gujarat on the strategy and execution of public welfare projects. It is, indeed, a very interesting facet of your personality. Please tell us more about this, especially your learnings.
Ans – After graduating from IIM Calcutta, I spent a few years in banking. While those were high paying jobs, they weren’t satisfying enough. I have always wanted to ‘do good’ and create large-scale impact. One can’t get such opportunities in a corporate career. My stint with CAG put me in touch with some people in the Government of Gujarat and eventually Mr Narendra Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Due to that association, I got a chance to consult on some development. These projects aimed at inclusive development and taking the advantages of technology right to the last mile. It also included connecting rural India with technology and ensuring that the right person gets the advantage of government schemes. The scale of the project was huge. We had to think about hundreds of thousands of different categories of people. I learned a lot from it.
When we think about things, we tend to think only from our perspective. In my case would be that of an upper-middle-class male from a metro city.
However, our country is so big and so varied, that it challenges all the notions that you have help all your life and brings you face to face with the ground reality. This is a hugely enriching experience.
Q – WOW Parenting aims to help parents in solving daily parenting challenges and doing parenting the right way. Do you think millennial parents require guidance and hand holding on this aspect?
Ans – I am not a parent yet and the thought is scary. I have seen my nephew and niece grow up. The challenges faced and the sacrifices made by parents are mind-boggling. The millennials are increasing talking about not having kids. Because we do not know if we will be able to do a good job as a parent. There can be differences of opinion in mother and the father when it comes to parenting. There is no manual of parenting. Children are malleable and sensitive, both physically and mentally, and one wrong step could have long-term consequences.
In such a scenario, the pressure on parents is immense. They can do with all the help they can get. The reason is nuclear families. Young parents have to manage everything by themselves. Both the parents work and run from one chore to another.
I think millennial do require, and also appreciate the help they are getting from various sources. Parenting websites are helping parents and making a great contribution to building the country’s future.