What does your company do?
We develop hands-on and interactive activity based Math learning products that help children explore, experience and enjoy Math learning. We install Math Labs in schools, which could be a combination of hands-on instruments and a virtual interactive software, so that teachers can illustrate concepts with ease, and children can visualize, understand and practice Math while having fun. We also have an online portal www.mathbuddyonline.com using which children can continue learning with the help of their teacher or parent from the comfort of their homes. We have over 1500 activities, 800 interactive worksheets and assessments, and also conduct an online Olympiad called Mathlathon thrice a year.
How did it come about?
The initial idea came from Bharathy (co-founder) exploring the various ways to teach our son who was in Class 1 at that time. Since both of us have a technology background, we could see that Math teaching and learning could become a lot more fun and engaging with the help of technology. This made us dig deeper and when we did a lot more research, we found that there were so many beautiful ideas used by teachers from all over the world that could transform the way Math is taught in schools and can really help children understand Math like never before. We created the product taking the best of the ideas and putting them in an interactive form.
Why are you excited about this space?
Having worked in corporate world for over 15 years prior to starting this, this is the most satisfying space to be in. We are constantly thinking about how to make a difference in the way children learn, and when we see it in action in schools, the satisfaction that we get cannot be put into words.
The other important thing to be excited about this space is that it is like an ocean. Every day, we learn something new and we probably have just scratched the surface with what we have created. There is so much more to do, and there is space for a lot more players thinking of different ways to help children.
What is innovative about your service?
Our product has been created based on lots of research on how people teach Math concepts in different parts of the world. To this end, many of the tools and techniques used are completely new for teachers, and we are able to create a lot of excitement wherever we show the product.
Also, with a combination of hands-on activities and virtual interactive software, our product can cater to all types of learners in a classroom – kinesthetic, visual and auditory, and help them understand Math better.
Unlike animations or videos, our product is fully interactive which can help children visualize and simulate various scenarios and see the cause and effect in action.
What is the impact you want to have?
Many children develop a fear for Math when they do not understand concepts in their formative years, especially when they are in 3rd to 7th standards. As they grow older, this becomes worse and becomes their Achilles heal in whatever field they choose to major in. We want to change this. We want to help children enjoy learning Math, and the key to achieve this is to help them learn with understanding. We are present in 200 plus schools right now and we want to grow this to 2000 schools in the next three years. We want to make a difference in the way children learn Math irrespective of what kind of schools they go to.
What successes and challenges have you seen till now and what is next?
Although we have received awards such as the Shiksha Ratna award for the best Math Lab solution along the way, we believe our success can only be measured by how much we are able to make a difference in the way children learn Math. There is a still a long way to go and lot more to be done before we can start thinking along those lines. As for challenges, there are lots of them including teacher engagement and hand-holding, keeping the students motivated and ensuring maximum utilization in schools etc. We are constantly working on ways to tackle these challenges and that is what makes what we do a lot of fun.
Next we are looking to scale up aggressively to reach out to a lot more schools, and we are working on developing a solid training and support network to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. We are also working on vernacular support and local curriculum alignments so that schools from any nook and corner of India can use our product, and we can impact a lot more students.
What keeps you motivated?
We love what we do every day. We are constantly thinking about how we can make our product even better so that it caters to the needs of the teachers and students. As I mentioned earlier, we have just scratched the surface of what is possible in this field and there is a lot more that can be done. We are already working on new features that will help us reach out to even more schools and students in the coming years.
How do you think Menterra will help?
We are both aligned to the vision of making an impact with our products in the society. In addition to providing funding, Menterra has been actively working with us as a partner in designing strategies to reach low income schools, improving our training and support model to create a comprehensive school relationship and teacher engagement program and also connecting us with mentors who have years of experience in areas that we lack.