Director Deepti Sharma Highlights ThinkerPlace’s Focus on Independent Toy Making in India

Director Deepti Sharma Highlights ThinkerPlace’s Focus on Independent Toy Making in India
StartupTalky presents Recap'22. This is a series of interviews in which we conduct in-depth discussions with founders & industry leaders to understand their growth in 2022 and their predictions for the future.

STEM DIY projects for children can help to develop their critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity skills. These projects also allow children to discover and explore their interests in STEM fields. Additionally, some STEM DIY (do-it-yourself) projects can help children develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

It's important to note that it's not necessary to have advanced knowledge or skills in STEM fields to conduct STEM DIY projects with children. There are many resources and tutorials available online, and most of the projects can be done with household materials or inexpensive materials that can be found at craft stores.

Developing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills in children is important because it can help to prepare them for the future and for the increasing number of jobs in STEM fields.

The Ed-tech industry has seen significant growth in recent years, as technology continues to play an increasingly important role in education. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global ed-tech market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 7.5% from 2020 to 2027.

For this Interview, we invited Deepti Sharma, Director of ThinkerPlace, and we talked about the growth, challenges, insights, and future opportunities in the e-learning industry.

StartupTalky: Deepti, what does your company do? What was the motivation/vision with which you started?

Deepti Sharma: ThinkerPlace aims to create a dynamic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) universe for kids. We make educational STEM DIY (do-it-yourself) toys that introduce various futuristic skills to them like robotics, coding, automation, IoT, and more.

Presently, with technology being constantly updated and innovations every day, there is a high demand in the STEM industry for skilled and professional individuals. To fill in this increasing demand, a base in STEM from an early age and a career-focused education is very important. This is where ThinkerPlace comes in. We want to be the first point of contact for children and parents when
it comes to the introduction of S.T.E.M and its infinite possibilities through our DIY educational toys.

StartupTalky: What is/are the USP/s of your products?

Deepti Sharma: ThinkerPlace offers a 360 Degree STEM learning experience along with DIY Toys. All our STEM DIY (do-it-yourself) Kits come with the Learning Management System which is a fun-learning platform where kids can learn many innovative skills like robotics, coding, automation, IoT, and more. With various instructional videos and 3D animations, kids can understand the various aspects of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) easily and also have a lot of fun while making the toy. Children also get expert guidance from our STEM experts when they face any problems during the learning process.

Educational Tools for Students for Online Classes, Learning, and Assessment
Educational tools for students for online classes, fun learning, engagement, and assessments including Edmodo, Socrative, ClassDojo, Animoto, and Toppr learning

StartupTalky: How has the e-learning industry changed in recent years, and how has your company adapted to these changes?

Deepti Sharma: In the past few years, the government had increased import duties on Chinese toys. We are associated with different vendors across India. We always aimed to Make in India and independently make and manufacture toys in India.

Deepti Sharma: Our research team rigorously keeps tabs on the latest toys that are launched in the market. After thorough research, they do various product tests in terms of its function and design and analyze what is working in the market and what kids will love to play with.

StartupTalky: What key metrics do you track to check the company's growth and performance?

Deepti Sharma: We use various key metrics like website visitors, conversion ratios, social media engagement, repeat customer rates, sales engagement, etc.

StartupTalky: What were the most significant challenges your company faced in the past year and how did you overcome them?

Deepti Sharma: We are very stern about the ideology of "Make in India". From conceptualizing to physically producing all parts of the toys and their dispatch nationally and internationally – everything is done in India. To achieve this at a national level, we have faced a lot of challenges but the results have been great.

StartupTalky: What are the different strategies you use for marketing? Tell us about any growth the hack you pulled off.

Deepti Sharma: We use various channels for marketing like Digital Marketing which is one of the most popular and effective channels to reach your target audience. Apart from that we regularly host workshops with different schools to enhance STEM Awareness. We also set up stalls and kiosks for various events and
schools to reach our target audience and analyze what they like and what they don't. We recently collaborated with Jio TV and Padhega Bharat to spread the roots of STEM Learning to about 50 Lakh households.

StartupTalky: What are the essential tools and software you use to run ThinkerPlace smoothly?

Deepti Sharma: We use tools like CRM software, accounting software, and Adobe Suite.

StartupTalky: What opportunities do you see for future growth in the e-learning industry in India and the world? What kind of difference in market behavior have you seen within states in India?

Deepti Sharma: The future of STEM is bright. It is an in-demand stream in our country and even the government is pushing STEM Learning for children with its new guidelines in the NEP 2020 (National Education Policy 2020) The new guidelines say it is necessary for schools and educational institutes to have a learning system that is more goal-oriented and practical. This will nurture the children toward concept-building and practical thinking. ThinkerPlace has been successful in implementing the same in several schools across the country.

StartupTalky: What lessons did your team learn in the past year and how will these inform your plans and strategies?

Deepti Sharma: We faced a few challenges when we started like researching and developing unique products that the target audience will like and launching a product line that will do well in the market. Another challenge that we faced was scaling up & optimizing various digital channels to reach our target group.

StartupTalky: How do you plan to expand the Customers, product, and team base in the future?

Deepti Sharma: Currently, ThinkerPlace is working on expanding its client base to reach the level of preschools. We have developed unique products that are well-received by children belonging to the preschool age. The launch has been pretty successful so far. ThinkerPlace has become the only company in India that provides S.T.E.M-based educational DIY (do-it-yourself) toys for preschoolers. We are also working on developing new and innovative toys to cater to a wide age group of 3 years to 14 years.

We recently collaborated in Nigeria to set up The Rehla Academy Makerspace (TRAM), a STEM Innovation hub at The Rehla Academy, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria in partnership with TechGen Africa. We are planning to expand to other countries like the UAE and the USA to set up STEM Innovation Labs for kids. We are also working on setting up STEM labs in different schools across India. The concept behind STEM Labs is to introduce children to the complex concepts of science technology, engineering, and mathematics in a fun and exciting way.

StartupTalky: One tip that you would like to share with people reading this article who want to get into entrepreneurship.

Deepti Sharma: I have always believed in learning from shortcomings. My mantra is ‘Learn Fast, Fail Fast, Move Fast’. If you fail at one thing, move on to your next solution. Never stop even if you fail, there is always a chance to start from the beginning.

We thank Deepti Sharma for spending her valuable time and sharing her learnings with all of us.

You can read other Recap'22 Interviews here.

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