Kids’ learning becomes smooth when it is merged with innovative programs and designed in accordance to the special needs of children.
Over the years, kids learning solutions have been very generic. In order to address this issue, Podsquad was founded by Abha Mehta. Entrepreneur India interacted with her to know more about this venture that is all set to excite the kids.
How did the interesting name of your business conceptualize?
We strongly believe that children are like Pods – filled with seeds. These kids are in a process to get nourished and turn out as beautiful confident people. Every child is unique and, wants to contribute to the world. That’s where word ‘Pod’ came from. We always wanted a brand to have funny little characters, as little friends who would guide children through our program. The word ‘Squad’ means a group, so it was perfect for our little Pods – a group of little friends for children to play with and learn. And so PodSquad was incepted.
What is the need to address the market at present?
There is a big need to focus on early education at present. Early years’ education is more important than later years’ education due to the limitless choices available to parents and children alike. It’s becoming harder to shift through the products and information being thrown at them constantly. Also, it is of great importance to curate the right type of information that reaches children. This can indeed be done through early education with PodSquad.
It’s also important because with the rise in nuclear families and with both parents working, it’s getting harder for parents to find the time to go to crowded and disorganized toy stores and know what to buy for their kids! With the convenience of a monthly box arriving at their doorstep, we are addressing a key need in the market – which is saving time. We’re also creating multiple types of activities in each box, so it gives the child over 10-12 hours of learning.
Parents need simple solutions at home to engage their kids creatively, and PodSquad hopes to address this problem too – by providing the learning programme-in-a-box and delivered right to their door!
What is the story of your Brand starting up In India?
My family business is Quadrum Solutions – a content and design company which has been developing educational content for international and Indian publishers since a decade. We have created over 10,000 books across pre-school, primary and retail.
Through the years, we have witnessed changes in curriculum and seen how the book world has adapted. What we always found missing was the focus on book-plus items that were not just toys and games, but more educational in nature, yet fun. So we kept researching, learning from the market, learning from the publishers, and then finally chose this year to launch PodSquad.
Please share about your initial success in the market.
We launched at the Times Kidz World Fair (end of April/early May), and were overwhelmed by the response! Once, we had parents come up to us and assume our product was imported from America or Europe because of our fantastic design and high-quality materials and items inside. We informed them that PodSquad is purely Indian. Designed, created and produced here only! It felt good to be able to say that Indian products can be just as good as imported and that parents today don’t need to spend lots and lots of money for foreign products at big toy stores!
Another very interesting incident happened when a father bought our product at a children’s carnival at Pheonix Mills. He loved the product so much he called and asked us if he could bring his daughter to our office to meet the ‘real Pods’ behind PodSquad, which we were happy to oblige. She came over and met all of us and saw how PodSquad was created and was very excited throughout her visit! Our biggest success has been in exhibitions so far, as once people see the demo of all our activities they can’t help but buy it. We hope this will translate online too.
What is your current outreach in the Indian Market?
We offer free shipping across India. We service customers reaching about 100 cities so far. While we thought Tier 1 and 2 cities are the main target, I’m happy to say we’ve received orders from much smaller towns too.
What is unique about your Product/ Brand for which consumer would buy it?
PodSquad activities are unique in a way that they are very carefully designed by experts to ensure they are simple enough for kids to do by themselves, but reasonably challenging as well at the same time. Our brand properties – the Pods – are extremely unique too and kids absolutely love them. In a world where characters are superheroes with supernatural abilities and aspiring for kids, I think parents find the Pods refreshing – as they are relatable and reflect the simple moods and personalities of all kids. We also include digital learning in our program and customers get access to unique digital content as soon as they buy a box or subscription.
We think it’s unrealistic to believe that kids won’t go online, or spend time on i-pads and smartphones. So rather than denying them, give them constructive content to view online is ideal. We also pride ourselves on high-quality design and production quality – with the highest quality materials being used.
Have you raised any funding? Please share details and investors name.
We have not raised any funding for PodSquad specifically, as PodSquad is a venture of our parent company Quadrum Solutions.
What is your distribution strategy for the Product?
Currently, we are focusing on online distribution as we are a subscription-based business (though customers can buy individual boxes too). We are listed on e-tailers like Amazon as well as a few niche platforms like My Baby Babbles and Scoots. We also have a lot of offline distribution through pop-ups stores, trunk shows, exhibitions etc.
What are your future expansion plans for your brand?
Our core focus is to provide educational learning tools for children – and we have introduced themed activity boxes. We will extend this into more and more tools and variations and eventually hope to customize activities, boxes, games and more so that parents can really choose what they want and customize the products they buy based on their kid unique needs. We also hope to target the school segment, to provide schools, teachers, and parents more learning aids.
Has there been any crazy experience with any customer that changed your viewpoint towards business?
We had one adorable grandmother who came to us and said ‘my grandson is 4 and coming to stay with me for a week, please give me something that will keep him busy as I don’t believe in just turning on the TV, iPad or Smart Phone like most parents today!’ She bought all our boxes in one shot and told us it was the best decision she made as he was busy for the entire 2 weeks that he stayed with her!
That’s when we realized that parents were not our only market, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents – anyone who has a little kid in their life can benefit from PodSquad! Another wacky experience was a mother from Haryana called us and asked if we had ‘Pod’ costumes for kids as her daughter was a ‘Sulky Pod’ one day and refused to eat her dinner, but then became a ‘Smarty Pod’ because she did all her homework on time (these are 2 Pod characters), that’s when we realized that the Pods could really grow into something more – and that one day we could have Pod themed parties, with Pod costumes and Pod activities!
What has been your A-ha Moment in the business? (The high point)
There have been so many A-ha moments! Entrepreneurship is such a roller coaster, that every day I learn something new and feel ‘A-Ha! Now I have the answer’ and then just 24 hours later I’ll be back at the drawing board with new learning. My biggest A-ha moment was when I planned to start PodSquad and I interacted with a client in South Africa associated with one of the largest educational publishers in the world on a project we’re completing at Quadrum. He asked me why we didn’t have our own brand.
I told him we were purely a B2B service company, and that we created content for publishers for primarily books. He then casually mentioned that while our focus was on books, if we ever went into developing hands-on learning activities, or book-plus products to give him a call immediately because he felt the South African market had a huge need for this! After talking to 100’s of parents, I realized he was right, there was a huge need and that we were the best people to fill that need.
The concept of this startup curates the learning programs which are purely aimed at better understanding of kids. It is all set to create a new benchmark in the society.