A Startup To Keep Children Engaged: KenziBox "KenziBox is an innovative product that keeps children busy, engaged and learning. We made doing art and craft activities as easy as packing [an] iPad in a bag. We believe we can get all young kids crafting."

By Pamella de Leon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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kenziBox co-founders Leyla Lahsini and Shirin Benamadi

"KenziBox is an innovative product that keeps children busy, engaged and learning. We made doing art and craft activities as easy as packing [an] iPad in a bag. We believe we can get all young kids crafting."

The idea started in February 2014, and KenziBox was launched in November 2014- with months spent fine-tuning the idea for their target audience and local market, branding and choosing a suitable e-commerce platform and partners. Identifying, selecting and building relationships with local suppliers were critical. "We only wanted to provide our customers reliable branded craft materials that they would be comfortable allowing their children to use," says co-founder Leyla Lahsini.

KenziBox was co-founded by 33-year-old Shirin Benamadi and 34-year-old Leyla Lahsini. Benamadi, an MBA graduate from University of Maryland, has experience in private wealth management at Morgan Stanley in Dubai; while Lahsini, who holds an MBA from London Business School and a Masters in Strategy and Marketing from ESSEC Business School and Paris Dauphine University in France, has worked with hedge funds in London.

Besides giving parents an opportunity to spend quality time with their children, the arts and crafts activity box offers different monthly themes for children to make four craft projects, with all the materials and instructions they need delivered right to their door. As arts and crafts are important for the cognitive and emotional development of children, KenziBox offers engaging crafts and innovative games that a child can play with and use. This gives children a hands-on outlet to nurture their imagination, decision making, problem solving and team work skills. Lahsini says, "Our vision is to become the reference for engaging and hands-on activities for children growing up in [the] digital age."

Medieval themed KenziBox

KenziBox currently offers four subscription options: AED185 monthly for a month-to-month plan, AED175 monthly for a three-month plan, AED155 monthly for a six-month plan, AED155 monthly for an annual plan. Subscriptions are paid upfront for the full duration through credit cards or COD, with the option to pause from 1-3 months and free delivery within the UAE. There's also the KenziBox Travel Bag that has 10 activities in a reusable child's backpack for AED225, and KenziBox Party Favours for AED20-50 to let parents give their child's birthday party guests a single craft activity with materials and instructions in a gift bag.

The co-founders' key focus for their growth includes continuously providing learning opportunities for children through the various themes, providing quality products with engaging and age-appropriate projects designed with the help of primary school teachers, a convenient e-commerce platform, home delivery of all the required materials, and ensuring excellent customer service.

The business model is based on achieving its double bottom line of making a positive difference in families and children, and achieving financial sustainability. It's based on a range of verticals: single boxes, subscriptions, party favors, travel bags and crafting workshops, resulting in a variety of revenue streams for the business' scalability.

KenziBox credits partnerships, word-of-mouth recommendations and social media as its strongest assets. "Social media is very powerful and has given us a direct dialogue with our customers," says Lahsini on the instant feedback they receive on the service that can be provided digitally. Organizing crafting workshops has also been their avenue to introduce the product to potential customers, as well as nurturing relationships with local media and key influenc- ers, thereby bringing in referral business.

Medieval themed KenziBox

On a B2C level, retailing with mumzworld.com, The Change Initiative and Nest for Kids in Abu Dhabi has proved beneficial for them, while on a B2B level, KenziBox works with primary schools to use its activities for their curriculum and after-school activities, in addition to building relationships with kids' party planners for the party favors.

"The biggest challenge is to set up in a lean way," Lahsini says pointing out the legal costs involved in setting up the license, visas and paying for a physical space that requires capital and finding qualified business partners could have been used instead to design the product and test it out.

"We already ship beyond the UAE. We want to first grow a solid foundation here, and then find the right partners to expand regionally within a two-year timeframe."

Wavy Line
Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.

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