New Delhi [India], January 7 (ANI/Mediawire): "Things are peaceful at home except for the days when my son has exams," said Prasanth Pillai to a group of friends and colleagues, and surprisingly, that was the case with everyone there.
Hailing from reputed institutes like IIMs and NITs, they knew the importance of having a strong foundation for their children. It was just the start of a series of discussions that lead to the birth of Toffee Ride.
The Birth of Toffee Ride
Despite plenty of new-age e-learning platforms, teaching kids at home remained a big concern for most parents. Most of the widely adopted solutions for older children that parents typically rely on to supplement the learning at school did not seem to work well for primary school children.
Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Prasanth left his job as CEO of a Bangalore-based firm to pursue his dream to bridge the gaps in the primary education sector. After around three months of extensive research he, along with his NIT senior - Sanoj, decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge.
Fast forward two years. Now, Toffee Ride has evolved into an intelligent learning platform for primary school kids, with more than 1100 engaging lessons and 8000 interactive activities. Broadly aligned to the NCERT curriculum, it has extensive content covering English grammar and vocabulary, Science, Maths, General Knowledge, and Social Studies for classes I - IV. The team puts together new content daily, which is made available to its 25,000 plus users.
Today, the core team of Toffee Ride comprises Prasanth Pillai, Abitha Khader, Sreenu Romi, Renjitha Ramakrishnan, and Sanoj Salam. With more than 15 years in handling technology/management roles with various multinational companies, the team took to the challenge easily.
They did a thorough research on the curriculum, identified the relevant topic areas, and divided the content into several learning modules. Each module addresses a concept at a level of difficulty appropriate for that age group.
The modules are kept short and bite-sized for easy comprehension. The activities which follow each module reinforce the learning. Parvathy, an MDI Gurgaon/NIT Calicut alumnus, decided to drive the content strategy at Toffee Ride. Abitha, Parvathy's batchmate from NIT Calicut, was also roped in for content creation, and now drives the content operations.
The technology division driven by Renjitha, another NIT batchmate, has evolved an intuitive approach for content delivery and has incorporated a host of features such as personalization, offline capability, parent dashboard, etc.
The team could still sense that something was amiss - the world of aesthetics was a dimension unfamiliar for most engineers! They then chanced upon Sreenu, an award-winning director with close to 10 years' experience in the visual effects and animation industry. He not only worked on the looks of the app, but also ensured that the Toffee Ride user experience is comparable to global standards.
Being a product in the education space, expertise in education and child development was a pre-requisite. Toffee Ride has two eminent personalities from these disciplines on board as advisors - Maya Mohan, Managing Director, Tattwa Centre of Learning, Kochi and winner of best teacher award at the national level and Dr Neena Shilen, one of the best-known experts in the field of child development. The team also received ample guidance and support from their incubator IIM Kozhikode and their mentor, Shilen Sagunan, an industry doyen.
Toffee Ride currently has a 25-member team with presence in Bangalore and Kochi.
The Way Forward
Having entered into partnerships with two large entities for driving the sales and marketing of the product, the team intends to make great inroads into other South Indian markets and the Middle East. With the post-Covid revival in the vicinity, they are also involved in active investor discussions while looking out for more dynamic collaborations.
The common thread that connects the Toffee Ride team is their willingness to question the convention. This has enabled them to cover a long distance in a short time to create a great product, which has the potential of being a yet another unicorn.
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