1. How did the idea of starting your own venture came to your mind?
As a parent, I was looking at how students are being educated in India. The whole focus seemed to be on getting marks and the joy of learning was actually missing.
In the corporate industry, I realised that the desire to constantly innovate and learn is actually the most important skill to have. Having worked for 25 years in the Industry in the U.S and India, I wanted to do something that would be challenging, innovative, new and keep my mind energised for the next 25 years. That is when the concept of Curiosity Gym formalised into a very broad platform that could be open for all ages to spark curiosity and instill the confidence of innovation. We started by creating content for schools, creating a makerspace for the public and also expanded to helping college students understand how to make prototypes and use design thinking as a mindset.
Before starting the Curiosity Gym, I had worked with Jehangir, my co-founder to set up an Internet of Things (IOT) division in my previous company. There were a few things that were critical to the innovation mindset and a few technologies were coming together as a perfect storm for innovation. One of these tools was IOT, the second was rapid prototyping technologies, third was design thinking as a mindset, and fourth was critical thinking as a skill set. These four streams were recognised as going to be changing the way we lived in a very fast way. It was the advent of the innovation revolution and both Jehangir and I aligned on a vision to work this revolution to students.
2. What were the major challenges in establishing your brand?
One of the major challenges in starting Hubs in schools was for us to convince the school management that it is important for them to allot us time in the school timetable. While many educators were open to having our classes as an after school activity, what happened was that less than 5 percent of the students would opt to stay back and miss the school bus. Addressing parents and school management early in the schools annual timetable planning cycle was essential to overcome this hurdle.
Even though we are still facing this challenge when we talk to schools but as educators worldwide are realising the need for activity, inquiry and project based learning, I believe that this hurdle of allocation of time will soon be overcome. The overall desired impact of Curiosity Gym is to reach millions of students and adults around the world to be curious and innovative – by simplifying concepts and surfacing the interdisciplinary nature of much in life.
3. In your opinion, what is the most important factor in a successful educational system ?
In my opinion, the most important factor in a successful educational system is to inculcate in children the joy of curiosity and learning
Once students develop the confidence to think that even though a concept is new to grasp and initially hard to grasp, I will figure it out one step at a time. Just like even Mount Everest in conquered one step at a time.
4. What do you recommend to entrepreneurs for initiating & establishing a unique brand?
To initiate and establish a unique brand, you have to understand the customer need, then build a good product around the needs and to have a good team to execute on the goals.
5. After all this success, what do you struggle with now?
Maintaining the pace of innovation and quality as we scale will be the challenge as well as the opportunity moving forward. The ability to attract a passionate team that likes to innovate, unafraid of experiment so as to innovate, will be used as a strength to address this challenge.
6. What are your suggestions for making an empowered society in India?
By focusing on the education system – and moving away from rote learning to experiential applied learning – is a way to empower society in India. Else, we will be producing school and college graduates who cannot think for themselves and will be overwhelmed with the pace of change in the technological world that they will inherit.