Playing board games is always a whole lot of fun for kids and adults as well, but when these games start to assists you in mastering geometry, chemistry or history. Surprised? You might be, especially if you’ve heard that board games are just for passing time in summer vacation.
Hyderabad-based gaming startup – Kitki is revolutionizing the way education is imparted with their innovative and learning-based board games. The kids will not only learn and practice important subjects while playing board games but also have loads of fun.
Started in 2013 by husband-wife duo – Pramod Ponnaluri and Rohini Deepthi Natti, Kitki’s aim is to change the perception of learning with their innovative and fun-based board games.
Since, both of them were unsatisfied with their educational experience, which was nothing but mugging up textbooks and regurgitating during examinations, they wanted to do something that could be significant for kids in gaining practical knowledge.
Pramod says, “We believe learning is a fascinating experience! But by the time we realized this, it was already too late. We wished we could go back to school and learn all over again with a rejuvenated love for learning. We felt instead of spending 70+ work hours every week doing what we didn’t really enjoy, our contribution to the world would be much more meaningful if we helped kids realize the beauty of learning early enough. Thus started Kitki.”
The poor state of practical education threatens the futures of millions of children globally. Similar to Pramod, every person on this earth wishes to return to school and gain the knowledge in practical way rather than just mugging up textbooks.
Pramod says, “At Kitki, Playing is learning. Through play-based learning products, we aim to change the perception of learning – from boring to fascinating. Games are a great way to engage kids and we found a way to integrate learning in a subtle enough fashion so that kids can play, have fun and without even realizing, learn – all at the same time! Our games can completely engross even adults. Thus a family could spend high quality fun time together which further enables knowledge sharing between parents and kids.”
Initially, they started organizing experiential learning workshops in schools located in Hyderabad. However, they soon realized that this model wasn’t scalable but in the meantime, they recognized the potential of games, which were effective and fruitful in engaging students. Therefore, they started a renewed Kitki with a series of play-based learning products.
“Pivoting from our original model took quite a bit of time. We had to force ourselves to think from a business perspective and simplify our overall goals. But making board games is not easy either. Designing, prototyping, play testing and repeating the whole process with improvements took well over 15 months for the three games. Only then did the games reach the maturity level that we are really proud of. Plus the manufacturing phase – figuring out the right partners, getting them to exactly replicate our imagination while maintaining the high quality standards was not easy.” Says Pramod.
He further adds, “Our first board game on geometry was launched on an international crowd-funding platform, Indiegogo, for pre-orders. Within a month, we witnessed over 200 orders from 16 countries, generating sales of $11,400+. We knew we were on the right path and started manufacturing three of our games – based on geometry, chemistry and Indian history.”
According to report published by Ambient Insight, international integrity-based market research firm, the worldwide game-based learning market reached $1.5 billion in 2012. The global growth rate is 8.3% and revenues will reach $2.3 billion by 2017.
Rohini says, “The quality of game play and the materials used in our games make them suitable for both the mid-high end parents in India and abroad. Our crowd-funding campaign earlier clearly showed that there are interested parents, teachers and education experts who are looking for such games in India and the developed economies as well.”
Kitki has three games in three different domains – geometry, chemistry and history. They are:
- Three Sticks: A Highly Creative Game Based on Geometry!
- Operation Escape E.V.I.L.The Magical World of Chemistry!
- Samrat: Rise of The Delhi Sultanate
They raised funding for their first game – Three Sticks through crowd-funding platform Indiegogo, but for the other two games (Operation Escape EVIL and Samrat), they raised funds from their family & friends. They want to sell their product globally. For these reasons, they are planning to sell to parents and teachers through both online and offline toy stores and currently, they are looking to partner with distributors in the US and the UK as well.
When asked about the marketing initiatives they have undertook to market their products globally, Rohini says, “Spreading the word to parents who are looking for better ways to help their kids learn is of the priority for us. We plan to reach them through social media, and other relevant education & parenting blogs. In the meanwhile, we would also pilot partnerships with schools and activity centers.”
In the next one year, Kitki wants to stamp their authority in India in play-based learning sector with a portfolio of 8-10 high quality board games. They have realized that to change the perception of learning in children, they have to engage them in board games. So, they are planning to start game-based and experiential learning centers where kids (and even adults) can have fun, while experimenting and learning through playful activities.
Even though play-based learning is gaining popularity in the Western and European countries, the awareness in India is still very low. However, startups like Kitki can take the bored out of board games and lead the way in this sector.