When Tushar Amin shows you his colouring sheet it looks as inconspicuous as any other colouring sheet for kids – green grass, blue river, a brown dinosaur. Amin then takes his phone, moves his finger over it, hands it over to you and magic happens. The paper dino starts moving about on the sheet, looking exactly the way it was coloured. A few more clicks tell you what kind it belongs to, allows you to play games with it and brings you interesting trivia on it. That was just one among the many augmented reality (AR) based educational toys Smartivity offers, and there’s more in this Delhi-based start-up’s basket.
Smartivity combines toys and new age technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics, and IoT (Internet of Toys as they call it) bridging the physical and digital world to make educational concepts a fun and creative experience for children. After having introduced Science, Technology, English and Maths (STEM) do-it-yourself (DIY) toys and AR based colouring sheets and jigsaw puzzles for children between three years to 14 years, it is all set to introduce its VR and robotics based products in a few months. The toys are made out of eco-friendly wood material called medium density fibrewood (MDF) and are creative in nature – which means that the child need not follow a set of rules to play the game, but can make up her own game. The three-year-old start-up, which follows a retail model, currently, has its toys across 850 stores in India, sells them on Amazon and has also ventured into overseas markets including some tough ones like USA and Europe. Things seem to be going great for Smartivity now; however it all started falling in place only after a pivot prior to which it was not Smartivity but Yoohoobox.
Before formalising themselves as Smartivity in January 2015, the co-founders Tushar Amin, Rajat Jain, Ashwini Kumar and Apoorv Gupta had been experimenting with a subscription-based model that provided arts and crafts educational toys. Soon after, reality hit them. They didn’t have enough money to acquire customers digitally which left them with two options — spend all the money on customer acqui