Kitki, Playing Is Learning – WOL Exclusive

If setting ourselves free by ditching our jobs to be our own boss is a risky business, is it really a risk worth taking? The success stories always give an impression that the leap just happens overnight! But, do we know the madness and mayhem that follows since? You need a vision to start out, but is the know-how of bare basics all you need to survive? To make something out of nothing; funding, mentoring, contacts, collaborations, branding, reinventing on the go – all of these and the constant motivation! Did I forget the nay-sayers? Most welcome! What about the family amidst core business chaos? With ambition comes determination! But how many dreams come to fruition by just being ambitious?

Can a picture get any adorable? 🙂

WOL virtually met a delightful couple aka wife and husband team from Hyderabad who happens to be BITS alumni from diverse academic streams! Unhappy with their respective stereotype jobs; they thought its time they act! A 15-minute silence at The Lotus Temple was their Eureka moment, to be more specific! The couple probably didnt consider to go against the grain and be the trailblazers in their respective zone! Boy, little did they realise their true purpose! My only line for both – the world needs more people like you 🙂

WOL presents the adorable couple behind Kitki; Rohini Deepthi and Pramod Ponnaluri! Kitki helps experience science, history and math through their distinctive board games! Kitki is Telugu for “Window”! Irrespective of age, nobody can resist the charm of windows! Aye, not even the most studious first benchers! Kitki is that window, which helps the child learn from real life applications! Kitki changes the perception of learning for the love of learning through their board games! Other words; Kitki teaches you to remember!

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Kitki logo features a window with a happy butterfly flying towards the enlightenment, which states the obvious! Wisdom without application is worthless! A disproportionate butterfly says its okay to be different! Kitki insists learning itself is a fascinating experience! In their own words; playing is learning, which helps untap the hidden potential through game mechanics!

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Pramod; the brain behind Kitki, wanted to be an astronomer but went on to pursue Masters in Finance! Deepthi is a mechanical engineer and did her Masters in Economics! Thanks to the Economics & Finance association, their paths crossed! Post BITS, they went on to pursue their respective careers! Deepthi happens to be the jill of all trades! The girl loves her crafts! Art is her zen! Not to mention; her passion i.e. wedding photography! A freelance photographer; she likes to capture only weddings – thanks to the emotional appeal! She also ventured into baby photography; thanks to pushy friends! Deepthi worked with a startup agency which helped realise her element! God, she landed the perfect job to make her dream a reality!

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How many of us would love to go back in time and learn all over again? But this time, for real? The way Pramod and Deepthi talk about the education, it certainly makes us wonder “What If!” For generations, education means good grades! There was an era where academic accomplishment meant Engineering for boys and MBBS for girls! Any other pursuit was not even given a second thought! Didnt we all get “the eye” when we told we wanted to pursue something that makes “US” happy? No? Seriously? I always wanted to pursue fashion designing because – simple – it seriously SOUNDED a lot more fun compared to what my crazy studious cousins did! If I was given an opportunity then, my life would have been a tunnel-vision mission since! But, as I said – I got “the eye” 🙂

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A Game Based On Creative Geometry – Three Sticks

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Pramod and Deepthi’s childhood learning experiences taught them the new gen can do a lot better with the right exposure meaning – less books! If I look back, I can barely remember what I was taught as a child! I cant tell you how I loathed math and yes, everything labs! Why use Bunsen burner when you know that’s certainly not your future ? May be, things would have been interesting with a different approach? Application is everything in education! For instance – how does Sodium polyacrylate sound? Scary! Does Water Lock ring a bell? Nope? Put Sodium polyacrylate in a bowl and add some water! It absorbs all the water, but remains unaffected meaning it stays dry! Will you remember this down the lane? Hell, no! Had we been told that’s the same compound we get to see in – lets say, diapers? Like I said, its all in the application!

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I am not getting into statistics, but did you know eidetic memory comes naturally to children – especially under 11 years? Unfortunately, seems its all lost as the emphasis is usually more verbal in orthodox education! Deepthi and Pramod might come across as a young couple with tonnes of friends, affluent upbringing and all that jazz! Let’s just take a look beyond their accomplishments! Or should I say, behind their accomplishments? Their journey was definitely not as easy as pie! Since their light bulb moment; Kitki started off with experiential learning workshops, hands-on activities, field work and so on to find out why learn what you learn! Kitki partnered with schools to pitch their dream, but found that was not scalable! At one point, they realised the game mechanics applied through their workshops got lot more attention! Bingo!

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The couple sat down with all possible board games – Scrabble, Snakes & Ladders, Monopoly and the like for that sense of familiarity! Props like wooden planks, broom sticks and plastic became their best buddies! Not to mention; immense help from interns, volunteers and also from a mentor who happens to be Harvard graduate – for that business perspective! The ideation and mechanics is done by Pramod, but it is Deepthi who brings them to life – thanks to her creative streak!

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Creating the game, prototype and testing took more than a year! Manufacturing; right from the packaging to logistics took quite a while! The best part; their proximity to the manufacturing units to make sure the quality remains topnotch! Reality; manufacturing needs a specific number like about 1000 sets to minimize the production cost! For their first game “Three Sticks”; the couple launched a crowd-funding campaign on an international platform “Indiegogo.” The response was unexpected and equally overwhelming! They had many sleepless nights as they had to be online constantly responding to the never-ending queries! 30 days, $11,000 and pre-orders from over 16 countries and counting! A river cuts through rock because of its perseverance!!!

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Operation Escape E.V.I.L

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Kitki succesfully launched three signature board games since their indispensable launch! Three Sticks is based on geometry, Operation Escape E.V.I.L. is based on chemistry and Samrat is based on Indian history! We moms know that games lose their novelty in literally no time! Kitki claims the child gets to learn something new every time! All their games target children of age 8 and above, but seems surely children younger than 8 can benefit!

Schools, social media, online shopping sites like Amazon India, Amazon UK, eBay, Snapdeal, Flipkart and Kitki are their sales channels so far! To feature their board games in upmarket stores like Hamleys, Crossword, Landmark etc which are considered big daddies of the business; Kitki needs to come up with more games! To make more games, Kitki obviously needs comprehensive support! Appreciation and sales are two different things! Schools and parents dont like to mess with the orthodox approach towards education! When Kitki approached schools as a secondary distribution channel, it got so tedious waiting to explain every minute detail only to be dismissed for the above mentioned! It certainly doesnt help anybody; physically and emotionally! There were days with literally no food and sore backs; waiting for some one to hear them out! Ahh, the bliss when you expect the world to understand your grind…

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Rise Of The Delhi Sultanate – Samrat

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Kitki is on the look out for potential partners to take up the distribution rights for the global market – thanks to their priceless game potential! Kitki would love to make games on concepts ranging from academics to career choices to global issues! WOW! The duo also has a dream to start game-based experiential learning centres where both children and grownups can experiment and learn through innovative activities! God bless this couple with all good things!

Kitki, by all means, gets WOL seal of approval! Yeah, like it really matters! I mean, what’s not to like? Deepthi and Pramod are the most soft-spoken! They are not pushy about their products, but just passionate! Their customer service is impeccable! Yes, I bought their cult product i.e Three Sticks recently! The quality of their products look very upmarket, I mean aren’t the photos pretty much self-explanatory? Deepthi and Pramod sure found themselves reliving their forgotten childhood experiences, all thanks to Kitki! I am really glad the couple didnt pull down the shades on their window of opportunity! As they say; everything starts with a dream! Let us encourage Kitki teach our children how to think, not what to think!

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Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten – B.F. Skinner

Let us all spread the love to the world! Lets support Kitki’s endeavours by buying their games, which are honestly refreshing in their approach! We can introduce their games to our neighbourhood schools! We can gift them to our loved ones; love doesnt need a special occasion! Lets encourage and help them make more and more meaningful games for our little ones! Their games are worth every penny of our hard-earned! Their efforts need more awareness! These are real games made in India by a young couple who dream for a better future for our children! If this doesnt give you the chills, I dont know what does! Lets just give them an opportunity and hear them out! Being challenged in life is inevitable, but the rest is optional! Guys, never give up on your dreams as you have come this far! I say, you made it BIG TIME! You won a loyal customer for a lifetime! This time, it really matters 🙂