Make learning a new Indian language as fun and engaging for children as playing with building blocks.
Every young Indian fluent in reading and writing in their native language.
At the end of 2020, I quit my job. I wanted to pursue my dream of launching my own product to make learning toys for INDIAN languages.
The story of Lipi Tiles® starts with multiple threads. I was dyslexic and had trouble reading and writing. Fortunately, my Mother being an educator diagnosed it early and with effective intervention through hands-on activities, I caught up fast.
Growing up, we shifted a lot. I have faced the distance that language barriers can create all throughout my life. English, Malayalam, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada. Tamil even!
As a 10 year old, I realised that unless I spoke the lingo, I would never be accepted into the tight friend circles in school. With all the determination in the world, I got down to conversing fluently in Hindi in less than a year and learning Gujarati with my 2 year old neighbour.
Everywhere I went, I tried to embrace the language of the land. In Bangalore, I'd try to read signboards on my bus journeys and correlate with characters on my Google Indic keyboard.
College was a huge experimentation ground for the theme that I was passionate about - education. In one of my projects, I did some basic market research about the kinds of language learning toys available and found that there was a HUGE dearth of toys to learn INDIAN languages. I developed a simple and cute modular toy and tested it out with a government school, got great feedback and then it got shelved. 3 years later, with ants back in my pants, I wanted to restart it and see where it goes.
The new NEP places importance on having primary education in one’s mother tongue. The fact that I cannot think in one language consistently has impacted me deeply. I do not want this for upcoming generations. I want to do my part.
Hence was born Lipi Tiles® in 2021 January. Several iterations later, I had a learning toy for Hindi, modelled after plain old building blocks!
It's been less than a year since product launch, and it's already garnered a huge amount of interest among parents, educators and schools, and orders are pouring in!
There is still a long way to go. I've been working on making this a reality for other major Indian languages, making it affordable for lower income groups, and spreading the word.
Working during the lockdown has been challenging because as a micro-entrepreneur, there are a lot of restrictions and limitations to procuring materials, optimising the supply chain and completing deliveries.
But I have learnt to keep moving on and not stall with the fear of failure looming over me. Building a small community of parents and educators has helped me push myself forward with their feedback and encouragement.
This is going to be big. I know it!