The Best Mode Of Learning For Children Is Through Play: Arunprasad Durairaj, Flinto Learning Solutions

In an exclusive interaction with BW Education, Arunprasad Durairaj, Co-founder & CEO, Flinto Learning Solutions, spoke about the company and more.

Please give a brief about Flinto Learning.

Flinto Learning Solutions, a Chennai-based start-up launched in September 2013, is the market leader in Early Childhood Education. By transforming homes and classrooms into fun co-operative activity spaces, Flinto is steadily revolutionising the early learning industry. Flinto primarily follows the e-commerce subscription model. In this pursuit of Early Child Development, Flinto has three primary offerings: 

Flintobox - A series of educational activity boxes for children aged 2-12 that are carefully designed for Early Childhood Development. Every box comes with activities that’ll enable the child to create, play, explore and discover a particular theme while catering to more than 16 critical developmental areas. Typically parents subscribe to these boxes for 3, 6 or 12 months and the boxes are delivered to their doorsteps. This segment focuses on engaging children meaningfully at home, away from gadgets and TV. Over the past 7 years, Flintobox has become the favourite and most trusted activity box of more than 1 million families across India.   

Flintoclass (Preschool in a box) - Standardized Product-as-a-Service model to power independent/unbranded preschools to deliver high-quality early learning programs. It is a comprehensive product that includes research-based early learning curriculum, daily lesson plans, pre-packaged materials for every child - every day, online teacher training, assessment for teachers and children, parent communication app & class display posters. The Flintoclass curriculum is available for nursery, Pre-KG, LKG and UKG.  Apart from covering the length and breadth of India, Flinto has spread its wings to countries like Malaysia, Laos, Singapore, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait and Indonesia. Flinto has received enormous appreciation from parents, teachers and children belonging to diverse backgrounds and demographics. Typically schools subscribe for a full year, for the number of children they have in their school.

Flintoclass@HOME - This is a preschool-at-home model designed to deliver high-quality preschool education to the homes of children during the COVID-19 pandemic. The easy-to-use comprehensive preschool kit ensures that children continue their early education from the safety and comfort of their homes. Currently, it includes programs for 1.5-6 year old and follows a blended learning approach with pre-recorded interactive sessions and hands-on activities. The all-inclusive monthly kit gets delivered with multi-sensory learning experiences, daily activities, step-by-step instructions, revision materials and even a dashboard to track every child’s daily progress. Currently, parents can choose to subscribe for 3 or 9 months.  

Flinto believes that given the right tools, every child can bloom and grow to his/her fullest capacity. And that’s why we take our design process very seriously.  

All the products and learning tools are intensively researched, developed and assessed at India’s first and only R&D Centre for early education -- Flinto Early Learning Research Foundation, by a team of child psychologists, pedagogy experts, curriculum developers and game designers. The research centre collaborates with parents and early educators to create an ecosystem that is conducive for harnessing the true potential in every child.  

What are the ways in which the firm is helping students and parents tide over this difficult time?

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on children who are now confined to their homes and deprived of hands-on experiences and fun learning. The best mode of learning for children is through play, but these days, the avenues in which they can play and learn has reduced. While the pandemic is tough on the business, it has also posed a challenge for our team to ensure that children don’t miss out on fun learning even during these times.

Armed with the wealth of our experience and a formidable team, we are bridging this gap to meet the high demand for learning at home with our product -- Flintoclass@HOME. While online education for children above 8 years of age is permitted to an extent, the challenge arises for those below 8, for whom excess screen time can be detrimental for health. Children in their early years require multi-sensory learning and hands-on experiences for their brain development. Flintoclass@HOME delivers high-quality hands-on learning to the doorstep so preschool children don’t miss out on their learning. The after-school product ‘Flintobox’ has also seen a surge in demand where children are engaged in a screen-free and meaningful manner at home.

In fact, now more than ever, parents have been seeking hands-on activities to engage their children at home. We have also ensured the utmost safety of our products. Be it the kind of activity, quality of material or even the type of packaging, we take immense care to ensure the safety of the child is not compromised.

How has the COVID-19 crisis disrupted you?

At Flinto, we strongly believe that there is no replacement for hands-on tools when it comes to early learning, due to which the biggest challenge came in the form of shipment logistics. With our main warehouse closed and the delivery of products affected, our business took a hit. However, the presence of secondary warehouses eased it to an extent and we wouldn’t have gotten this far if not for the unrelenting trust and support of our customers.

One thing we have always witnessed and experienced over the past 7 years of running this business is, our team has a knack of coming up with innovative solutions when the road gets tough. Be it during Vardah or even when our entire warehouse got flooded in 2015, we noticed how the team had the resilience to come together and deliver the best for our customers. The contingency and business continuity plans adopted during the last year is helping us weather the pandemic.

How is the firm ensuring continued education for students during this time?

To address the need for early learning during the pandemic we came up with a preschool-at-home concept called Flintoclass@HOME. This innovative product delivers structured early learning to the doorstep and focuses on making a child school-ready from the safety and comfort of home during the COVID pandemic. Being an all-inclusive preschool kit, parents just have to unpack and deliver the learning to the children, making it a convenient and safe option during this time.

Flintoclass@HOME follows a unique blended learning approach where children learn through hands-on experiences and also receive interactive pre-recorded guidance sessions. We have also received 1.25 L registrations in just a few months since our launch and it seems to be a highly sought-after and promising option for learning at home.

What’s your USP? How do you stand out when there are already many players in this domain?

In this day and age, with the boom in nuclear families where both parents are working, there’s little or no time to engage children meaningfully. Moreover, the schools that they fall back on, lack quality educators and the right tools/equipment to provide meaningful education to children. Flinto bridges this gap by delivering world-class early education backed by high-quality research, impacting the key touchpoints of a child’s life: home & school.  

There are three main USPs: 

1. Convenience and Standardisation of the product:   

This can be best described with a couple of examples.  

A ‘Flintobox’ is designed in such a way that it can be taken to a remote island and still be played to its entirety. Each and every material needed to play, including the stickers, child-friendly cutters and tools,  and even the aprons and messy mats are provided within the box. This makes it extremely convenient for parents to carry them anywhere, and spend quality time in their busy schedules.  

Similarly, ‘Flintoclass@HOME’ delivers high-quality education straight to the doorstep, becoming the safest preschool solution providing the right early experiences during the pandemic. The all-inclusive Flintoclass kits make sure that all the parent has to do is unpack and follow the instructions given, to deliver world-class learning to their children.   

2. Quality and the Cost Factor 

The product design and supply chain innovation that we have built over the last 7 years is next to impossible for anyone to replicate. To quote an example, Flintoclass@HOME provides over 500 multi-sensory experiences to every child per academic year. To make this possible, we interact with over 200 suppliers across India who have been trained on these processes to optimise the cost and quality of the products. This adds immense value to our customers in terms of quality and price.  

3. Product-Market Fit  

Flinto and its products resonate with every parent, child and teacher and fixes the vexing issues they face in terms of early education. In a world filled with confusing and complex choices, creating personalised, age-appropriate and well-researched products that the entire parent and teacher communities can bank on, to address the early needs of a child, makes Flinto unique and unparalleled. 

What are your future plans? 

Flinto is already a household name in India with over 10 lakh children learning through our products. We are planning to launch in Singapore next month. We also see a considerable demand from the USA, and other countries in South-East Asia and the Middle East, where we plan to expand next quarter.  

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