Interview with Pramod Ponnaluri from Kitki
Pramod – Rohini & I are both graduates of BITS-Pilani. I scraped through my finance courses while Rohini finished as a mechanical engineer and a post-graduate in economics. As a management consultant I had the opportunity to meet several CXOs from different industries and Rohini followed her passion for design and led branding at a startup.
YEF – Why an entrepreneur, why not a high paying job?
Pramod – A high paying job is always good to have. But at what cost? If one is not doing what one loves doing and does not feel satisfied and peaceful at the end of hard, long hours, it is not worth it. We realised that we were caught up in one such rat race and took the hard call to follow what we truly believed in and do something that translates into a tangible, real contribution to the society.
YEF – What inspired you to start your own businesses?
Pramod – After about 6 years of corporate work experience, and travels in both urban and rural India, we started realising how much one can learn from real life. This thought process extended to identifying the gaps in our own school education and how a lack of interest in learning led us to blindly follow others’ suggestions when it came to serious matters such as picking a career. That’s when we decided to do something about it and hence started Kitki.
YEF – What is your company into and what problem does it solve?
Pramod – At Kitki, we combine two of our passions – our fascination for learning & our love for board games. So we come up with great fun games that are quite addictive but at the same time are based on educational concepts. So far, we created three such games on geometry, chemistry & Indian history. Through games we aim to change the perception of learning for kids – from boring to fascinating. Simultaneously, their creativity, critical thinking and curiosity to learn also develops.
YEF – Tell us more about your brand name?
Pramod – Kitki in Telugu and similarly in Hindi (Khidki), means a ‘window’. We believe real learning cannot be forced. So, what do you think a child would do, if she is not interested in listening to her teacher’s class? Look out of the window, right? We are that window – where there is true interest and at the same time showcasing real life learning.
YEF – How did the idea for your company come about?
Pramod – When we started Kitki, we wanted to partner with schools to organise experiential learning workshops and field visits through which kids can connect concepts from their curriculum to real life applications. However, we faced several challenges in the process. Scaling up that kind of a model with our high standards would have meant for us to clone ourselves. At the same time, very few schools were ready to make big changes to the orthodox education system. But while organising such workshops, we realised how effective game mechanics were in stimulating the young minds and how the whole class participated actively. We took the hint and started working on play-based learning.
YEF – What are key services you are providing which are differentiator from the rest?
Pramod – Our games are of a very high quality – both in terms of game play and the materials used. Creating a great game is not easy. It took us 1.5 years to create our first three games – Three Sticks (on geometry), Escape EVIL (on chemistry) and Samrat (on Indian history). So much protoyping, play-testing, game mechanics and design iterations that went into developing these games. But in the end, here we are, with three really amazing board games. Plus unlike other products currently in this space, these are not jigsaw puzzles, quizzes or activity kits. Hence one can play the games again & again and learn something
new each time.
YEF – What is the pricing strategy and marketing strategy you have been using?
Pramod – Considering the high quality involved, our cost of manufacturing these games has been quite high. Hence a relatively higher price of Rs. 1200. But when seen from the value perspective it is not much. That is the price a family would end up spending on one weekend movie/dinner outing. Parents are able to see that value in our games and hence are picking them up from online stores like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc along with our own website, www.kitki.in.
However, still a lot of parents still don’t know about Kitki and our games. And until that discovery happens, we can’t expect many sales. Stalls at schools, communities and fairs is one effective way of spreading the word and interacting with relevant parents. This awareness and outreach is what we are working on currently.
YEF – How’s the business going on and who are your key clients?
Pramod – So far, we made an overall sale of about 500 games which were ordered by parents, teachers and education experts from 15 different countries. This has validated our game concepts, their quality, price and the fact that we are not just looking at an India-only market.
YEF – Your current target regions and future plans?
Pramod – Together with our differentiating factors (innovative concepts, high quality game play & materials) and the market validation, we are looking at a great recipe to become India’s most recognised brand among educational games. We aim to get there within 2 years, following which we look to take over the world.
YEF – What do you think are the most important factors that will make your company a success?
Pramod – More or less answered in previous questions.
YEF – Who are your role models?
Pramod – We take inspiration from every entrepreneur. Having gone through the ups and downs of this journey for close to three years, we respect every tiny success story.
YEF – What words of advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs?
Pramod – Creating a successful business requires the entrepreneurs to carry a passion for their work but more than that, one needs to keep their ears open. Don’t ignore the suggestions of your potential customers. These hints can reveal an effective approach to reaching such customers.
YEF – What do you think about this initiative of Young Entreprennovators Forum?
Pramod – Its always nice to network with other entrepreneurs and share stories and learn from one another. The more such forums, the better. Thank you, YEF for taking the initiative.
Visit Company Website: Kitki