No we didn’t start in a garage. We started inside a toy library!
It was in summer of 2013, when three friends met in Chennai. During a conversation over playing board games, there was a realization of being lucky. We had been lucky to have opportunity to play while due to increasing study pressure on children, many of them loose out on holistic development. The discussion became more serious when we started sharing our personal stories.
Prior to this summer, Neelam had spent time in rural Rajasthan with government schools working on school leadership, Santhosh had been running a toy library (Bambaram) in Chennai and Saurabh had just returned after completing a year of study in US. There was a realization that we were gifted a lot of things right – been born to supporting parents, gone to the known schools, were tutored by the motivated teachers and had grown up into the well-to-do careers. Some other children we grew up missed out on these things in some form. Now we wanted to share our luck/gift with others. We wanted to look forward and stop other children from losing out to life’s chances. And we wanted to do that in a way that made us feel happy.
We started conducting play workshops in couple of schools in Chennai. Encouraged by the response from Chennai we pooled in another friend Karunesh and started conducting workshops with a out-of-school children group in Gurgaon. Our workshops were going great but we were hitting roadblock in terms of content. We wanted to children to have fun and learn skills that are not normally taught in school setting. However quality games and that too in local context and language were limited.
We soon realized that a large number of children in India never play because they have to work and support their families or because they have no toys to play with or because their schools do not have playing spaces or because their parents and teachers think that playing is a waste of time! After few months, we decided to venture into game design and create more product options for children. We have decided to do our bit to change these reasons and get children to play through Khel Planet. Because children should play!