Exclusive: Education service group S Chand seed funds Smartivity with $200K
New Delhi-based Smartivity Labs Pvt Ltd, an online venture that deploys augmented reality and robotics for kids learning projects, has secured seed funding of $200,000 from educational textbook publisher S Chand and Co Pvt Ltd.
Smartivity (Smartivity.in) would use the money raised to expand its product portfolio and venture into new cities, Ashwini Kumar, co-founder, told Techcircle.in. The startup will also use the money raised to invest in supply chain and enhance its products.
"Our vision to use robots for learning is quickly taking shape as one of our products in in advanced prototype stage. Within the next three months, we will be ready with India's first robot based learning module," Kumar added.
Founded in January, Smartivity offers range of learning projects for kids and adults. The activity-based projects utilise STEM (an acronym for science, technology, engineering and Math education) learning, augmented reality, robotics, coding and internet connected devices. It offer eight 'do-it-together' projects for parents and kids, all of which are manufactured in-house. The startup's projects have been deployed across 40 cities. Smartivity recently launched what it claims to be India's first augmented reality-based 3D colouring book.
"We will be expanding the STEM learning category from eight to 19 activities," Kumar said, adding that Smartivity would launch an internet connected learning device next year.
IIT-Delhi alumni Kumar, Apoorv Gupta and Rajat Jain started Smartivity besides Tushar Amin. Kumar, Apoorv and Rajat had earlier founded a startup called Yoohoobox, which offered art and craft projects on a monthly subscription format. Gupta was employed with Deloitte before starting Smartivity, while Amin worked with GQ India.
Founded in 1939 by Shyam Lal Gupta, S Chand Group is now owned and managed by Himanshu Gupta and Dinesh Kumar Jhunjhnuwala and their families. In 2012, private equity firm Everstone Capital picked up 35 per cent stake in S Chand & Co for $38 million. Last year, S Chand Group acquired a majority stake in Delhi-based publisher New Saraswati House (I) Pvt Ltd.
The group has offices in 26 cities across India with printing facilities at Rudrapur (in Uttarakhand) and Sahibabad (in Uttar Pradesh). It publishes a variety of books catering to up to 12th standard (or K-12), higher education, competitive exams and children's books. Besides, it offers digital learning solutions for government and private schools and engineering colleges through joint ventures.
In the domestic category, S Chand is the second-largest player by revenue after Navneet Publications. The size of educational publishing industry in India is pegged at $2 billion.