Game-based engagement learning startup Shirsa Labs raises USD 250K from ah! Ventures


Mumbai, 4th November 2015Shirsa Labs, an Ed-tech startup has raised USD 250,000 angel capital funding through ah! Ventures, a startup focused growth catalyst bridging ideas and money. Founded in 2013 by Sukhada Tendulkar and Mandar Desai, Shirsa Labs uses online engagement platform “Planet of GUI” to entertain and educate children mainly in the age group of 6-13. The deal was solely advised and syndicated by ah! Ventures and led to closure on its private equity investment platform,

Shirsa Labs is India’s first dedicated content driven engagement learning platform for kids. SHIRSA aims to stimulate the intellectual and learning skills of children by using a healthy combination of online and offline interactive methods. It has multiple games, worksheets, videos, DIYs which engages kids and boosts their cognitive learning. Each offering is crafted using the most recent findings from the field of child development. Every child undergoes a free assessment and is provided with a detailed report on his / her cognitive profile with a customized program. This program is scheduled for kids to play 30 minutes a day and 3/4 times a week. A detailed quarterly report is sent to the parents to help them monitor child’s progress on the platform.

“In the larger context of children’s growth and development, we strongly felt that there is a huge open space where significant value can be created for children, parents and educators. Kids love play online, parents want actionable information and educators can teach better when children are motivated. We have connected these points and want Shirsa Labs to be a collaborator in this exciting eco-system that must work together,” explains Sukhada Tendulkar, Co-Founder & CEO of Shirsa Labs.

Sukhada sees Shirsa Labs as a new category creator which she calls “enter-cation”; derived from ‘entertainment and education’. “Children today are exposed to multiple gadgets and online medium. There was a fight for my television time with my mom and today the exact same thing is happening for the gadget and internet time. The digital native generation deserves a better solution to the problem and we are here for all those young kids who love playing online”, adds Sukhada.

Mandar Desai, Co-Founder & CFO of Shirsa Labs, further elucidates, “Parents can be assured that children are safe on our platforms. We have the best content from across the world. Partnered with biggies like NatGeo, Discovery, and many more, gives us an access to tons of content which is loved by kids. Child safety is our utmost priority. “Our scalability and real life connect positions us uniquely to deliver significant value to the young ones. Through the online Economy, Children earn Geekos (the currency on the platform) which they spend to buy uniquely matched stuff from the platform. As we understand the child more on the platform through analytics, we generate insights and personalized recommendations for parents.”

“Its proposition philosophy is based on the most recent researches in India and other countries that agree on one common finding about the key role motivation plays in learning outcomes of children. Learning is the foundation of multiple cognitive skills and learning styles. Non-school based solution which complements the learning at schools for K1 to K8. Our team is an interesting cohort of artists, technologists, educators and business professionals. All of us are driven by a common passion for providing equal opportunity for learning and development to children from a wide spectrum of social and economic background.”  Says Kunal Ambasht, Director & COO, Shirsa Labs.

Shirsa has developed a multipronged approach to attract children using a personalized story-line, engage parents with quantified reporting and involve educational institutions with goal based co-curriculum lab solutions. Both virtual and real world tools have been utilized to create a comprehensive product for the three stakeholders mentioned above. “Technology, smartphones, internet and data analytics are the most powerful tools at our disposal today. Used intelligently, they provide us an unprecedented opportunity for creating engaging products across multiple platforms and hence reaching out to millions.”  Claims Manuel Fernandes, the Tech wizard at Shirsa Labs.

The startup will use this round of funding to strengthen its team further and are in talks with senior industry people for the same. Shirsa aims to make “planet of gui” app, ranks number 1 in edutainment category in India. With its flagship product the startup is eyeing at the entire global market. This is a global platform and team Shirsa is committed to reach to maximum potential.

Giving an investor’s perspective, Harshad Lahoti, Founder & CEO of ah! Ventures said, “The market that Shirsa is targeting is phenomenally large. India has over 100 million students enrolled in K1- K8 which is almost 20 to 200 times that of US and UK respectively. Besides, evidence of increasing enrolment in private schools in rural India – from 18% in 2006 to 25% in 2011 to over 30% today – is proof enough that even rural India is exploring newer and innovative avenues of teaching and learning. This coupled with the fact that Shirsa has over 70,000+ registered students, access to over 2,000+ schools and unique content sharing partnership with the likes of NatGeo, Discovery and others have made a compelling case for investment for the CLUB ah! investors. ah! Ventures is thrilled to be a part of this journey.”

This deal was concluded through ah! Ventures’ private equity investment platform, CLUB ah!. CLUB ah! is India’s first full-spectrum startup investment network and platform comprising of over 500 investors, including some of the renowned angels and early-stage VCs. CLUB ah! platform today has over 4500+ startups, 465+ seed/angel investors and over 65 VCs & institutional investors, making it one of the largest platform of investors and startups. The network also recently secured its first profitable exit from Ed-tech venture Harness Handitouch within 2 years of its investment. CLUB ah! has till date invested close to INR 60 crores in over 20 startups spread across varied industries and domains, including Shirsa Labs.

Shirsa will be the second Ed-tech startup in recent times that ah! Ventures has helped raised capital for apart from iDreamCareer. Previously they have also invested in many other Ed-tech ventures like LogicRoots, TestBook, uFaber and Harness Handitouch.

ah! Ventures is in the process of closing 3 more deals in the coming weeks.