Published: 22nd January 2020
Tired of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? Kutuki can help your kids get Indian rhymes
Sneha Sundaram, Founder of Kutuki speaks about their app specially developed for preschool kids and how it helps them develop language and soft skills. The rhymes are available in four languages
When Sneha Sundaram and Bharath Bevinahally launched their app, named Kutuki, for preschool children in January 2019, never in their wildest dreams did they think that NITI Aayog (the policy think tank of the Government of India) would sit up and take note of it. It was a double whammy when Sneha featured in the list of the Top 30 Women Transforming India, selected by NITI Aayog. You're probably wondering what makes this app so special that it's garnering so much attention. You wouldn't be wrong to wonder it, I did too. But then I learnt that what's unique about it is that it provides original music and videos in four different languages that can help kids enhance their language and life skills.
Though Sneha and her co-founder Bharath come from different educational backgrounds, their love for music was the uniting factor. While Sneha is a classical singer, Bharath is a Carnatic violinist, guitarist and audio producer. "Apart from working in the corporate world, we are performing musicians too. We have also composed music for several documentaries, podcasts and so on. Our experience in the music field is what lead us to start Kutuki," says Sneha. She adds, "At the same time, preschool educators we knew were telling us about how they are so tired of teaching and singing the same old nursery rhymes like Baa Baa Black Sheep and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. They told us how there is no rhyme that children in India can connect with. Also, when it comes to rhymes, there is very limited representation from our regional languages. Therefore, we decided to write original rhymes and compose the music on our own."
Kutuki was started with the help of N S Raghavan Centre of Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL), a start-up hub and incubation centre at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB). Two years ago, IIMB initiated the Women’s Start-Up Programme, India’s first online and classroom initiative to encourage female entrepreneurs. From around 5,000 applicants, only 100 were selected and Sneha's start-up idea was one of them.
The team behind developing Kutuki app
More about Kutuki
While doing their research, Sneha realised that in India, there are 200 million children below the age of seven and only 40,000 preschools exist to cater to their needs. The duo also found out that schools have limited resource materials for these young children, whether it was with regards to learning Math, English or Science. Hence, producing original content proved to be important as they could come up with material that would suit the Indian context better. She explains, "Initially, we started with audio content but now, we have illustrated books, visuals, animated videos and so on. Around one lakh parents and educators are using Kutuki now. We also found out that people who started using the app have stopped using other platforms. Kutuki can be downloaded on Android and iOS devices and even on tablets. Parents can sign up for a limited trial period after which there is a nominal subscription charge."
Kutuki's content is based on four broad domains of development for early childhood education — language and phonics, early number sense in Math, basic sounds, and social behavioural, life skills and cognitive development. These cover the entire spectrum of early childhood education, which ranges from kids between two to seven years. "We make different videos for different age groups. We keep the learning stage of both a two-year-old child and a seven-year-old child in mind to build our content and videos. Currently, children can access the content in Hindi, Kannada, Marathi and English. We will be launching it in Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi and Bengali very soon," says Sneha.
Sneha and her team's method of reaching out to people have earned them more than one lakh users to date, including parents and educators. "When we launched Kutuki, we conducted several workshops in schools. This was done to not only spread awareness about our platform but also to explain to people how quality content can help kids learn different skills. We also use social media extensively to reach out to people. Our Instagram and Facebook pages are where people access most of the information about how one can use Kutuki. Apart from this, we have started using TikTok to reach out to parents in Tier II and Tier III cities. We have reached many people thanks to several parents and educators who have started recommending it to others."
With very few players in the field of preschool in India, Sneha's vision is to be one of the top preschool brands, just like Peppa Pig in the USA. "We want our children to not only be consumers but also develop skills with the help of our content. We are also planning to create characters that are universal in nature and are easy to recall. Hence, Kutu — a young boy — and Ki — a young girl — are permanent characters in our videos. And then there is Munku, their elephant. All our stories are built around these characters so that people will remember them for generations to come. We have also launched two books — New Years of India and Breakfasts of India. These books are for children too and narrate stories about the diversity of India and provide them with essential knowledge. Launching more such books is on our to-do list."