By Invite: Shabnam Aggarwal of KleverKid
It all started with a massive failure. I had been sitting in the waiting room of a well known principal for 2 hours. I could hear him shouting requests from his cabin, but he would never come out for any reason. While I sat there, I noticed a couple fidgeting with their child’s dress, hair, and shoes. They sat and waited patiently, with worried faces, a bit like mine. I was there to pitch my services to the principal, perfectly prepped to answer any question he might have about my offering (and my general amazingness). As I waited, I struck up a conversation with the nervous looking young mother sitting next to me.
Meena had already visited 30 other playschools in this area in the past 1 year, she told me, and had to take extra unpaid vacation just for this purpose. I could tell from her daughter’s eyes that she had that beautiful cunningness of a brilliant child in her. Meena bemoaned the process of waiting in numerous principal’s offices, feeling like she was begging them to let her give them heaps of money. She felt helpless. All the while, she had no idea which playschool was better than the others. She simply went where her friends were sending their kids, hoping and assuming one would be great. I nodded along, half-listening while I worried about my own problems of closing this sale so that I could pay the rent next month.
All of a sudden my name was called. I jumped from my chair, and with a meek goodbye-goodluck I shuffled into the principal’s office to start my pitch. It was a short and sweet one way conversation:
What are you offering?
What’s so great about you?
How can you do this for free for me?
How can I make some extra money while working with you?
I left the office completely dejected. This one man’s endorsement could have changed my business. I hailed an auto and started the long trek home, wondering what went wrong. I couldn’t get Meena out of my head though. I kept replaying our conversation, thinking about how frustrating an experience it must be to want to give your child the best, but not have any reasonable way to go about doing it.
It all started with a massive failure. I had been sitting in the waiting room of a well known principal for 2 hours.
I called up a friend with a new born baby and asked her the biggest question on my mind: Is this a problem for all Moms or just Meena? She told me the story about how when she was 5 months pregnant a relative called her to suggest she start looking for play schools to admit her unborn baby into. Yes, it’s a problem for all of us, she said. Rich, poor, well-connected, or recently shifted, we all face this problem. Worse, it continues past playschool. When she’s 5, she said, we’ll have to find a dance teacher. When she’s 8, a karate instructor. When she’s 15, a college counselor. “It’s a full time job,” she said, “and I would like to work!”
I realized something then: there’s nowhere for parents to go to find these programs, verify their quality, and sleep easy knowing they found the best for their kid. It sounded a lot like the problem we once had when trying to figure out where to go out for dinner on Saturday night: we wanted to be sure it’s going to be a great experience before we made our decision. I collected information about a few nearby programs and play schools in my area, put them together on a website, and shared the site with a few good friends.
Shabnam Aggarwal started KleverKid as a collator of children’s events and activities around their city
The response was incredible. Many of them wanted to contribute programs they loved to the site, so we started the #BOSSMOMS program- where moms got flexible work opportunities with our website. The program heads and play school owners loved it too. They hated dealing with marketing, sales and fee collections, and KleverKid gave them a platform to manage everything in one place.
It’s been an incredible ride since then, we covered Delhi NCR and now we’re launching in Bangalore this month and Bombay in 2 month’s time!
Cheers to all the mothers out there, you do what no man could even dream of doing.
Feature Pic Credit: Deal Curry
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