Exclusive: India-based childhood learning startup Magic Crate raises seed funding from Mohandas Pai, others

Visual from Magic Crate website.

Magic Crate, an early childhood learning startup, has raised seed funding in a round led by T.V. Mohandas Pai and his venture funding firm, Aarin Capital.

Other investors who participated in this round include Narayanan Ramaswamy, head of education practice at consulting firm KPMG, and Sethuraman Sivaramakrishnan.

The startup was founded last year by Viswanathan Ramakrishnan, who was previously with the Pearson Group and education venture TutorVista, and ex-McKinsey consultant Karthik Lakshman.

Magic Crate offers a subscription-based service that produces and delivers hands-on activities for kids. The activities are designed by a team of early childhood experts & product designers, and are designed to entertain and educate kids. Parents who subscribe to the service receive a box every month which has the necessary materials, ideas and instructions for kids to build.

Each of such crates explores a new area of interest, and the final output of building is a toy. For example, a water themed activity takes a kid through a series of steps to build a boat propelled by rubber band. It has a small rotor that uses tensile force of the band to move forward on water.

“Research has shown that about 80 per cent of critical brain development happens before a child turns 8. During these years, they have a lot of free time, and it becomes a big challenge for parents to keep them engaged at home. Many parents don’t have time for that, and give them a phone to play with, or switch on the TV for them to watch. We want to solve this pain point for millions of such busy, well-intentioned parents,” said Ramakrishnan in a chat with DEALSTREETASIA.

The company offers subscription plans for 3-12 months starting at Rs 549 per month. Parents can also buy individual crates outside of such plans for Rs 1,099 per box. Ramakrishnan said, about 100 crates were shipped in the first month of operations, and have since grown by 50 per cent month on month. “We expect the adoption rate to increase after we launch our digital platform in coming days,” he said.

There are about 55 million kids in the age group of 1-8 in India, which forms Magic Crate’s addressable market of more than $1 billion. “And the problem we are solving is not confined to India alone,” Ramakrishnan said.

“The Magic Crate team has deep expertise in the field, and is leveraging its domain experience and design talent to scale production and adoption very responsibly and successfully. We are glad to be joining this team’s journey, and we believe it will strengthen the education ecosystem through this fundamental value proposition,” said Pranav Pai, who invested on behalf of his father Mohandas Pai.

Magic crate intends to use the funds towards expanding its product portfolio, growing the team and scaling manufacturing.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.