When there’s a will there’s a way

We live in a world full of stereotypes and judgements, anything that’s not normal is usually not greeted. In a country full of engineers and doctors and other scholars we push our kids to do their best in what we think is best for them. Our education system is predesigned in a format that does not cater to every child. As a child, I loved History and Geography but Maths was not my favorite but then I did meet a teacher later who taught me well, if not teach she fostered an interest in maths in me.

Today we are in conversation with Saurabh Jain – Founder of Fun2DoLabs – An open education project. Main organizer of Twitter Developer Group -India and also Head Paytm- Build for India.

 

Whats the story behind your startup- Fun2DoLabs

Fun2Do Labs started due to inspiration from my son. He was 6 years old in 2016. He took out Arduino from my drawer and started tinkering with it. Arduino is a digital micro-controller used for making IoT prototypes. My son became my companion in learning Arduino even though he was just 6 years old. My wife was unhappy with my son’s performance in school. So I saw that kids who can be termed as a genius on one side are termed as bad students on the other side. I wanted to help my son to be a better learner without going through the pain brought upon by the traditional education system.

 

In parallel, I started developing some mobile games and video content for training kids. I had the background in building e-learning content as I had clients like Penguin Books, Topper TV etc in the past. The more I researched on the topic of education the more convinced I became of the need to bring fun to education. Even my wife and mother motivated me to venture into EdTech space since they felt that I was able to turn around my son with the help of my innovative ideas around education.

 

Unlike majority of the people building educational policy I believe that money is not the reason behind bad educational standards in India and around the world in general. The basic design and logistics of education system are ill suited for learning. Many people are silent victims of the education system. The solution according to me is in making education open and fun. Fun2Do Labs has started an open education project on our website fun2dolabs.org .

Paytm and Fun2DoLabs

The biggest achievement as a company has been in getting Paytm as a client. Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder of Paytm was so impressed by our new ideas in education that he wanted us to do something to solve India’s technology and design related talent issues. We have started ‘Paytm – Build for India’ initiative to channelise the energy of India’s youth to solve the country’s pressing problems. I am happy that we are getting very good response from students, educational institutions and technology and design mentors from around the country.

Paytm- Build For India

‘Paytm – Build for India’ is an initiative which aims to channelise the energy of youth into solving India’s problems using open source software, hardware and content. While working in my startup I realised that all the members of a startup get 10x improvement in learning speed due to the challenging conditions within a startup. Even failed startups can be a great place for learning. Working in a startup is better for learning then studying in a good college but doing no practical work.
 
The problem which the Indian product companies face is that employees in India are not makers at heart. They were makers when they were kids but the education system has made them like the character ‘Chatur’ in film 3 Idiots. Such people cannot be innovative. Thus Indian startup find difficulty in competing with US and Chinese startups. 
 
We aim to provide college students and freshers with mentoring opportunities so that they can create cutting edge open source projects to solve India’s problems. We are getting good response. We are having mentors which are mentoring students on topics like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Mobile Apps, UX Design etc free of cost. Senior people from within Paytm and the industry are coming together to mentor passionate students. Students learn by working on cutting edge practical projects.
 
The aim is to increase the general depth of talent within the industry. This is a CSR initiative for Paytm. I will like to tell here that only an innovative person like Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma had the guts to fund such a program. Most people in industry can not fund such a long gestation program.

Benefits of the Project

This is a one of a kind project , who and how can people benefit from the same.

  • Students benefit because they get to work on practical projects and get mentoring opportunities. Students will get branding opportunities also. We plan to award Paytm Scholar certificates to bright students.
  • Mentors benefit because they get to tinker on cutting edge projects with bright students. Innovative mentors need tinkering opportunities to be happy. Also mentors will get branding in the industry for their volunteering efforts. Mentors also will form life long bonds with passionate students and freshers.
  • India benefits because on one hand the higher education problem is getting solved and on the other hand some of the projects will solve problems like education, health, governance, financial inclusion etc.
  • Colleges benefit because they get a readymade pool of industry experts for their students.
  • Industry benefits because their is increase in the pool of talented people within cutting edge domains like AI, Machine Learning, UX Design etc.
So at the end all players in the ecosystem benefit from this initiative.

The future of Paytm- Build for India

We aim to expand geographically to whole of India in the next couple of years. We aim to get thousands of students within the program and hundreds of colleges within the program in the coming years. We also aim to get other industry partners on board with us. We plan to do major work in the areas of education, health, governance and financial inclusion. We plan to build good expertise in areas like Blockchains, AI/ML, Cloud Computing, Mobile Apps, Design etc.

Twitter Developer Group India

Saurabh also happens to be the head of Twitter Developer Group India .We had a great Twitter Developer Meetup this time on January 19, 2018. We have done many meetups till now. We are the largest Twitter developer’s group in the world. I am the main organiser but I am also thankful to volunteers who selflessly help me to organise the meetup. We had 75 participants in the meetup. Senior Vice President of Paytm had a great talk on product management in the meetup. I am happy that even Twitter HQ is happy with our progress so far. They had invited me to visit the Twitter HQ in San Francisco last year.

Twitter Developer meet up