Making ‘play’ a serious business: Anthill Creations

Play’ is disappearing at home, at school and in communities, particularly for the 23.6% of Indian population living in poverty. Children are missing out on the childhood they deserve. The idea of Anthill Creations is to create the world where communities come together and active play becomes affordable and accessible to all. Anthill Creations work towards lighter, quicker and cheaper transformation of dead zones into interactive and sustainable playscapes from scrap tyres and recycled material by mobilising the communities. When Team SoS spoke to the Founder Pooja Rai, this is what we discovered.

With the motivation to do something meaningful for kids, it has identified how playing is an integral part in the development of a child which is missing in today’s society. With their expertise in architecture and design, it has come up with this solution to build low cost and sustainable playspaces.

Some of the prominent milestones of this startup have been:

  • 2017 – Qualified for IIM Bangalore Social Launchpad Program (NSRCEL)
  • 2017 – Featured among top 10 startups at Tipping Point 1.0
  • 2016 – Featured by Jagriti Yatra & YourStory as part of Jagriti Mela’16
  • 2016 – Selected for Startup Leadership Program
  • 2016 – Runner Up at B-PlanCompetition @Eximius, IIM Bangalore
  • 2016 – Successfully accomplished two crowdfunding campaigns on FuelADream.com
  • 2015 – Completed Pilot project at IIT Kharagpur & featured by Times of India

The startup states that these are the following ideas that make them unique and a class apart from the crowd.

Sustainable and Low Cost: Anthill playscapes are one-fourth the cost of a usual playground which uses material like steel, wood or plastic. Instead, we use recyclable materials like scrap tyres to create beautiful playscapes.

Scalability through Technology: The modular designs that we have for different play units are easily replicable and DIY by a step by step process built by us.

Redefining Play: Play is much more than a swing, slide and a see-saw. We have a design library where we focus on the holistic development of the child.

When we asked the founder the financial here is what she says, “We are a non-profit organisation and our major focus is on creating a large-scale impact. We are trying to raise money through grants or incubation so that we can scale to meet the aggressive target of creating 1000 playscapes every year.”

The startup aims to spread the happiness of play as per the schedule:

By 2017: 20 projects, 5 cities

Collaborations to scale to different cities: Parikrama, Mantra4change, UNHCR, Playground Ideas, Rise Now, TMCP

By 2018: 80 projects, 15 cities

Set up workshops in 4 cities, which act as innovation labs.

By 2019: 400 projects, across all states

Create modular designs which can be replicated and scaled much faster with less effort and manpower.

By 2020: 1000 playscapes every year and a PAN India presence

Use the modular designs and mobilize the local community to build lighter, quicker and cheaper playscapes.

The team had a very interesting take when we questioned them about their challenges.

“Being an entrepreneur is difficult, being a social entrepreneur is more difficult. In India, a non profit organisation is typically seen as laid back and slow. Not many young and smart people are in this sector. We are a startup and we look at large scale impact through a sustainable business model with a only difference of also creating a 3 fold impact- Social, Economic and Environmental.

On a personal level, every day is a challenge, you learn a lot in the process sometimes from others, sometimes after doing mistakes.”

Being a social startup the key ingredients to continuously walk along the entrepreneurial journey have been:

Motivation and Passion: The drive to bring a change in the lives of children in an innovative way keeps us going. Continuous support from family and friends does wonder.

Team: Having known each other from past 7 years, we have a very close team who came together for this common vision to bring a large-scale impact in a sustainable way. The team claims that their biggest inspiration comes from within and that is the will to do what they have been doing.

The startup scenario is serious business for Anthill and when we enquired their word of advice for budding entrepreneurs and how they tackle patriarchy in the same context, this is what they say,

“Entrepreneurship is not fun! It might be very exciting in the beginning but jump into it only when you have a long-term plan for it. I think it is no different for men or women to do a start-up. We do get comments like “ Two girls can’t do startup”, “Brave girls”, “Do you have guys in your company”, “Get a stable job, get married” but I think it only motivates us all the more to prove them wrong.”

— Team SoS

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