Tejasvi Musale, Co-founder & CEO at Luma World
Name : Tejasvi Musale
Title: Co-founder and CEO
Company Name : Luma World
Website : https://lumaworld.in/
Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Tejasvi Musale: How many times have we heard from kids, parents, friends or maybe even ourselves "Oh, studying is so boring!" or "Oh no! Exams are coming up!". While others looked at education as something necessary, for me it was the process of acquiring knowledge and WHY we learn rather than WHAT that always stood out. So, I asked myself why don't we like studying at school but love playing a sport or watching a movie. What if we could make learning fun and entertaining like any other hobby!
So, a couple years ago, I got together with my friends Sameer, Sajid and Venkat to start Luma World. We were passionate about education and have had the privilege of studying in prestigious educational institutions in India and abroad. However we found the system of education in India was focused on rote memorization while in other countries it was on practical application. Doing further research and speaking to a lot of educators, parents and kids we found that learning was more theoretical and monotonous in schools and not focused on enhancing the experience of learners. So, many students get bored or lose interest in a lot of topics. That’s when we had an amazing idea. We said, “Why not combine learning with play?” and Luma World was born. We take academic concepts, life skills and moral values and combine them into games and other activities so that kids never realize they’re “studying” but rather gain all essential skills while having fun.
If learning cannot be made useful in the real world then what use is it? We make the process of learning fun and the knowledge gained useful in everyday life!
Great Companies: What are the various services provided by Luma World
Tejasvi Musale: At Luma World we like to call ourselves an Educational Experience Design Company which means we create products and offer services that make the learning ecosystem purposeful and fun!
Our products are targeted towards families with kids between ages 3 and up with the primary focus of getting everyone OFF their digital screens and spend meaningful time together. By doing this parents, grandparents and siblings play an important role in a child's education while the child gains all-round development of academic and social skills.
The best part about our products are they are curriculum agnostic which means it doesn't matter what school your child goes to or what syllabus they follow, all our games will give them a combination of 3 kinds of skills -
Academic skills like math, science, etc.
Life skills which are crucial in the 21st century like critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, etc.
Moral values like patience, honesty, sharing, etc.
We have reached over 25,000 families in over 10 countries with our products and the feedback has been overwhelming! Whether at home, in classrooms, as gifts or even at events our products have been used and appreciated which brings me a lot of joy!
Through the last 3 years, especially after COVID, we have opened up 2 other services we provide:
We have coined the term GDaaS (Game Design as a Service) - where we help companies sitting on huge content banks to gamify it and release products for their target audience. As we are one of the few non-tech game design companies in India a lot of firms really value what we do especially from a product or merchandise perspective.
Next, we host numerous events, workshops, contests and competitions around educational board games which are extremely niche in India. We not only get families and friends to enjoy games and have a great time but we have also conducted sessions where we teach kids on how to design their own games! I'm sure there's almost no other company in India that does this like a program like we do.
Great Companies: What makes Luma World different from hundreds of other similar service providers?
Tejasvi Musale: This is a great question! I think our biggest strength is how, in a world full of digital learning, we are focused on creating physical learning experiences. In a way, as odd as it may sound, we are a few years ahead of the market. Here there are two different scenarios, learning at home and learning at school. Let’s look at the former first. In today's age, especially after COVID, parents are slowly realizing the perils of screen time for young kids, especially those under the age of 12. Screens isolate kids and, though technology has some great powers, it almost divides families within the house. Gone are the days where the entire family could sit together at dinner and talk or sit around a table and play a game. Everyone is just glued to his or her phones or computers or TV. This, according to me, is the real pandemic!
We are in the process of changing that. We want to provide an awesome experience for families to come together, have as much fun as they would on their gadgets and make some amazing memories together. This is even more important for families with young kids and old people because there is no age limit for having fun! When families play our games, the main reason they love it is because there’s something for everyone in there! Today, there is nothing of common interest for grandparents, parents and kids to play... our games have changed that!
The second scenario is the classroom. When we spoke to educators in India the two biggest problems were engaging children in academics and dealing with different kinds of learners with different abilities and ensuring everyone is learning. In India, this gets tougher when classrooms have upwards of 35 kids and only one teacher to instruct them. This is where the magic of game-based learning comes in. Kids run away at the sight of textbooks and homework but keep a game on the table and kids become very curious. This is where we really stand out of the crowd. We have managed to blend core academic concepts like Numeracy, Decimals, Percentages, Measurements, Geometry along with life skills like creativity, teamwork, communication, problem solving, financial literacy and “gamify” all the learning objectives based on the curriculum. Kids do not even realize they’re learning textbook topics through our games and what’s better is that by constantly playing they are only getting better at it.
Our games allow kids of different abilities to learn together too. One lovely case study we saw in a classroom was a student with a learning disability used to struggle in math as per the teacher. When we set the game out, this kid was playing with other kids who were amongst the top 1% of his learning peers. It was such a joy to see this student win the game. It provided the kid with a huge confidence boost that he told us “You know what, maybe I’m not bad in math, maybe exams are not meant for me!” It is so cool to see kids now have the opportunity to learn the way they want in an atmosphere where failure is not reprimanded but rather accepted. You lost a round of this game? No problem. Let’s play another one. The child only keeps learning that way. Educators love this aspect of our games. They see children are engaged and most importantly they learn in a cooperative and supportive manner. We give learners the freedom to explore, experiment and learn in the ways they want without any coercion.
Like Einstein famously said “Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.”
Last, we have a unique position from a business perspective as well. We all know how the government is looking to make India a hub of manufacturing and designing toys. While most companies continue to import toys and sell them here we are doing the reverse. We proudly ideate, design, develop and sustainably make in India by helping small scale printers to use recycled paper and cardboard to manufacture our games. Then, we go a step forward and export these globally. Our goal is to Make in India for the entire World and I'm proud to say that we've managed to do that end to end within just 3 years!
Great Companies: What were the struggles and challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Tejasvi Musale: I think one of the biggest challenges in India specifically has been how most parents or educators don't view games as learning tools and resources. They don’t think games can teach their kids valuable skills they can use at school or in their lives. Hence, they are reluctant. For most of them learning and fun are separate with no overlap. Why does it need to be one or the other, why can't learning be fun? Breaking this perception and belief has been a huge challenge. However, thanks to my excellent team, we have overcome this and how.
First, we have created an excellent experience through our product itself. Everything from the artwork, story, themes, creative and quality is top notch. It feels like an international product and people are surprised (and proud) to know it is Indian. Next, we make the user experience seamless. We provide QR codes to easily view videos teaching how to play the game and provide ideas on how the products can be used to benefit the child. We also have created free resources for everyone to access to continue their learning even beyond the product like downloadable activities and worksheets. All of this makes the parent and educator feel comfortable as they know Luma World, the brand, is supporting them in all stages. We build a connection and support system through our product experience which is crucial when the concept is new for them.
If we look at how we convince parents who are sitting on the fence then once again we've overcome that challenge at a global scale. We have used clever marketing and real life testimonials of actual customers to show to a lot of reluctant parents HOW games can transform their child's life. Now, with the resurgence of physical events and exhibitions a lot of parents come with their kids and try out our games and within 10 minutes they are convinced that this product will help their child! Why? Because of 3 reasons - enthusiasm, engagement and affordability. They see how excited their kids get and how easily, even while doing maths, they are focused and concentrating. This never happens with a textbook or homework. They suddenly see a spark in their child which they use as a hook! Last, our products are extremely affordable, less than half the cost of a meal at a restaurant for the whole family! And twice the fun!
Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What does 5 years down the line look like for Luma World?
Tejasvi Musale: Though we create physical products the power of technology is immense. I often tell all our stakeholders that Luma World is not a tech averse company, we are one that wants to use technology purposefully. My entire team is of the strong belief that using technology as a marketing or sales gimmick is a short sighted view, we have been pioneers in our thought and design and we want to continue that with our use of technology also.
So, what are we looking to create? We want to build a seamless "phygital" educational experience revolving around play. This means the child or learners will interact with products physically but all this data will be logged and recorded to provide parents and educators better reports of how each one is faring and also recommend personalised learning modules for each child. This is the future of education. Imagine playing chess and getting data about how each piece you've picked, how many times, what you could have done differently and what would be the result if you did! Imagine being able to gain skills in this efficient manner. Currently we find technology to be basic in providing such data and if it is able to do so it is intrusive to the playing and learning experience. We believe in the next 2-3 years we will be able to launch our first "phygital" product to let kids play and learn while helping parents and educators intuitively shape and define their educational journey.
In the next 5 years, our goal is to become a globally recognised brand in educational games and toys. We want to put India on the map by challenging the notion that great design and product companies from India cannot make a global mark!
Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Tejasvi Musale: Wow, this would be an interview by itself! I have 4 very important bits of advice to every budding entrepreneur.
Build a powerful business proposition
Trust only your customers' feedback and your vision,
Cut out the noise
Don't chase wild geese.
First, it is important to understand building a business is different from having an idea. An idea may be executable but it may not make money or in simpler words, an idea that helps you may not help everyone least of all make them pay money for it! Next, if your idea has business potential then test it with potential customers first. See if they'll pay for it and if so how much. Value their feedback and trust them blindly. Set your ego aside. If your customer says they don't like something, change it. If they say they have a problem, then find a way to solve it. Your business is nothing without it solving your customers' problems and supporting them in every way. At the same time, trust your vision for your company. If you feel a customer has a different view entirely from other feedback you've received then maybe they weren't your target to begin with. Sometimes, it's ok to say no rather than trying to please everyone!
The next two points are crucial. Don't let trends and advice deviate you from your path. For example, people were shocked we're creating physical products in a digital world but parents and educators repeatedly told us this was a problem for them. We listened to the latter and it paid off and how! Imagine if we just made digital games and put them on phones, would our customers remain the same? Rather when we provide a purposeful solution we expand our core base and build a loyal community. This is the difference between a trend or fad and building a brand! Lastly, focus only on the task at hand. Sometimes we fear missing out on opportunities and end up doing justice to none! When building something from scratch it pays off to wear horse blinkers. It'll help you focus and become the master of one. Use the success, however small, to help you gain a foothold and then build the next level!
Entrepreneurship is very fulfilling but very stressful. Also, you're on a journey with a lot of people so make sure your team is full of like minded folks!