Robobox: An innovative startup that teaches robotics using upgradable toys

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Humans began designing robots to assist them in their tasks. With the evolution of robotics, today there are industries and sectors that are fully automated and do not require human interference at all. In order to advance further in the area of robotics, we need students who are interested and also receive proper education in the same.

Robobox is an initiative by Mr. Parth Nachane who began his journey during the COVID-19 lockdown. As the tagline of the company goes, ‘educating young minds’, it teaches Robotics and STEM learning. It is a practical and hands-on experience, where students are educated about the basic as well as advanced concepts using a practical model.

Someone who doesn’t have any knowledge of Robotics can also join its courses or workshops. During a workshop conducted at IIT Bombay, the founder and his team noticed that 35% of participation came from non-engineering backgrounds like environmental science, metallurgy, or physics. This is when he realized anyone who is keen to learn robotics can be a part of the Robobox community. The company has conducted workshops PAN- India and has already covered workshops at IITs, NITs, SRM. In Maharashtra, it has conducted workshops in IIT Bombay, VJTI, and many such colleges.

Team Sociobits got a chance to chat with the founder of Robobox- Mr. Parth Nachane. He shared how the company is close to his heart and more details that you can read in the interview.

Team Sociobits: Would you like to share a little about yourself and How did you begin the journey of Robobox?

Founder: I am Parth, a 22-year old Mechatronics engineer and also an entrepreneur. I started my journey in 2018 during my college days with a company called FLAKKY Merchandise. FLAKKY was created to sell personalized merchandise to brands like Indigo, Bharat Petroleum and many more. I began with FLAKKY to learn how the world of business operates. Right now, this company is serving twelve corporates in India with a presence in more than four countries but Robobox is very close to my heart.

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I used to stay in Badlapur for around sixteen years of my life and I had to travel to Thane to look for a good class or institute that taught Robotics. If you fast-forward today, the situation remains the same. In schools, you don’t actually understand anything and only mug up what is given in your books.

During the lockdown, since everything was at a full stop and nobody knew what was going on, I identified a big education gap. The problem is that everyone is aware of this but no one wants to act on it.  Surprisingly, during the COVID-19 lockdown parents wanted to address it because they could see how their kids were attending online classes.

This is when I took a survey of around 300 parents and I understood that most students shut their brains and sat in front of the laptop simply listening to the lecturer. This survey also helped me understand there is a market and now is the best time to cater to it.

Robobox Upgradable Kits

Team Sociobits: How does Robobox operate? Do you conduct your workshops online or offline? How do you conduct these workshops?

Founder: Majorly, we do three things, First, we give students a box that contains all the parts required to assemble a robot and we teach them how to do it. Second, we conduct workshops that serve as an entry point for anyone and everyone who is interested in robotics or technology. Some workshops are free while some start at a cost as low as 99 Rs. This lets an attendee understand if they want to pursue Robotics.

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Lastly, we have long-term courses which run annually, held during the weekends. These workshops are usually attended by kids around six years of age to young adults who are 24 years. But, as learning never stops, we have also taught a 4-year-old girl and a 36-year-old man. It depends on the interest of every individual.

We started during the COVID-19 lockdown so most of our classes were online and now that things are getting stabilized, we are planning to approach schools and create an offline presence. Even today, 90% of our workshops are conducted online but we don’t see a lot of difference. In fact, online works better for students as well as instructors.

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The conductors are professionals who are robotics engineers or electronics engineers. We also have a presence in the UK, so when students travel abroad to pursue their masters we offer them jobs to conduct robotics sessions from the comfort of their dormitory rooms. This helps us and also allows the student to utilize their B-tech degree knowledge.

As of now, most of the instructors are in-house but the plan is to create an eco-system where if someone wants to learn robotics and someone else wants to teach it, they can connect with each other and we will manage them and provide the necessary tools and materials.

Robobox Upgradable Kit

Team Sociobits: How has your journey been so far? Are there any challenges that Robox has faced?

Founder: The journey has been great but during my previous business I understood that I cannot do everything alone, having a good team is very important.

During Robobox I knew that this is my dream project and I needed an exceptional team to see my vision come true. I realized that hunting for talent during the early stages of a startup was very difficult. In the beginning, I needed people who trust and follow me on my vision and not on numbers.

Right now we have onboarded eight people and we also have an advisor. We are addressing the major challenge of getting more passionate people along with small challenges like getting funds, establishing a proper brand image. But I feel that the smaller challenges can be tackled if we solve the big one.

Team Sociobits: Who are the potential competitors of Robobox? Why would students or parents choose Robobox?

Founder: There are a couple of competitors of Robobox present in India, China and some other countries. But our USP makes sure that we have a proper entry barrier compared to anyone and everyone present as of now and that is- providing upgradable kits.

In simple words, children have a very limited attention span and when parents invest money in a kit, they expect that the kid will learn something from it and also enjoy playing with it. But after a while, he gets bored of it because it is simply a toy for him and wants another one. As a result of this, kids don’t learn robotics. They only learn how to assemble one single project. Our projects are completely different, we provide upgradable robot kits which means, after learning and playing with it if you get bored of it, you can upgrade the same kit. By upgrading, I mean that you can add certain parts or features to your project.

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We have five different levels in Robobox and in the 5th level we teach coding. So the difference between a Robobox student and any other student is our students can work with any random set of components because he knows Robotics as a whole. This is the reason why we got a market organically.

Robobox Upgradable Kit

Team Sociobits: What is Robobox currently focusing to accomplish and what is your roadmap for the future?

Founder: Right now, we are looking to raise investments from a strategic investor. The products or kits have been curated by me but we still outsource some of the components because there is a dip in the price which is better for us as well as the students. We are focusing to change that and making components in India under the Robobox tag.

For this year we have also set a goal of educating 15,000 young minds in India and creating a small base in the UK. The last year was all about stabilizing and this year is all about growing. We have a community of Top 30 colleges in India including IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, NIT, VJTI, etc. and now we are also planning to expand this to 300 colleges. Once we have this platform, we just need to market it to colleges saying that ‘they get to be a member of us along with the top colleges of India.’

Although, if you go to any school they have definitely heard of Robobox, our ultimate goal is that every household is aware of it – ‘If my child wants to learn robotics, then the answer is Robobox’. Basically, we want to make Robobox synonymous with learning robotics.

We have a community of Top 30 colleges in India including IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, NIT, VJTI, etc. and now we are also planning to expand this to 300 colleges.

-Parth Nachane, Founder of Robobox

Also, our education system is working on auditory or visual learning and this gives students only 30% knowledge transfer. Our vision is to implement practical learning i.e. STEM learning which has the ability to transfer 85% of knowledge. This will make sure we are not making the next generation laborers but we are creating innovators.

Team Sociobits: You also got to experience several rounds of Shark Tank India, could you share it with us?

Robobox: I grew up watching Shark Tank. So when Shark Tank came to India I knew that I had to go there. The overall experience was great! Getting covered in shows like Shark Tank India really helped us in building a network, we had a chance to get in touch with individuals that can help us and now we are utilizing these resources for the growth of Robobox.

I feel that Shark Tank was the beginning of the competitions spree for us. I have participated in a lot of competitions and I have learned that if your idea is good you will definitely get selected and move forward but these competitions are looking for the best company, not the best idea. So if you have a strong company, you will definitely win, and building a good company is something all entrepreneurs should focus on.

The vision and mission of Robobox are to optimize the education system and create the company as the go-to institute for learning or teaching robotics. This will not only result in a smarter next generation but also create individuals who are innovators.

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