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Where learning is all play

The ‘work hard and play-hard’ motto of IIM Bangalore students drove Saumil Majmudar to start a company with the idea of delivering holistic education through sports

education Updated: Oct 16, 2013 17:59 IST
Gauri Kohli

When Saumil Majmudar reached his B-school campus for the first time, he was “pleasantly surprised by its beauty, the rigour of the courses and the friendly but competitive nature of folks” around him.

“I now appreciate the professors a lot more and think that the combination of theory, case studies and field visits exposed me to a very different set of experiences. We had business simulation exercises, organised events and even went to find sponsors,” says Majmudar, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore.

From an exposure to the world of business, marketing, finance, HR etc, this was a good platform, he adds. Being a sports lover, Majmudar built on an idea to mix sports with education and, with two friends, set up a place for children to play called SportzVillage in Bangalore in 2003. Over the next six years, SportzVillage grew into a venue for after-school programmes, summer sports camps, where nearly one lakh kids experienced the magic of sports.

His company EduSports was founded in 2009 with a vision to make sports an integral part of every child’s education. “The work hard and play-hard motto of IIM Bangalore students has helped me in my career,” says Majmudar. An MBA education and an IIM degree lent a structured approach to business situations. He believes that concepts such as strategy, marketing and finance are “finally run by humans with multiple emotions, drives and goals.”

When the time was right to scale-up, a little bit of work with different stakeholders (parents, schools and children) revealed a bigger opportunity in the area of sports for children. “Even though schools had physical education and sports as part of their prescribed curriculum and timetable, in most cases, they were not delivering on the promise of a good physical education/sports programme covering all the children as the programmes they had were not inclusive and age-appropriate. This made children not pick up the right skills (at the right ages) and they lost interest in sports as they grew up. Hence, in 2009, EduSports was formed as a separate company with the idea of delivering holistic education through sports by partnering with schools and completely integrating into the school’s system,” he adds.

A loan of R12 lakh was taken to kick-start EduSports - the school sports project of SportzVillage and hundreds of mailers, faxes, brochures were sent to schools directly. The idea was to use this capital to get a few schools signed up and then raise additional funds once the idea was validated. Since the idea of calling schools did not work, EduSports bought the rights for a book Coach Sense by Dr George Selleck (renowned educationist and sports expert from Stanford University) and organised book launches across India, inviting school leaders to get access to world-class content about coaching and making sports a part of education. The idea was to use content as the lever to reach school leaders.

Gradually, there was a significant improvement in the market response to the EduSports proposition. After the initial sales success, the challenge moved on to executing on the expectations set with the schools. “Various tools such as daily log sheets, weekly training/reflection meetings with teachers, programme updates to the central teams via SMS, assessment reports etc were designed and implemented,” says Majmudar.

Today, the company covers more than two lakhs children and works with more than 320 schools in more than 80 cities across India.

How i cracked the cat
Majmudar started preparing for CAT in his third year of engineering. “I took umpteen practice tests diligently and kept track of the time taken for each test. I’d also keep a note of the problems that used to take longer to solve - and then separately focus on how I could solve those type of problems better/faster,” he says.

The CAT preparation gave him more reasons to read a lot. “From a lot of fiction and some non-fiction, I started reading monthly magazines and newspapers thoroughly. There were a few other friends who were also preparing for CAT - and we used to exchange notes on what was working, how we were finding ways of learning new areas etc.”

Quick Bytes
Discussions around new issues were useful. I was involved in a lot of sports during my days at IIT Bombay. So, I got exposure to working with people, finding ways of motivating them to work for their goals etc. These things helped during the interview and group discussion stage.