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Startup Saturday: Flash goes the card, and learning is easier

Cerebroid Education’s business model is ICSE, CBSE questions and answers on flash cards. Easy to remember, easy to use

pune Updated: Sep 01, 2018 16:55 IST
Namita Shibad
Namita Shibad
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,startup saturday
Nitin Kulkarni (left), Suniti Kulkarni and Tushar Lowalekar (right), creators of flashcardz.in, a study technique aimed at enabling ICSE and CBSE students improve their ability to remember.(Rahul Raut/HT Photo)

Entrepreneurship does not always come with a deep desire, a fire in the belly to find solutions to life’s problems. Sometimes it simply evolves. This is how two golfers, Tushar Lowalekar and Nitin Kulkarni, one a finance wizard and the other a management consultant, set up Cerebroid Education, a company that creates learning solutions for school students.

Here’s a flash card, ‘why will a startup not reveal how much they have invested so far’? Says Lowalekar, the finance handler for flashcardz.in the web avatar of Cerebroid, “So far we have used our own funds and we want to keep it that way for sometime at least. Currently, we have about 200 registered users and our pricing is also very affordable. It is Rs 6,000 for all Science and Humanities subjects, per year.”

“If we get an investor at this stage, he may want to steer the course of the business into ways which we may not agree. He may want to increase the pricing. Our aim was, and is, to be a way to reduce the burden on the student. Once we cross a certain number, say 2,000 registered users, and reach a certain revenue stream, I think then, we will seek an investor. That way we will be able to stick to our core values – to make learning easy and affordable to students,” Lowalekar explains.

So much for the bottom line, well, cue the back story.

Says Kulkarni, “This was not meant to be a business. It started as a problem that we tried to solve. My daughter was having a lot of problem with Science when she was in Class 10. I am an IIT engineer and my passion is Science and Math. My daughter’s grades were poor, about 40 per cent and when I tried to teach her we would end up in a fight. Then someone told me about flash cards. I had seen my classmates using flash cards to prepare for GRE in the 1980s. It suddenly struck me that this could be the solution. People have used it before. So I started making flash cards for my daughter by hand. I hand wrote 100 chemistry flash cards. I gave these to her and said you have a test coming up next week, try these. And it worked. Her next test, she came home with a 70 per cent.”

A flash card is a question written on one side of a card that is the size of a smartphone, with an answer on the other side of the card.

“My daughter asked if her juniors could use her cards, so I gave them freely. All the children who used these cards benefitted tremendously. They went from 40% to 50% to 80% to 85% marks after this form of learning,” Kulkarni claims.

Two years later, by the end of 2017, Kulkarni felt it was time to get into business.

“If these flash cards could solve the learning problems for so many kids, it must have some value. So with my friend Tushar Lowalekar and my wife Suniti we formed a company and decided to sell our cards to students of ICSE and CBSE boards,” he says.

That was the easy part. What went on the flash cards was a lot of hard work, and continues to be so.

Kulkarni’s wife Suniti manages the student registration and hand holding that parents and students may need.

Kulkarni says: “We have just one focus. To make studying easy for students. This is what Cerebroid wants to do. Make it easy for students. If we make money on the way, damn good.”

Flash!, why not?

Is this an age-old learning technique or just smart packaging?

Tushar Lowalekar, who is tasked with finance and marketing, says Cerebroid spoke to a development paediatrician and studied several reports on learning techniques.

Says Dr Swati Vinchulkar, who specialises in child learning and is a developmental paediatrician: “As against sentences that you read, flash cards use only the essential words needed to remember and reproduce info in any format. They are a way of improving your processing speed as well as working memory index.

“Of course there is no gold standard for learning techniques. About 60 per cent of people are visual-auditory learners, about 20 per cent are predominantly visual learners and another 15% are auditory learners. A very small percentage are kinesthetic learners, they learn by feeling objects.”

User reviews

Surbhi Annigeri who used the flash cards for her Class 10 boards says, “ These cards show you where you are going wrong, help you revise what you are forgetting in an interesting way and even tell you how to answer a question that. I was very happy with it.”

Purvi Dhanuka’s daughter also used the cards for Class 10. She says: “I think this is a good way to revise. My daughter didn’t have to read and reread the text book to memorise. It helped her memorise in an easy way.”

First Published: Sep 01, 2018 16:16 IST