An important part of parenting is making decisions on which after school activities to enroll children in, how to keep children constructively engaged, choosing educators who offer real value in what they do. Enter Playydate. If you are a parent or an educator, chances are you have found yourself on Playydate’s unique platform either booking classes or listing classes. Since its inception in 2019, more than 350+ educators and 25,000+ parents pan India have on boarded the platform and are actively using it – no small feat. The company was co-founded by siblings Anagha & Aditya, who from fighting over TV remotes to running a business together have come a long way. Anagha Rajadhyaksha speaks to Samira Pillai on Playydate’s journey and how they create an experience for their customers.
Playydate has grown from strength to strength. How would you sum up your journey so far?
Two words come to mind: collaboration and agility. Over the last few months we have worked very closely with educators as well as with parents and that has helped us gain significant traction. We have created a toolkit and dashboard to make the system efficient for educators based on what they need and want. I am on a lot of phone calls with a lot of people every single day, just trying to understand their needs and need gaps. People have been so open to sharing feedback and ideas and telling me how to make this better. This is why you see the product moving in a certain direction – it is what the community wants. I joke with them that the Playydate dashboard is literally the intern they never hired.
And agility for sure! Because look at the times we are in (the coronavirus pandemic). We were prepping for a really good summer with summer camps and events, but had to literally pivot six weeks ago. We worked very closely with a lot of educators, from telling them how Zoom works, to helping them with what kind of workshops and lessons and classes will work online! One has to go beyond the brief and beyond being just a platform to actually getting the ecosystem together, like saying “Ok now we all have to quickly move online”. We are literally living agility right now and it will always be a part of Playydate’s journey.
Do you see Playydate more as an online community or more as a partner to educators and parents?
Definitely a partner. Partners bring tangible value. With two sets of people using the Playydate platform, the experience has to be different for both. Most educators are single individuals, without large teams supporting them. They look at us as partners for everything from streamlined registrations, database management to communication and promotions and ease of receiving payments while they focus on their class plans. Every time an educator comes and says, “Oh man it was so cool to download the excel sheet from the dashboard and just have all the information in 30 seconds” – that for me is far more critical than getting a hundred likes on a post.
Parents look at us as a one-stop-shop where they can find the activities they need for their children on a daily basis, book them and schedule them. We started as a Facebook group, then added an Instagram handle and then created area-specific WhatsApp groups. That hyper-local experience is what made a lot of moms adapt to Playydate a lot more because suddenly they felt that we were “not only giving us the information but also filtering the information based on the location we are in, the age group we are looking for in the way we like it”. In that sense, we are platform agnostic.
Of course, the community and engagement are at the heart of Playydate. Without the community, the product would be nothing. The aim is to always better the product and the experience people have on our platform. We are creating efficient systems with a realistic perspective. Once people have a great experience, the product will just be part of their daily habits.
We understand that you tested the hypothesis step by step and that helped you build on the idea of Playydate. Please elaborate on how things evolved.
While working on India Food Network, I noticed that each time we put up something related to children, the engagement went up through the roof. Moms on the Internet are another community altogether. And that intrigued me as an entrepreneur. I knew that my next business had to be in the parenting space because I love how this community thinks and interacts on the Internet. I began validating the idea. Without sharing the idea of Playydate, I ran a few questions by 300 to 400 parents – would they want more information on clothes or deals and discounts or the activities in the neighbourhood? ‘Activities in the neighbourhood’ was the clear winner across all my questionnaires. This was two months before I even started the Facebook group.
With teachers, I wanted to understand their process of getting registrations. For everybody it was just word of mouth. Before even spending a dime on technology, we created a Facebook group. I just wanted to see if moms will join, if teachers will join, whether they will talk with each other. My only rule was that they could only post about activities – no nannies, no holidays. Within a month, we were upwards of 200 – 250 posts a day. As soon as we saw engagement, I said cool, we are onto something. Now we could justify the investment into the making of a platform.
What are some of the key challenges you faced while creating the platform and how did you address them?
Aditya Rajadhyaksha, Co-Founder, Playydate
Nothing happens alone. While I am the front-end, handling strategy and communication, my brother and co-founder, Aditya has completely taken on the tech aspects of the product. It’s just us and the tech team. There are possibly a hundred things we want from the platform but we need to prioritise and introduce them in phases. It ties back to agility.
There are tons of challenges because tech itself is not very simple, so we have had our shares of bugs and systems going down. We also ensure that all the educators using our platform get visibility across all our pages. We have created the Playydate weekly planner where teachers know exactly when they need to send out their course so that they get featured. We send our educators Playydate videos on how to use a dashboard or the features available so that in time it becomes a self-serve model.
How do you utilize the online and social media platforms to interact with your customers?
Social media and building a brand on a digital platform isn’t easy given the amount of content that is available. Hence, our focus has always been to stick to our core: provide relevant and timely information on classes/activities for kids. We haven’t deviated from that! This helps parents identify with us for one thing and one thing only and we’ve been very particular about it. What’s worked is the fact that we’re across every platform/touch point for a parent. All our WhatsApp groups are admin only, so I prioritise who needs to be promoted based on what the parents are asking for. If the parents are asking for story-telling and music, it will be ridiculous on my part to promote a different educator. What has also worked is a really good response time to queries, posts etc. We like to keep the social media tonality personal and fun as well – nothing too formal.