Creating Cost effective aids to enhance Training Delivery

Satish Chathanath, Founder – Pollen Cubes

Having spent over 20 years in Creative Industry as a writer, concept thinker, communication strategist and creative consultant, Satish Chathanath decided to create cost-effective teaching aids to make teaching easier for teachers and visual learning aids to make learning fun for students, through Pollen Cubes.

When the advertising field blinked in the early 2000, he moved on to IT and headed Branding, Corporate and Marketing Communications for Aspire Systems. With a small company tag (140 employees then), the company had a tough problem to solve – how to convince star talent to join Aspire than to pick big names like Infosys and Wipros of the world. The founder CEO, Gowri Shankar Subramanian, gave him a free hand to disrupt the way they engaged with the prospective employees and customers. It paid off well, says Satish.

“Spending 4 years in a corporate world is like spending ages in slow motion for a creative person. I guess, it is the teacher in me that guided my way to the next milestone in my life – founding of Pollen Cubes in 2010” he says.

In 5+ years, Pollen Cubes has built around 150 education products for preschools and kindergarten and offer a national award winning Teacher Training solution called ‘creatiWITTY’.

“I believe we exist for 2 reasons: To make teaching easy and learning fun for early learners. How do we do this: By creating outcome-driven, teacher-centric and student-specific learning products and solutions” says Satish.  He also runs Pollen Web Creatives that specializes in creative marketing communications and internal HR branding for IT companies. As a high-end design boutique they have done creative work for celebrities like AR Rahman and Sudha Ragunathan among others.

Here are some more insights from the recipient of the 2016 Icons of Learning Awards Singapore for “Excellence in Teacher Training”

Who is your greatest inspiration & why?
My Dad, Mr. Raman. He taught me the ‘why, how and when to say no’. When you say ‘no’ in a right way, you create time, energy, focus and peace of mind. Some of the critical ingredients you need to excel in what you are doing.

What led you to form Pollen Cubes?
Pollen Cubes makes visual teaching aids for teachers, learning materials for early learners and also offers a series of professional development program for teachers.  When I was working for Aspire Systems (2005-2008), I also managed its CSR wing. As part of regular CSR activity, the company had supported a few under-privileged schools in and around Siruseri. In one such school, we had donated books, uniform, footwear etc to students. After a few months, just to interact with students and find what else they require, I had made a visit to the school. I was asked to wait as the School Head was in a meeting. Got a close-up view on what was happening inside different classrooms – students were not motivated to learn. That’s when I got startled by the striking realization that students actually needed better teachers, better teaching methodologies, and effective learning aids more than the materials we had distributed. That was when I decided to create cost-effective teaching aids to make teaching easier for teachers and visual learning aids to make learning fun for students.

What is the market need that you are addressing?
Specific market need that we address: Flexible and Customized Product Development. In fact, we have taken flexibility to a new high – with us you can customize a product right from day one of its development! Our customers play a big role in creation of most of our products. We reach out and ask them what they want – then applied our minds to get a product that equals or performs better than what they actually visualized or wanted. Since customers are a part of the product development process, selling was easier and more importantly repeat purchases happened on its own.

The bigger goal is to become the ‘creative partner’ of schools that are embracing and working towards achieving the 21st century learning skills and outcomes. Leveraging our creative strengths and combining with management and education experts, we want to help such schools to enable and build communications, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity skills through integrated working model.

If you were to do one thing differently, what would that be?
Would have taken bigger risks.

Tell us about your most cherished moment that you are proud of.
Every moment when students or teachers rejoice as new learning soaks in them.

What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
Slowly but surely we are becoming a strong brand in the Indian Early Learning product landscape. Pollen Cubes has built a successful customer base of more than 1250 schools in South India. By the end of the current academic year, we are confident of adding another 750 schools to our present tally. On achieving this, we are planning to expand our operations across South Asian countries and aim to reach the next big customer acquisition milestone of 5000 schools.

Awards & Recognition

2015:  Pollen Cubes’ Preschool Starter Kit has been conferred the IDA Special Mention Award for excellence in Product/Solution in Early Learning. (The IDA Awards is a presentation of India Didactics Association, the premier trade association for the Indian education and training fraternity engaged in improving learning and teaching.)

2016: CreatiWITTY, an exclusive Training Program on Creative Teaching for KG Teachers, won the coveted Best in Teacher Training – Nursery at the Indian Education Awards, 2016, presented by Franchise India.

Later, Pollen Cubes won the prestigious National Business & Service Excellence Awards, 2016 for the Best Visual Teaching Products in India. An Award constituted by Praxis Media to celebrate and recognize Achievers, Innovators and Leaders of the Business and Service sector that are maximizing their potential to deliver excellent products and services.

Recently, Satish Chathanath was presented the 2016 Icons of Learning Award Excellence in Teacher Training, at the annual Gala Awards Evening for education & learning sector hosted by the Business Excellence & Research Group (BERG), on 24 Nov, 2016 at Singapore.

Watch Satish at the Icons of Learning Conclave, Singapore Nov 2016.