Think Inside The Box - The New Indian Express

Think Inside The Box

Published: 30th March 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 29th March 2014 02:47 PM

Being a parent was never easy but modern-day lifestyles have made it harder still. Most working parents agonise endlessly over what to pack in a kid’s lunch that would be nutritious as well as tasty. Monday mornings are maddening affairs with most parents rushing to get ready for work while dressing up groggy children in time to catch the school bus. This leaves little scope for introducing variety to the tiffin when just managing to pack one feels like a feat. Games, meant to develop a child’s cognitive abilities and physical well being, today mostly mean iPad or iPhone activities that win your child thick glasses much before primary school begins. Try weaning the child away from these gadgets and all hell will break loose.

What if the solutions to all these modern-day parenting problems were available literally in a box?

The Lunchbox Dilemma

Caught in the taste vs nutrition battle for your child? Chennai-based MC’s Lunchbox promises a one-box solution. Former software engineer Kripadhevi Dharmaraj M and real estate consultant Mayilvaganan joined hands last December to deliver lunchboxes for kids across the city. This modern dabbawalla tale works well because their tasty, innovative dishes appeal to the demanding little ones and the healthy ingredients get the all-important parental nod.

Kripadhevi,28, shares how they stepped up to the challenge, “I have a four-and-a-half year-old child who is quite difficult to feed. The only ‘close to’ solution I could figure out is to provide variety on a daily basis. When we discussed this with other parents, we realized most faced the same problem. Many opted for unhealthy but tasty food just to make the child eat which I felt was dangerous for their health. Hence the healthy-yet-yummy solution—MC’s Lunchbox was born.”

Launched last December, they have already served up to 200 lunchboxes on a day across Chennai. While Dr Dharini Krishnan helps them with the portion sizing based on age groups, international chef Ramanan Rajamani helps them frame a creative menu.

Sample this: Vegetable lollipop as an appetizer, Kodo pulao (millet-based) for main course and Pidi Kozhukattai (jaggery-based dessert). “We have a non-repeated menu for an entire month, prepared by trained chefs, packed based on calories required for each age group (as advised by our dietician),” informs Kripa. And with their growing popularity, they have begun serving adults as well. She adds, “We operate in two batches. One begins by 02:00 am and the other by 06:00 am every morning, which helps us deliver to children and adults even before they leave to school/work and we also deliver directly to the school/work premises by noon as well.”

The Game Plan

The biggest challenge a parent faces is to engage the child in meaningful activities than just strapping them with an iPad. Bengaluru-based techies Vijay and Arun, felt the need to revamp the play sessions of the Facebook generation, which led to the creation of the action-packed Flintobox. The duo had previously incepted the Zinghopper site that promotes carpooling. This time around it was Vijay’s 5-year-old boy who provided the impetus.

“Flintobox is conceived as a series of discovery boxes for children aged 3-7 and carefully designed for Early Child Development. Every box comes with activities that’ll enable the child to create, play, explore and read about a particular theme while catering to more than 12 critical developmental areas. This is the primary difference in Flintobox as most other subscription boxes in the market are just craft-based,” says Vijay.  He added, “We have a critical eye for quality. Some of our expat customers compare Flintobox to European toys in terms of quality. Maintaining such high standards make international expansion really easy; Flinto is exporting 300 boxes a month to Singapore.”

It may be meant for 3 to 7-year-olds but the Flinto team takes its job seriously. In fact, each box is designed by a team of child development experts, Montessori-trained teachers, parents and a small team of international consultants in toy design.

It’s Party Time

Party people Founders of Party in a Box Ransdale Mathew and B Krishna Chaitanya
‘Party in a Box’ founded by Chennai-based B Krishna Chaitanya, 23, and Ransdale Mathew, 31, is exactly what it sounds—your party packed in a box.

Launched last December, they deliver everything from cups to elaborate decorations. “Working on each box is like a party in itself since it requires us to test all the elements of the box to check if they match our quality standards. After narrowing down on what all goes into a particular box, we then think of ways to promote it and make sure each box is packed and delivered on time,” says Chaitanya. 

“This box is great for parents as it’s a one-call for all their requirements for a party without having to deal with event planners or trying to throw that perfect theme party without knowing where to source the items required. With us, all they have to do it open the box and set up before the party. Parents are also always pressed for time and this venture was started for just that, to save valuable time and effort,” says Mathew.

Their customized party boxes start from a prize range of `5,000 onwards with each box normally catering to an average of 6 to 8 guests depending of the requirement of the clients.

So next time, you plan your little darling’s birthday; you don’t have to take a week off.

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