While working on the launch of Topper, India’s first private educational TV channel, Madhusidan Namboodiri met a large number of schools and realised that the next decade or so would see a complete revamp of the school curriculum and teaching methodologies in India. Evobi Automations, where he is a Director and Partner, was setup in 2012 to work on product innovations that can create technology enabled tools and curriculum that can engage 21st century students.
With funding from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, they have created BIBOX, which is an automation kit that can be used to build smart machines and robots. The hardware includes components like switches, sensors, lights, motors, beepers, wheels, supporting plates and electronic boards. BISOFT is the drag and drop graphical programming environment that is used to program BIBOX, which is simple enough for a fifth grader and powerful enough for hobbyists.
They have also built a complete program around the BIBOX, called Technology enabled Practical Science (TEPS), which combines the learning from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and Challenge Based Learning (CBL), a pedagogic approach for K-12 education pioneered by Apple Inc. The TEPS curriculum is mapped to the CBSE and ICSE Science syllabus, with projects that correlate to the concepts taught in the class, thus making it fun and engaging. Students can create projects and experience the concept practically, which can trigger the scientific temperament in them. The BIBOX retails at `5,999.
Some of the organisations that use BIBOX are PES Institute of Technology and MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology at Bangalore. More than 10,000 students from 24 schools have taken part in the Bibox Innovation Series program, which goes on for a full year. Some of the schools are Delhi Public School, Deens Academy, St Anns and Chrysalis chain of schools in Bangalore, Chinmaya, TKM, Bhavans, CMI and Bishop Moore in Kerala, and Bharti Public School and Salwan Public Schools in Delhi. They hope to touch a student base of at least 1 lakh in two years time.
Madhusidan worked with companies like Maruti, Bharti, ESPN Star Sports and Greycell18, before venturing into entrepreneurship. “I have had the privilege of working with some of the best brains in the industries which helped me shape the venture in a better way. By nature, I am inquisitive about new things, always curious and want to keep learning I am never afraid of taking risks come what may, and have handled diverse roles in marketing, events, corporate image, showrooms, launches, media-buying, advertising, hardcore sales, channel management, franchising and so on,” explains Madhusidan about his training for the big leap. He met Sandeep Senan, the MD of Evobi and inventor of BIBOX, at a Café Coffee Day outlet, and immediately saw the opportunity that had presented itself. After doing some pilot studies to validate the product and assess the chemistry between the partners, Madhusidan took the plunge. Born and brought up in Delhi, Madhusidan studied at Kerala School and Delhi University, before going to IMT Ghaziabad. He loves autobiographies and is currently reading about Sachin. “I have had some of the best people as mentors. Jagdish Khattar, ex-MD and Chairman of Maruti Udyog, has inspired me and influenced my life a lot, especially on decision-making. He had the “never say die” attitude,” says Madhusidan about his former big boss. “You should try everything, something succeeds and some fail, but then you know what not to do the next time.”