Name: Shaan Kandawalla
Company: PlayDate Digital, a publisher of mobile educational software for kids
Location: New York, N.Y., U.S.
Reason for starting: My interest in early childhood development, technology and children’s entertainment brands sparked the creation of PlayDate Digital. 17% of kids under the age of 8 use a mobile device everyday. We wanted to create products that turned those digital screens into engaging educational experiences for young children. Being a mom of a preschooler gives me insight into how kids are using technology in their lives. It shows me how important it is to have quality content that supports their development. My daughter (age 13 months) was born a few months after I founded PlayDate Digital. I’m doing this for kids just like my daughter – kids who are growing up in a world where education doesn’t just happen in the classroom.
How do you define success? Success is being able to create an alternative tool for learning — products and experiences that educate children all over the world while they play.
Biggest Success: Hearing a parent say that our Play-Doh ABC app has helped their child learn how to write a letter that they were previously struggling with. Or a teacher who says they are now using our apps in their classroom as a learning tool.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? While I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading kids’ brands, the challenge is that we are playing in the same sandbox as some of the largest media companies and publishers – companies with a lot more resources and marketing budgets at hand. We have to be super disciplined to ensure that we are spending every dollar effectively, creating great products and finding innovative ways to reach out to our audience one by one.
Who is your most important role model? My grandmother age 94 is my role model and an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. With a degree in chemistry and no formal business training she set up a chemical manufacturing business in Pakistan. More than 60 years later, she continues to be involved in the strategic direction of the company. Not only did she defy all gender and social norms but did it with grace, which won her the respect of everyone around her. She has taught me the value of hard work, perseverance and the courage to pursue something you believe in.
Edited by The Story Exchange