Earth worm: Helping children to learn and connect with nature

 

Earth worm is a Bangalore based startup co-founded by Smita and Prabhu. 

The programs and workshops we conduct help children learn, connect and empathize with nature. At a city level, we hope that these children would grow up to be eco-friendly citizens with minimal plastic usage/waste amassing habits.

We at Bangalore Insider had the opportunity to catch up with Smita, the co-founder of  Earth worm and to know more about the startup, read her inspiring story.

 

Give a brief info about your startup?

We curate innovative natural learning experiences, leading children in a direction towards building a sustainable living ecosystem.

We believe that children have an immense potential to learn and  connect with nature and therefore, they would be the ones to actively contribute towards sustainable development in future and hence, help in preserving the planet. Taking small steps towards making a difference with respect to our goal, we conduct programs for the
younger ones which sensitize them towards nature and for the slightly older ones, we curate outbound programs where they can contribute towards a cause or conservation or just immerse themselves in nature.

 

What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?

Through years of travelling and also working with children, we realised that we are harming nature and harming ourselves in the process and if we could do something that would connect us back to nature, then the entire problem could be taken care of. We realised  that there is untapped potential and a void, which needed to be
connected. We felt that we could fill this void and hence, contribute in our own way to make the planet a better and cleaner place to live in. The programs and workshops we conduct help children learn, connect
and empathize with nature. At a city level, we hope that these children would grow up to be eco-friendly citizens with minimal plastic usage/waste amassing habits.

 
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?

I am Smita Bansal, one of the co-founders of the organization. I used to work as a brand manager in one of the leading pharmaceutical companies, in Mumbai for a period of 5 years. I was also was involved in part-time volunteering with various children welfare and educational organizations. Traveling has always been my passion and I think somewhere along time, I started realizing that the true calling of a traveler is giving back to mother nature, by making any contribution whatsoever to restore her beauty. I quit my job in 2016, moved to Bangalore and set sail to realize my calling, by starting Earthworm Education LLP, along with Prabhu who also echoed by thoughts and my husband, Ananth.

My co-founder, Prabhu Rose M, the other co-founder of the organization used to work as an automation engineer in an MNC in Bangalore. Prabhu and I met during a trek to Spiti Valley. Since Prabhu shares a passion for traveling and echoed the concern of conserving the environment, we felt our ideas aligned, and hence teamed up to form Earthworm  Education LLP.

My husband, Anantha Krishnan Iyer is a corporate lawyer by profession. He also likes to travel and loves wildlife. He advises us on the legal issues,  structuring/compliance related framework, commercial aspects revolving our business and actively takes part in our endeavors as well. Being primarily involved in the venture capital
space, he provides us valuable insights into the startup scene in Bangalore.
 

Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?

We are based out of Bangalore, however, we do not restrict ourselves to a location as far as our immersion programs for the older children are concerned. We think India is the best place for us since we are based here and it drastically reduces our costs as a start-up. Since we have faced rapid development in the last two decades, our
environment has taken a heavy beating and its time we struck a balance before its beyond repair.

As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?

Before we started this, we did not know how many people would actually believe in our idea because it does not provide a short-cut to living for our future generations. However, we are truly surprised at the belief that parents have placed in us. We do realize that parents in India can sometimes be a tad protective for the falls/injuries that we may have as children or the hardships that we may face in the outdoors. Such a taboo has lead to a rather skewed belief that nature and the wilderness are unsafe and dirty. It has indeed been scientifically proven that the multitude of technology we surround ourselves with in our daily lives comes with a plethora of hazards, in
comparison to a mud slapped tree or an animal and that gets us worked up.

 

Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?

We believe we are working towards fixing a problem. That can’t possibly have competition, if it leads to a better tomorrow.
 

How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?

We honestly do not believe in sacrificing our personal life for a profession. We have flexible work hours and work towards our programs, workshops and events, as the situation demands. Unless something is pressingly urgent, like some commitment or a deadline, we do not work late. This leaves us with ample time to pursue our hobbies and other interests.

Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.

No, we haven’t given it much thought for now. Our focus currently is to create awareness and build a parent-children network who believe in our cause. However, we are open to funding if someone truly believes in what we do and would like to join us in our journey.
 

What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
We have not faced any misconceptions as of now. If parents have doubts, they talk to us and we clear it out.
 

What gets you excited about this company?
The sheer idea that our children will look at the world in a different  way when they grow up.
 

 

Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
I live a pretty simple life. I get up, cook, work, do what I like to do post work (yoga, in other words). I catch up with friends and family, if they’re around, and go to sleep thereafter :). At work, its mostly coordinating with parents, schools we are in talks with for hosting activities, curating ideas for forthcoming workshops/programs
and planning for our weekend eco-club (titled ‘Patang’) sessions. We currently host the club every Sunday, for kids aged between 2 to 9  years (in one session) and 10 to 18 years (in another session). So far, we have conducted activities such as planting workshops, nature walks, insect watch, basket weaving and so on.
 

Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?

Prabhu and I are the co-founders. We met while traveling in Kaza, Spiti Valley, we both had the same belief and we started off. Ananth, my husband works as an adviser/consultant to our LLP and assists in the commercial side of our operations. My good friend Yoshita also works as an adviser, providing timely insights and inputs on eco-friendly endeavors we could explore further on.

 

 

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