WAKEFIELD, MA—Shiva Kashalkar, founder of Green Piñata Toys, is a firm believer that toys should match the rapid mental development of early childhood.
Inspired by her eight-month-old daughter, Ms. Kashalkar partnered up with leading experts in early education to create a service that uses predictive analytics to curate the toys for your child so that kids get more of what they like and less of what they don’t like.
Here are excerpts from an online interview with Ms. Kashalkar:
INDIA New England News: When and how the company was founded?
Shiva Kashalkar: When my daughter was eight months old, I realized I was paying several hundred dollars every month for toys that she would only play with for a few days. The clutter from unused toys drove me crazy. Talking with other parents, I learned this was a common issue and became inspired to build Green Piñata Toys.
INE: Where is the company based?
SK: It is based out of Wakefield, MA.
INE: How did you come up with the name?
SK: It’s a funny story. At the time of launching the business, I knew I wanted the name to have “Green” in it and also something that indicated fun and play. A morning I was reading the book “The Adventures of Curious George” to my daughter in which he learns to hit a Piñata at a birthday party.
INE: What is a Piñata?
SK: Piñata usually is made of paper and has toys and candies and Green Piñata really struck a chord with what I want the brand to convey – a box that is fun, play, eco-friendly and most importantly a unique brand name. Thanks to Curious George and my daughter for helping me pick a name that our customers love so much.
INE: What is the main goal and mission of the company?
SK: Our mission is to become the leading provider in early education through play. We built our service on a strong foundation of insights from early education and child development specialists to deliver age-appropriate toys geared towards learning at every stage.
INE: What are some of the insights?
SK: In 2017, parents of kids under age 5 in the US spent $5billion in toys. But their kids didn’t play with more than half of the toys wasting billions of dollars, creating clutter and increasing their family’s addition to landfill. There are two primary reasons why this happens – 85% of our brain develops within the first 5 years of our lives, so kids are growing up fast and their outgrowing toys fast.
Secondly, parents simply cannot guess what such small kids would like or not like because of their changing interest. Green Piñata solves this problem in two ways too : Our rental subscription helps parents not to be stuck with toys their kids have outgrown and we apply data science and human expertise to learn a child’s preferences and recommend developmentally appropriate toys for them so they get more of toys that they actually like and want to play with.
INE: It seems toy industry also creates a lot junk that is harmful to environment. How do you deal with that?
KS: In addition to our passion for toxin-free, educational toys, we strive to be environmentally conscious in every step of our process. We have partnered with eco-conscious manufacturers, all of whom use sustainably-sourced wood or recycled plastic to make their products. Together, we help families ‘go green.’ Once our toys have been loved by our customers, we donate them to children in need.
INE: Is the company self-funded or venture funded?
SK: A combination of all. We bootstrapped to begin with and later on received angel funding and equity crowdfunding .
INE: How many customers or members?
SK: We are proud to say that we have shipped more than 3,000 boxes and rented over 12,000 toys to customers all around the country.