Beyond the Box: Enabling Children to Discover the Fun in Creative Learning

Anupama Dalmia | Beyond the Box
Anupama Dalmia | Beyond the Box

Life is a never-ending journey of self-discovery. A casual attempt at exploring mentoring in May 2017 turned out to be a life-changing experience for Anupama Dalmia. She is a computer engineer and has an MBA in Systems and Finance.

After working at Infosys and doing her dream job for six and a half years, she realized that corporate was not her true calling. She resigned to pursue her creative interests and to work on the ground for a social cause.

Anupama recalls, “Urged by some friends, I conducted a three-day creative writing summer workshop for 25 kids. During the span of those three days, I realized that kids are unwittingly forced to imagine and express themselves by adults in conformist ways, which curbs their imagination. There was an instant connection established between the kids and me. Then creativity and happiness thrived all around. 

That is when I decided to provide children with an environment, where they can express themselves without being judged and bloom to their full potential at their own comfortable pace. This led to regular classes and soon I began to get invited by schools, communities, and corporates for conducting workshops on creative writing and communication. When horizons started expanding in this space, it was time to make it streamlined and that is how Beyond the Box took birth in January 2019.”

Apart from being the Founder and Chief Mentor of Beyond the Box,  gradually, taking a step ahead at a time, Anupama has now carved alternate career paths for herself in various fields.

Today, she is a blogger, author, social influencer, serial entrepreneur with three ventures, creative writing mentor, choreographer, and mother of a six-year-old. She has won over 30 awards for her work in all areas including the coveted Rex Karamveer Chakra (Silver) Award presented by the International Confederation of NGOs in association with the United Nations.

She is the Advisory Board Member at three non-profit organizationsTribal Connect, Humans of Safe Places, and Stem Baala. She has been also mentoring and helping many women in different spheres like personal financial planning, writing, entrepreneurship, health, etc., as a part of her own non-profit Building Bridges Foundation.

Anupama is also a Sheroes Champion, where she motivates a community of 15 million women and is an Amazon-approved influencer with her own storefront of recommendations on Amazon.

In an interview with Insights Success, Anupama briefed us about her journey and how she overcame challenges while establishing the successful brand of Beyond the Box. Herein are the highlights of that candid discussion.

Please brief our audience about your start-up, its values, vision, and mission.

At Beyond the Box, we believe that learning is fun when you make it fun. Our mission is to help children and budding writers unbox the joy of writing and develop a love for the written word.

Our vision is to empower children by encouraging them to own their thoughts and expression. We constantly strive to not just nurture the creative writing skills of kids but to give them the stimulus to become more perceptive, observant, and thoughtful individuals.

With our all-embracing approach, unconventional methodologies, and initiatives, in every session, we create magic using 26 letters of the English alphabet! It is time we tell the kids that they do not have to be in the box or out of the box, but they need to look beyond these boxes and focus within.

Our venture also has a strong online presence and we have come up with numerous pioneering initiatives to promote the importance of literature and to spread the thought that creative writing is a life skill.

What kind of products or services do you provide to your clientele? Please talk in brief about your offerings.

We offer creative writing and vocabulary-building workshops and courses, which cover various aspects of the subject.

We also provide platforms in different formats to give kids exposure and reach through our book projects, literary journals, social media pages, and YouTube channel.

What were the challenges you faced while entering the business world?

The biggest challenge we faced was the mindset of people in general. Many of us still view creative writing as something academic and not as a life skill and self-growth tool. It took a while for parents to understand our vision because our teaching approach is largely practical, game, and activity-based.

But I am glad to share that we soon overcame this challenge once parents began to notice positive changes in their children in terms of their language knowledge, writing skills, confidence, imagination, and critical thinking.

How has the ongoing pandemic affected the operations of your organization? How are you driving your company to sustain its operations and ensure the safety of your employees at the same time?

Earlier all our events and classes used to be conducted in person, but after the pandemic struck, we adapted our methods and shifted everything online. We believe one of the most important qualities of an entrepreneur today is resilience and the ability to keep reinventing the organization. We were able to do this successfully after some initial hiccups.

The fact that kids have got used to school online classes helped us too. Our entire team works from home, so safety in terms of physical health is taken care of. We keep checking on the team to ensure they are mentally fine because the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s emotional health. We have been very flexible in terms of letting team members take off when they have not been up to it.

What is the current industrial scenario of the industry you are catering to?

Most of the companies offering creative writing classes have a curriculum-based, technical approach. Our USP is in making the learning process full of fun and memories, and that does give us a competitive edge. We want to add here that our focus is high on ourselves, and we do not indulge in too much of industry analysis.

We truly believe that with time, we need to evolve the age-old marketing concepts and strategies. We advocate for collaboration over competition and have worked in unison with our so-called competitors. We can all grow together.

What would be your strategic approach to scaling your business in 2022 and beyond?

In our business, connection and relationship with each child play a huge role, hence we strongly believe only in word-of-mouth marketing and growth. Having said that, our strategy would be to reach out to more schools and other educational institutions and touch the lives of many more kids.

We have a clear focus on reaching out to as many kids as we can and helping them unbox the joy of writing. We are also planning some exciting online events and campaigns to increase our social media engagement.

Where do you envision your company to be in the long run and what are your future goals?

COVID-19 pandemic has proved that all our plans can go for a toss in just an instant. Hence, a ‘what next’ focus works best for us. Yes, we do hope someday, we would be able to bring in our own small revolution in the way we raise our next generation. The process has begun but there are miles to go!

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