Follow A Female Founder: Amutha Saravanan

Image for post
Image for post

The arts and sciences have long been considered the anti-thesis of the other, ne’er the twain shall meet. Well, not anymore. Da Vinci Group, an education enterprise founded in 2015, has combined Neuroscience with arts and crafts to create a whole new way of educating children and adults alike. And being a savvy woman of business, Da Vinci Group’s co-founder Amutha Saravanan did not stop there. She is also the founder of Amooo’s — an original ., where beautiful memories of your baby can be crystallised into a tangible work of art. Read more about the female founder who is trying to merge the sciences with arts below!

Image for post
Image for post

Amutha Saravanan

Da Vinci Group (www.davincisg.com)

Amooo’s — an original .(www.amooos.com)


Industry:

Education (Da Vinci Group)

Lifestyle (Amooo’s — an original .)

Revenue model:

Da Vinci Group

Da Vinci Group (DVG) is a premium educational and training services provider. As an enterprise committed to social transformation through education, DVG has developed a methodology based on research in Neuroeducation. We set up environments for participants where their creativity is triggered using clay and process drama as platforms. More than providing information, we take them on a journey to discover possibilities through their experiences. The novel design of our programme fuses exciting content with clay and process drama, where we focus on not just learning but the growth of a person as a whole.

We have three pillars of focus now: Da Vinci Education, Da Vinci Consultancy and KlayKit®

Da Vinci Education

We conduct our NeuroCeramics® and NeuroTheatre® Workshops for little ones from ages 18 months to 12 years of age (Pre-Nursery to Primary 6). However, our workshops have been customized to suit young adults in Secondary Schools as well, wherein learning outcomes are focused on key skills and values such as, developing self-awareness, relationship management, communication and collaboration, critical and inventive thinking, self-confidence, global awareness, and responsible decision-making (outcomes that are in-line with MOE’s 21CC Core Values).

Across all programmes, we emphasize on the child’s process of exploration, self-discovery, and communication. This encourages innovative thinking, effective problem solving, and clear self expression — preparing young minds to think creatively and proactively. As a first entry point to pottery, our dragon kiln tours have been very popular for children as young as 2 years old and their parents.

We are presently in the core curriculum of some kindergartens. We are also licensing our curriculum and are in franchising conversations.

Da Vinci Consultancy

We offer a wide range of customisable workshops that include team bonding as well as professional development sessions.

What sets us apart is that we are not a content-based consultancy service, we do not bring you a list of things that can help improve your workplace because we believe that the only way to change is by addressing people and their concerns. Instead, our sessions are carefully tailored to suit the issues that your company prioritises. We take these issues and turn them into actionable results, bringing our participants through the process of learning via the medium of clay.

KlayKit®

We’ve also created a product called KlayKit-Back to Basics and a follow-up to that which is PlayBox where we’ve put our NeuroCeramics sessions into a box so that it is accessible to parents and families who want an excellent family bonding activity. To this end, we are putting our KlayKit and PlayBox into hotel family packages to up the experience level of family vacations. While the KlayKit-Back to Basics gives one an idea of how to work with clay and the fundamental techniques and ethos of Neuroeducation, the PlayBox really dives into thematic content and new vocabulary that children can learn while creating their clay item. Both the KlayKit-Back to Basics and PlayBox have 4 activities each to last for a month of activities on a weekly basis. The PlayBox comes as a subscription and follow-up to the KlayKit-Back to Basics, so we are creating new content for PlayBox on a monthly basis.

Amooo’s — an original .

Amooo’s — an original . focuses on creating ceramic wares such as belly pots and baby prints that crystallize beautiful memories in a tangible form, which can be passed down to future generations. BellyPot® making is a pleasurable experience for mum, dad and baby, a wonderful opportunity for prenatal bonding as well as a special, novel and unique way to capture one’s journey into parenthood. Imprinting your babies’/children’s feet and hands on clay is an excellent way to mark milestones and etch in your minds how tiny your little ones were as they grow up. Whether you make functional ceramic wares like vases, platters or coasters, for example, or decorative hanging ornaments, these creations are awesome keepsakes that you will cherish for many years to come. We also facilitate fun-filled clay jamming sessions for families to spend quality time together. Amooo’s — an original . also accepts commissions and corporate gifts projects. Ceramic wares created are made of high quality materials that are lead and toxins-free and are food, microwave and dishwasher-safe.

I see clients on an appointment basis.

3 year plan:

Da Vinci Group

Get DVG into at least 3 other locations, Japan, India and Europe are in the cards. Create DVG Academy in Singapore.

Amooo’s — an original .

Make licenses available for people to take up to recreate Amooo’s — an original . in other locations.


Describe three of the most significant growth curves in your business.

Da Vinci Group

  1. When Sara — short for Saravanan (my life and business partner) and I, quit our corporate jobs to focus on Da Vinci Group in 2015. Early that year, we won our first premium brand account with EtonHouse Preschool.
  2. When we rebranded in early 2016 into the more authentic and real style that we are now (before, we were too academic in our collaterals which was natural for us seeing as we are academics at heart). However, this rebranding shaped our voice in the education industry and added a new style in our marketing and outreach.
  3. When investors came onboard in the second quarter of 2017 and we moved into an actual office from our home office and made our first set of full-time hires (previously we had part-timers). This allowed us to expand our services to more schools and entities.

Amooo’s — an original .

  1. When I tracked my own pregnancy by creating BellyPots® and saw that other people wanted to do the same and that nothing like this existed in the world.
  2. When I turned one of the rooms in my apartment into a pottery studio where I saw my clients by appointment.
  3. When I displayed my own pots in my gynae’s clinic and people who saw them contacted me to make their own.

How does your business fit into the future of your industry?

Both my businesses are ahead of the curve in their respective industries. With enough effort in speaking about them, we will reach a tipping point in creating a paradigm shift to create the new norm in the respective industries. The future is this.

What has been your biggest insight or lesson learned about running a business?

Passion alone cannot fuel a business, it is a lot of hard work. At the end of the day, the success of a business depends on your perseverance to hang on to that possibility that your business makes all the difference in the world when no one else believes so. It is about your grit in finding ways to make things work in the face of no agreement.

What has been your scariest moment? How did you resolve it?

My scariest moment was when I came down from my apartment and a tow truck was waiting to take my car away because we couldn’t pay our installment for 3 months due to cashflow issues, on the day we finished our biggest children’s project to date. The car was needed for the business as we have a lot of logistics due to running a business that is dependent on clay. Thankfully for us, the man was very kind. He offered to tell anyone who asked what happened that something was wrong with the car and not that we couldn’t pay our installments. Frankly, at the point, I was not concerned about “face” or my ego, all I cared about was how could I find this money. However, I was grateful for his kind nature and his openness to share his own story when his car was taken away while he ran a construction business. I really got that running a business isn’t for the faint-hearted. After he left with our car, so many thoughts were running through our heads. I really had to stop myself and step out of the blackhole being created by the stories running through my head to see how our business was impacting people and what this meant for the future. I mustered up courage and made a few calls. Someone agreed to give us a loan. This could have gone so many other ways. And the very fact that we could get support cheered us on to continue the good work that we do. The amount of stress and discomfort we had, and still put ourselves through, to go on this entrepreneurial journey compares to no other and rightfully so. Who says it is easy to build a legacy? Rome was not build in a day. I chose this and sometimes, it takes guts to even take responsibility for the fact that I chose this.

What is the one piece of advice you want to give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Build a community, a support structure that you can lean on when the going gets tough. Take care of your well-being in whatever way you can because you need the stamina and resilience to keep going.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store