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PlayShifu – Augmented Reality Based Interactive Toys for Kids


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I often wonder how much time some people spend in looking for magical shortcuts to achieving quick entrepreneurship success when the only possible path is there staring at them right on the face: introverted business-minded people who start a real business, which employs actual employees who provide real services and products to real customers and clients.

People are quick in referring to successful startup founders as superhuman, but the fact is they’re just regular people like you and me who decided to do something realistic to be successful.

Here is the story of a startup founder who became rich in what they do.

PlayShifu was first an idea conceived by its founder and was launched as a startup in March 2016. The startup was able to secure the initial capital through seed raising that help in starting the business back in 2016. So far, the company has been able to raise up to $1.5 million in seed fund.

The Idea That Conceived And Gave Birth To A Company

All start-ups should have a goal in mind, and the founder of PlayShifu did have one. The idea behind the company was based on the need to customize kids use of tech by making screen time more educational and fun for children. Based on the understanding that learning and development in the early stages of childhood focuses on play and entertainment, the founder and his long-time friend, Dinesh Advani (both of who are tech enthusiasts), decided to explore and zero in on Augmented Reality (AR) as a promising technology to build engaging and educational experiences for children.

“Thus, began our foray into AR and toy-making that started with many hours spent in research and development using the technology, followed by building our concepts using the platform,” stated, Vivek Goyal, Founder and CEO of PlayShifu

The company’s goal from the onset was clear—transforms ‘screen time’ into a meaningful experience while helping children in building their cognitive intelligence, creative skills, and linguistic development.

That was how PlayShifu came into existence, and have since soared to greater heights in trying to fill the gap in providing educational toys and games that were both engaging and creating lasting impressions on kids without boring them.

The company’s target market focuses on families with kids in the age group of 2-10 years and has at least one extra smart device at home. PlayShifu uses AR to merge the best of both worlds—physical and digital—thereby creating a gaming experience that touches on the core foundational skills of children, enhancing their cognitive and intellectual skills while at it.

Currently, PlayShifu’s head office is located in Bangalore, the technological hub city of India, where it has been able to recruit experts in its field of business. However, the company’s primarily targeted geographies such as the US, Europe, India, Japan, Australia, Singapore.

A Venture With Success Against The Odds

All start-ups must have a product to sell or services to render. The first product that PlayShifu made and released into the market was Orboot, which debuted on Kickstarter and attracted interest from over 60 countries worldwide. Orboot, the AR globe, was designed to bring back nostalgia of games like Hide-and-Seek, Snakes and Ladders that many people played as kids in the good old days.

After the launch of Orboot came Shifu Minglings—wooden figure toys for toddlers. Then on August 2018, the company launched its latest and most ambitious project—Shifu Plugo—on Kickstarter.   Plugo is an AR-gaming console that makes gaming tactile, educational and even more fun to play. The new project has received extensive support from across the world and currently, is in the manufacturing and production stage.

Although the company faces its share of challenges such as in the time spent on research, design, and development, as well as in exploring and penetrating foreign markets and the cost of maintaining a relatively small but highly technical team, it has however been able to make steady progress towards achieving its ultimate vision.

Marketing is an ultimate tool that determines the success of any startup. PlayShifu uses offline and online aggressive marketing strategy to pursue and achieve its aims.  For instance, a partnership with Amazon in India, as well as the use of its Play Shifu App for Orboot and Minglings, available on Android and iOS platforms, constitutes some of its marketing techniques.

PlayShifu’s experiences market-based ventures use common smart devices with both Android and iOS operating systems. Today, the company’s apps are available on Play Store and App Store that works with tactile play kits like a globe, building blocks, etc. to power an exciting gaming and interactive experience.

Currently, the company’s first and most successful product, Orboot, is receiving an upgrade, while Plugo technology is being developed 100 per cent in-house, and would be completed within a few months time. The fact that PlayShifu is planning to increase its team size indicates the story has been one of success so far. As part of the company’s three years plan, new staffs will be recruited in the areas of creative design, development, computer vision, early learning experts (educators), data analytics and international sales.

PlayShifu products are easily distinguishable and are available for online and offline purchases at popular marketplaces such as at Amazon, Hamleys, Toys“R” Us, Flipkart or at the company’s website.


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