Prakash Dantuluri: Weaving Stories with Passion and Technology
Prakash Dantuluri| BulBul Apps
Prakash Dantuluri, Founder & CEO, BulBul Apps

In the last few years, the time spent on digital activities has increased tremendously for both kids and adults. An average Indian adult spends nearly 3 hours a day, kids and teens spend nearly an hour a day. So what does the school going youngster do on the internet?

The youngest of the lot sick to videos and as we go up the age curve, the time is spent on games, social media and videos. There’s no denying the fact that kids have access to internet but what worries parents is what they are up to on the internet. While the older kids look out for educational content all by themselves, the younger ones go through things they find interesting which might or might not be age-appropriate. As such, parents need to be alert about what they are browsing through.

In such cases, educational and interactive apps are the ones they rely on. Besides being fun, they deliver just the right kind of information and learning that these young kids need. However, finding such good content that suits both the kids and parents is tough. And that is what struck Prakash Dantuluri, Founder and CEO, BulBul Apps. An Engineer by education, Prakash started his career with Computer Programming and worked as Enterprise Architect for several MNCs in the USA. He always  had the passion to explore different medium for storytelling. And when the time was ripe, he started his very own content creation platform and Bulbul Apps.

Today, BulBul apps has been endorsed as numero uno in 16 countries, has had over 40 million views and around 20 million books have been downloaded from the platform. To know more about what led to the startup and how he plans to take it forward, we got in touch with Prakash.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Please introduce yourself to our readers, your journey, and your experience as the Head of a tech firm.

I am an Engineer by education and a filmmaker by passion. I started my career with Computer Programming. Worked as an Enterprise Architect for several MNCs in the USA. I have always had a passion inside me to explore the different medium for storytelling.

As a part of that journey, I was exposed to Print, Animation, Digital and Film as a medium of storytelling. When Smartphones started becoming mainstream devices and people started consuming more content on Smartphones, I wanted to explore content creation for these platforms.

This led to the creation of a content creation platform and Bulbul Apps. Its an intersection between Engineering and Storytelling.

What inspired you to become an educational influencer?

I didn’t set out to become an influencer. As I watched App Stores taking off, it was painful to see how difficult it was to create good content for kids. There are millions of teachers, artists and educators out there who would love to create content for children but lacked proper tools or framework to do that.

That’s the problem I wanted to solve. That’s what we did. Instead of going for building a marketplace, we went with working with the educational institutions. In a way, we pioneered this segment.

Who was your role model growing up? What was the greatest thing that you learned?

While I was growing up, it was my dad. I always admired his discipline. My dad worked as a Bank Employee and pursued ‘Close Up Magic’ as his hobby. This was back in the 70s and 80s when the information was difficult to obtain. He learned it all by himself by reading books, meeting the right kind of people and spending 1000s of hours practicing it.

He became one of the best in his domain. He just didn’t stop there. He contributed so much to that field. He authored Magic Books, he started a Magic School, he created his own Magic Tricks.

He applied his art to educate people about applying science and rationality and relentlessly fought against fake Godmen.

I always watched him in sidelines with awe. Even today many times, he is my inspiration. He taught me that you can learn anything if you have the will and perseverance. He also taught me that you need to apply your skills for the greater good of society.

Kindly share your opinion on the importance of interactive content in a student’s life. 

Take for example a simple sentence – A Dog says Bow Wow. It looks flat when you read it in a book.

As interactive Content, When the student taps on the image of the Dog, it animates and says Bow Wow wagging its tail.

In this mode, the student learns many things. How does that dog look like? How does that dog say Bow Wow? What does it sound like? Student can also observe words being highlighted as the dog says Bow Wow making a strong relationship between the sound and word.

There are many things that can only be taught in a classroom. There are many things that can only be taught by a teacher. But there are many things that can be taught better with digital and interactive content.

Parents must make a fine balance. You cannot simply deny digital content to the child. At the same time, you should also be able to control the screen time of the child.

What is the educational philosophy of BulBul Apps? Highlight some of the success stories along with accolades and milestones. 

Our philosophy is to ‘Empathize with the child’. As a start-up, we have multiple battles. We need to get the technology right. We need to hire the right people. We need to raise money on time. We need to find the customers. We need to make them pay us. We need to constantly innovate.

In the Edtech domain, uniquely there are multiple stakeholders. The Business Owner, Academician, Teacher and of course the Parent. Each brings its own set of requirements and reservations to the table. We need to satisfy them all.

But most importantly, we need to make sure we remember that at the end of the day, it’s all about the child.

I will just narrate one incident. A couple of years back, we had a booth at a conference in Hyderabad. One lady came to me and asked me to show our content. I showed her some of the interactive stories that we developed. Princess Stories, Fairy Tales, Krishna Stories etc. She was so moved. Apparently, she is a constable in a small town which is about 100 Kms from Hyderabad.

The next day she came again, this time with her child and an Android Tablet. I was incredibly happy to install the app for her and she was thrilled. The child was delighted to see interactive stories in her Tablet. The mom had tears in her eyes and thanked all of us. In less than a week we received pictures of not only her child but a bunch of kids gathering around that tablet and playing with those stories.

Talk to us about the obstacles you have faced in your career. What actions did you take? What were the results?

Obstacles were many. There will be many. After a point, you kind of get used to obstacles. Sometimes you duck and sometimes you face them straight and learn from them. Sometimes, an obstacle is nothing but a constraint.

But if your purpose is clear, you can always see the path beyond the obstacle. 

What advice would you give to those who aspire to become entrepreneurs and influencers in the field of education?

Some entrepreneurs are tinkerers. They just like to tweak things. Some entrepreneurs are makers. They like to make and build things. Some entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They like to solve an existing problem with their domain knowledge.

All of them succeed and all of them fail.

It’s important to understand what your company is doing – early on. Is it – Tinkering, Making or Solving a Problem? This brings a lot of clarity in your execution.

Please share what lies ahead of you and BulBul Apps in the near future.

We are doing one of the biggest deployments of digital content with our partners in India this academic year. We would like to expand to the USA this year.

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