Twenty19.com welcomes Madhumita Halder, The founder of MadRat Games and the creator of the World’s first Indian Language word game. She explored science through games, play and activities with the children. That’s when the tremendous potential that Play had in learning became abundantly clear. With the vision to unleash this potential that Play holds to engage learners through fun, she co-founded MadRat Games. Their flagship game Aksharit is now ready in 11 major Indian Languages and has been adopted by more than 2500 schools across the country. Nokia, Intel and Google have partnered with MadRat Games and launched Aksharit on half a million devices.
Twenty19 is excited to have you here today, and as tradition, tell us about how you’ve come this far, right from your school days?
Madhumita: As a child, apart from studies I was passionate about arts. I participated and won various awards during my school relating it. When I grew I felt an inclination towards Science, specifically Chemistry and had delved myself deeper into it apart from textbooks.
I graduated in Computer Science from IIT Bombay and being an artist at heart, worked for a FX studio. However my creative energies not finding room for expression in the corporate world, I chose to work with children. I subsequently taught middle school children and designed Science curriculum at an alternate education center, Rishi Valley School, for 4 years. Currently I am the co-founder of MadRat Games, and creators of the World’s first Indian Language word game – Aksharit (www.aksharit.com) and I have also been contributing to a science column called My Toy Factory for the HOOT, which is the largest children’s magazine in India.
From IIT’s to being a software developer and then now finally being a successful entrepreneur, what was your inspiration in life? What was the driving factor for your achievement?
Madhumita: Till I was in College; achieving something in life meant going to the BEST College, getting a good job and earning a lot of money. Since I was a good student and diligent too, making it to the IIT was a dream come true. I was completely focused on what I wanted and would never let myself get distracted.
After college, while working as a software engineer I realized that a good job and a bank full of money does not seem worthwhile if you don’t like what you do. After going through a lot of turmoil and self-questioning, I decided to leave everything and be with children and see how they learn. I was actually in search of finding out how did the education system miss teaching me these simple questions about life! Since then, my driving factor has only been to work and contribute to things I am passionate about. Money and other things just follow once you do this.
My challenge was to keep myself together, when everyone around me were heading for the herd and I had to remind myself that I have something different framed for my life. I was many a times termed a failure; while I knew inside, I was doing the right thing.
Websites like Twenty19 promote the concept of taking initiatives during college, DOing more – in your opinion, how can students make use of their time in college / youth better?
Madhumita: Apart from academic work involved in college, students should take up initiatives. College is that 1 step just before you are left in the REAL world, without your parents to live by yourself. Hone yourself not only technically but also in other soft skills such as being a team player, learning how to manage a small group to accomplish a task together, public speaking, expressing yourself articulately in meetings, keeping an eye on the bigger picture while meddling/fixing things at the ground level.
In your experience, how important do you think are Internships? How can internships help students find their “ideal” job? What are your views on it?
Madhumita: I longed and longed for a ‘good’ internship, but I did not want to work in an area which was not my interest. So I ended up with no internship in the 3rd year of my college, but I did work in a fellow classmate’s start-up during the summers.
I feel students should use internship opportunities to understand both the industries and what ‘doing a job’ means. Most of us have just seen our parents work as kids. I think 99.9% of students in college have no clue of what a job means other than earning money. The catch here is irrespective of the field-arts, science, fashion, research, 5-10% of your work will be very interesting but there is 80-90% which is either mundane or boring. So better use your internship to figure out if that 80-90% still holds your attention.
At Twenty19, we have students who are chasing their dreams. Many fears come up when students decide not to follow their hearts and instead end up unhappy in their professions – your experience clearly paints a more optimistic future. What suggestions you would give to these students?
Madhumita: There are phases to a DREAM- The journey to it. Culmination.The journey after it.
When we are chasing our dreams, we make a mistake of just focusing on the Culmination part of it. What about the journeys before and after? A superstar in Bollywood does not have an easier life than a common person like you or me. We all have to face the life challenges no matter where we are. So why forget the journey before and after when you are planning for your dream to come true?
I know we are all given life so that we can LEARN. If we achieve what we are looking for, great. If we don’t, even better, as we would learn so much on the way! We don’t learn when we do something for the first time. It’s our failures that leave a long impression in our mind. Wise are those who realize this and move forward, without sulking. When we realize we are students for the rest of our lives, we will be able to look at our dreams and our fears more objectively. Death is our graduation day. So, learn as much as you can before that. It’s not these 4-5 years in college, but it’s a lifetime of learning.
As the readers take back cues from your interview, what words of wisdom do you have for the current generation of college students?
Madhumita: All the youngsters look at successful people and want to be like them QUICKLY (I was one of them too). Now is the era where people want to mint a lot of money in their early stages of life and retire at the age of 35. When we have an average lifespan of 70 years, why waste half of it in doing something we don’t like? Why not start doing what you like from day 1? No one likes to sit idle. The idea of retirement is a waste because it’s human nature to have an itch to do something.
Why do you think you’d do one job for the rest of your life? Why not explore new horizons? Look for things that you actually want to do. 4-5 years is a good time to dedicate and make something worthwhile. Plan for it and do it.
The Mentors series features successful individuals who have made an outstanding impact in their respective professions. Powered by Twenty19.com, this series aims to bring out their influences and insights which can be shared with the students to guide them towards making the right career choice. You can nominate an expert/mentor who you want to be featured here.