[THE INVESTOR] For many parents these days, one major concern is their children’s addiction to smart devices.
A 2017 survey by the Ministry of Science and ICT showed that 19.1 percent of 2,651 children aged between three to nine were categorized as “highly dependent” on smartphones, up 55 percent from 2015.
In what could be a solution, Pankaj Agarwal, a former creative executive at Samsung Electronics and father of two children, launched startup TagHive in 2017 to develop smart toys and mobile solutions that minimize the negative impact of smartphones on kids.
TagHive CEO Pankaj Agarwal holds up a prototype of a Bluetooth-based clicker. Kim Young-won
“TagHive’s goal is to reduce screen time of children, helping them to play ‘together’ through our solutions,” said Agarwal in a recent interview with The Investor.
The startup, previously an in-house venture of Samsung, was spun off in early 2017 after receiving funding from the tech giant’s venture capital arm Samsung Ventures.
One of TagHive’s solutions, named TagPlus, enables kids around the world to share their photos. Motivated by these pictures, which are usually what the kids have taken, children are encouraged to make creations of their own, according to Agarwal.
Another solution in the startup’s portfolio is Bluetooth-based clicker Leap, aimed at improving interactions between teachers and students in the classroom. By clicking a button placed on the top of the cross-shaped device, which can be paired with a tablet PC, students can respond to roll calls or questions without raising their arms.
“We want to make the learning process more efficient and allow a personalized educational experience for students,” the CEO said.
Agarwal, a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, joined Samsung through the Korean tech giant’s program to foster global tech talents in 2006. He attained a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science at the top-tier Seoul National University and an MBA degree at Harvard Business School through Samsung’s scholarship programs.
When asked why he started the business giving up his high salary and career opportunities at the Korean electronics giant, he said he wanted to test how far he could go.
“I have learned through trials and errors in the startup field that the final results of your business ideas or products can be totally different from what you previously expected,” said the CEO, adding, “You will never know what you will get before actually doing it.”
The company is trying to seek partnerships with global toy companies and retailers, such as Gymboree and Sonokong, and to supply the educational clicker to schools in India.
For locals as well as foreigners, he said, the Korea is one of the best markets to start a business as it has excellent infrastructure and a lot of government-backed support programs.
The only problem seems to be that it is hard to hire talented developers since they often opt for conglomerates rather than for startups, the TagHive CEO said.
“If you are a foreigner and want to run a business here, you may need to have a Korean partner whom you can trust as you cannot handle all the paper work, regulations, and business partnerships in the local market alone,” he said.