Meet Chitra Ravi, Founder, and CEO of Chrysalis who is on a mission of unlocking infinite and extraordinary human potential in every child through her unique, innovative and value-based educational endeavor. Present in more than 500 schools and touching more than 2,50,000 children, she says that inspiration came to her while teaching her daughters and tells us how she made her challenges as building blocks for her venture.
Shipra Bhatia (SB) Can you tell us about Chrysalis (EZ Vidya) and how you came up with the idea?
Chitra Ravi (CR) It all started when I realized, almost like an epiphany at midnight, that my daughters’ school textbooks, and the education system in general, was not doing justice to bring out their innate potential. Children were wilting away due to the pressures of the system instead of blossoming into beautiful human beings. That’s when the idea of a solution for ICT (Information and Communication Technology) took shape in the form of EZ Vidya.
SB: What is so unique about Chrysalis?
CR: I feel what sets us apart from the rest is our unique value system — compassion, courage, excellence, joyfulness and being truly genuine in every action we take. We genuinely care for the child. Over the years, these values have always guided every Chrysalian to stand up for the children. Be it with our partner schools, our investors or our employees, every relationship we build is based on our unwavering belief in these values. From PhDs to engineers to photographers to science and literature majors, each one of us comes with a unique set of talents and skills. We are all, seemingly, chalk and cheese. But it is this very diversity that is also our biggest strength. Diverse, unique minds that have come together for the cause of education. The genuine passion for education is what unites us.
SB: Who are your partners?
CR:We have partnered with 500+ schools across India, through our flagship product, ThinkRoom. We also partner state governments and corporates to jointly impact learning in children in public schools.
SB: When you talk about unlocking human potential, what is your approach and how do you plan to bring that transformation?
CR: ThinkRoom awakens a child’s mind to bring out Human Potential. A child spends 6 hours a day in a classroom. ThinkRoom replaces a traditional Classroom in a school. ThinkRoom goes beyond achieving mere academic excellence to bringing out Human Potential. ThinkRoom enables this by redefining the role of textbooks, assessment, walls, teachers, parents and school leaders to make them awakening in nature. A child in a ThinkRoom listens, thinks and creates in her way. There is only one way of learning in a classroom, whereas the number of ways of learning in a ThinkRoom is equal to the number of kids. This revolutionary change is made possible by 18 years of in house research and development by Chrysalis.
SB: What has been the impact of your initiative till now? What kind of response have you received from parents, teachers, and students?
CR: Like mentioned above, through our 18 years of research we have partnered with 500+ schools across India, touching more than 250000 children. We see the impact of our program in the joy in a child’s eyes when he/she picks up a Studio or a Companion (our learning materials). That is the most significant impact we measure. And that is the only reward that we look for! Every time I receive a positive student response, my heart is filled with happiness. This is what keeps us Chrysalians going.
More logically speaking, we track the progress of transformation in every school that we partner, in areas like dynamics in class, student thinking, teacher professional development and so on. The results are gratifying though we always believe this is a continuous process with no place for complacency.
SB: How do you plan to cater to the needs of rural children?
CR: A good part of our partner schools is based in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of our country. Some of our most impactful partner schools are in these cities. Concerning, rural children, we are still working on a solution that would be the best fit for them. We hope to reach there soon.
SB: What are the challenges you are facing as an entrepreneur?
CR: I think every occupation, and in general, life itself offers challenges on a platter! I have long stopped looking at challenges in any negative sense or as a roadblock. Challenging situations come by every day when you see impediments in transformation due to people’s mindsets (internal/ external), regulatory unpredictability, lack of discernment for high-vision solutions like ours, lack of adequate resources and so on.
However, as an entrepreneur, business leader and someone in the education domain, I have learned to see these as pains that help growth. And that has brought in a world of difference to myself and my team at Chrysalis. We find humor in our everyday struggles, and the opportunity to grow in criticism.
SB: How is to be a woman CEO in the E-learning space which is generally perceived to be dominated by men?
CR: Well, gender issues exist. It emerges from societal conditions and pressures. I have stopped looking at these as a problem and use that time and energy to go after the goals and vision I set for myself. So I have even stopped tracking such statistical data. Once you go out and make a difference, you are only adding more neutral data to then gradually change the statistics. Right?
SB: Is there any person who had a significant influence on your career decision?
CR: Undoubtedly my two daughters. Their questions nudged me to think. Their schools helped me to zoom into the current education system. The visualization of their future stimulated me to take the big step.
Of course, I have a whole family and friends behind every step of mine, not to forget my colleagues at Chrysalis who inspire me every moment.
All of them keep me going, and growing.