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Kids’ Toys Too Costly? This Dad is Making it Possible For Parents to Rent Them

When Mumbai's Sourabh Jain struggled to find cognitive development toys for his child, he formed a team consisting of an ex-principal, a psychologist, and a pediatrician. The outcome was a subscription-based model offering affordable rentals for toys and books.

Kids’ Toys Too Costly? This Dad is Making it Possible For Parents to Rent Them

When 34-year-old Sourabh Jain first became a father to his daughter, his perspective on life changed. Like any parent, his daughter became his world. 

However, he struggled with bonding with her in the beginning. “She was so tiny and couldn’t speak. I didn’t know how to bond with her. That’s when I realised that games and books are interactive and provide an opportunity to spend hours with her,” he recalled in a conversation with The Better India.

Thus began the hunt for games and toys that not only helped him bond with his daughter but also contributed to her cognitive development. During this search, he realised that not only are these toys and games hard to find, but they can also burn a hole in one’s pockets.

“Another realisation was that it is very hard to make toys eco-friendly. There is some amount of plastic always present and it is harmful to the environment and the little ones,” he says. 

While he aspired to give his daughter the world, he also endeavoured to leave behind a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable world for her. Today, he owns The EleFant — a toy rental company, or in Sourabh’s words, ‘a labour of love’.

The company has a customer base in 14 major cities in India, including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Indore, Bengaluru, etc. Curious about how the business works and how you can rent toys for your kids? Read on. 

Sustainable, age-appropriate and fun 

Born and raised in a business family, Sourabh always had an entrepreneurial mindset. Despite working as a chartered accountant for most of his life, he harboured a persistent interest in starting his own business.

“The idea for EleFant emerged from the desire to provide the best toys for my daughter, but it’s also a brand for parents like us,” he explains.

The business has a customer base in 14 cities so far.
The business has a customer base in 14 cities so far. Picture credit: The EleFant

Amid changing family dynamics, Sourabh observed the increasing challenge for parents who juggle work and home responsibilities simultaneously. “Most of the time, I would be working, leaving little room to go out and search for toys. I wanted to simplify one thing for working parents like myself,” he says.

The transition from the corporate world for Sourabh was gradual. “The idea began taking shape in my mind in 2022, but I wanted a solid plan of action. I aimed to offer parents a reliable service and an effective subscription model,” he adds.

Sourabh also emphasised the importance of ensuring that the toys provided to children are not just enjoyable but also engaging and educational. “As a parent, I understand how crucial it is for kids to have the right environment at the right time to encourage them and help them grow,” he says. 

In pursuit of this concept, Sourabh enlisted the expertise of a psychologist, a paediatrician and an ex-school principal to discern the types of toys that would be most beneficial for children.

“After nearly a year of developing the concept and ensuring that all our toys meet the highest quality standards, we decided to launch the brand,” he states.

Currently, the company has a customer base of more than 250 subscribers with over 2,000 downloads of the application per day. They also have collaborations with 70 toy companies where they source their toys. 

Among these 250 subscribers is Rahul Bhauwala from Mumbai who rents toys for his 6-year-old. “I am a working professional and I hardly get any time to go out and spend hours looking for and buying toys. I could use that precious time to play with my child instead. This is why I love using The EleFant app. They have a wide range of toys which are categorised as per age. The products are very well-packaged and my son loved opening them as it looked like a present to him,” he says. 

“We aim to establish a circular economy where toys are reused repeatedly. This not only cuts costs but also benefits the environment. Considering how quickly kids outgrow things, toys often end up in landfills,” he explains.

Pocket-friendly for parents and fun for kids

While the habit of reusing and thrifting might have started trending recently, if we look back to our childhood, sharing children’s belongings has always been part of our culture. 

“We would pass down our toys and clothes to our chachi, mami’s (aunts) kids. However, with the nuclear family setup, this trend has declined. I think it was this practice that has made people place their trust in us too,” he says.

Recalling the initial reaction of the people he says, “The parents were very delighted and showed encouragement. While they were a little sceptical of sanitation since these products will be reused, I explained that we have a sanitation process and every toy that reaches their kid is safe for consumption,” he says. 

They offer 14 categories of toys that help in the cognitive development of children.
They offer 14 categories of toys that help in the cognitive development of children. Picture credit: The EleFant

Additionally, the librarians and toy experts of Sourabh’s team are all parents who understand the need for sanitation and hygiene of the products and make sure they are properly sanitised. 

“Our content is exclusively focused on knowledge, growth, and development. We firmly believe in the crucial role of toys and books in enhancing children’s skills. Currently, we offer a diverse range of 14 toy categories,” he says talking about the process of subscribing to The EleFant. 

The categories include STEM-based toys, board games, art and education, pretend play, sound books, educational books, and more. 

“The skills we focus on encompass modal skills, gross motor skills, physical and emotional development, as well as social, environmental and relationship understanding, among others,” he says. 

The registration process involves downloading the app, and once online, they can proceed to become a member, they can choose from the available packages.

“We offer three plans: Garden, Estate, and Forest. The Garden plan allows for two products at a time with two free deliveries per month, costing approximately Rs 750 monthly. This plan suits families with kids deeply engaged in specific activities. The Estate plan, our most popular, provides three products at a time and three free deliveries monthly, averaging around Rs 1,000, catering to curious kids eager to explore new things,” he says. 

The Forest plan is ideal for super energetic kids or families with two children of different age groups, offering four toys at a time with five free deliveries at an average of about Rs 1,400 per month.

‘These plans are well-defined, economical, and affordable, allowing customers to enjoy a variety of toys tailored to their preferences,” he adds. 

Sourabh says that he wanted to make a business that caters to all. “Our intention was not solely to cater to an elite club, making it an expensive and exclusive service. Instead, we aimed to provide an opportunity for everyone to give their children everything in a sustainable manner. The value is kept this way, emphasising inclusivity and accessibility for all.” 

If you wish to try out Sourabh’s unique subscription model, click here to down the application. 

(Edited by Padmashree Pande)

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