In a city like Bangalore, a lot of people drop the idea of joining a class or a coaching program because of the commute, the time it involves and the stress from traffic congestions. Not only do people have packed and hectic schedules, they also face difficulty in finding the right coach or tutor for the skill they wish to learn.

Tanisha and Milan, Grade 10 students of CMR National Public, along with their friends realized that this could be solved if the search for learning was localized to within their community, using the talent in their neighbourhood. All they had to do is create a platform that facilitated this. With over a month on their hands, the five friends got together to create an app where

  • people with a certain set of skills can offer their knowledge and experience to tutor interested individuals
  • people who are keen to learn and acquire these set of skills can register to be tutored
  • the community’s talent would be unearthed, shared and appreciated

And so Talento was born – its beta released on Android, was designed exclusively for the residents of MSR North City. At the touch of their fingertips, members of the community would be able to sign up to be tutored in a particular skill or offer their services by conducting sessions or events.

Tanisha credits this success to her father, Mr. Ashwini Tambi, who initiated the project as he wanted the children to direct their time, enthusiasm and creativity towards solving small, addressable real-world problems,

I wanted them to make the best use of their summer break by doing something productive. In the process, I was also looking for opportunities where they could get some industrial experience. Together, we visited several potential problem statements, looked out for students who could join us and mentors who could guide us before we could define our project objective

The opportunity of finding a way to make the best use of the in-house/residential talent and skill, convinced the team to work on an “application” based project, thus kicking off four weeks of their mini-startup.

“We would huddle up with our laptops during the evenings, spending an hour each day. As we progressed, the hours got longer. Our mentors would also join us after they got back home from work.”

Working closely with languages like Javascript and XML, the team developed Talento on Android Studio, with the guidance of several mentors. Just like the objective of their app, their mentorship was sourced from within the MSNRC neighbourhood. The children were coached and guided by their neighbours – individuals from reputed organizations in the industry. The team also got to participate in two expert talks that helped them with their app development.

“Mr. Vinod spent an hour every evening with us, giving our project its direction and serving as its architect/scrum master. We also had a chance to attend talks by Mr. Nithin and Ms. Nidhi. Mr. Nithin took us through the several nuances behind app design while Ms. Nidhi explained the technicalities behind app deployment”

The team of five – Aditya, Anika, Milan, Pavaana and Tanisha set a deadline of a month to arrive at the beta version of their app, owing to the possible unavailability of team members thanks to summer vacations. By this time, support to the team wasn’t limited to the parents or the residents of the community, as Tanisha notes

“When we hit hurdles in our code, we would ring up our classmates to verify and cross-check. They would ping back suggestions or alternatives. Even with our logo, our friends helped us figure out the dimensions. The support was all-round”

To be able to create and release an application such as Talento, the team would have faced several complexities. Tanisha recalls a few,

“After being introduced to Android Studio, the initial results weren’t quite what we were looking for. On paper, everything seemed fine – we had our login screen envisioned but we faced many errors when we emulated it. Over the course of the month, we faced several challenges, but we solved each one of them. One such instance was the realization that hit us one evening. We discovered that the Android version we had been working on was higher, so we had to make the application compatible with older Android devices.”

Among the many challenges, naming the application was fun to tackle, as Tanisha believes there was a lot of learning from the activity,

“Each of us had a lot of ideas for the app’s name. We even studied how reputed apps in the market found their names. One brainstorming session later, we shortlisted a few and closed on Talento since it genuinely describes what our app stands for”

Like all companies in the world of apps, the team had to arrange for a logo, now that the name was finally in place. They did this by themselves, having had a clear idea of how the logo would look. A quick visit to the Logo Maker website had them sorted. Now the focus was solely on testing the application and launching it.

With the basic features now available on the application, the team took turns testing the application, involving their parents in screening out the bugs. Deployment and debugging of the app proved to be an intense ordeal, as the team remembers,

“We had to ensure that it was bug-free and wouldn’t crash when it was launched over multiple devices. Our parents joined us in testing it across different Android versions. The final week was reserved for intense testing. We faced a few crashes but we were able to quickly make fixes”

To motivate the children and appreciate the efforts they were putting in, the parents got Talento t-shirts printed and these were proudly adorned by the team during the app’s launch. Setting up registration help-desks to aid the residents with their sign-ups, the Talento team organized a product launch at the community’s clubhouse, inviting residents to make use of the app,

“The app is consciously designed for the MSRNC, with an approval system for users within this community. We used Firebase to manually add email ids and names, to ensure that every user is an MSR resident. The launch had a nice turnout, most of whom installed the app. We have had two or three events run on the app with successful sign-ups as well.”

“It was a proud moment for us when we launched the app. A month’s hard work translating to an application that would help people we know. It felt great to know that our efforts had a direct impact on the community”

“Our parents played a vital role in the project. They were very supportive and encouraging from the start. From laying down the vision of the project to marketing the product launch on social media and Whatsapp, our parents have been our anchor through and through.”

Mr. Tambi was quick to note the role of parents in bringing such problem-solving opportunities to their children,

From my experience, this is not something children can initiate on their own. While there are plenty of ideas in the minds of many, it can only be brought to reality if there is a vision, laid down by someone within the community. It is important that the overall mission statement of any project is first laid. If that leadership comes from the community, then there is no problem we cannot solve.

Currently designed only for the residents of MSR, Talento has won accolades at its product launch from industry experts, who recognized the problem points it solves and noted its scalability. They even have a knowledge session planned for residents to guide them through the application and also narrate their journey of creating it.

What lies ahead? In addition to features that the team has listed on their roadmap, Tanisha says that feedback and comments from users will also be prioritized,

“We have a list of add-ons that we want to implement in the coming months. Our aim is to get the application on iOS devices and also implement feedback from our users. We have a set website in place and a support email address for them to write to us.”

Talento was built using resources that are free and open-source. The only monetary spend came for the publication fee on Google Playstore. Aside from successfully publishing an application, the Talento team acknowledges the learning behind this journey,

“We played by our strengths and used this opportunity to explore new avenues. Some of us were good at design, others at coding – we divided the work amongst ourselves and learnt to work as a team. We learnt that app designing doesn’t start straight from a laptop. Start manually on paper – design, implement, test and repeat. It includes a lot of thought processes and ideas subjected to several iterations. We learnt that we cannot add everything we wanted into an app – always aim to keep it simple and user-friendly”

We congratulate the team behind Talento for a successful launch and wish them the best for their future entrepreneurship ventures.

Posted by Ekya

2 Comments

  1. This is really commendable. To be able to think of an idea and bring to a proper shape, form and be able to launch it to an audience is incredible. I wish the students the best in the days to come and I hope they will only keep up the spirits high from this point on and not let anything deter their passion, enthusiasm and zeal for perfection.

    Reply

  2. So proud of you children! Great work! Nothing should stop you now.

    Reply

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