Adding X-factor to education

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life, goes a popular saying. Being passionate about what we do can truly take us places and the perfect example of this is Syed Sultan Ahmed whose company LXL Ideas is a leading player in children’s education sector today.

Looking back, Sultan says that it was his love for teaching that made him start LXL Ideas, two decades ago. “I used to teach public speaking and communications even during my college days,” he says. “Though teaching is one of the best ways to make a difference in society, I didn’t want to be a conventional teacher.”

Formerly known as EduMedia, LXL Ideas started off as a company that organized children’s events. Today, the Bengaluru-based for-profit educational company has ventured into many other arenas and is equally successful in each of them. The unique name of the company too has an interesting story behind it. While L stands for learning and life, X stands for the X-factor in education. “While everyone talks about A to Z, we focus on the x-factor and believe that going beyond the curriculum is as important,” explains Kalpa Kartik, director of the company. “We believe that the best experiences, memories and learning stem from life,” she adds.

LXL Ideas has four main business verticals – ‘School Cinema’, which creates award-winning films for life skills education; ‘Krayon’, which creates large-scale events for school children; ‘Mentor’, a niche magazine for school principals and leaders, and ‘LXL Teach’, a research-led, life skills training initiative meant for the children of government schools.

This year, the company won two National Awards for two of their short films – ‘The Waterfall’ and ‘Little Magician’. “We have won six National Awards so far and it’s still sinking in. But what’s more exciting is the fact that a million kids are watching our films,” gushes Sultan. “Filmmaking wasn’t something that I had set out to do. Our film journey started because of our need to reach out to more children and influence them,” he adds.

Speaking of the process of making a film, Kalpa says, “We do a lot of research with an age group of students. We get their opinion on a particular topic as then they can relate to the film better.” Popular filmmakers are then roped in to make these films. “A package of ten films along with a workbook is sold as an institutional product to schools. While these movies are shown to the children over the period of a year, the workbook helps them be more aware of the issue,” she explains.

The company has made 120 films so far of which many are widely circulated across various international film festivals. Sultan has been for most of the major film festivals across the world like Toronto, Cannes, Sydney and Los Angeles. “Mainstream filmmakers are recognizing our work, which means the quality of our work is good. I don’t see why world class entertainment can’t be educational?” he says. “But sadly in India, we put three kids in a film and believe it’s a children’s film. It’s sad to note that we make the largest number of films in the world and yet the least number of them for children,” he laments.

Having been an entrepreneur for over two decades now, Sultan has come a long way. Asking him about the rising start-up culture and he says, “When I started off, I hadn’t even heard of the term ‘entrepreneur’. Early 2000s was all about dotcom and no one knew that we would come so far with Google, Mac, iPhone etc. But that being said, a business idea becomes fantastic if it involves value building and solving someone’s problem or need. Nowadays, businesses focus more on valuation. Instead they should focus on what difference they are making to the world,” he says.

The duo also agrees that being passionate is the key to success. “We love what we do and it clearly shows in our work. We want to have a positive impact on the educational system and are gearing up for future,” Kalpa sums up.

Success mantras

  1. Be passionate about your work. Success will automatically follow.
  2. People are the key. “I am who I am today thanks to the people who contributed to make me who I am. Whether it’s my colleagues or customers to the person who serves tea in my office, I value them a lot,” he says.
  3. Focus on the “discipline of finances”.

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