Programming for children

From working at Amazon Payments to creating programmable toys for children is a pretty big leap, but Vikas Gupta was no stranger to the idea. He had worked at Amazon for seven years till 2006, developing the payment system before quitting to start a virtual currency system, Jambool, which Google acquired for around $70 million (around 435 crore) in 2010.

He left Google two years later, to follow an equally strange idea—that five-year-olds could learn to program.

In an email interview, Gupta says: “A five-year-old does have the cognitive ability to grasp the ‘programming concepts’... However, at that young age, children need tangible interactions to engage with—interactions that would make abstract concepts more concrete."

So Gupta founded Play-i along with Mikal Greaves, who had until then led engineering at frog design and Flextronics, and Saurabh Gupta, who had been heading the iPod software team at Apple for six years.

Their project, Bo and Yana, two robots designed to be programmed by children, is in production now. Bo ($169) and Yana ($59) work with a touch interface on the iOS and Android platforms to teach children to program using their toys.

The robots are available for preorder at www.play-i.com

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Riding the wave

See their ranges of bicycles and accessories on Bumsonthesaddle.com.

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No Net to tweet

The result, U2opia Mobile, gives you smart features on dumb phones, using the USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) protocol, which employs technology similar to text messages to let you access services like Facebook and Twitter.

Though smartphones are becoming cheaper and more accessible by the day, a large segment of the population in countries like India, Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo—where U2opia Mobile is present—cannot afford smartphones and data plans. In some of the 30 countries where U2opia offers its services, the mobile Internet network is, at best, patchy, which means that the potential of the service is tremendous.

Click here for details.

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Climb every mountain

“All I ever wanted was to spend my time climbing," says Kowshik. In early 2012 Kowshik, along with business partner Archit Rakheja, who quit his job as a financial analyst, started Geck & Co Adventurers.

The company organizes boutique climbing tours in the mountains. Most of their clients come to them by word of mouth. “By starting a business I am now learning how to sell. The technical part, organizing logistics and of course climbing, all that is easy. We are running a business like mountaineers," says Kowshik.

Look for a climbing holiday that works for you on www.geck-co.com.

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At your service

It began in 2005 when Venkaratraju and George, both IT consultants in Singapore, were introduced to the microbreweries of the city. After five years of back and forth on the idea, and saving for the day when they would take the plunge, they moved to Bangalore in 2010. Despite being a newbie in the business, Toit has never seen a dull day. “We brew around 15,000 litres of Weiss, our popular wheat beer, every month," says Venkataraju.

Visit the microbrewery at Toit.in.

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