Ms. Immaculate Antony is a founder of Ima reCreation studied B.Sc Physics in Bharathiyar Univesity in 1990 and MCA (Master of Computer Applications ) in Madras Univesity (1993) has worked in various roles in software companies, stating from programmer to Solution Architect to Management roles in Big IT projects in Companies like Wipro, Zensar Technologies, Enzen Global for 20 years. In 2014, after her Dad’s sad demise, she wanted to focus on things that matter more and started this initiative to bring back people to the olden golden value system. It is a startup funded and run using own funding and savings so far.
Ima reCreation is a Social Enterprise (Not NGO, Not for profit, but need to be sustainable) startup, passionate about researching and reviving traditional games like a treasure to be passed on to our next generation. The single-line objective is the recreation of traditional games for recreation.
Thanks for being with us today!!
What made you quit your well paying IT job and made you to start your own venture?
My IT job was not just well paying, it was very well satisfying too. I used to think that job is my passion and life and was enjoying it thoroughly. Usually, I answer this question saying that my dad left this world when I never expected it. And he had 2 pallankuzhi fish shape board at home. That’s the trigger and it is true. I know he was very proud of me and loved me dearly like any other father. But after that somehow I couldn’t get back to work and love that Job as before. So I decided to quit and start something else which focuses more on enjoying and balancing other aspects of life like relaxing, recreation more family time, etc. There were sew incidents that also guided me towards recreation os games for recreation and bonding. If I reflect more maybe I was enjoying the journey more than the destination as I have quit my job a few times before too when least expected. But always went back to IT only as I used to believe I know only that and it’s my passions and life. Which was also true. So Its a combination of I had some search in me, and my Dad leaving 2 pallankuzhi is the cue, and I just kept my eyes open and few incidents guided me through this initiative.
How did you come up with this idea?
Like I said I decided to quit a highly busy IT job and do something more relaxing not only for me but also for my family and friends so that I time is available more to them/ My Dad also lest 2 pallankuzhi boards. I was wondering what to do. Then in the train journey from Coimbatore to Bangalore, I engaged few children and grandparents in a game of I Spy, the way children bonded with their grandparents and the way everyone played and enjoyed for almost 5 to 6 hours, made me to just learn more about such games and to take it to people as a medium to bond and relax. As IT architect I know we will progress.
There are online games that are better monetized than casual games? what made you choose a traditional gaming company?
I also wanted us not to forget our roots, culture, history, art, festivals, Only in traditional games, everyone can be involved regardless of their age and ability. The more we learn more I realized these games are treasure troves of all of the above and also very good for society and for socializing. So decided to focus on real games to be played with real people rather than online games. Moneywise it may be prudent to do online games, but satisfaction, instant gratification we get by making people play is our motivation to continue.
What are the different games you have?
We have revived 100+ games so far. When we say 100+ games, it means we have come up with all the necessary things like boards, coins, rules, etc to play the games. The more we leant about the games, we came to know these games are across generations, across cultures, across civilization. We have revived both indoor and outdoor games, using a single game board many games can be played. There are many group games played with nothing. I used to think we know 100+ games. Now during lockdown when we sit down and Vlog the games, it looks like we may know more games. Only indoor we have documented 30+ games. We will continue to document more such games. Then there is plenty of outdoor games. Once we have gathered most of the Indian games played in different states and parts os the county we will also focus on global games. BTW Many Indian games are universal.
Who are your audiences? What is the marketing strategy?
Actually we have none. Everyone is our customer regardless of their age and so far it is the only word of mouth. People hear about us and invite us to conduct a game / come and play with us and buy from us. Schools, Corporates, NGOs, Special schools, Clubs, housing society, etc have used our games. We have minimal online social media presence too. We are not that good at taking photos, videos, and promote. We don’t even have media clippings when media cove us many times. However, we do get our customers mostly through word of mouth. Many times when we try to approach people, they didn’t even understand what to do with us and our games. So we rely 100% on word of mouth. People are very supportive and are helping us survive.
What makes you to work towards this project?
It is just instant gratification. The satisfaction we get out os making a grandparent and a child play. Make a child play with another child. Make corporate employees play like school buddies. We make people from all walks of like play and every event we will have plenty of os memories not only for the participants but also for us. We will also learn one or more games/variations in every event. We are happy as we make people happy. That’s our motivation.
Can you give us some sense of how big this market is, and what is the expected growth?
We are a social enterprise and we didn’t start by analyzing the market. We just want these games to survive a little longer. We only measure how many games we have and now we started to measure how many people we touch/make them learn and play a game. We would have made min 10000 people in a year to play and enjoy our games. It is a conservative estimate. Only this Jan and Feb we started actually counting people who participated in our events. In 2 months before lockdown, it was 5000+ people. We haven’t measured the market, as parallel which can be drawn is entertainment and toys market both are huge. But traditional games, I am not sure as there is no such category exit I guess. We are happy to just measure the people we impact.
What are the few challenges you faced in the industry?
Finding traditional artisans to make the games traditional way. To find all the components of games like dice, shells, traditional design, etc is a big challenge. Also, keep it sustainable. As if the market is not big, giving repeat business to the artisans is difficult. They will vanish between orders. To a major extend creating awareness about these games is tough. In any stall/event people know food, fashion, even branded toys, but not our traditional games. Many times parents will beg children to buy, but children will say I don’t know, I don’t want. Many times this generation’s parents themselves may not know these games. So it is a challenge to take these games unless otherwise they have already heard about the games and looking for them. That’s why mostly word of mouth. The other way is also true. People who have attended our events always remembered us told others and came back to us. So we are surviving. Keeping cost low is a big challenge as in Bangalore major expense is a place and staff. Procurement, making, and transport, etc. Many months we may not even meet the expenses. But we are trying to keep it as lean as possible. Getting resources to support our events is also a big challenge as we use only volunteers.
What are your expansion plans?
The only one thing I can plan is to continue to research and revive more games, That we will do for sure. It is a big ocean. We will revive not only Indian games but also more global games. We haven’t even looked into word, card, number games yet. So the sky is the limit. We will continue to revive the games and trust that people will find us and the games useful and support us. I do have a laundry list of wish lists like
- Need to visit most of the museums and archaeological sites/museums to learn about games. I have visited a few museums. Yet to do many more.
- Need to research and document the benefits of these games in terms of not only culture but also in interpersonal skills, societal, etc.
- Revive not just the games and rules but also the various songs that go along with that in every language etc.
- We have only just started to scratch, it is a big iceberg full of treasures buried.
- We ave documented 30+ games in the youtube video. We will continue to cover all the games revived. You can watch and play them at https://www.youtube.com/channe
Thanks for your time Imma!!