100 Zaheer Gabajiwala’s toy company, Zephyr, uses robotics training sets that impact STEM skills. This helps a 10-year-old to gain technical skills via toys.
Zaheer Gabajiwala ran a toy workshop in a small, abandoned lift shaft in the late 1980, but, without giving up he expanded his workshop into a Rs 15-crore firm gradually. Zaheer overcame challenges with enormous hard work, sweat, and tears to build Zephyr Toymakers that currently has 100 employees.
The company is now one of India’s leading indigenous toy manufacturers. It produces the well-known toy brands Mechanix and Blix. Zephyr’s toys are primarily construction sets based on STEM education. Construction toys, instructional toys, physical exercise and dexterity toys, and hobby sets are among its product categories.
These are the types of educational toys produced at Zephyr’s production facility in Navi Mumbai. Moiz Gabajiwala, the company’s current CEO, recalls the difficulties the family had while running the firm.
Moiz explains, “After the unexpected death of his father, my father Zaheer found himself in a tough circumstance.” He was obliged to drop out of college and work with his brother in the family business. His first workshop, which he shared with his brother, was in a small 25-square-foot room.
Zaheer had always stated that he wished to venture out and begin producing educational toys on his own.
Moiz says his father wanted to buy educational toys for him but he saw that they were too expensive or of poor quality.
This prompted Zaheer Gabajiwala to decide that he would create toys that were high in quality and safety. Zaheer founded Playmate in 1983, as he also wanted to make toys that would provide a learning experience for children without being prohibitively expensive. In 1988, he formed Zephyr Toymakers as a partnership. In 2002, it was turned into a private limited corporation.
Moiz claims, “Initially, the building’s landlord believed in my father’s concept but did not have any available space for him. He then donated an unused lift shaft, and the expedition began. People who believed in the vision and began trading with him on credit also handled the raw materials and processing. As the things sold, the credit was gradually paid off, and the voyage began.”
Despite the challenges, Zaheer remained laser-focused on his goal: to provide children with hands-on learning through educational toys. He pieced together his toy business. Similarly, his company’s toys are building blocks that children can assemble to create a variety of models.
Moiz was appointed CEO of the company in 2014. Since then, he has been absorbed in the company’s running and operations. He oversaw the development and management of a shop chain showcasing high-end educational toys from European businesses. In 2016, he took over as the company’s operations manager, overseeing everything from planning and execution to risk analysis and forecasting. He claims that Zephyr is still wholly owned by the family.
Zephyr employs cutting-edge technology to keep its educational toy line relevant to children. It employs robotics training sets, which influence STEM skills in a child in such a way that a 10-year-old is able to absorb technical knowledge.
Zephyr is blurring the barriers between toys and education by incorporating these technologies into toy-making. However, it is most likely the only Indian toy manufacturer that invests extensively in research and development.
In an unpredictable world and environment, Zephyr finds it difficult to focus on skill sets that will be relevant in the future. Moiz has also seen a lack of trust in Indian-made toys. He has also noticed a scarcity of local industries that provide spare parts and technologies.
As youngsters spend more time with electronics, there will be a greater demand for instructional toys.
Moiz added that as STEM education gains traction, his company is at the vanguard with its robotics toys and STEM education.
Zephyr has spent roughly Rs 5 crore on such projects.