Business Spotlight Learn with OjO

Business Spotlight: Learn with OjO

OjO designs, manufacture, and markets early-years STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) puzzles and games for kids aged 3 to 10 years. We make problem-solving games and toys based on real-world STEM subjects that stimulate children’s curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills. Our logic, science, and technology toys are designed and manufactured at OjO HQ. We are proud of our range of children’s educational toys and games, which parents love and are perfect for homeschooling.

The Motivation

Maha Khawaja’s conviction founded OjO as a parent to maximize my child’s future potential early on, based on proven methods of learning STEM through play, which boost confidence, imagination, and critical thinking. Maha deeply appreciates all the research available on child psychology and early brain development. as a full-time working mother, she often found her best intentions fell short. It was tough to find the time to do the research and come up with fun and stimulating STEM activities, let alone gather all of the materials.

Ojo was founded upon her ambition to provide children with vital future skills by stimulating their natural abilities, inspiring a love of learning STEM, and providing parents with the tools and support to instill values in their children. We want it to be fun, easy, and natural for families to spend time learning together. The OjO team is a passionate bunch! We are a women-led team.

Our educational experts develop smart and challenging concepts, our designers make it look awesome and easy to play, and our incredible community of child testers keeps us on our toes and ensure everything we create is fun and engaging.

We’re excited about this opportunity to help your children and families to realize their potential and become STEM heroes of the future. Here’s to the next generation of scientists, engineers, creators, and innovators.

About the Games 

Maha, a mother of 2 boys, has taken a learning approach to growing the company since she founded it in 2017.

By debuting product concepts on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and seeing what ticks, OjO has launched products like the Robot Workshop, in which kids design one of 144 possible robot combinations for a space mission, inspired by the parts of the Mars Curiosity Rover and Atomic Force, collect protons, neutrons, and electrons to solve chemistry challenges based on the periodic table.

OjO has partnered with the U.N. to support their United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 as we integrate their goals into our products. OjO’s Underwater Missions Board Game and Underwater Explorers Puzzle support the ‘Life Below Water’ goal by teaching children about the ocean’s wonders from a young age. This goal is focused on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. Our oceans are threatened by overfishing, plastic, and pollution; we need passionate future innovators to invest in systems and solutions to save our seas. Not only will children learn some amazing facts about many different sea creatures through OjO’s marine biology games & toys, but they will be fascinated and inspired to protect the oceans. We encourage ‘Gender Equality ‘in our products and bring girls into science. “We want to break down the typical stereotypes that develop from a young age around certain subjects or genders. We want children to move from a place of “I’m bad at Math” or “I can’t draw” to a place of curiosity and resilience to tackle any learning challenge that comes their way.” Says Maha. “We want to inspire girls to engage in STEM subjects from a young age to gain the necessary skills for their future careers.” our packaging is gender neutral, just as attractive to girls and boys.

We are proud our products contribute to ‘Quality Education’ as they are accessible to different communities through our affordable price point. We believe education should be available to everyone. That’s why our games & toys take tricky topics and make them accessible and fun with exciting, engaging, kid-approved colorful games. We also pride ourselves on the fact that 90% of our products are made of cardboard and recyclable. Our products are naturally eco-friendly and include less than 5% plastic, which is part of OjO’s pledge to support sustainable production patterns.

“We’re still in the start-up phase, and that means testing and experimenting with strategy, and if one approach doesn’t work, learning to tweak the business model and try another,” says Maha. “But OjO’s mission is to break down intimidating, complex topics and make them approachable and fun to learn for children of any capability and gender.”

Founder’s Story

Maha’s toy story came after two different careers in big business. She did her post-secondary studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, graduating in 2003, and then worked at HSBC Investment Bank, including its offices in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Geneva and London. “I always had a set mind about how my career would go,” she says, “but realized after four and a half years in finance wasn’t a passion.” Going back to school, earning her MBA in 2009 from London Business School, she made a career switch into consumer product marketing, with roles at Nestlé in Dubai (on Nescafé, for the Pakistan and Afghanistan market) and then, returning to London, at Johnson & Johnson, on its Neutrogena skin-care line.

A few years after the birth of her son, Saarim, now 9, she made a third pivot. “I had been looking for STEM toys to get my first-born learning at play,” says Maha, “and discovered they were mostly junk—flashy, noisy battery-operated toys that claimed to be STEM but required no critical thinking.”

Leveraging her four years in brand marketing, she launched OjO in 2017 and has built it into an eight-person team, including Product Designers, STEM Educators, and Child Psychologists based in the U.S., U.K., and Cyprus.

Maha started the company with only her money and family and friends’ investments. Maha chose the name OjO, which means “eye” in Spanish, to represent the lens with which kids see the world. She notes that the word OjO was also easy for kids to read, sTapping into a “pain point felt by other parents and institutions about toys,” early success came from the office of the Mayor of London, which provided OjO games for play at community events., and educational destinations, like the Science Museum in London, featured its toys in hands-on exhibits. Ojo also partnered with CBeebies, the BBC-owned children’s channel, to create the Which Way? coding game. “They were some of our first customers, and while they were great partnerships for publicity, we found they diluted our efforts to get the cash register ringing,” she says.

It was an iterative process to tune in to OjO’s target customers. Eventually, they discovered that homeschoolers looking for inspiring ways to incorporate STEM into their curriculums and shoppers looking to give the gift of STEM and education were the ideal customers. The pandemic also compelled the business to upgrade its online product listings and develop a strong presence on online networks to ensure maximum reach and visibility online.

Opportunities

Over the last couple of years, OjO has laser-focused on building a retail ecosystem of small and large toy stores, a strategy that led the start-up to reach record sales during the pandemic.

“A lot of success has come from just getting in touch with neighborhood toy shops and saying, ‘We’d love to show you a sample,'” says Maha. “Physical retail is important, and so are tactile toys amidst COVID-19 and the shift to home-learning, because parents are yearning for good-quality games and toys that don’t use screens.”

After many years in London, Maha moved to New York City with her husband and two boys (her boys and their friends were among OjO’s earliest toy-testers,” she notes). Maha aims to grow the brand in the U.S. and Canada, recently scoring a big win south of the border with HSN (formerly the Home Shopping Network), planning to launch their best-sellers on the network.

“I want to make a global impact, and the confidence I have in knowing I can do it came from my education and having worked around the world,” she says. “Any female entrepreneur can start small in their communities, but if you have bold, ambitious sights, you’ll achieve much more.”

Ultimately Maha’s goal is to inspire and empower kids to be changemakers. We are leaving them a world full of big epic challenges: social, political, financial, and environmental, and the best thing we can do for them is to give them to tools to be fearless and to be creative so they can invent the world they want to live in.

This year, OjO has launched a range of exciting problem-solving Science Puzzles and will introduce Maker Kits, from planting food to slime-making, in time for Christmas. “I tell girls and women, don’t be afraid to launch an idea when you get out into the world or even right now during school,” says Maha.

“Entrepreneurship tests your limits, but it’s also hugely rewarding when it’s something you’re passionate about.”

MS, Durham University
GP

The work of a family doctor includes a wide range of clinical diversity, which requires extensive knowledge and erudition from a specialist. However, I believe that the most important thing for a family doctor is to be human because the cooperation and understanding between the doctor and the patient are crucial in ensuring successful health care. On my days off, I love being in nature. Since childhood, I have been passionate about playing chess and tennis. Whenever I have time off, I enjoy traveling around the world.

Latest from Business News