Shark Tank 2: Payal Jain’s Funngro Is A Platform For Teenlancers!

How comfortable are you with the idea of teens working and earning? Payal Jain of Funngro on Shark Tank season 2, asserted that children of today are different and should be allowed to work!

‘Madam, my job application has been rejected once again. Please help me.’

The boy — son of my house help — sounded desperate. He had just passed out of school and wanted to take up a part-time job to help his parents financially and pay for his college fee, but recurring rejections had dampened his spirits.

His mother, however, opposed his desire to work. Like most parents who value education, she also wanted him to complete his studies before getting to the grind of earning money.

Payal Jain of Funngro

But mothers like Payal Jain of Funngro think otherwise. During her pitch in episode 43 of Shark Tank season 2, she asserted that children of today are different.

They are tech and media savvy, they have a hunger to learn more, and as her daughter Vea put it, they want to use their time and skills productively. And many parents amply support their ambitions and aspirations.

Payal Jain conceptualized and founded Funngro with her husband Anik Jain and teenage daughter Vea. Her company facilitates teenagers between the age of 14 and 20 with age and skill-appropriate earning opportunities in the areas of content creation, social media marketing, research, and app testing.

Children need to register on their website, upload their skill sets, choose areas they would like to work in and whenever there is a suitable project they can pitch for it.

The money they earn is credited to their Funngro card, through which they learn money management and the value of money. ‘The best thing about the whole process is that parental approval is required at every step before a child can take up a project’, she said.

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Children above 14 years can work in non-hazardous industries

When shark Aman Gupta pointed out that it’s not legal to engage children below the age of 18 in any kind of paid work, Anik rightly informed him that Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act 2016 allows children above the age of 14 years to work in non-hazardous industries/businesses.

Aman Gupta accepted the clarification, but still didn’t seem to like the idea of children deviating their focus from studies to work. Like my house help, and many other parents, he also reiterated the belief that children shouldn’t think about earning money at the age when they’re still in school.

Childhood is meant to be enjoyed, not to be hustling like adults. Many of us may concur that there’s always the risk of children losing their interest in studies once they get lured by the prospect of earning money.

Is our education system failing to address the needs of the children?

That said, there’s also the question if our education system is capable of providing a holistic education that can lead to the comprehensive development of children. Can it help them identify their aptitude, their strengths, and weaknesses?

Does it empower them with adequate financial literacy and appropriate skills for choosing a career? Does it support aspirational teenagers who are adventurous and do not shy away from taking risks?

Many young pitchers started their entrepreneurship while in school

A couple of episodes of Shark Tank season 2 featured a few young pitchers who had started their entrepreneurship journey while still in school and succeeded too. But can the schools be given the credit for their success?

Apparently, these young entrepreneurs hustled outside their school curriculum to acquire knowledge and skills relevant to their chosen enterprise.

During the last few years, the availability of inexpensive internet plans has opened a vast horizon for teenagers. A horde of courses, many of them available for free, are available on various portals which they can make full use of to enhance their skills.

They have also realized the power of social media and have learned how to exploit the various apps for making vlogs, reels, shorts, etc for monetization of their time, knowledge, and digital skills.

The rise of teenlancers in digital age

But therein also lies the trap of ‘likes’, ‘hits’, and ‘views’, the lure of instant fame and money which a lot of children may naively fall into. And so is the chance of ‘teenlancers’ (as the Funngro founders call them) not getting approval from the companies.

Shark Anupam Mittal asked Payal and Anik how they handled children’s fear of rejection because it needs to be handled very sensitively to prevent any undesirable, adverse impact on the young children’s psyche.

Payal clarified that they counsel children to take it as a learning experience, while Anik confessed that they plan to venture into psychological counselling as the company expands, much to the satisfaction of the sharks.

Funngro found favours with sharks Namita Thapar and Amit Jain for their innovative approach to earning while learning and received funding too, but in my opinion, their reach may, as of now, be limited to urban teenagers.

Scope of Funngro for now is limited to urban teens

The reason is that not many parents from rural backgrounds are tech-savvy and may not be comfortable logging in to the app on their own.

While it’s beneficial and desirable to help our children become financially literate before they attain adulthood, making them financially independent when they are at an impressionable age is a complicated issue with many pros and cons.

How comfortable are you with the idea of children working and earning in their teenage?

Image source: Still from Promo of Episode 43 of Shark Tank 2, edited on CanvaPro

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Seema Taneja

Curious about anything and everything. Proud to be born a woman. Spiritual, not religious. Blogger, author, poet, educator, counselor. read more...

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