Startup Review: Zid Zid
Zid Zid is the first language-learning platform that engages preschool children, parents, and teachers through project-based activities, songs, storybooks, and new technology. Teachers and parents do not need to know the language to guide a child’s experiences and learn together. The mission of the Company is to give children a foundation of future learning.
With Zid Zid, Julie and Moulay leverage the power of technology to enable teachers and parents to raise smart global kids. Zid Zid focuses on the importance of play and positive human interactions to stimulate children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. There is a key focus on making the learning process fun and enjoyable for everyone involved. The Company also pitches the secondary benefits its product has on a child: improving problem solving, instilling confidence, boosting creativity, increasing empathy, and others.
How does the process work? First: The Company’s Spanish language expert, begins by introducing vocabulary and pronunciation to the teachers and parents in a video on a desktop, phone or tablet. Second: to increase vocabulary retention, the Company provides age-appropriate stories in Spanish. One of the stories, “Who is Hiding Here?”, is all about colors. Then: the students will spend time Learning songs as that leads to long-term memory and deep understanding. Every child loves to sing. One of the songs is in Spanish and English and is titled “Red is Rojo.” Finally: the students participate in multisensory project-based experiences using all five senses strengthen critical thinking, motor skills, imagination, social, and emotional development.
The Company currently has trial programs in use by Xavier University and Cincinnati Country Day. It is also a subscription-based platform. However, the Company is certainly focused on being a consumer-facing brand as well. One of the Company’s advertised advantages is how important and fundamental interplay is between a child and a parent. According to the Company’s marketing materials: “Play-based learning and positive interactions with children are an important part of their development and success.”
The primary brand ambassadors for the Company will be preschool teachers who will promote the product and Company to parents. After running an alpha program with parents in the Greater Cincinnati Area, Zid Zid found some serious market validation to support its business plan and philosophy. 100% of tested parents said they would pay the proposed subscription price of $19.95 per month and 98% of parents liked the approach. The Company also has members of its advisory board who have strong academic and scientific backgrounds regarding early childhood education that support the Company’ approach.
Children who learn a second language early on in their development typically show better signs of language understanding, cognitive development, and improved social capabilities. While children of every age benefit from learning a second language, research studies particularly support starting bilingual education at the preschool level. Very young children readily learn through play-like activities. They are less self-conscious than older learners, and are willing to try out newly acquired language skills without fear of embarrassment. Children at this age are also better at mimicking new sounds and adopting pronunciation than are older learners. Clearly, students will reap the most benefits when they begin bilingual education early in their lives.
In the US, most children do not learn other languages until grade school, past the best age for learning. According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Education, good educational resources are scarce:
· Only a small number of families can afford (or have access to) language learning classes or dual-language preschools.
· Language apps for kids are inexpensive but they fail to foster two important parts of a child development 1) Play-based learning through the five senses 2) Positive human interactions.
In our increasingly diverse society, there is a growing appreciation of the value of speaking more than one language. Opening one’s mind to learning about and embracing other languages and cultures can bring rich rewards. Anyone who speaks a second language can communicate with greater numbers of people, expanding their educational, professional, and social opportunities. Helping our children learn a second language is a great way to prepare them to succeed in every aspect of their adult lives.
The Company is essentially playing in two markets: early childhood education and the red-hot digital language learning space. The early childhood education market is valued at roughly $70 billion and the online education market is about $20 billion. Obviously, these figures are way out of the range of Zid Zid’s niche, however, they do provide an idea of just how big the pool the Company is swimming in.
Drilling down further, one can find two markets that Zid Zid falls into: the Game-Based Learning Products industry and the Simulation-Based Learning industry. The GBL industry had revenues of $2.6 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to $7.3 billion by 2021. A total of $322.6 million has been invested in thirty-six Game-based Learning companies in just the first half of 2016, nearly double the amount for the entire year of 2015. The worldwide Simulation-based Learning market has a 17.0% growth rate and revenues will climb to $11.3 billion by 2021.
The point that should be taken away from all of this data (and this is really only the tip of the iceberg), is that the various industries that the Company is in are growing and they are growing quickly. There are also very few dominant forces in any of those industries, and as a result are ripe for disruption. Zid Zid has plenty of opportunity to eat up market share and even create it’s own market.
There are not really any well-known products that do what the Company does. There are various resources teachers and parents can utilize for teaching a child a language, but none of them have a strong grasp on the market. There are a couple of companies that have made strides in a similar field. One should probably view these companies as case studies instead of competition.
A good such case study would be Duolingo. Duolingo, the popular language learning service that was co-founded by reCAPTCHA founder Luis von Ahn, announced in 2017 that it has raised a $25 million Series E round led by Drive Capital. This brings Duolingo’s total funding to $108.3 million and the company says that its valuation in this last round was $700 million. The company also says that it recently passed 200 million users; 25 million of these are monthly actives.
The Company first started in the Brandery Accelerator and then became part of the Uptech Accelerator, both headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. The two founders moved to Cincinnati because of the Brandery Accelerator and found the startup community to be extremely helpful and beneficial to the growth of their business that they decided to stick around.
UpTech and the Brandery both provide seed fundings of approximately $50,000, making the total funding of this Company to be approximately $100,000. At this time, there is no other money invested in this Company.
Founders Julie Klear and Moulay Essakalli’s passion and desire to create Zid Zid, is the natural evolution of personal and professional experiences. They are a husband and wife design team, working together as entrepreneurs in different parts of the world for the past 15 years while raising two trilingual children.
Julie is a former art educator with a dedicated career working with children through the arts, in museums, schools, and prestigious galleries. She is also an award-winning product designer, children’s book illustrator, and painter. She was born in Germany and raised in Toledo, Ohio.
Moulay’s first job was painting illustrations on store windows in Casablanca, Morocco, which lead him to become a successful graphic designer and UI/UX designer. Comfortable in any country, his ease with languages and culture, took him from Morocco to France, then onto the United States working along the way as a French lecturer at the University of Texas in Austin, and at Boston University.
In 2001, the design duo created their first company, a children’s brand of furnishings and soft toys, based in Marrakech, Morocco and distributed in more than 20 countries around the world. They garnered multiple international design awards, and Moulay was recognized by President Barack Obama in 2010 at the first President Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington.