Putting the fun back into maths with Zapzapmath
By Chong Jinn Xiung February 12, 2018
- Creates a gamified maths game to promotes critical thinking for children aged 5 -12
- Aims to raise Series A of US$3 million by Q3 2018
MATHS need not be a difficult or boring subject in school if it is made fun and engaging for kids. That’s the approach Zapzapmath co-founders Max Teh, John Ng and Adam Goh have taken with their startup which created the Zapzapmath ecosystem of apps that focuses on making learning fun while promoting critical thinking.
The idea to gamify maths lessons originated from John Ng, who was a former maths teacher in Singapore. After returning to Malaysia, Ng wanted to explore gamified learning, a new trend that was catching on. It so happened that he met co-founder Adam Goh at a co-working space and the two found common ground to pursue the idea of combining maths and games.
The duo met Teh during a Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) pitching session in 2015. He advised them to dream bigger and take their solution to a global audience.
“If you look at maths education today, it is declining around the world,” said Teh, who is also the chairman of Netrove Venture Capital. He attributes this decline to the availability of many different screens be it smartphones or tablets.
“Maths is a subject that needs constant practice and not memorisation. But children can’t be bothered to go through their maths workbooks as they find it boring,” stressed Teh, who is also an angel investor with 20 years of experience, primarily covering the technology ecosystem.
The answer to this problem of how to get children to enjoy learning maths was simple. Since children were always on tablets or smartphones, put the maths lesson in their hands via a mobile game.
Teh firmly believes that Zapzapmath is riding on the second wave of Edtech (Education Tech) that gamifies the learning experience.
“How we differentiate ourselves from other maths games is that we present comprehensive content. The lessons are embedded within the game and we consult with experienced educators so that the lessons can be used to supplement a school’s syllabus,” explained Ng, who is also head of product.
A beta version of the app was launched in November 2015 and was well received with 100,000 downloads within the first two months, mostly from the United States (US). After visiting teachers in the US and getting their feedback, they tweaked Zapzapmath into a ready product by September 2016.
To date, they say they have amassed close to 2.9 million downloads across 200 countries in nine different languages. The vast majority of downloads come from the US followed by China.
Of that figure, approximately 70% of downloads are for iOS devices whereas the remaining 30% goes on Android devices. Moving with the times, Zapzapmath has also adapted its app for use on Chromebooks as more schools are now using laptops.
According to Teh, Zapzapmath is sold under two products as an app that parents can download directly to their smart device or as a subscription-based product to schools that provides analytics on how a student is performing on the subject.
Zapzapmath is primarily targeted towards children between the ages of five to 12, a group that was decided upon due to the fact that globally there 500 million kids within this segment. Teh goes on to say that Zapzapmath has been adopted in over 300 schools in the US and 20 private schools in Malaysia.
Though Zapzapmath was privately funded for the first three years of its life, they are looking for funding this year to help to expand the market, particularly in China, India and Indonesia. For them, there will be a greater focus on the Asian region as well as building their market share in their home base of Malaysia.
So far, they have applied for Cradle Fund’s CIP300 and are looking to raise a Series A of US$3 million (RM11.86 million) by Q3 2018.