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EduKitten Helps Expats Teach their Children Arabic
Capitalizing on the increasing use of mobile phones and tablets among kids, Egyptian startup EduKitten was created by a group of concerned parents to keep Arabic culture alive through education and entertainment, or “edutainment”, for kids between 3 and 8 years old.
“We’re 11 employees, mostly mothers, who wanted to make a difference in our childrens’ lives,” says co-founder Sara Abu Nara. “To measure user experience, see how clear our messaging is and develop our products, we first tested the apps on our children, small cousins and their friends before bringing them to market.”
Since its launch last August, EduKitten has developed 6 applications with over 42,000 downloads among them. The startup has sold over 350 premium app subscriptions (priced at $1.99) - primarily to Saudi Arabia, followed by the U.S. and the UAE.
Applications are developed in classical Arabic, with vibrant colors and interactive functionalities. The 'Book' apps include a story with related riddles and puzzles. Children can choose from 3 levels: easy has 6 puzzle pieces, medium has 8, and hard has 12. Unfortunately, after a game or story is completed at one level, the app doesn’t automatically direct the user to the next, or even to the homepage; instead users stay stuck on a “celebration” page.
The book application also includes an “Iqra’ly” (Read for Me) feature, offering a recorded audio reading of each story. Parents can also mute this function so that they or their child can be the storyteller.
EduKitten's Stories and Games
- The “Haza Farkh” (This is a Chicken) application takes users on a journey across a farm, garden, and zoo to learn about the animals around them through an interactive game and playful songs. Unfortunately, the audio cuts while users are playing the game “Ayna elfarkh” (Where is the Chicken).
- “Maza Jara” (What Happened) app teaches users about animal sounds.
- “Ahlan Wasahlan” (Welcome) bring children to each animals’ home, offering an adventure across the forest from home to home.
- “Hayabena” (Let’s Go) helps children develop their Arabic language skills through short games and fun sound effects for each action.
- “Tfadal Maei” (Come On In) teaches users the difference between carnivores and herbivores. Sometimes, the screen freezes after distributing plants and meat to the animals, but it’s still a fun challenge.
- “Shapes” develops children’s memory by asking them to recognize the geometric shapes, names and dimensions.
Each application offers a different skill test, challenge, or adventure for children, but it might be nice to include a competitive angle, motivating children to focus more on completing specific tasks for rewards. They also hope to offer translation into various Arabic dialects for specific regional users in the near future.
EduKitten expects to cover all its expenses and begin generating profits by the end of the year, planning to offer 20 edutainment applications in the same time, all available on Android and IOS.
While Saudi and the UAE are two of their biggest markets, the company has actually seen a considerable number of downloads from Arab expatriates trying to preserve the use of Arabic within their family, especially in the U.S. As such, marketing their products is a big challenge since their customers are spread across the globe. But it's also a huge opportunity, as Arabic speakers around the world remain hungry for Arabic content and word of mouth can be the best strategy for gaining followers internationally.
With some strong applications and a steady plan for making a profit by year’s end, these parent-entrepreneurs are helping families across the globe preserve and share their Arabic culture, starting at a young age.
Hanan Solayman is a freelance journalist and founder of “El Mandara”, a local news portal in Egypt. She studied Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York. You can connect with her via e-mail at email@example.com or on Twitter @hananzaz.
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