Adding fun to learning maths

December 7, 2020

MATHS is hardly a favourite subject for most children. Therefore, a different approach to helping children gain an interest in this subject is needed.

Maths is among the more important subjects in school and beyond, it is vital to create a sustainable interest and inculcate love for maths right from an early age. Getting children interested in maths and building their willingness to learn sets a strong foundation for their later years.

Zapzapmath was founded in 2015. This Malaysian game-based learning (GBL) education technology company aims to make maths fun and engaging for kids ranging from kindergarten to Year Six.

Kids these days are digital natives and spend an average of 6.5 hours a day glued to their screens. This is a matter of concern to parents and teachers who are always looking for ways to encourage better quality screen time that incorporate good educational values. For this reason, Zapzapmath was born.

John Ng developed the idea while he was a maths teacher in Singapore in 2004. He keenly observed that the mathematics software at that time was difficult to work on and even boring for students. He decided to code his own mini software programme by "gamifying" math lessons using enhanced sound and 3D animation.

He experimented with his students and saw positive responses – their interest to learn and engagement hit the roof.

This experience left a deep imprint in his mind for years. Even when he switched jobs to become an engineer, he continued to experiment on his proof of concept for three years during his spare time.

In 2007, he decided to leave his engineering job to pursue a start-up entrepreneurship in the education technology space.

In 2014, he pitched the idea to the current chairman and co-founder, Max Teh, who believed in the idea and helped expand the vision to make Zapzapmath a global gamified math ecosystem that can inculcate in every child a love for maths. Teh brought strategic directions to Zapzapmath and also funded Zapzapmath in 2015.

Currently, the two main markets are in the US and Malaysia, with the former being the primary market with 70% of users. In 2019, Zapzapmath also began to pursue aggressive expansion plans locally in its home ground, Malaysia.

The journey to achieve product-market fit was no easy feat and came with its fair share of “fail fast, learn fast” iterations. Zapzapmath started in 2015 and only achieved product-market fit in 2019. Revenue grew by 390% in 2019 and is projected to grow further by end of 2020.

The success gained so far is thanks in part to Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) which supported the team by sending Zapzapmath’s founders to the prestigious MaGIC e@Stanford for entrepreneurship training in the Silicon Valley in 2014.

This equipped Zapzapmath’s team with essential skills and knowledge to persevere and build a sustainable business, despite the many tough hurdles it had to face.

Today, the total downloads for Zapzapmath’s entire portfolio of products amount to 3.7 million and are mostly acquired via organic means. It is categorised into mainly Zapzapmath Home (B2C) and Zapzapmath School (B2B).

Zapzapmath Home is targeted at parents with kids from kindergarten to Year Six. Zapzapmath School is targeted at education institutions and also licenses its games.

The company’s notable clients include REAL Kids, Teacher Yap and Digi in Malaysia. They also have research partners from McGill University and the University of Malaya.

Zapzapmath’s mission is to make learning as fun and engaging as possible for every child in the world, as well as affordable. This will take time but the team is confident of a brighter future where all kids can love to learn maths at their own pace.

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