ALPA Kids - an Estonian edtech where product is designed by children themselves

We talked with Kelly Lilles, the CEO and co-founder of the edtech startup ALPA Kids.
Kelly told us about the problem they are solving with ALPA Kids, why she and her team decided to solve problems in the field of education, how has corona affected the startup, what will happen with education in the next 5-10 years and what is her stake on
Sustainable Development Goals.

Limitless mentors ALPA Kids and is their devoted fan as their team has some mad problem
solving skills and enviable drive building something that matters. To give you an example: they recently managed to build a working solution for personalized education that is tracking the child’s progress and making content suggestions based on the behaviour of the user at the Base Camp 72-hour
online hackathon which they also won. Worth to mention that they made corona tests prior bringing together their team to ensure the safety and effectively hacked away! There are no problems hard enough for ALPA Kids team to solve - they are simply limitless.

Source: ALPA Kids

What is the problem ALPA Kids is solving?

“There’s no denying that the users of digital devices are younger than ever. While children learn best in their native language most web content is in English. At the same time, there are about 7000 languages spoken in the world which don’t have digital content to offer for their youngest users. Not to mention content which is educational, age appropriate, safe and culturally relevant. Lack of relevant content mostly threatens the development of children, but also linguistic diversity as researchers have predicted that over the next 100 years 90% of the languages will become extinct due to globalisation,” Kelly said.

How are you solving the problem?

“We are developing e-learning games for children aged 2-8 in co-creation with kids, teachers and researchers. The games are combined with off-screen activities to encourage the habit of taking breaks from the screens. The content is very easy to localise to languages all over the world while the content is based on the local culture. We don’t translate only the language, but we also localise the design and cultural elements used in the games. We provide the solution for families and for preschools which are already in a serious need for the digital content  in native languages ,“ Kelly said.

Why did you decide that you want to solve the relevant 
educational content problem? Why is it important to you?

“We decided to tackle this issue due to our own personal need. We are parents in a small
nation – Estonia – and while living abroad with our children we missed the opportunity to provide them the digital experience of our culture and mother tongue. There was just no interactive e-learning content in Estonian! We quickly realised that it’s not a problem just for us, but it’s a global problem,” Kelly said.

What have you achieved so far?

“Our journey hasn’t been long as just a year ago, we finished one of the most important educational technology accelerators in Europe - xEdu. By now we have validated the need for our product: we have 6,000 weekly users and paying customers in 19 countries. Our applications have more than 45,000 downloads already and the number is growing
rapidly every day! Also, getting awesome people to join our team has been one of the most important achievements as this has brought us where we are and is bringing us
further every day. Our kids are also giving us important insights as they test out the
product regularly,” Kelly said. She added jokingly: “They are probably the youngest
software testers in the country. The coolest moments are when they have found a bug and let their dad know after which he asks if they are able to reproduce the bug. One of the latest changes in the product courtesy to our kids is related to voice speed feature which now sounds more natural - before kids found the sound too robotic.”

ALPA Kids team

How has corona impacted your startup?

“Personally, it has been a very difficult year – constantly worrying about our close ones, restrictions and working most of the year with our children at home as most of the
parents out there. At the same time we have been able to use this time as an opportunity to grow our startup. During the last spring our app usage skyrocketed! We received +2000% daily active users                                         ALPA Kids team                                 and we continue to grow with an amazing speed. Also, we started our expansion a lot earlier than planned and now we continue to grow in India to provide e-learning content in their 22 regional languages,” Kelly said.

Tell us about your future vision for the next 5 to 10 years in the
education sector.

“I can see that we will never go back to the way things were before corona – the role of technology will grow even more as it will be able to provide a more personalised experience of learning where the knowledge and skill set of each child can be kept in mind. Also, the curricula will be combined more with general skills and the actual interests of each student. We will definitely see more opportunities for online learning, but I don’t see that the school buildings and teachers would disappear. We are social creatures and we still need physical contact. Probably the position of a teacher will lean more towards a mentor who empowers the children to seek their own learning path,” Kelly said.

Which are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that ALPA Kids contributes to? Which one is the most important one?

“At ALPA Kids we contribute to no. 4 (Quality Education), no. 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and no. 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). All of these are important but to sum it up I would say that we are passionate about equal opportunities for native language e-learning,“
Kelly said. She elaborated: “The knowledge about SDGs is growing and being able to
define the SDGs a startup contributes into is becoming more important, but so far there hasn’t been any direct benefit for us using SDGs. Probably once the awareness about SDGs grows, the more are also potential partners and investors thinking about it and
taking into account the impact companies have.”

Check out ALPA Kids's website to get more information on what they are up to -
especially if you are a parent or educational specialist!

Add a comment

Email again: