Business Startup Spotlight: Zid Zid

Zid Zid

Zid Zid empowers preschool children, teachers and parents to learn languages together. We did not build an app to put a child in front of a screen alone. We design specifically around how children learn best, which is along with their teachers, parents, and caregivers.

Zid Zid

Co-Founder, Moulay Essakalli

Name: Zid Zid

Location: Cincinnati, OH


Product / Service Offering: Language-learning app

Co-founder Interviewed: Moulay Essakalli

Other Key Management Team Members: Julie Klear

This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.

We are a design duo with a background in early childhood education, technology, and the arts. Children of all ages inspire us, but especially in the early years as they are full of potential and raw energy. Their brain is forming over a million new neurons every minute.

Recent research shows that the best time to learn other languages is before the age of six. The benefits linked to cognitive, social and emotional development last a lifetime. As designers and educators, Zid Zid feels responsible to provide teachers, parents, and caregivers with the opportunity to learn how to learn and teach another language even if they do not speak it.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

We established Zid Zid in July 2016. Our idea came from working in the field of designing products for children for over ten years. First, as we were developing content for children in different parts of the world, we noticed that new languages could be introduced through creative play and experiential learning, without additional work for the educator. Secondly, we were inspired by the broad reach that technology can provide, and worked to combine these two elements: best practices in early childhood education with the best technology can offer.

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What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?

The way we think about foreign languages is dead wrong. Zid Zid aims to find a solution to the challenge of learning a second or third language for future generations of Americans.

What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?

Zid Zid is not just another language-learning app! Zid Zid empowers preschool children, teachers and parents to learn together. We did not build an app to put a child in front of a screen alone. We design specifically around how children learn best, which is along with their teachers, parents, and caregivers.

Zid Zid’s top priorities are as follows:

  1. Cognitive, social, and emotional development
  2. Learning by doing through the five senses
  3. Positive human interactions.

Also, our visual design and front-end experience are unique. All the visual and editorial design is created in-house, setting Zid Zid apart from other competitors. We have not seen any other language-learning app approaching learning the way we do.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

Our biggest challenge was building the initial app. We lost our CTO co-founder shortly after we established the company and had difficulties finding a suitable replacement in a zero unemployment market for qualified software engineers. We overcame the challenge by pursuing several options until we could find the right resource through sheer perseverance and a bit of luck.

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Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

Zid ZidThe best advice we have been given and have stuck with is to work from a healthy foundation: eat well, sleep well, and exercise regularly. Running a start-up is an “extreme sport” so having good life wellness and hygiene is imperative for success.

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?

Firstly, we were fortunate to have had a successful crowdfunding campaign to start. Secondly, we were accepted into two top-rated accelerators. Thirdly, we have customers who are prepared to pay for our service.

We believe in bootstrapping while focusing on gaining and keeping customers. This is the best way to go in the early days, and we would not do it any other way.

Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?

Zid Zid has been fortunate to be a part of two incredible accelerator programs, which offer a network of passionate and intelligent mentors eager to help. It has allowed us to form relationships within the start-up ecosystem in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond. When we had, or when we have a challenge, a conflict, or a question, we can call on someone from our many respected mentors for guidance and clarity.

What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?

Challenges tend to change from one stage of growth to another. Our most important challenge currently is to develop a distribution system to acquire new customers in different geographies outside of the Greater Cincinnati area and spread our reach.

What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?

Listen and treat everyone with respect.

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Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?

Zid Zid’s exciting vision is what drives us. Our commitment is bringing it to life.

Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing in your comments below!

Sandra Sloan

Sandra has previous supply chain and business operations experience which she is leveraging as an author with FundingSage focused on spotlighting entrepreneurs and their startup efforts.