ASTANA – Ed-Tech startup Codiplay from Kazakhstan has incorporated gamification features to help children between 8 and 17 learn programming and create gadgets (IoT projects) based on arcade games.
In addition to the mobile app, a startup’s team created CodiKit kits that contain parts and mock-ups for creating 30 IoT projects, from traffic lights to smart home systems.
CodiPlay CEO Zhanadil Taldybayev spoke to The Astana Times about the creation of the startup, the work process, and plans for the future.
Taldybayev was studying at Hanyang University in South Korea when he presented his first startup idea Kazmedikor. The idea was to provide advisory services for Russian-speaking patients to assist them in funding suitable clinics for treatment, hotel booking services, translation services, airport shuttles, and a modem router with free unlimited internet.
“In 2017, while developing a platform for this startup, we struggled to find experienced IT specialists, as most did not want to work for hire. Therefore, I began to study IT programming and its basis,” said Taldybayev.
It was difficult at first because everything was in Korean, but at the suggestion of his friends, he began to use different games to understand the essence of programming and its algorithms.
“That is how the CodiPlay concept originated. I intended to make IT education accessible to everyone, particularly through smartphones, so children can learn to program and apply what they have learned through games,” said Taldybayev.
The developers decided to include a practical lesson for children – robotics – and created a unique code compilation engine for phones to teach children programming languages such as Scratch, Block Coding, C++, and Python. As a result, users can create code and directly upload it to robotics boards or other internet-connected devices.
They also launched a web resource for teachers to improve their qualifications and monitor the learning process allowing teachers to access the student’s performance level in real-time.
“Homework is also essential in this process, as children often did not receive homework in computer science due to the absence of a computer. Since everyone today has mobile phones, this makes it easier to solve the problem,” he said.
Taldybayev stated that it is impossible to escape mistakes as an entrepreneur, but they let you grow, become better, and not give up.
“When we see the results of our work, it motivates us to work better. The most wonderful thing about building a startup is when the hypothesis you have built turns out to be correct,” said Taldybayev.
He recalled his most remarkable experience when he attended an educational conference in Dubai.
“At that time, the United Arab Emirates market seemed inaccessible and distant to us. But when we presented CodiPaly and received so many reviews, we started to prepare for a test launch there,” said Taldybayev. “Understanding that you are doing something significant is the ultimate reward in our work.”
Sharing plans for the future, Taldybayev said that CodiPlay is currently valued at $10 million. They aim to become a unicorn company worth $100 million in three years.
“We are focused on scaling to the Middle East and North African countries, where governments prioritize the development of IT education. The second potential market is the Commonwealth of Independent States due to the similarities in educational systems with Kazakhstan,” he said.
The company is developing a B2C model to find customers in other places besides schools.
Currently, 19 schools are connected to the platform, including 16 in Kazakhstan and three in South Korea.
“We intend to launch our product in 125 local schools over the next three months before progressively expanding our international presence. According to our projections, the number of schools will expand to 1000 in three years, resulting in a capitalization of $100 million,” said Taldybayev.