This husband and wife team reated DiaryZapp, a journalling app with cool little creatures and a fantastic way to engage with children while learning spelling, comprehension and literacy.
Learn how these non-tech founders backed themselves and managed to launch a comprehensive app in just under a year.
Please introduce yourself (any co-founders) and your startup?
Charlie Dance, Director of DiaryZapp, the journalling app for 5-9 year old kids that beats the summer slide
How did you go from idea, to MVP and launch?
Our son Noah (now 10) saw his sister Ella (8) struggling with literacy whilst writing a school summer diary last year. He was thoroughly bored whilst doing it too. So instead of forcing it upon him, we asked him what he would do to make the task better… he said ‘make it a fun app on the ipad that I can play with and send to my friends.’
Oh the simplicity of a nine year old’s mind!
We began by researching the marketplace and amazingly there didn’t seem to be anything of that exact sort. We kept a running list of everything that we wanted the app to achieve – from helping out with spelling prompts to characters to guide children through the app to the ability to share it safely and securely with approved buddies and family members.
One year of sheer hard work (I manage property rentals and my husband is a business consultant for charities so it’s not our field of work) and DiaryZapp has literally just been borne.
What challenges did you face during this period and how did you overcome them?
Our main challenge was building the app having no prior knowledge, working all day and raising two children at the same time. We’ve gone from zero to hero in terms of knowledge!
Testing has been just that, very testing. One bug is fixed and another one rears its ugly head. To sort them out we’ve done lots of research into how the app can be used across multiple devices and just kept tweaking at every opportunity to get it right.
During this journey to build and launch your startup what is one thing you look back on with a sense of achievement?
We’ve created a new entity in the world – say hello to ‘Zappicons’!!!
They are lovable creatures of no particular shape or form that each diary writer gets when they first log-in. They can style them up in all manner of outfits and colours, as many times as they want, from cute to crazy.
They support the child who’s writing and if they’re ever stuck will give them word prompts or prompts to write or draw about their day.
After months of agonising over what these should look like the enormous smiles on the children in Noah’s class who took one look at the YouTube trailer and saw them was worth it.
They all wanted their own Zappicon to play with!
Attention to detail paid off!
The Zappicons make writing a diary even more fun and take the child’s mind off the fact that they’re actually expanding their literacy skills, so parents should be happy!
Offer us one insight, tip, marketing strategy or growth hack that has worked really well for you and your startup?
A lot of people told us to just write the content inside the app and for the brand ourselves to save costs. In-fact we hired a commercial copywriter to assist and we’re so glad that we did.
It’s a literacy app so the writing inside the app had to be perfect and inspirational – the Zappicons have their own language which also had to be designed.
Compare that to the branding language on the app stores, website and press releases and we knew that we were in above our depth. It was a weakness that we knew we had and we combated it by getting help.
It made the process calmer and more precise and I’d recommend that to anyone. Just because you were taught to write in school, does NOT mean that you are trained to write commercially, let alone for kids!!
How is your startup going and what do you aim to achieve in the next 3, 6, 12 months?
Well we’ve just launched and are whooping with every sale on the app store. Right now we are in the middle of our launch press strategy and we will develop this by broadening out to collaborate with children’s literacy and adventure organisations across the globe to spread the word.
Six months will take us to Christmas and by then we hope to have reached our 30k download target.
Twelves months will see us to next summer where we hope to be in active collaborations with summer slide and summer learning and government learning programmes the world over to help parents ensure that their children don’t suffer from the confidence draining affects of the summer slide.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about?
DiaryZapp was Noah and Ella’s idea initially and it’s been important to us to have them involved at each and every stage – we’re all budding entrepreneurs together in this family! Plus, they’re also our target market to test on so some of the phrases that we thought were hip and cool were vetoed straight away. We’ve taught them apart, from anything, how to give and receive criticism constructively – a useful life skill if ever there was one!