MentalUP, the award-winning brain game app for children between 4 and 13 years (school years reception to year 8) with 5.5 million users worldwide has seen a huge uptake in use since Covid-19 forced school closures and turned a whole host of parents into home schoolers. Since 15 March MentalUP has gained 500,000 new users, 40 million games have been played on its platform and its US web site traffic has increased by 500%.
With an average review score of 4.8 in the Google Play Store and App Stores, MentalUP was developed by game designers and academics incorporating innovative teaching methods to offer dozens of mind games with suitable difficulty levels to improve cognitive skills in a gamified format to engage children. In addition to the 500,000 new end users, MentalUP has gained an additional 300,000 users from targeting schools, educational establishments and groups with agreements in countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Brazil and has been featured by Apple.
Founders Resit Dogan and Emre Özgündüz met in 2001 in their first year of study at the Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul, where they both went on to take their Masters in Computer Engineering, continuing as academicians working on AI and machine learning. In 2014, they founded MentalUP and their global ambitions began in earnest in 2018 when MentalUP was accepted into EDUCATE, the UK’s leading research accelerator programme for education technology (EdTech) run by the University College London Institute of Education. In December 2018 MentalUP secured its pre-series A investment from Turk Telekom, IDA Capital (impact VC), and Capria VC (US based impact VC). This was followed, in 2019, with MentalUP joining the Department for International Trade’s Global Entrepreneur programme.
““Lockdown presented an opportunity for us to engage with a much bigger audience on a global scale as the whole world suddenly faced common problems and challenges one of which was educating and entertaining our children during school closures” explains Dogan. “In terms of the future, we have set ourselves some ambitious targets, we plan to reach 20 million active learners and a $100M valuation in the next three years. We have much, much more that we think we can achieve with MentalUP and with edtech” Dogan continues.
MentalUP believes the ability to solve problems and think in new creative ways is as important as literacy and numeracy skills and they have devised a series of brain games that expose learners to new types of problems and the different ways of thinking required to solve them. The app addresses five key skills: Attention, Memory, Problem Solving (Logic), Visual and Verbal and includes sub-skills such as counting skills, and geometry. Importantly it provides a safe space for children as it does not include any adverts, harmful content or in-app purchases.
The premium version of the app, which usually costs just £20/$25 for an annual subscription, provides access to over 120 games (compared to 20 on the free version) and includes reporting systems which helps parents monitor progress, provide skills analysis and highlighting strengths and weaknesses so that they (and teachers when they return to school) can easily track children’s cognitive development and compare with same age groups.