Interview With Max Azarov – Novakid

Aviva Zacks
Aviva Zacks Cybersecurity Expert and Writer
Aviva Zacks Aviva Zacks Cybersecurity Expert and Writer

Aviva Zacks of Safety Detectives interviewed Max Azarov, co-founder and CEO of Novakid. She asked him how his company protects the safety of its primary users—children.

Safety Detectives: What motivated you to start your company?

Max Azarov: Novakid came about because of a trip that Dmitry (co-founder of Novakid) and I took to the Mobile World Congress in June 2017 to promote Cloudike, our first start-up business. In the local subway, we saw huge banners advertising one of the ESL companies. This took us by surprise, as it made us realize that this type of business is obviously in demand if this is how it is advertised.

I had struggled to find an English teacher for my children. I understood that this was an opportunity because of the issues I had experienced. Offline centers tended to be taught by students and most online services focused on adults.

Dmitry and I both wanted to create a business that was useful and solved a problem. Before the trip to Shanghai, we often discussed the idea of creating a “box for learning languages” – a device with a voice bot that would communicate with the user in the format of lessons and adjust the presentation of the material for the user. But this idea wasn’t successful, so we looked at ways to build a platform that incorporated gamification and story-based learning. The result is Novakid!

Safety Detectives: What are the services you offer?

Max Azarov: Novakid is an online EdTech platform that offers English language learning for children between the ages of 4 and 12 years old. The business was established in 2017 and has grown exponentially since then. We have over 500,000 clients across 49 countries, 70,000 of which are active users.

Our mission is to revolutionize English learning through full language immersion, a personalized teaching approach. Our platform operates on a robust IT platform, leveraging modern technologies and gamification to provide an interactive and engaging learning format for students, as well as a unique machine-learning-based methodology for evaluating student progress.

The Novakid program develops the main language skills – speaking, reading, and listening comprehension. We offer an affordable ESL education for families – Novakid operates in the mid-range price category

Safety Detectives: What makes your company unique?

Max Azarov: Novakid is a game-changer because it makes learning English fun, interactive, and engaging by meeting the needs and challenges of each individual student. Our online education platform emphasizes personalization and uses AI-assisted data extraction and analysis to cater to the unique needs of our students. Importantly, we incorporate gamification into the curriculum to make lessons fun, interactive and challenging for learners. Using a data-driven curriculum, the platform can gather detailed data on each student’s level of achievement and learning styles to create individualized curriculums that are far more effective than standard, one-size-fits-all-type teaching methods.

Safety Detectives: How does your company deal with cybersecurity?

Max Azarov: Safety and privacy are essential components of positive and kid-friendly content. The privacy of a child is a paramount consideration for Novakid.

We implement industry best practices where it concerns data management and access control. All our data is encrypted in transit and at rest and we leverage AWS and Google Cloud services to ensure secure storage and processing. We also work with world-class partners such as Intercom and Stripe who have a strong reputation for the security of their services.

Novakid strictly protects the student data (attendance rate, grades, records of the lessons) as well as students’ and their parents’ personal information.

Taking into consideration the age range and child development abilities, Novakid opted for creating separate accounts for a student and for their parents: Kid’s Area and Parent Area.

The Kid’s Area is a gamified learning environment for students where they can access the English lesson with their teacher, do homework, play games, get rewards, choose an avatar, and even watch animated comic stories. An important feature to consider is that the Kid’s Area at Novakid is completely free from any commercial elements.

Access to all the information is limited to the Novakid teacher and the student’s parents/guardians. As children’s personal data is processed by Novakid’s teachers as well, Novakid concludes a data processing contract with them to prevent fraudulent or inappropriate activities.

The privacy policies are developed and implemented in accordance with the United States Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 as well as the Council of Europe’s Recommendation CM/Rec (2018)7 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on Guidelines to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of the child in the digital environment.

Children cannot use the Novakid platform until their parents or guardians approve of that usage. Novakid gives its clients the right to withdraw their consent of Novakid collecting further personal information from a child. This right is stated in the GTC (General Terms and Conditions).

We have also designed a special Privacy Policy for children, where the difficult terms are explained in a simple and colorful way.

Safety Detectives: How has the pandemic affected your industry?

Max Azarov: When the first lockdown started, we had to scale up very quickly due to the increased demand for our services. We are pleased to say that we were able to maintain our services and customer satisfaction levels throughout this time, even though our client base grew so fast which increased the demands on the platform’s technologies.

It’s important to remember that no technology can replace a teacher. Instead, technology is elevating the role of teachers: from imparting knowledge towards co-creation of knowledge. We feel this contributed to our success during the pandemic.

About the Author
Aviva Zacks
Aviva Zacks
Cybersecurity Expert and Writer

About the Author

Aviva Zacks is a content manager, writer, editor, and really good baker. When she's not working, she enjoys reading on her porch swing with a cup of decaf.

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