TideTalk is the brain baby of One Samoana – and all the natives (that’s what we called the members there) who asked us to help them learn the Samoan language.
Wait, lemme wind it back a bit.
Our Origin Story
One Samoana used to include a small social network for Samoans around the world. It started in 2008, featured a live video chat and at one time had over 10,500 natives. While we all had different levels of knowledge about our language and culture, just about all of us wanted to learn more. Even me.
I’m Lillian, by the way. I was known at One Samoana (when I was undercover) as Hamo Geek Girl.
To help teach our visitors about the Samoan way of doing things, I read books, took classes and talked to a lot of elders in my family and in our South Auckland Samoan community.
Some of the natives in the Ville (that’s what we called One Samoana’s social network) were incredibly knowledgeable as well… and funny and kinda crazy – oh the memories!
But a lot of them just had more questions about our culture and our language.
Now, I love the Samoan language – especially the breathtaking poetry of our old Samoan lyrics – but I struggle to carry on long conversations in Samoan, so I didn’t think I could teach it… you know?
Whatever else I learned, though, I tried to blog and share via our social media feeds. Then, 7 years later when I closed the Ville, I found that One Samoana didn’t lose much traffic because most of our visitors were actually there for this blog.
And they were still asking for help with our language.
Almost two years ago, I finally got serious about solving this problem. I knew I couldn’t do it alone – not at the level our people deserved – so I hunted (for months!) for a business partner who could believe in this vision and had the skills to help make it real.
My friend Koni, a talented people leader I knew from work, was the first person I approached who said, “Okay. What do we do next?”
That’s when the TideTalk journey really kicked off.
The Passion & The People
Koni’s parents are from different parts of the Cook Islands and speak different dialects. Her passion for TideTalk comes from her desire to teach her 3 young children their native language, when she herself doesn’t know it.
We’ve since met so many Pacific people – especially 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants – who share similar struggles with their own culture and language, and we’ve had so many conversations to try and understand why.
Early in our journey, Koni and I both (at different times) took a faith-based leadership course called Launching Leaders, where we were fortunate enough to be matched with accomplished personal and professional mentors: Moses Armstrong, Johnson McKay, and Richard Taurima, who’s a business growth manager at the Pacific Business Trust.
It’s through the Pacific Business Trust that we learned about the Mahuki Innovation Accelerator run by New Zealand’s national Te Papa Tongarewa museum… and we were thrilled to win a spot in its 2017 cohort.
The Mahuki experience has been incredible.
We’ve met so many highly skilled and experienced people in the GLAM industry (that’s GLAM for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) and have attended dozens of workshops teaching us everything from agile methodologies to sales, to accounting, to branding and governance, etc. – all the tools we need to become competent business growers.
Our biggest task at Mahuki has been to validate TideTalk as a business concept, as in… do we have a smart enough solution for a big enough problem?
After several months of research – in New Zealand as well as offshore on a whirlwind tour of GLAM Australia – we’re confident that answer is, Yes.
What is TideTalk?
TideTalk is a digital tool that will help us overcome the typical struggles we have learning our languages.
- Got no time to study?
- Do a fun, 5-minute TideTalk lesson on-the-go!
- Don’t want to learn words you’ll never use?
- TideTalk lessons are customisable. Choose the words you want to learn for scenarios you actually experience.
- Your well-meaning islander family like to poke fun at your pronunciation?
- Practice your new language skills in private, with an app that won’t judge.
What really makes TideTalk different from the hundreds of other apps out there is that our customers are not just learning any language. They’re learning their own languages… so we can’t just teach words and grammar. TideTalk has to deliver a deeply meaningful, personal and cultural experience.
Don’t worry. We got this.
We’re beginning with the Samoan language, but the TideTalk platform can easily be adapted for other Oceanic languages, including Tongan and te reo Maori. And then after that…?
Oh the possibilities!
The TideTalk Team
Through Mahuki, we were privileged to gain 3 more diversely experienced business mentors who now sit on our advisory board:
- Tim Von Dadelszen – Serial entrepreneur and investor
- Adele Fitzpatrick – Branding and marketing guru
- Michelle Smith – Head of Te Papa’s digital content
After Koni and I fully understood the scale of this project, we recruited – from colleagues we already know and trust – some amazingly skilled talent to round out our team.
And then we were 6:
- Lillian Arp (that’s me) – Founder & CEO
- Koni Rairoa – Co-founder & COO
- Anish Nair – Chief Technology Officer
- Darcel Rhind – Business Partnerships & Development
- Jed Rimoni – Data Structures & Insights
- Angela La’Croix – Process & Quality Systems
We are also surrounded by so much love and support from our families and friends, potential stakeholders and coaches – it’s quite humbling, actually, how many people we’ve met who truly believe in TideTalk’s mission to preserve the languages of Oceania.
Where to From Here
It’s very early days still at TideTalk.
We’re preparing to showcase our venture at the Mahuki 2017 culmination event.
In early 2018, we’re going to raise our first round of funding, and then the TideTalk language-learning tool, version 1.0, should be ready to release not long after that.
Follow our journey in our TideTalking blog and via our social media:
Or sign up for email updates. We’ll let you know when our TideTalk tool is ready for beta testing:
Finally, if you love the TideTalk vision and you (or your company) want to engage us on a more ‘let’s talk business’ sorta level, please email us: email@example.com.
Let’s work together to really bring our languages to life.