The educational learning platform Kami, founded by a group of Kiwi friends who met at university, has been dubbed one of the most influential companies in the world after seven years. We sit down with the founders to talk about their rise to success.
Popular American magazine and news site Time added Kami to its annual prestigious list of 100 companies, pioneers, leaders and more that are shaping the world’s future.
Kami, and the others that made the list, were nominated by industry leaders and are then evaluated to snatch a spot on the Time100.
“This is certainly a milestone for our Kami team and one of our proudest achievements,” says CEO and co-founder of Kami, Hengjie Wang.
“It’s humbling to see Kami out there next to companies such as Spotify and Apple, and at the same time it’s exciting to know that what we’re doing and the impact we’re making is getting global recognition.”
As a company, Kami is an educational platform with over 34 million users across 180 countries, offering tools that enhances the learning experience, ensuring teachers are doing less tedious admin and heading towards a paperless environment.
“The past few years have required a lot of determination, gumption and hard work, so this just shows that it’s really paid off,” says Wang.
Read more: Kiwi businesswomen shine in Forbes 30 Under 30.
Looking back, Wang says Kami has grown over the years, from their beginnings as note-taking app Notable founded alongside Jordan Thoms, Alliv Samson and Bob Drummond, to becoming more collaborative.
Allowing teachers a platform to conduct virtual classes, easily share learning resources and more, the team realised Kami had the potential to address a significant gap in the industry and “easily fulfil and vastly improve” the classroom for the teacher and student.
“While the education sector has experienced the most rapid transformation it’s seen in more than 100 years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our innovative thinking eight years earlier has helped to develop a platform that not only enhances student engagement and digital literacy but has also set them up to adapt and continue learning under unforeseen circumstances,” says Wang.
Wang adds that over the years Kami has been growing steadily but in the face of the pandemic the platform had to “act quickly to ensure our platform and our team could withstand such rapid user growth and take full advantage of the commercial opportunity”.
“It was this perseverance and fast innovation that enabled us to grow from eight million to now more than 34 million users in over 180 countries,” he says.
“No other vendor in our space came close to matching this.”
As well as being recognised by Time, Kami was named the fastest-growing business in the country in 2021 by one of the big four accounting firms, Deloitte, after seeing a 1177 percent revenue growth over the past three years.
Co-founder Thoms is also featured in the annual prestigious 30 under 30 list by global media magazine Forbes which features people across the globe, recognising them for their work as entrepreneurs, leaders, stars and more.
When asked how Kami saw immense success in such a short amount of time, Wang says he owes it all to innovation and the strong focus on the community of users.
“Innovation is a crucial pillar in all facets of Kami’s operations, from inception right through to its current scaling and growth,” he says.
Wang adds that Kami places “heavy importance” on their community of users to help with improvements that may be needed on innovations. He says this is a “constant cycle”.
“We’ve made sure that we stay true to our purpose and have remained clear on our vision for the education sector and assisting in its progression and digital transformation,” he says.
Though it may seem that Kami has reached a peak in success, Wang says they are only just “scratching the surface” when there are 1.5 billion students worldwide.
“Our mission is to build the future of education, making classrooms around the world more engaging, collaborative and interactive in an effort to empower everyone to love learning,” he says.
“Our goal is to hit 100 million users worldwide.”
Wang says that though they plan to expand their user base, they will continue to support teachers and students on the hybrid classroom events while still offering the platform for free for all Kiwi schools.