KIMO is leveraging AI for curated reskilling
One of the many unanticipated side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the huge shift in work habits for many companies. Even before the last year, companies were talking about the skill gaps being generated by increased automation. The arrival of the pandemic has seen demand spike for MOOCs or massive open online courses, democratizing education and distance-learning for an evolving workforce.
Founded in 2018 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, KIMO is solving some of the problems that people have learning with MOOCs.
CEO and cofounder, Rens ter Weijde, explained, "95% of people who begin studying with a MOOC drop out before the end. Also, most learning companies sell their content meaning they are incentivized to promote that content and not necessarily the content that is best for an individual learner, making the best recommendations from across the web where 99% of it is free."
KIMO is not another content play. The company uses AI to map knowledge domains across the internet and make precision recommendations for users wishing to follow a particular learning path.
Rens spoke about the origins of KIMO, "I have lots of experience designing learning programs for companies as a former consultant. These programs are generally designed in PPT and use a 'top-5 skills for the organization' approach. I found that reskilling people this way doesn't really work. It becomes a search for the right content, very difficult to know 'what to do when'. In essence, if you're really committed you can learn anything online, but you need to patch things together. Knowing the perfect journey is the real problem, not the content."
Rens met his co-founder and CTO, Krishna Deepak Nallamilli, while they were both studying at Harvard Business School. Sitting together in a program curated by a Harvard professor, they realized that their experience at HBS wasn't scalable, "That's where we started discussing the automation of the curation process."
KIMO aims to curate an optimal learning path for users ensuring that everyone gets the right content at the right time. This focus on curation and sequencing is based on their sophisticated modeling of knowledge domains. The company is already working with banks and tech firms in The Netherlands and expects to announce a series A funding round in the near future.
For a company focused on reskilling at scale the success metrics are all about engagement with the recommended learning content. Rens explained, "We want people to study daily to become futureproof. We know that with MOOCs only work for some people, and, even then, people drop out in droves. We will strive to have 10M people learning daily on the platform in the coming years."
As an early-stage startup founder with a clear vision of the company he is trying to build and a keen sense of how to get there, Rens had one piece of advice for his fellow entrepreneurs, "Hire great people from day one, don't settle for anything less. Pick a challenge that is worth giving your life for, and where other people will feel the same way."