Back in 2011 Farid, the founder of ERLY STAGE, was flying to Oslo onboard a Norwegian Airlines flight when he was sat next to a young Norwegian entrepreneur, Johan Brand, who was to go on to change the face of Edtech forever with his incredibly viral product Kahoot! For those living under a rock, the platform that is largely a UGC quiz platform for any subject, is Edtech’s answer for all teachers looking for engagement, participation and revision in class and at home. Today the platform is said to have close to 5Bn users. This is a summary of how they got there.
Kahoot! was, in some ways, born out of the agency, We are Human (WAH), that Johan created in London along with Jamie Booker, in 2010. Historically, agencies have not been at the forefront of creativity and have merely been seen as service providers. However, the goal that Johan and Jamie were trying to achieve with WAH was to transform the world by tackling societal problems, such as health and education, through the use of technology and innovative products. After gaining experience working with startups and established brands to deliver new products, Kahoot! emerged and was incubated by WAH.The product has gone from strength to strength since then. Another exception is the agency, UsTwo, also created in London in 2004. With a similar aim to We Are Human, UsTwo has also created a vast range of digital products, to make services more accessible and their game Monument Valley, has seen a lot of success. This makes it easier to understand geometry, as users explore virtual architectural worlds and help a princess discover hidden monuments. There is now a growing trend for agencies to create products and spin them out, or indeed transform into venture builders at times.
Kahoot! was founded in 2012, by Brand and Booker, along with Morten Versvik. They collaborated with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) and Professor Alfe Ing Yang to create Kahoot! The technology that underpins Kahoot! emerged out of Versvik’s research, who was a student of Professor Yang’s whilst at NTNU. The game was developed and tested with users in the UK and Norway and a private beta version of the product was launched at SXSWedu in 2013. Since its public launch the same year, the game has continued to gain traction. The primary users of the game are in the US, where about 50% of teachers and school children engaged with Kahoot! The game based learning app, however, has been played by over 1bn people across the world! Organisations and institutions such such as Accelerator Investments LLC (owned by Walt Disney) have been quick to see the value and innovation that Kahoot!’s provides in the area of edtech and the company has secured $100m of investment. By reforming how education is delivered, Kahoot! has played a pivotal role in making learning accessible and fun for people of all ages, abilities and across geographies.
The company acquired Drops a language learning app, in late 2020. Drops, which offers users 42 languages to choose from, and boasts more than 25 million users, has received recognition from Apple and Google. With a shared vision, to make learning more engaging, Drops will benefit from the capital and brand recognition of Kahoot!, whilst its focus on empowering people to learn new languages fits seamlessly into Kahoots! business and will enable them to offer a greater array of learning options for users, thus providing a necessary resource to help Kahoot! become a leading player when it comes to digital learning. Drops’ approach to learning follows the innovative, game based learning model also adopted by Kahoot! As it offers easy to digest word games,that help users pick up new languages easily. This complements Kahoot!’s aim of learning being made enjoyable. Furthermore, as this move combines the user base of both platforms, this enables Kahoot! to expand its reach and enable more people to learn new languages.
This leads to the question; what is next for Kahoot!? The company has plans for an IPO, and is due to list on the Norwegian stock market at the end of Q1. This does not come as a big surprise, when you consider the stellar year that the company has had. As a result of worldwide lockdowns, which has forced teachers, students and parents to come up with new ways to learn and teach, Kahoot! has emerged as a popular and necessary resource. Over the last year, the game has accumulated over 1.5bn players, as the company and the games that it offers were able to provide a solution to problems associated with remote learning, such as lack of motivation and difficulty communicating. With the new opportunities that an IPO will bring, the company hopes to tap into a wider base of investors, which will likely enable them to expand their offerings across schools, at work and within homes. As of last year, the platform has extended its corporate offerings with Kahoot! 360, which allows teams and entire organisations to connect better through training, presentations and events. They also launched Kahoot+ over the holiday period, where parents and children can learn and play together, through quizzes. An IPO would push these plans further ahead, whilst allowing the company to find the right talent to continue reforming how we learn.
Far from making education more accessible to people across the world, Kahoot! has also enabled people in all spheres of life, to create deeper connections and learn new skills in a way that is new and exciting. As we continue to rethink how we carry out our daily activities in a changing world, products such as the ones Kahoot! offers, will inevitably become a greater part of our daily lives.