This week’s post comes from Karin Bjerde, Head of Strategic Growth here at Kognity, based in our Stockholm HQ.
“Why does your company exist?” This is a question that few ask themselves, or are confronted with, and when they do most find surprisingly difficult to answer. We’re not talking about the general reasons, such as “this product fills a market gap”, or the somewhat more corporate answer “to bring value to our stakeholders”, but the actual personal value or change that is generated to the customer, segment, society or world that it touches. Perhaps, the best answer comes from flipping the question “What would the world be missing if your company didn’t exist?”
I was fortunate to recently be reminded of the very reason Kognity exists – to improve learning for 1.5bn students around the world. It’s a fantastic vision, with so many uncountable benefits coming from it (which is why the UN has made education it’s 4th development goal). However, because of its scale, it can also become very difficult to grasp in the short term, along the journey. But every so often, the reality of the vision is right in front of you, so blatantly obvious that the question of why a company exists all of a sudden has a crystal clear answer: it is for this moment, this potential to impact, that the company exists.
That moment happened last week, on one of our first exploration trips on how we can bring local versions of our intelligent, digital textbooks to countries in Africa. As we wish to reach 1.5bn students, although the international educations such as the IB, IGCSE, and now GCSE are our starting points, our true challenge will be how to bring our product that successfully changes lives of students with vastly different conditions.
In Ghana for instance, we visited a local school which has 8 computers for 600 students, no wifi, and get a contribution per student of roughly €3/year from the government. How does a company like Kognity, whose textbooks can only be accessed through a device connected to the internet, with significantly higher operating costs than that, operate in those conditions? We do not know yet, but the fact that we have now committed to figuring this out means that our vision is a reality, it is not just another corporate statement. It is who we are, it is what we are, it is why we are – it is why Kognity exists. Each student, no matter the economical or geographical circumstances he/she was born into, deserves excellent education. We are convinced that technology will be required to achieve this, enhancing learning by enabling mass differentiation, engaging content, strong data analysis, global integration and understanding, and augmentation of the teacher’s role in the classroom.
So to everyone out there who is looking for a purpose, either for your own company or for a company you wish to work for, remember to never forget those moments when you find it. And if you’re working with something you cannot relate to or does not have a clear answer to “what would the world be missing if your company didn’t exist”, well then maybe it’s time to think again.
To everyone who wants to join us in finding a solution or is looking for the “why”, whether it’s partners, authors, business developers, dreamers, coders, pedagogists, hardware providers, educators, or government officials – reach out! We are only one company tackling a huge challenge, and it will take the combined efforts of many to reach our goals, in what is guaranteed a long and bumpy journey. But at least we know now that we have a real vision – 1.5bn students will be receiving great technological education resources from us in a matter of time, no matter if they’re in the United States, Singapore, or Ghana.