Here at the World Economic Forum in Davos, among the banking, shipping, steel and transport magnates of the global economy, there are a number of technology entrepreneurs floating around. As they rub shoulders with the likes of Eric Schmidt, Sean Parker, Loic Le Meur and Robert Scoble, it’s possible to peel them off from the crowd. I managed to catch Jose Ferreira, CEO and Founder of Knewton a startup which is aiming a silver bullet at the education problem with something that one might even call an audacious platform.
How so? Well, Knewton, a technology company based in NYC, currently has an application being tested with 10,000 college student in the US and is described as an “adaptive learning platform”. What does that mean in English? Well, the idea is that it customises your average educational content to meet the unique needs of each student. This is personalised education on steroids. Using thousands of data points — concepts, structure, difficulty level, media format — and data on how the person uses it, it’s like having a super smart teacher analyse everything you try to learn and suggest ways to make the process easier.
Ferreira has raised $54M to achieve this, which is quite a sum. Despite that, he is openly critical of VCs who do not think in such word changing arenas as education.
Writing for the WEF blog, he says “The venture capital industry in the United States is the envy of the world.. But it’s been getting a bit stale of late. As VC ranks have swelled with recently-minted MBAs over the last 10-20 years, venture capital has become more financial and less inspirational. These new VCs are obsessed with de-risking venture investing.”
Check out the video above for more thoughts on this.