Wes Kao: Co-founder of Maven

Wes Kao, co-founder of Maven

Maven is a cohort-based online learning platform that facilitates the implementation of social engagement and a sense of community through the blending of MOOC’s and cohort-based learning. The platform allows instructors to construct online learning courses with a scalable cohort-based engagement strategy while maintaining a premium student experience. Instructors who register to create content on the Maven platform collect a large portion of the tuition paid by students while Maven collects a small system maintenance fee, approximately 10%. The shared profitability of the platform acts as an attractive lure to engage quality content creators and encourages Maven to maintain a healthy online learning platform to drive the ongoing development of quality course content. Maven differentiates itself from other MOOC’s by implementing a cohort-based, synchronous, and asynchronous learning experience. With the use of social engagement, shared purpose, and collegiality the cohort-based learning experience increases course completion rates found in current asynchronous MOOC models.

Wes Kao was the co-founder of altMBA which is a leadership and management cohort-based learning system. Her leadership at altMBA grew the company to be active in 550 cities in 45 countries in just three years. Prior to co-founding altMBA, Wes worked as a project lead for Seth Godin Inc. developing popular Udemy courses such as the best-selling leadership course “Leadership Workshop”. Wes also worked at Flite as the lead of brand management, which was acquired by Snap Inc. Wes has had her work published in Fast Company and Entrepreneur. She also guests lectures at UC Berkley and Harvard. On Wes’s website, she lists learning and online education as her top professional interest. Wes Kao’s current venture, Maven, has her teamed up with two other co-founders who bring profound expertise to the venture:  Gagan Biyani (co-founder and president of Udemy) and Shreyans Bhansali (co-founder of Socratic). Over the last five years, Wes has helped to build learning opportunities that have engaged 40000 students and generated over 30 million in revenue.

I find the social aspects that Wes Kao has integrated into the development of her online learning ventures to be very interesting. In my own experience, I find there is a very large disconnect in online learning opportunities and social engagement. As a teacher, I see learning as a social activity, yet many online platforms seem to miss this aspect in the paradigm of information acquisition. Simply providing information is not good pedagogy, this seems to be something Wes Kao understands.





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3 responses to “Wes Kao: Co-founder of Maven”

  1. Josh Wood

    Wes Kao is an excellent example for any aspiring entrepreneur. She has extensive experience with a number of companies related to online education, showing a strong understanding of the market and consumers she is targeting. It is also clear that she not only has a passion for online learning, she understands the positive impact it can have on others. Finally, she has surrounded herself with highly successful co-founders that will help her expand this venture even further.

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  2. SallyB

    I wrote a paper about MOOCs 3-4 years ago and I recall that some of the most successful case studies included a cohort approach, which, at the time, typically consisted of face-to-face students enrolled in the MOOC together. I’m very curious how MAVEN has solved the problem of remote engagement in “massive” courses with potentially hundreds/thousands of participants.

    Josh, your review is excellent: I’ll only add this:
    I think Wes Kao not only demonstrates astute understanding of her market and consumers, but she does so while not losing sight of the broader human qualities that transcend markets. The tweet Paul included demonstrates her understanding of human motivation/psychology contributes to her success as an entrpreneur.

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  3. Kendal

    Wow, there is so much to like about Wes Kao, Maven and her various other ventures over the years. Her focus on social impact and engagement in online learning is inspiring. I also appreciate both Josh and Sally’s reviews of this post, though I spent some time on Maven’s website and could not find an answer to Sally’s question re: learning for huge courses, which I think is a great question. Wes clearly has a great vision with respect to online learning and engaging educators and learners in new ways. I am curious how Wes and the Maven team will continue to build on the success of this platform and where Maven will go next, beyond recruiting educators to host their courses.

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