Founders Parade

Founder’s Day Perade: Jose Ferreira of Knewton.com

Jose Ferreira, Founder and CEO of Knewton.com: founded the interactive-learning company Knewton, he is a graduate of Carleton College with a BA in Philosophy and received his MBA from Harvard Business School and previuos to founding Knewton, was a Kaplan executive, derivatives trader, venture capitalist, and strategist for John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

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The venture is Knewton.com, an “adaptive learning infrastructure” (Knewton.com) that allows adaptation of various learning applications. A stand out feature of Knewton is its predictive analystics, being able to predict and direct students on what to study or do next in their course, allowing for a student-centered approach offering differentiation for each participant. Knewton has partnered with companies who can then develop adaptive experiences within their own content.

Through Jose’s blog postings, he addresses fundamental issues posed by the public and industry when it comes to utilizing educational technologies, for example issues related to privacy, incorporating learning styles, the transformation of higher education and much more.

This is a blurb from the article A Boom Time for Education Start Ups, written by Nick DeSantis,

And Mr. Ferreira said the typical venture capitalist’s approach—investing seed money that allows a young company to cobble together a bare-bones product—usually leads to piecemeal improvements that aren’t big enough to attract institutional interest.

“Education start-ups have to think big,” said Mr. Ferreira. “I don’t think they can try to produce something that’s incremental, which is a little bit antithetical to the way venture capitalists think.” He added that future investments in emerging companies that have secured early-stage backing might not appear if those firms don’t make enough progress.

Knewton received $33 million dollar investment in 2012, at which point it is now being used by higher learning institutions (DeSantis. Para 4), as well as setting lucrative business partnerships with the likes of Pearson, and Microsoft, just to name a few. 7 people sit on the Board of Directors, of which are involved in ventures, finance and the investment world.

Jose’s background is really interesting, because in previous founders of ed tech companies we have been searching through, much of the background is in and around teaching, education, and IT development rather than the business and entrepreneurial side like Jose’s. Jose’s understanding for the ed tech market is capitalized in his marketing as well as in his interviews regarding the role of educational technology platforms. I do have to say in that researching various ed tech ventures and platforms, I found the website to lack accessibility in terms of really knowing what services and products are offered, it seemed very high level and thus confused me in terms of who the company is directing its product to (I am assuming high level companies such as those that they partner with ie. Microsoft).

References

DeSantis, N. 2012, March 18. A boom time for education start-ups. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Accessed via: http://chronicle.com/article/A-Boom-Time-for-Education/131229/

Kamenetz, Anya. 2013, November 25. A Q & A with Jose Ferreira. Fast Company. Accessed via: http://live.fastcompany.com/Event/A_QA_With_Jose_Ferreira_Founder_And_CEO_Of_Knewton?Page=0

http://www.knewton.com/

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