Åsmund Furuseth is focused on the intersection between gaming and education. As the CEO and co-founder of Kahoot! — a game-based learning platform used as educational technology in schools and other educational institutions, he’s raised a series B while building out the company’s platform of games. The company was launched in August 2013 in Norway and now serves over 70 million active users in over 200 countries. Kahoot’s platform includes trivia and cognitive games that can be used to review students’ knowledge, for formative assessment, or as a break from traditional classroom activities. Furuseth took a moment to update the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center on his journey as a founder so far.
Tell us, what does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
ÅF: Entrepreneurship means improving or building a new business upon a pre-existing process or technology. The difficult part is often not the starting point, but the follow-through of continuously enhancing the process and technology and, thus, the business.
Can you tell us how you got the idea for Kahoot!
ÅF: Kahoot! was founded in 2012 by my other co-founders who teamed up with Professor Alf Inge Wang in a joint project with the Norwegian University of Technology and Science.
Kahoot!’s technology is based on research conducted by Kahoot! co-founder Morten Versvik, a student of Alf Inge, for his Master’s degree at NTNU. Initially, they tested the technology in cinemas to see if they could bring an audience together through interactive games. The founders quickly realized the educational potential of the technology. After I joined, we successfully launched Kahoot! in beta at SXSWEDU in March 2013, and formally in August 2013.
After only a few months, Kahoot! had millions of users, initially spreading virally among teachers in Texas and then in other U.S. states. By 2015, Kahoot! reached 20 million users and by May 2017, we had 50 million monthly active users. Today, we have over 70 million monthly active users — a 75 percent growth from the previous year.
What’s the biggest take away you’ve learned from your journey so far as a founder?
ÅF: Everything takes much longer than you think it will! I’ve found it important to always have “grit” and to stay focused.
How is your company changing the landscape?
ÅF: Kahoot! is improving the learning experience for students — and all other types of learners — around the world. In addition to having a strong impact in the classroom, it reaches corporate environments, social settings and even sports arenas. We’ve accomplished this by introducing more social, fun and engaging elements to learning through gaming.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
ÅF: I wish I knew in the beginning how fast Kahoot! would grow. That way we could have invested even more into our product in the early stages.
Do you have a professional and personal mission statement?
ÅF: As we grow, I want to stay focused on the core experience of Kahoot!, which is why we grew in the first place, and continue to fulfill our mission of making learning awesome!
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
ÅF: I’m thankful I get to work on a team that is building a business based on a positive mission. Our goal at Kahoot! is to unlock the deepest potential for every learner of all ages and in all contexts. My advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to stay focused on your mission.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
ÅF: My inspiration comes from watching the thousands of videos on YouTube from our fans enjoying Kahoot!, like this one!
What does “success” look like for you? What do you think will help you achieve it?
ÅF: I feel we will be truly successful when Kahoot! becomes a profitable company so that we can continuously improve our product and deliver on our mission to make learning awesome. I’m confident that our very talented team at Kahoot! will make this happen.
What is your proudest and darkest moment so far? Share a key high and a key low from your journey if you can.
ÅF: My proudest moment was when we saw the immediate love for Kahoot! from our users and started generating our first scalable revenue. My darkest moment was early on when we had our first server downtime.
What did you learn last year? What do you look forward to this year?
ÅF: In 2017, we launched our first premium subscription-based Kahoot! product and found that businesses are willing to pay for Kahoot!, as well as support us keeping it free for teachers and schools. It’s heartwarming to know that other businesses believe in our mission and are willing to invest in it.
In 2018 I’m looking forward to students creating their own learning games on Kahoot! We recently launched a new feature in the Kahoot! app which allows students to create their own quizzes anytime, anywhere. This reflects our “learners to leaders” pedagogy, which is centered around empowering students to take control of their learning and go from consumers to creators of knowledge.
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day?
I make sure I’m 100% up to date on emails and messages before I enter the office. This ensures that my workday is as productive as possible.
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as, as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
I want to be known as a team member that was able to help make learning a fun, social and engaging experience, as well as someone who helped make Kahoot! a successful business.