Growth Story is a new 4-question format we’re doing about startups award and influencing a defining metric that helped to really grow their company.

We had an alarming chat with Alex Klein, CEO and architect of Kano, a aggregation that builds computer and coding kits for kids of all ages. Kano’s acceptable metric? Hiring interdisciplinary coders who could help keep kids really affianced on their self-made computers. This is his story, use it to your advantage.

The company

“Kano is a new kind of computer company. We create computers that you build and code yourself like Lego. They’re affiliated by an online coding belvedere that let any abecedarian at any age make music, games, art-like animations, and meld and mix data with the artlessness and fun of a game.  

The core artefact has been alien to 86 countries since 2014, and about 50,000 people of all ages have built a computer or a screen, or a server, or have made their own versions of games like Minecraft, Safe and Apollo, which have been created and shared over 25 actor times on our online belvedere that links the kits together. Recently we’ve alien add-on kits that let you code in cameras, speakers, sensors, and pixel grates.  

Our mission is simple. We want to make it as simple and fun to create with accretion as it is to absorb it.”  

The metric

“When we got started there was a lot of skepticism surrounding our concept.  A lot of people said, well, you know kids can get an Amazon Fire tablet for 50 bucks – a really fast, admirable computer with a touchscreen. It’s going to have all their apps. Why are they going to want to spend any time architecture your computer and coding your computer? Kids just want to buy one.

But after we alien the very first assembly units in September 2014, kids loved them, and their parents were going wild. We were mentioned by Steve Wozniak. The reviews were incredible.  

Most of the reviews centered on the step by step architecture experience. The aboriginal computer kit comes as a box of bits with a book, and you put the bits together.  

But once that computer comes to life, what are kids absolutely going to do on it? We had a few fun ideas, of course. Kids were able to code their own Minecraft world, they were able to code their own pong games, set up Internet, and install apps, but that acquaintance ended up being too short lived.

So a metric that I anticipation about a lot was all-embracing time on kit for kids. We didn’t want this to be a one and done experience. We wanted to create this DIY PC that would grow with you, that would serve not just as a playground, but a place where you acuminate your skills, a place where you level up and unlock new powers – a place that could absorb you for hours and hours on end.”

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The moment

“We were doing tons and tons of workshops with real kids and trying to not think of them as kids, but as beginners of all ages. We spent time in workshops in South Africa, in Sierra Leone, on the east and west coast of the US. We went to the Middle East. Wherever we went, we tried to expose the kits to altered types of people of altered ages, but abnormally kids, because they have that analytical mind and will tell you absolutely what they think. Plus, they’re easily distracted, which makes for a good test or your product’s engagement.

There was a branch early on with this boy called Khaled, ancient before the artefact came out. After the branch we always asked kids ‘How do you feel? Describe how you feel.’ This kid said, “You know, adults, they think we’re butterfingers because we are so young, but today we made a computer and even more than that, we powered it up with this matrix code and that makes us super children.” I was like, ‘yeah.’  

First of all, plus one for the Matrix advertence and number two, the matrix of the computer is the beginning. It’s our Trojan horse. It shows you what’s inside the device that you take for granted.

But what really made this kid excited, is how he ended up with Matrix code, activity like Neo. So then we started to talk a lot centralized about how we can make a new bearing feel like Neo – feel like they’ve entered a world that is absolute in achievability because they see below its apparent and dispense the world therein. And so that became a huge focus.  

The next two to three years we really focused on the artistic making experience, the artistic storytelling experience, delivered step by step in incremental bursts on the device itself, and we saw the time on kit number rise and rise and rise.

Nowadays kids are spending upwards of ten hours on that kit arena with the software, hacking the hardware. And that’s 10 hours on average.”

The solution

“A big assumption is that we’re a artistic accretion company. Artistic is a word that gets bandied around a lot abnormally these days, but the bottom line is we accept that computer science is important to learn.

Making music, making graphics, manipulating games: The logic beneath serves an artistic end. So we looked for and ended up hiring able developers who also have a bit of multidisciplinary persuasion.

We have one abundantly accomplished bare metal software architect that we got from Broadcom who’s also an actor on the side. We have addition architect who plays the violin and we have addition architect now who’s a front end web guy, Victor, who’s really an accomplished music mixer. He worked with some great classical pianists on bearing their albums.  

I think that the one thing we looked for, was a type of multidisciplinary person. Misfits, if you will. People who never really fit into the acceptable disciplines, but still managed to excel because they have analytical minds.  

Curiosity is a huge one for our business, because we’re architecture articles that are advised to spark concern in a young person and to animate them to learn by doing.

We look for people who have abstruse by doing and who have maybe taken on a array of altered kinds of roles.

We also – and this sounds kind of cheesy, I guess – but Kano is a aggregation that you could criticize at times for being more of a cause than a business. We accept accretion needs to change. It’s needs to be broken open. It needs to be democratized. It needs to be de-mystified. People who end up doing really well at Kano are ones who accept in that.

They accept in the cause, while not taking themselves too actively and still having a bit of a laugh, and canonizing that we’re just part of a bigger movement that’s going on around us. I guess that aggregate of multidisciplinary, curious, humble, but also committed to making a change in article that’s socially relevant.”


In the lead-up to Tech5 2017 – the annual antagonism organized by TNW and Adyen which celebrates Europe’s fastest-growing tech companies in The Netherlands, UK, Germany, Spain, France and Sweden– we’re ablution a series of arresting belief of businesses that accomplished acute growth. But if you are a startup with an inspiring/remarkable/interesting story about award your appropriate metric that led to growth, please share it with sebastiaan@thenextweb.com.

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