Edutech Startup Naiku Customizes the Classroom

by Brooke Rymer


NaikuIn response to the challenging needs of modern classroom education, a new local startup is paving the way for improved knowledge transfer and retention.

Teachers have always known that with larger classroom sizes, there exists an array of skill levels and learning styles — but meeting these needs within a rigid curriculum and class-time limitations can be daunting.

With Naiku’s mobile and browser-based software, teachers can quickly and efficiently discover how to best meet individual needs and support the learning styles of each student.  The “student reflection” and analytics features enable the software to build an understanding of each student’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the classroom’s performance as a whole. Ultimately, the instructors themselves can use this information to create a more tailored learning experience with greater efficacy.

Naiku has appropriately aligned itself with the reality of the increasingly digitized world and the developing applications of technology in an educational setting.  The platform is compatible with nearly all browser-based devices — tablets, laptops, smartphones — basically anything that can get you to the web and is increasingly found in the hands of students.

Considering the diverse and seasoned experiences of its three founders, Naiku appears to be ideally equipped with the relationships and intellect required to introduce its robust software to school districts across Minnesota and beyond.

From an early age on, Minnesota native and Naiku co-founder Kevin Sampers found himself in the midst of education. Samper’s mother worked in his own school district while he was growing up and he later served on the School Board with District 196 in Minnesota for 17 years (and counting).  Then, there was a defining moment in 2010, while coordinating an online learning conference, that the reality became the Naiku premise — “Education as a whole needs to harness technology better.”

Joining Corey Thompson and Adisack Nhouyvanisvong (who had met earlier while finishing their MBAs at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management), the Naiku team was formed last fall. Thompson brings over 12 years of history in systems and software development, leading large product development organizations, making him an ideal CEO for the Naiku team. Nhouyvanisvong’s work in the educational testing industry paired with his work for Minnesota Department of Education and a PhD in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University completes the trifecta.

As the Naiku team continues to move forward, they can be proud of the fact that their SaaS-based software is already in the hands of thousands of students. Naiku is also in discussion with several other interested and prospective Minnesota districts and potential strategic partners, while gearing up for a first round of official funding.

The ultimate goal of Naiku, according to Sampers, is to “support the transition that is occurring in education from its current industrial approach to a more individualized learning environment so teaching can be tailored to fit each student’s needs in an effort to close gaps and drive all kids forward.”

“Minnesota is very a smart state and we all want to do the right thing for education,” he concludes.