The team of Guido Kovalskys, Felipe Sommer, and Emiliano Abramzon are long-time friends and have been business collaborators for more than 10 years. All three successful entrepreneurs were born in Argentina and emigrated to the United States. Most recently they have founded Nearpod, an educational technology start-up, which gives teachers the tools to utilize multiple-platforms in lessons with highly interactive learning experiences. They strive to provide educators with a way to lead learners through lessons synchronously on multiple devices, while gaining valuable learning analytics. The company also has a myriad of lessons that instructors can curate for their students.
For this particular posting, we will take a closer look at one of the three co-founders, Guido Kovalskys. He is truly passionate about his work and innovation. He founded his first company in 1999 and has since founded businesses in three continents; Nearpod and Panarea Digital, a software developer in the US, and Bionexo, the dominant health care platform in Spain and South America. He embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and says he endeavors to bring design thinking to solving the problems in the ed-tech sphere.
Kovalskys saw the pain point in the educational sector of educators not having the skills to create the software to do the innovative things he envisioned for the future of the classroom. When looking at the landscape, he saw the K-12 schools using iPads but they were not being utilized as effectively as they could be. After research and development, the Nearpod founders decided to take a bottom-up approach and launched a free version through the Apple App store. They had thousands of downloads on the first day. He still dealt with a lot of rejection when seeking venture capital as his company was based in Florida rather than being situated in the tech hub of Silicon Valley. Unwilling to accept failure, Guido did some work in Silicon Valley to build his reputation while continuing to grow the company, leading to $750,000 in seed funding from angel investors. By 2016, Nearpod had built their brand and had 10,000 schools and 3.5 million users monthly, which spurred $10 million in additional investments. To this end, Guido is one of the rare ‘innovators’ that is not only an entrepreneur of an emergent technology but has also championed its realization.
There are key insights that can be made from his top endorsed skills on LinkedIn. They are in ‘Start-ups’, ‘Strategy’, ‘Strategic Partnerships’, ‘Entrepreneurship’, ‘Marketing Strategy’ and ‘Business Strategy’. He has clearly honed his skills in creating a successful start-up and developing strategies to make it successful. It is also apparent that he knows how to cultivate important relationships to surround himself with the right people to help ventures succeed. These ‘right people’ range from those angel investor relationships he cultivated in Silicon Valley to the Board of Directors made up of educators and investors to his team of passionate educators and entrepreneurs.
Reflecting on my own skills and talents, I don’t believe that I possess that entrepreneurial spirit in the for-profit market place. However, I am much more at ease in the not-for-profit arena, where I like to innovate ways to push the envelope and provide that social value to education. I find the tireless drive and strategic mind of Guido Kovalskys very inspiring.