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Kahoot: The Playful Side of Studying


Ever since 2020 put everything on hold, the world was left with nothing to do but adapt. One of the fields that suffered the most at the hands of the pandemic was education. Lucky for students around the world, Norwegian professor of game technology, Alf Inge Wang, came up with the idea of taking traditional studies online and to the next level.

Alf Inge Wang basically combined gaming and studying, both his deep passions. When he presented the world with Kahoot, Alf enabled students and teachers to engage in various education programs, all the while having genuine fun. Kahoot is designed so the students compete, which fuels their desire for learning - without them even realizing it!

Kahoot had its challenges, mainly in reaching a wider audience and setting financial pillars - but thanks to Alf’s perseverance, every jigsaw of the puzzle fell into its place. Get inspired by the story of Alf Inge Wang, whose platform eradicates the dread of studying without engagement.

Setting the Foundation

The Norwegian computer scientist Alf Inge Wang was born on April 10, 1970. Ever since his teenage years, Alf Inge Wang was always interested in video games and played them for weekends on end.

This childhood passion of his was the reason why Alf always invited his friends over - to socialize and play. When he was 15 years old, Alf got bored of just gaming and began making prototype video games based on a game show concept.

After experimenting generously, Alf Inge Wang finally realized that among some of his failures, there were many successful ones. Alf’s interest in technology led him to be his own software engineering tutor, which earned him a bunch of mobile technology and system distribution projects.

In 2006, Alf Inge started professionally working with game technology. Prior to that, he was simply working random jobs and projects whilst simultaneously playing and developing games.

Alf’s experience led him to become a professor of video game technology at the Department of Computer Science and Information Science, NTNU. There, he mainly worked on developing applications for learning, all of which were primarily game-based.

Business Ideas and Starting Kahoot

Before Kahoot, Alf’s main field of work was teaching various subjects, from basic IT programming and game programming to advanced software engineering. As the business ideas kept frequenting his mind, Alf seriously considered doing something of his own.

At university, Alf worked on many prototypes, many of which turned out to be failures, and yet, Alf never gave up on the idea of creating something major. This resulted in many other prototypes, and a successful one among them - Lecture Quiz.

This was the turning point for Professor Alf Inge Wang as he realized this could be something substantial, something big. His intuition was proven correct when Alf tried Lecture Quiz with 150 students and in the same lecture hall. Being able to communicate with a mass of students simultaneously, all the while learning and having fun, was the turning point in terms of Alf’s career.

After receiving his doctorate in IT engineering in 2001, Alf developed more than twenty applications, all aimed at interactive teaching. To nail them, Alf collaborated with a former student of his, Morten Versvik, and together they invented a few learning games such as ‘Mooses’, ‘KnowledgeWar’ and ‘Amazing City Game’. As of 2007, Alf has been also managing a national resource network called JoinGame.

Kahoot can be used when lecturing in a lot of different ways. The commonest way is by summarizing topics after, say, a 20-minute lesson. The Kahoot platform easily creates a win-win situation, as the students know if they understood the lecture correctly and the things they learned from it.

From Lecture Quiz to Kahoot

The main difference Kahoot makes is in the students’ focused attention. During the pre-Kahoot era, the students used to scroll on Facebook, watch football or simply read news during class. Ever since Kahoot has been implemented, even though students are sleepy in the mornings, they unquestionably pay attention to the sometimes competitive learning games.

Although the core of the idea for the Kahoot platform was originally Alf’s, the initiation of the platform happened with the help of the co-founder Morten Versvik, and a few other entrepreneurs.

Morten held a Master’s degree in Computer Science at NTNU. Prior to his chapter at Kahoot, Versvik, together with a couple of his colleagues, created an in-depth research team on MOOSES. He also collaborated with a technology-based enterprise in Asker called Tellu As. Later on, he became a part of Wang’s team alongside Jamie Brooker and Johan Brand, who also collaborated with Åsmund Furuseth.

The joint project was born in 2012, with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology as its foundation. However, Kahoot was officially launched in private beta at SXSWedu in March 2013. This beta was further endorsed and opened to the public in September 2013.

Investments to Breathe Life into Kahoot

If Kahoot was not the brilliant idea that it is, it would not have raised a total of $363.9 million over nine rounds and a variety of investors. The platform's latest funding occurred on October 20, 2020. Northzone, Northzone, Datum AS, and Creandum are the biggest and lead investors, and their investments vary between $6.5 and $215 million.

There are a total of eight board members and advisors at the, including Harald Arnet, who is a board member since November 28, 2019, Fredrik Cassel since 2015, Michiel Kotting, Sindre Ostgard since 2017, Lisa Nelson, Nagraj Kashyap who has a chair since 2016, Eilert Giertsen Hanoa and Stefan Bloom since 2020. Although Stefan Bloom is the youngest board member, he plays an equally important role in the company like the others.

However, there were quite a few challenges the team came across with. The launching of the platform was one of them, as was reaching the rightful audience. Fortunately, that’s nothing a bunch of experts could not have handled. By using the right people at the right times, Kahoot got its students and turned a whisper into a shout.

Another huge aspect Alf also had to deal with, prior to enjoying the success Kahoot has today, was funds and investing in the company. Although all team members received

regular paychecks, they needed ‘the big bucks’, and were sort of hoping for a miracle. Fortunately, the idea for Kahoot was so brilliant that once word was out, several oligarchs saw the platform’s potential and invested away - and the rest is history!

Kahoot’s site has an astounding monthly traffic growth of 9.93%, with over 22,200,000 monthly visits. Last but definitely not least, Kahoot’s downloads in the last 30 days are rounded at 2,234,783. Over two million downloads in a month? That’s success!

Quality Studying for All

If there is one thing Kahoot has proven in the past year, it is that quality education does not always have to be framed by nor limited to strictness and physical presence.

At the end of the day, it is, in fact, dynamic studying that drives creativity among students, and it is also one of the things that place the platform in a league of its own - throwing outdated teaching methods in the shadows and proving that Kahoot is basically studying - while having fun! Who would have thought, right?