Surround yourself with people that can do what you can’t

Do What You Love is a new series that showcases the entrepreneurs behind emerging companies. For this edition, we sat down with David Joo, co-founder and co-CEO of math-based online learning program KnowRe. KnowRe, which started out as an offline math academy in Korea in 2008, recently won a $100,000 prize at the Global Case Startup competition. It is also one of 30 companies selected to present at the EdSurge Tech For Schools Summit next month.

Here’s what Joo shared with us:

David Joo-5

KnowRe is an adaptive online learning product. If you remember back to your middle school days, your teacher used to tell you ‘show your work.’ And the reason they told you that was because they could see where you got that question wrong. But no matter how diligent or how dedicated the teacher may be, doing that for 120 kids across an entire school year is impossible. What we did was create a digitalized process that allows us to do that analysis of ‘show your work.’

My interest in education; I think a lot of it stems from my dad being a professor and just broadly speaking…I’ve always loved teaching and being involved in that type of process.

We’ve made so many mistakes, but I just haven’t had the energy to sit there and think to myself, wow, I should have done this. I’d rather just focus on what we need to do than what we should have done.

David Joo 3.0

Something that we really try and instill is a motto that’s of “GSDO,” — Get Stuff Done. That’s a cultural mentality that I try and promote as much as possible in our company, which is, there are no boundaries in terms of what your job is. Your job is to do whatever needs to get done.

Surround yourself with people that can do what you can’t do. Going back to what are the two things that make a successful start-up company work—the first thing being the product, the second thing being the team—you have to have a team that is self-aware. In my mind, one of the things that I think is most important in life is being self-aware. You have to be cognizant of what your strengths and weaknesses are but in a very honest way.

The most important thing is passion. I’m not a smart guy, but I will work harder and longer than anyone because this is what I want to do. If we can get one kid to actually say, you know what, because of KnowRe I actually don’t hate math and I kind of like it…I don’t think there’s anything more rewarding or fulfilling.


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