Thursday, June 29th was a memorable day for student startup Knowork. In the pitch finals of the UvA-minor Entrepreneurship, the students won the jury prize as well as the audience prize. The startup had to compete with the three other student startups Grounds, Reconnect, and Bijbanaan. What is the ‘knowledge network’ of this winning startup, and what are we to expect from them?
Finding the right person
If you work in a big company, it is impossible to know all your colleagues personally. Maybe you don’t even want to know all of them, but some of them might have the skills or expertise that you could use at times. Perhaps you got stuck in a project because you are not sure about legal issues, or maybe you need someone who knows all about big data. In that case, wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple way to quickly find the right person in your own building?
Knowork as a knowledge platform
That’s where Knowork comes in . This student startup is building a platform on which users can make a personal chart where they add their personal skills, knowledge and expertise. Other users, who are employees of the same company, can browse on the platform and search for particular skills. Employees can easily find colleagues with the right expertise.
Not another app
It sounds fantastic, but aren’t companies getting tired of all the different apps, tools, and platforms out there? Greg Marschall, CEO and founder of Knowork, agrees: “Many companies are interested in our concept, however, they are reluctant to download a new app for it. Because of that, we are now working on ways to integrate our platform, for example in Google Chrome. With an integrated search, companies can use Knowork without having to download a new application.”
Another issue: if employees fill in their own chart, who is ensuring that they really have the expertise and qualifications they claim to have? Users might be using the platform as a way of selling themselves. Marschall: “To overcome that, we will work with a rating system. Users can leave references about their experience with a person.” However, managers apparently do not worry about that so much: “Especially managers have shown interest in our concept. They are the ones who very often need a specific expertise, and they recognize how time-consuming that can be.”
Starting a business can be hard in the beginning, especially when you don’t have years of experience. Marschall: “The minor Entrepreneurship gave us structure. We came together on fixed dates and times, and we had to set deadlines every time. You need this structure to really move forward.” Knowork will test the first version of their platform this month. To further develop and improve the system, they are now looking for investors.