At Kano, we're creating a new type of computer that anyone, anywhere, can build and code themselves—we've designed it for all ages, all over the world. It's part of our vision to democratize computing, to give the majority world a way to take control, make, and play with technology—instead of just consuming it. We started off in November 2012, when my little cousin Micah challenged us to create a computer he could make himself, "as simple and fun as Lego." Just under a year later, our Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign exceeded its goal of £59,000 ($93,400) in 18 hours and went on to raise £900,000 ($1.4M). Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak pledged for a kit.
To tackle the major challenges we knew we would face on our journey to a new, physical, worldwide product—shipping to 87 countries—we needed to deploy tools that would allow us to work in the best possible way. We also needed technology to help us overcome barriers we would face in getting Kano to market. Here are a few ways Google Apps for Work helped us overcome our challenges.
1. Developing an idea into a company, from anywhere in the world
The idea for Kano started in Google Docs, quite literally, right at the very beginning of our journey. I was in the U.K. and my other co-founder, Yonatan, was in Israel so we wrote the story of our business in Docs, commenting back and forth frequently. Then, we would get on Hangouts to discuss the ideas. This went on all night, and by the next day we had a beautiful launch plan. Google Apps helped us overcome geographic barriers from the outset, enabling us to work from anywhere and reach early collaborators and advisors from the U.K., U.S. and Israel. All our collective ideas melded together in one living, breathing document, taking Kano from concept to company.
2. Selecting a collaboration platform to supercharge our product development
We’re fast, agile workers who thrive on getting creative ideas suggested, digested and tested as fast as possible. In order to keep up with the fast pace of product development, we needed a collaboration platform that could store all our thinking, content and planning. When we looked at Google Drive for our storage needs and weighed it against other options, like Dropbox and Microsoft’s SkyDrive, we concluded the latter environments were too static. We needed the fluidity that Google offers with an interconnected family of Apps. Google Drive plays a key role in storing, sharing and syncing our ideas and planning. Given the pace at which we work, we can’t be held back by working in silos. Drive enables us to work in a new way by enabling our spontaneity, giving us freedom to improvise against many brainwaves at once.
3. Connecting with customers simply and effectively
We weren’t initially sure how much mass appeal Kano would have. Today we’ve delivered our first 20,000 units to over 80 countries. Suddenly, we have thousands of customers with valuable insights that can help us grow. I found a great way of getting insights from them on how to improve Kano was through Google Forms, which we used to assemble our first customer insights survey. We reached 13,000 customers and got over 1,000 responses in 12 hours. The form only took 45 minutes to assemble. We learnt that if we compiled a resource of ten easy projects and put them front and center in our online community, we’d have Kano kids engaging for longer. At our next board meeting, we impressed investors with the customer love Kano received, as well as the granularity of the feedback we were soliciting. It’s key to our culture that we have the freedom to reach our customers instantly. Their feedback allows us to iterate Kano faster, and keep our ears to the product pulse.
4. Bringing the tools we use as consumers to work
We’re a small team of 20-somethings with eclectic backgrounds. Google Apps speak to our generation’s business needs. We expect the same technology at work as we do in our personal lives. I’m 24 years old and, like my co-workers, wouldn’t expect anything other than Google at work. The regular stream of Google Apps product updates make us confident we can continue to stay nimble and work better together. What really matters is the way all these services integrate harmoniously, with simple setup, and allow us, the entrepreneurs, to focus on our main mission—delighting our customers. With busy travel schedules we stay connected with Hangouts and the Gmail app on our mobile devices. We collaborate and store all of our business files in Drive and ensure we stay in sync with deadlines by using shared Calendars.
We like to think of computers as open boxes, filled with possibility—once you dive in and learn how to change the rules, you unlock new powers, and new ways to play. Our goal is to help you find a way into this exciting world. What we’ve done with Kano is a starting point. We’re extraordinarily excited to see it reshaped and reimagined in the hands of thousands around the world.