Ramesh Balan is the founder of the recently fashionable and talked about education company Knomadix, which, after about six years on the market, could be on the verge of an overnight success. It is a path, says Balan correctly, that we have already seen.
“Companies like Google and Amazon took eight or nine years or more to be overnight successes,” Balan said.
Balan’s Knomadix company is interesting. He took a new and potentially powerful approach to using AI learning and tutoring robots in everyday classroom instruction. Instead of creating lessons with built-in AI bots or adding AI cues and prompts to the existing curriculum, Knomadix puts the benefits of AI into the hands of districts, schools, and teachers. a completely personalized way. It’s a concept that Balan describes as building a bot studio instead of building a bot.
“We thought it best to develop a robot factory where districts, schools, and teachers can create their own automated AI tutors tailored to their own courses and classrooms,” Balan said. “Instead of a company coming in and telling them what we thought they wanted or needed,” he said.
But it’s Balan’s personal journey running a small-group education business that’s more interesting than turning teachers into robot builders.
Calm and measured, his public demeanor suggests an analytical mindset. It’s easy to sense his passion for what he does, but it’s even clearer that he’s planned, careful and calculated – a personality one would expect from the eldest son of a high school math teacher.
Mathematics, says Balan, has become easy.
“I was really good at it,” he said. “When I was in middle school, I was helping my mom correct her high school students’ homework.”
And while the term “prodigy” is overused and easy to use, Balan may fit the bill. He graduated from high school at 15, was a graduate and licensed engineer at 20. Bored and hemmed in by engineering, he went back to school and earned a master’s degree in computer science at a time when the term didn’t have the commonality we enjoy today.
Moving from math to computer science put Balan in fun company and fun businesses. He was among the first to use a computer to do television animation, where he did Super Bowl commercials and graphics for network newscasts. The company was eventually acquired by Lucas Films. Balan worked at the very prestigious Bell Labs and paid close attention to the evolution of technology and what it might change.
“In about 2006 I saw the pen being integrated into tablet PCs and I thought that was the big deal, that it would change everything, including and especially in education,” he said. . “But I think everyone got it wrong. It was too early and it didn’t do anything for digital learning.
A decade later, Balan noted the emergence of teaching tools and platforms, next-generation tablets, Google Classroom and Samsung’s delivery platform. By then, around 2016, he had founded three other tech companies, successfully exiting one of them. All the while, he watched the march of educational technology and tinkered with his own intellectual property, valuable tools and approaches that dated back to the non-stylus revolution of 2006.
“There are over ten years of intellectual and technological investment in today’s Knomadix,” Balan said. “We were able to not dismiss or abandon useful advances, but integrate them, make them an important part of what we do today.”
And what they’re doing today is talking to districts, program designers, and publishers about how easy it can be to build and integrate AI-powered tutor bots into n’ any lesson at any level – unleashing, as Balan puts it, the ability of classroom AI to truly scale.
“We’ve known for some time now that AI, properly developed and properly deployed, can be a game-changing tool for teachers and an outcome multiplier for students,” Balan said. “But building them one course or one classroom at a time was never going to work. These are just bits and pieces that can only yield marginal results. What we’re doing is turning districts and individual teachers into their own custom editors and creators of AI-powered, interactive, data-rich curriculum and content.
Balan calls it a “game changer”.
And that may be the case. As a seven-year-old company with over a decade of IP behind it, we should hear more of this sensation overnight anytime now.
If you count the odds, the really safe bet is that Balan already has it. It seems certain that the math and engineering prodigy has done his homework. And he absolutely relies on the idea that Knomadix can help millions of students do theirs too.