July 27, 2019
“We want to build a google for your companies internal knowledge”
This is the abridged version of what Kipwise wants to do. We sat down with CEO and Co-founder, Kwun-Lok Ng, to get a deeper insight into what the team behind the knowledge collaboration tool Icebreaker.vc recently invested in had to offer.
Knowledge is Power
The KIP in Kipwise stands for “Knowledge is power” (not to be confused with a chicken, if you're a Dutch speaker) and great knowledge comes from when great minds meet. That is why the team behind Kipwise wants to enable better knowledge collaboration and transfer within teams; an idea conjured up by a few like-minded individuals who were already struggling with pain points within their own companies. Pain points brought on by the constant battering of knowledge that comes with people sharing best practices and other small pieces of information to improve a company's workflow.
"So Kipwise is a knowledge management tool that helps companies manage the team knowledge within their daily workflow. Because the majority of problems caused by current knowledge management tools are created because they're so detached from your daily workflow. So most of the team members are actually not using it. That means they, even though they might have, let's say, a lot of information stored in their Google Drive, they still ask the same questions a lot. No one's going to search there, and no one's saving important information there either. So that's why we built Kipwise..."
Kipwise aims to help core teams share knowledge, synchronize actions and reach their goals together. These core teams include:
For more examples on the different use cases, have a read about it on their website!
From Hong Kong to Estonia to the World
Before starting his career as a serial entrepreneur, Kwun did get a chance to experience corporate life as a student trainee/developer in the largest bank in Hong Kong, HSBC. During this year-long trainee period, he found that his work in one of the largest banks in the world wasn't the most meaningful work (surprise, surprise). It wasn’t meaningful in the sense that he wasn’t having the biggest impact on business decisions and how to go about his day-to-day. He spent his time at HSBC under micromanagement by his higher-ups - a long list of instructions that were to be followed to a T. It was at this point that Kwun was inspired to become his own boss,
“...the time of my internship came to an end and my manager asked me ‘hey you can come back. You know, after your graduation if you want to’, but I told him, ‘thanks for your help. Thanks for the offer. But, this is not something that I want to do...’”
This corporate experience was seen by Kwun as a positive experience - not because it was interesting work, but because it allowed him to gain some insight on what he truly wanted to do; something very common for people with a founder mentality. They work for a large corporation and soon find out that they don’t work well under the constraints of others. There is a certain creative element missing for them to truly prosper in their working life. The element is their own agency to build their own success.
Kipwise wasn’t Kwun-Lok Ng’s first startup rodeo. Before co-founding Kipwise, Kwun had his first shot as a startup founder in Hong Kong, founding OneSky, an end-to-end localisation and translation solution for mobile apps, websites and documents. The company grew from $0 to +$3 million in annual recurring revenue without any external funding. At OneSky, Kwun met his soon to be Co-founders; Co-founder, Charlie Mak, was the former Engineering Lead at OneSky, while the third Co-founder, Amanda Wong, led the whole marketing department. Together, with their strong experience from international B2B growth, they made for a great team.
After three years Kwun decided to move on from OneSky after visions for the company's future started to diverge, so he decided to pursue another startup located in Estonia; Jobbatical, a company whose platform matches business, technology and creative professionals with companies hiring talent around the world . It was here where he started noticing some inefficiencies when it came to managing knowledge through traditional communications tools...
“Even though I was in Estonia, I still wanted to talk with Amanda and Charlie because we liked learning off of each other. But we mainly communicated through Slack. So we thought, why can’t there be a tool to save all our learnings?”
Two years ago the Co-founder’s of Kipwise started working on their product, but at the time it was more of a pet-project - something they were doing part-time - focusing on different features and target groups. At the time they weren’t sure what they wanted their product to be and which audiences they would target. They noticed that current solutions for knowledge management were not that ingrained with a teams workflow. Individuals in teams would share information but it would get buried under the clutter that would pile up as they shared more and more tidbits of information. People would also be asking the same questions over and over again regardless of the fact that the answers could be found on a company's google drive or old Slack threads.
After a few iterations, they found that the best way to use their product would be to integrate it with other communications platforms. Kipwise’s first solution to tackle the productivity problem was a seamless Slack integration, where employees could create and search for knowledge directly from internal or external platforms. The solution integrates and is connected with a web portal that used to collaborate and organise the knowledge base with external integrations, similar to Kipwise’s competitor, Confluence by Atlassian.
100% Remote - 100% Motivated
Kipwise’s employees have so far worked 100% remotely and they have no intention of changing that. The team is made up of people who want to take Kipwise to the next level. So far the team consists of people based in Estonia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Brazil and Croatia.
"I believe our future plan is to have 100% remote work until it's not feasible anymore. We started Kipwise because me and my co founders had some difficulties learning from each other in a more effective way when I was based in Estonia, and they were in Hong Kong. So naturally, we started the project remotely. And we found it pretty efficient, actually. And we don't need to worry about things like commute time. And because we are remote, we're responsible, we are self disciplined, so working remotely, isn't really a problem."
The first solution launched in August 2018 during one of the top accelerators in the world, Techstars London, where they spent three months as a collective developing Kipwise and by the end of it, received an investment; the first before Icebreaker.vc. The traction since has been impressive. Currently, Kipwise has customers from 15 different countries. Also, 83% of the managers and seniors engage with the product every week, of which the highest engagement rate comes from managers/seniors at distributed teams. Distributed teams account for 66% of their current paying customers.
Kipwise has two main channels to perform outreach. One of them has been the Slack app directory where they have been featured once and are going to be featured again in the near future. After being featured, Kipwise had about 250 companies signing up. Additionally, Amanda, the all-round marketer of Kipwise, has been very active on Quora.