EP 24: How a 6-Year-Old’s Challenge Sparked a Multi-Million Dollar Business

Alex Klein | CEO and Co-Founder of Kano

When Alex Klein’s cousin asked for a computer kit “as simple and fun as Lego,” Klein responded with a product that is changing the face of computing.

Alex Klein of Kano Computing

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Episode Summary

Some major innovations take shape in boardrooms. Others are cultivated through run-of-the-mill conversations at home.

Alex Klein’s opportunity to make a dent arose when his 6-year-old cousin began talking about building a computer from scratch, and challenged his older relative to help make it happen. Unable to find a kid-friendly computer kit on the market, Klein assembled a team of developers to create one.

In 2013, the team launched their new product, Kano, via a Kickstarter campaign. Their goal was to raise a relatively modest $100,000 in 30 days. However, within just 16 hours, Klein and his team had reached their target. The campaign went viral, closing with a record-setting $1.5 million from backers in 86 different countries.

Now, just a few years later, Kano is a venture-backed company that has shipped more than 350,000 Kano Kits to people of all ages in  150+ countries. Kano products are sold on Amazon and in every Target, Best Buy, and Walmart in the country.

But the Kano Kit has become so much more than just a “Lego-like” computer that anyone can make. Klein believes his product will change the face of computing.

“People want to understand how the world around them works,” he says on Founders & Funders. “They want to build their own devices. They want to cook their own food. They want to share and make their own music and artwork.”

“Kano is a computer company premised on that need and that idea,” he continued. “We think the next PC revolution is about making computers easy for anyone to understand and make, not just to use.”

In addition to creating products that are steeped in entertainment — see the recently announced Harry Potter-themed codable wand — Kano Kits have been integrated into school systems throughout the world. Kano Kits can fit into core curriculum subjects such as history, mathematics, and science, as well as vital STEM subjects like programming, algorithm design, and machine learning.

“It’s actually a platform for any beginner, at any age, to make real apps, to make real music, to build their own devices,” Klein says.

Listen to this episode to learn more about the Kano movement and how life has changed for Klein since becoming a first-time CEO of a venture-backed company.

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Founders and Funders is a podcast where we discuss how entrepreneurs and investors work together to build great companies. Our guests — many of whom are connected with AVG as entrepreneurs, investors, managing partners, and fellows — are invited here to talk about the journey of building companies from incubation to early-stage investing and beyond.

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