FeedbackFruits: Making education engaging
You have three nights until an important exam, and you’re praying that’ll be enough time to cram everything in your head. Sounds familiar? Perhaps all too well. Ewoud de Kok and Siem Kok know this, too, so they took it upon themselves to make education more interactive and fun by co-founding FeedbackFruits. The company’s goal is an ambitious one: Supporting and motivating teachers to shape a learning method that sparks student thinking.
FROM A SIMPLE IDEA
For Ewoud, everything started when he was still a student at the Faculty of Applied Physics at the TU Delft. “The reason I started was because I saw a lot of students experience education in a very passive way,” he says, “— just doing what needs to be done as quickly as possible.” After all, education should be about increasing student understanding and cultivating critical thinking.
It was at the end of 2012 when, together with Siem, Ewoud decided to lay the foundation of FeedbackFruits and start transforming the educational system in his home country. The two started out with just an idea, yet one that was convincing enough to get them a first client right away. “We started the company with our first sale,” Ewoud remembers. “We only had an idea and we got our first 15,000 euros based on it. We used the money to create our first product.”
Ever since, the mission behind FeedbackFruits has been to facilitate pedagogical methods such as peer2peer learning, engagement, group-based learning, interactivity and other blended learning methods, making the study activities for each class — both online and off — much more engaging and interactive.
“The idea is that, with our software, we allow teachers to create specific learning paths for their courses,” Ewoud says. Essentially, those learning paths will help students decide how much time and attention to dedicate to a course based on their interest in it. “We want to help improve the structure of courses in a way that students are no longer passive participants, but they are actively and critically thinking about the topic at hand.”
With a current team of 20 full-time equivalent employees, FeedbackFruits has come a long way in the past four years. The inspiring entrepreneurial environment at YES!Delft has been a main contributing factor to their initial growth, Ewoud believes.
“Joining the Incubation Program was the first time that I was among entrepreneurs of my age,” he says. “The space has a very nice vibe to it, and the atmosphere is great for building a team.”
What’s more, the coaching sessions and the knowledge that is being shared around have also left their mark on the team. “The coaches, in particular, have been quite valuable for us at some critical moments,” Ewoud says.
TO A GROWING COMPANY
With crucial lessons learned in time, the team of FeedbackFruits has been able to achieve quite a few milestones to date. Their software is currently being used by more than 20 universities and other higher educational institutions in the Netherlands, as well as UK and Sweden. Furthermore, they are currently expanding within the Australian and North American markets, actively piloting their products at Deakin University, and counting MIT among their partners.
With their product, the team makes sure to reach out to teachers who have the drive to reshape education. “Facilitating the shift from the passive way of education to a much more interactive way of learning can be done only with the help of dedicated teachers,” Ewoud says.
In supporting educators in this joint mission, FeedbackFruits has also been developing artificial intelligence that can support teachers in personalizing their courses. “We have created an educational robot — an automated teacher assistant — and that’s a big thing that we are going to launch to customers,” Ewoud says.
On a larger level, the team also makes sure to keep the conversation going when it comes to the shift to more interactive education. That is why they founded an innovation cooperation with partner higher educational institutions in 2016, the International EdTech Consortium. The inclusion criteria are simple: All members are united in their vision and commitment to spend time and resources to accelerate the implementation of active, blended and online learning via technology-enabled innovative course designs. This is further supported via the EdTech DoTank, in which LMS-compatible educational plugins are co-developed with educational experts and teachers from partner universities, based on real-life didactic challenges. Not stopping at building tools, real-life use-cases of FeedbackFruits software are documented, called “Learning Activities”, and these are then shared with teachers across the network of partner institutions, to ensure creativity and versatility in the way plugins are used. More than 15 universities worldwide have entered full, 4-year partnerships with the company. With Feedback Fruits leading the way, together they are effecting real change in the higher educational system.
End of 2012 – First sale of 15K euros secured & Company founded
2013 – Launched first version of product
Mid-2013 – Joined YES!Delft’s Incubation Program
2014 – Reached more than 5,000 users
2014 – Won the EdX Hackathon Award from the TU Delft
2015 – Reached more than 20,000 users
2016 – Officially entered a new foreign market: Sweden
2016 – Won the Silver Award at the Reimagine Education Awards
End of 2016 – Reached 55,000 users
2017 – Started Pilot with HULT (UK), signed 2018
2018 – Entered North American and Australian Markets: Pilot with Deakin and partnership with MIT
Fall 2018 – Reached 87.500 users