The Knewton Blog

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Fast Company’s ’50 Most Innovative Companies’: We Made the List!

Posted in Knerds on February 14, 2012 by

Yesterday, Knewton was selected by Fast Company as one of the world’s 50 most innovative companies.

We’re thrilled to nab the number 47 spot on the list, especially considering the other honorees, many of them companies whose business practices we’ve long admired and looked to for inspiration: Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, and more. Plus, let’s be honest: just being included on the same list as household names like Chipotle, the NFL, Starbucks, Tesla, HBO and UPS is enough to get us excited!

As a company, Knewton has its eye on a big prize. We want to revolutionize education, to change the way that students learn, to harness technology to improve lives. We know it’s not an easy goal; there’s no guarantee of success. In a recent guest post for the World Economic Forum blog, our founder Jose went so far as to call our plan “crazily ambitious.”

There are benefits to this kind of ambition, of course. As Jose points out in his post, by going after such a large problem, we’re opening ourselves up to solving other issues too: education “drives virtually every global problem that we face as a species… if we can fix education, then we’ll dramatically improve the other problems, too.”

From a business perspective, however, crazy ambitious can be difficult to pull off. With such a sweeping, large-scale end goal, it can be hard to measure and appreciate incremental accomplishments along the way. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If nothing else, we believe that succeeding at innovation — both as it relates to our day-to-day business solutions as well as the ideology that drives them — is the first step toward succeeding at our larger goals.

This is why, even as Knewton has continued to grow over the past four years, we’ve made a conscious effort to hold fast to our startup ways. To us, innovation means valuing experimentation and, yes, failure; it means eschewing unnecessary hierarchy and empowering each team member to influence decision-making and help shape the company’s path.

Thanks again to Fast Company for the recognition, and for further inspiring us toward our goal. Be sure to check out the full list here, and let us know what you think of the selections in the comments.