LISTEN: Neeru Khosla on Education & Doing A Startup
“I was not going to do this. I was going to have someone else do it,” says Neeru Khosla, co-founder and chair of CK-12, a non-profit organization focussed on providing free on-line learning material for K-12 students. While the idea seems simple and easy to execute that is not the case as we discovered when we spoke to Neeru. We recorded this interview in 2009. CK-12 has come a long way since 2009.
Before CK-12 Neeru’s attention revolved around her on her family, children and their education. During this time she got busy volunteering for her children’s school. She also went back to school and got a second master’s degree in education from Stanford University.
Inspired to do something in the area of education Neeru’s husband Vinod Khosla suggested looking into textbooks for high school students. And that suggestion sparked off Neeru’s interest. Initially she resisted the idea since she is a big believer in personalized content for school kids. But when she looked into her husband’s suggestion Neeru discovered there existed a huge gap in accessing learning material for CK-12 students. She realized the need to provide contextual content for high school students and teachers especially in the areas of science and math. Providing contextual content was key to effective learning as she discovered while volunteering in her kid’s school. And thus was born the idea for CK-12, a non-profit organization. Through CK-12 Neeru has combined her passion for education with a purpose.
Once she was convinced about the viability of the idea Neeru and her co-founder (late) Murugan Pal worked behind the scenes to create an open-source, collaborative text books called Flexbooks. They built a harvester and a system to pull content from various sources to create these flexbooks.
In this interview Neeru shares how CK-12 is developing the technology and seeding content to create flexbooks that are free to be used by high school students and teachers. She also shares on how and when she gets help from her husband, an in-house expert. Doing a start-up is very consuming as Neeru has discovered. Now that she is running a venture of her own I wondered if she had a better understanding of her husband’s intense work pace as a venture capitalist? How is she managing being a mother and a co-founder of an organization? How is she juggling her work and family life? We also wanted to find out what she learnt from her husband, and what he has learnt from her. Tune in to find out what Neeru has to say on this subject.
Photo credit: CK-12