WizeNoze: “Information on the internet doesn’t meet the standard for most people”
The company, founded by Diane Janknegt and Theo Huibers is of the opinion that the youth does not buy cars. “We serve pupils and students at their respective reading level with information from reliable, suitable and verified internet sources.”
WizeNoze has branches in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, this innovative concept participated in the official state visit of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima. The week after, WizeNoze took the stage as one of the finalists of the Accenture Innovation Awards Summit.
What is WizeNoze?
“Every one that writes something wants to be assured that the reader comprehends the text entirely. This often does not happen, especially on the internet. WizeNoze provides an insight into how readable a text is. We assess the readability of a text and connect the results to the appropriate reading level. Along with that, we mechanically select websites that are relevant to educational environments. Teachers and professors agree with this selection. In this way, we develop a checked and verified version of the internet.”
What products does WizeNoze offer?
“Our flagship piece is The Web for Classrooms: internet to use in classrooms. The technical aspect of this concept lies in the evaluation of content based on readability, and a word processor that immediately assesses whether your written content matches the reading level of your target group. We mainly focus on students from nine to eighteen years old.”
How have you experienced the state visit?
“We are honored and proud, that due to the Dutch embassy, WizeNoze was one of the four Dutch companies that had the opportunity to present its concept during the official state visit. It feels like we’ve had a successful ‘credibility check’: we’re certain that we are ready for the market. And it strengthened the belief Theo and I have, which is the basis of WizeNoze.”
What is that belief?
“That for a lot of people, the information on the internet doesn’t meet the standard. Some want it to be easier to comprehend and some want a higher level of difficulty. By far, most of the content is inadequate for people that don’t have an academic reading level. Adding to that, the commercial industry provides motivation to right in a certain manner. This generates a web of millions of irrelevant search results and incomprehensible information. A complete mismatch with the reading level.”
What led you to start WizeNoze?
“Personally, because of annoyance – I saw my children struggling with the results of search engines. On a commercial level: because of my background at Microsoft. I wanted to make the world better with software, not more commercial. Around that time, in 2013, I encountered Theo, who was researching whether technology could help the youth to understand the internet better. Yes, was the answer. But the technology didn’t exist at the time. That is why we started WizeNoze. Now the team consists of eighteen employees.”
Who are your customers?
“Currently we already have valuable customers such as Pearson and Thieme Meulenhoff. The business model entails that we do not sell WizeNoze to students or schools, but only to educative publishers and student platforms.”
Why did you decide to participate in the Accenture Innovation Awards?
“As one of the themes of the Accenture Innovation Awards is Education. And because of the international network. In the last five years, I have begun to believe more and more that network can lead you to success. That we were one of the finalists was incredible. It did not directly bring us new customers, but indirectly we increased our value. Just like the state visit.”
What are the current challenges for WizeNoze?
“Internationalization. Next to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, you can now find us in India, we are getting started in Kenya and we have several partnerships in Africa. How quickly can you go, what decisions should you make? The scale-up creates the challenge of simultaneously improving our technology, enlarging our team and supporting pilots. All of that, while substantial revenues are still missing.”
What trends do you see in the market of WizeNoze in the coming years?
“That there are more and more initiatives and solutions being developed to personalize and digitalize learning environments. Software can trigger social changes. Just handing out tablets and providing access to the internet is insufficient. The youth is more often approached as one group, while each and every one of them has another need of information, dependent on interests, level of education and background.”
What is your golden tip for innovators?
“First: only begin a start-up if you are 100 percent in love with your idea and you are confident that it is the solution for a clear problem. And that it does something good. Second: you can never do it alone, you need an outstanding team.”