Student-found New Zealand company offers $10,000 ‘thank you’ bonus
- Kami was founded in 2013 by Auckland university students
- The company secured the number one spot in the 2021 Deloitte Fast 50 index
- Kami recently surprised its 53 employees with a NZ$10,000 bonus
After being crowned New Zealand's fastest-growing company, an education app established by a group of university students nine years ago surprised its 53 employees with a NZ$10,000 bonus.
Kami, which translates to "paper" in Japanese, is a digital classroom platform and app that allows teachers and students to engage with and collaborate on documents and learning resources both in and out of the classroom.
Hengjie Wang, Jordan Thoms, and Alliv Samson, three Auckland university students, launched Kami in 2013 as a way to digitally streamline their note-taking. The service is used in over 180 countries by over 30 million teachers and students, with North America having the biggest user base. The platform is now used by more than 90% of US schools.
According to Deloitte, the company achieved the top rank in the 2021 Deloitte Fast 50 index last week, with "a stunning 1,177 % revenue growth over the past three years".
During the worst of the global pandemic, Kami offered its software to instructors all across the world for free to assist them to continue to digitally contact students.
According to the company's CEO, Wang, sales dried up overnight, but that changed when teachers asked to start paying to safeguard the platform's future.
“Fast forward 18 months, with that sort of massive shift in education, we saw maybe about five years’ worth of growth in the market in one year,” Wang told the Guardian.
The company chose to award its employees to celebrate both the triumph and the achievement of 30 million users.
“Our team had been working incredibly long hours, made a lot of sacrifices over the last 18 months, supporting teachers and students globally. We wanted a way to say thank you and recognise what they have achieved,” he added.
Kami announced the bonus in a Zoom call to staff this week, saying they were all “shocked and surprised”.
“We live in one of the most diverse cities that you can ever possibly operate in so, you know, I think we ultimately just built a company that reflects the Auckland culture … we really want to celebrate the best ideas and letting them come to the top, and over time that that has clearly shown in our results.”
Wang expressed hope for Kami's success to serve as a model for other local tech startups.
“You hear all of these big startup funding announcements, and Kami was certainly not one of these. But despite this, we have shown the world that achieving this level of growth and the impact that we have is possible. Operating a cashflow-positive startup is possible.”
“We have shown that it is possible from little old New Zealand. Capital is not a barrier to growth and success.”