Promoting a Growth Mindset: An Interview with Vivek Kumar

24 April 2018

Vivek Kumar was born to immigrant parents and began his life in South Auckland. From a young age, there was a big focus on education; he attended the University of Auckland where he majored in psychology, commercial law and information systems.

Vivek Kumar

Vivek co-founded QuickSense, with three partners, Hamish Parbhu, Vineet Chauhan and Rupesh Ratilal, and he is now CEO of the organisation. QuickSense is a student learning platform that directly benefits both the student and the teacher through personalised learning, cognitive neuroscience and educational frameworks.

The groundwork for QuickSense started in 2015 and was officially made live in June 2017. The team launched Version 1 of its product in March 2018. Vivek is open about where the inspiration for the business came from.

“We started QuickSense based off my own failings in High School. In Year 12, I failed a couple of subjects. In the following year, I re-sat the papers that I failed only to receive very similar marks. I was very frustrated by my education and started to question why I could not get the grades I felt I deserved,” says Vivek.

“I wanted to create a platform where students and teachers could learn from each other in an environment that promoted a growth mindset. I have found that the fear of failure is so paralysing that it builds a vicious cycle of abandoning whole subjects and even in some cases, education itself.”

The team created QuickSense as a means for students to create cycles of academic growth in a way that was flexible and fit in the schedules of teachers and students. They wanted to empower both the student and teacher to ensure that no one was left behind by ensuring that students receive the right help, at the right time. The platform offers individualised learning for each student which identifies any gaps and offers explanations in the student’s preferred learning style, so they understand where and why they went wrong. The platform also gives the teacher a full overview of their class, allowing them to see what they need to focus on and which students may need further support. QuickSense is looking to work with every school in New Zealand regardless of budget.

We asked Vivek for some insights into what it’s like to be a young social entrepreneur.

“Being a young social entrepreneur is both very challenging and rewarding. With QuickSense being the first ‘job’ for me and our co-founder Hamish Parbhu, there is a lot that we are still learning about. But with that, we often find ourselves questioning hard and fast rules dictated by dogma, and if we decide otherwise (because we are in position where we can), it can create a competitive advantage in terms of the way we do work and conduct business.”

The future is looking bright for QuickSense and Vivek and the team have lofty aspirations.

“In our first three weeks, we signed up 1,000 students and are looking to sign up 10,000 by the end of the year. We are working closely with a number of schools and we would love for this to grow. We want to build the best e-learning tool for New Zealand students so they can drive innovation tomorrow.”

When asked whether he could impart any wisdom to other entrepreneurial young people around having the confidence to ‘give it a go’, Vivek had some sound advice.

“I mentor a few Young Enterprise Scheme teams and I also help out with the University of Auckland Velocity challenge. What I see are amazing ideas not being pursued. I find this baffling. A lot of students I talk to think that they are not old enough for doing something like this – pitching to investors, starting a business out of high school or university, and going against the grain of safety (a normal job).

The world is definitely your oyster and all you need to do is believe it. New Zealand is an amazing place to start and you will definitely get help along the way. Reach out to people you are inspired by, and often you will be surprised at not just how accessible they are, but also how keen they are to help you achieve your goals.”

It seems to us that Vivek and the QuickSense team are on the right path and possess the right attitude to contribute positively to students’ learning throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. His final word of advice to other young people captures his approach to promoting a growth mindset perfectly:

“Ask questions like you are in pre-school. Answer them like you work for a think tank.”

We get the feeling that we’ll be hearing more about QuickSense in the future.