Jens dropped out of school—now he creates teaching tools for teachers worldwide.

Published: 07 November 2023

Text: Newslab

Photo: Curipod

Curipod has combined AI and education, creating a teaching tool that fosters engagement in the classroom.

"Teachers think it's absolutely amazing," says CEO and founder Jens Aarre Seip of Curipod.

From Startuplab's premises in Forskningsparken, he and co-founders Frikk Fossan and Eirik Hernes Berre have caused a sensation in classrooms around the world.

"I love my job," says Jens Aarre Seip, who, along with Eirik Hernes Berre and Frikk Fossan, is behind the company Curipod. They have developed a teaching tool that teachers can use to create student engagement. From left: Jens Aarre Seip, Frikk Fossan, and Eirik Hernes Berre.

Curipod is an interactive presentation tool for teachers, where students can connect directly and participate with drawings, questions, or discussions.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), teachers get assistance in creating a lesson plan in just a few seconds, with facts, relevant questions, and suggestions for group tasks.

Nevertheless, it is essential to double-check that all content is accurate since AI is primarily a tool for work, not a reference work.

"It's just a matter of typing 'solar system,' hitting 'do magic,' and presto, you have what you need. Since it's using AI, you have to go over and check for factual errors. It takes 15 seconds to create and five minutes to review. Then the students connect," says Aarre Seip.

"Things have taken off completely"

Since February, Curipod has had an average of 1,000 new teachers logging in every day. Now, 150,000 teachers worldwide use the tool.

The majority are in the United States, Norway, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The goal is nothing less than the whole world.

"We want to reach every classroom in the world. There are still several million teachers left."

However, the entrepreneurial journey has not been without challenges. According to Aarre Seip, there were some slow years after starting in 2019. In the beginning, they physically knocked on doors to find teachers interested in testing the tool. The first version of Curipod was launched in 2021 without much success.

It was only when the trio chose to implement AI in January 2023 that things started to happen. Through word of mouth and eager teachers sharing Curipod on social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok, it took off in February.

"It's a bit surreal. You work over time, and there is mostly resistance in the first few years. It's challenging to create something that resonates with the user. But when you really hit with the product, it goes very fast."

Jens Aarre Seip praises the environment at Forskningsparken, especially Startuplab, of which Curipod is a part.

"Startuplab is fantastic! We have gained a lot of knowledge about running a startup and have been part of networks both externally and internally from the start. It would have been very difficult to succeed without it."

The company currently has eight employees and is continually looking for skilled developers interested in working on the forefront of artificial intelligence.

Teachers worldwide are thrilled to have an educational tool that creates lesson plans in just seconds using artificial intelligence.

High school drop out

Curipod aims to create engaged students, ignite a desire for learning, spark interest, and encourage critical thinking. The founders recognize that not all students have inherent motivation.

Jens dropped out of high school himself because he found it uninteresting. After working as a counsellor at a folk high school, he developed a desire to study and returned to the academic environment. Following high school, he joined the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) in Bergen. There, seated in the front row, always ready to answer the lecturer's questions, was co-founder Eirik Hernes Berre.

"We have completely different backgrounds. While I have been tired of school, he has always loved school and worked as a teacher both in Norway and Mozambique. But we both have strong opinions about teaching."

The world's best EdTech fund

With childhood friend Frikk Fossan as a developer on the team, Curipod was born. They now travel around the world to showcase their creation.

According to Seip, being close to users is crucial for creating a good product. He is delighted that they have received support to reach even more people.

"We have just partnered with Reach Capital, the world's best EdTech fund. It's fantastic! They can contribute with networks and expertise in the USA."

"The hardest part is building a product that solves a real problem and is so good that users come back again," say the founders, who have their headquarters in Startuplab and Forskningsparken. From left: Eirik Hernes Berre, Frikk Fossan, and Jens Aarre Seip.