Meet Komodo, the company helping students thrive beyond the classroom
I first met the Komodo team as part of the Startmate Summer ‘21 cohort as one of their mentors alongside Rod Hamilton (Co-founder, Culture Amp), Chloe Hamman (Director People Science, Culture Amp) and Kylie Frazer (Co-founder, Flying Fox Ventures). From the outset, it was clear that founders Chris Bacon and Jack Wood made an exceptional team – from the clarity of their vision to the scale of their ambition and the customer-centricity of their approach to product building.
Founded in 2018, Komodo is a surveying and analytics platform that enables schools to proactively support and monitor student wellbeing at scale. The platform leverages data and insights gleaned from psychologist-built surveys to help schools identify at-risk students and mitigate the impact of common issues such as harassment, cyber bullying and depression as early as possible.
Today, I’m proud to announce that Folklore has led the seed round for Komodo, alongside Rod, Chloe and Kylie, transitioning from mentors to investors (and still mentors!) to back the team’s mission to provide an evidence-based approach to wellbeing management that positively impacts the lives of students.
The wellbeing crisis of today’s students
The World Health Organisation estimates that half of all mental health disorders start by the age of 14, and suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15 to 19-year-olds around the world. Counselling service Kids Helpline recently revealed that counsellors acted upon 37 emergency care actions on average every week in 2021 related to a suicide attempt, up 95% compared to 2020.
These are startling statistics to consider. Many of us at Folklore are parents or have siblings, cousins or other young family members. It’s easy to forget that while we’ve been navigating lockdowns, separation from family and friends, as well as overwhelming uncertainty, so, too, have our younger counterparts.
Yet for children and teenagers, particularly those who are already in vulnerable situations, taking that step of seeking help can be the biggest challenge. In a generation native to social media and the challenges surrounding bullying and social isolation, COVID-19 has amplified the demand for more effective student wellbeing solutions. While schools have attempted to address student wellbeing, most solutions whilst valiant have not had the scale, frequency or efficacy to mitigate risks before they spiral out of control.
Many students face struggles that take place under the surface, which makes it difficult to recognise signs of distress before they boil over. It's unrealistic to expect even the best teachers to be omnipresent and omniscient – and over Zoom no less.
Reliance on data-driven insights and fast feedback loops is the norm for modern companies and we believe this desire for insight and actionable information will emerge in the school environment. This is where we see the value of schools adding a software-driven solution to their toolkit for wellbeing management.
Empowering schools through software
It’s not enough to support the majority of students. Schools need the ability to support all students with the means to engage early and effectively. This isn’t just preferable, it’s critical.
This is where Komodo comes in.
Komodo augments what teachers and school staff can do for student support through a more targeted and analytical approach. Each student deserves to feel safe and seen, and Komodo gives staff the safety net to ensure that’s the case.
Facilitating effective conversation at a student level, removing the dependency on teacher intuition and accelerating intervention for at-risk students is huge – it’ll be a game-changer, in some cases even life-saving, for students, their parents and their teachers.
What’s next for Komodo?
Folklore believes in Komodo’s vision to drive the best care and support for students to thrive, and we think this team is on track to create much-needed impact at scale in schools around the world. The team is already working with schools on both sides of the Tasman Sea and has developed partnerships with the Australian Boarding Schools Association, Independent Schools of New Zealand and the Council of British International Schools.
Our investment enables the company to make strategic hires by onboarding more psychologists to the team, further develop its platform, and expand its reach to more schools, and ultimately, more students.
We’re proud to be early backers on this journey with Chris, Jack and the team, and we can’t wait to watch the impact of their technology unfold.
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