Sam is the Founder and CEO of Akwai. Over the past five years, he has meticulously refined the company’s vision, perfected the software and tested the concept in schools. During this time, Sam also worked as a marketing consultant and freelance app developer. Before taking the plunge and committing to Akwai full-time, Sam worked for Google and Apple under a third-party contract. He attended the University of Arkansas in 2008 where he majored in Business and Engineering. In his free time, Sam volunteers for Elevate International, a faith-based service organization that works to improve the lives of at-risk youth, young adults and families. Sam named the company after Akwai Ibom, the Nigerian state his parents immigrated from. The Akwai team believes that establishing accountability networks around each student is the best way to ensure their success, and our mission aligns with the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Allie is the CMO and director of communications at Akwai. She has worked for the past six years as a science writer for Knowledge Enterprise Development at Arizona State University. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the top-ranked Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and her Master’s from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Allie is a founding member of the Maricopa County Food System Coalition, a volunteer association committed to building equitable, sustainable communities. She is passionate about health, education and social justice.
Adult's Problem - Cities are facing an increasing number of complex challenges. Obesity, depression and many other public health problems persist because people aren’t being held accountable to their physical and mental goals. There are few effective tools to help people collaborate on personal aspirations.
Student's Problem - It is well known that grades and test scores are not the only indicators of a child's future success as an adult. Success in the real world requires skills like accountability and perseverance. These non-cognitive skills are sometimes taught, but rarely measured in today’s academic setting.
To solve these problems, our team has combed through over 1,200 scientific research papers. From that, we were able to find 500 specific studies that we could incorporate into a technology that now has three patents pending.
Akwai is artificial intelligence that is housed inside of a mobile app. It incentivizes users to track the steps they’re taking toward a goal then connects them with peers and relatives for accountability check-ins. Using the data generated by those activities, the artificial intelligence measures the person’s non-cognitive skills and provides recommendations for accelerating their progress.
To get our app into the hands of the most people, we found that our best distribution model is to partner with schools. Schools will not have to spend very much time getting all their students setup and active. Teachers will only have two responsibilities;  to pass out the onboarding-checklist forms and  collect the signed onboarding-checklist forms after a couple of weeks. The onboarding-checklist will get students/parents to sign up for Akwai, get them to start tracking their goals and get them to invite other relatives to become their accountability partners by downloading the app. Those who don’t have a smart phone can use Akwai on a desktop computer, tablet, laptop or any other device that has internet access.
First a student will start off with a specific goal. From there, it will break that goal down into Boms. Boms are basically Akwai questions that someone will answer. There are five types of Boms; The first Bom-type is their Tasks, which are to-dos needing to get accomplished on a less-frequent basis. An example of a Task could be, [a] “Complete the Myers-Briggs personality test” [b] “Get a checkup from your family doctor” [c] “Evaluate your current diet and exercise habits”. The second Bom-type is called Productives and these are behaviors they are trying to do on a daily or weekly basis. An example of a Productive could be, [a] “How many book chapters did I read this week?” [b] “How many healthy fruits or vegetables did I eat this week?” [c] “How many times did I exercise?” The next Bom-type is called UnProductives, which are habits that user are trying to avoid doing. An example of this could be, [a] “How many homework assignments did I forget to do?” [b] How many unhealthy meals did I eat this week?” [c] How many times did I dwell on negative thoughts?” The fourth Bom-type is called Ratings, which are things they can rate themselves on, on a scale from 1 to 10… Basically like a self-evaluation. A Ratings example could be, [a] “On a scale from 1 to 10, how much effort did I put into paying attention during class?” [b] “On a scale from 1 to 10, how well did I stick to my low-carb diet?” [c] “On a scale from 1 to 10, how positive did I react to frustrating and annoying situations this week?” Finally, the last Bom-type is called Query, which are just open ended questions the user will ask them self. An example of this could be, [a] “What were my biggest accomplishments this week?” [b] “In regards to my health, how can I improve a specific area this week?” [c] “Write an example of how I properly managed my emptions this week?”
We have created a three step process to get Akwai users in a routine and make using the app as simple as possible.
Step one is called “Update Goal.” In this step, the user will get a push notification or alarm. This will remind them to open the app and update their Boms (Tasks, Productives, UnProductives, Ratings or Queries).
Step two is called “Send Joy.” After updating their goal, the user will be randomly paired with one of their classmates or relatives and be shown that person’s goal statistics. It is their job to review their partners progress and say something positive or motivational. This is called Sending Joy.
Step three is called “Get Feedback.” In addition to receiving Joy from your accountability partners, you will also receive feedback from AIVC, our Artificially Intelligent Virtual Coach.
This three step process only takes five minutes to complete and will happen at least once per week. Each time someone completes this quick process, our artificial intelligence algorithm converts that into over fifteen hundred data points. AIVC summarizes this information and measures the development of eight non-cognitive skills: … Perseverance, Willpower, Introspection, Transparency, Accountability, Consistency, Utilization and Tenacity. Each are measured independently and are based off of different criteria.
Our algorithm helps parents, teachers and students visualize progress by using colorful charts and graphs. AIVC uses clear, natural language to provide actionable recommendations and coaching. It even uses gamification concepts for points, virtual awards and variable rewards. This keeps users motivated and interested to see what’ll happen next!