This week at Curio we recognise a big milestone for all of us. That is five years of Curio. It has been an amazing journey. A journey of the usual ups and downs that young organisations have, of pivoting quickly to meet market needs, and of people coming and going as we have grown. But most importantly, a journey marked by the importance of the strong relationships we have within Curio, with our partners, our clients, and the learners we ultimately seek to develop.
We have learnt so much in our first five years. Here are five things I’ve learnt that have kept us going over that time:
1. People are key
Curio is all about the people, and I’m proud to say here we have been hugely successful. Maybe we were in the right place at the right time. Maybe we made some good decisions. But really, it is about our colleagues at Curio and those that sustain them – partners, families and friends.
Our culture and values have been critical in attracting the right people along the way. Curiosity, creativity, learning, and connection mean that we are a thriving organisation as we round out our 5th year. These values unite us in our direction and underpin our ability to deliver so that we can continue to learn and grow.
2. Trusted and transparent partnerships underpin success
I left Nous back in 2016 with a heavy heart, as I had an amazing experience over my six years there. But I was looking forward to the next adventure. One, as the founding person of Curio, and secondly to kick off our long-term partnership with Prof Martin Bean and RMIT Online.
We have journeyed together in many ways over the last five years. What has made it work, and what we have applied to all other long-term partnerships with the Universities of Melbourne, Sydney, UNSW, Queen Mary, CPA Australia and 50+ other clients, has been quickly getting to a place of trust and transparency. In a B2B business, getting here quickly and collaboratively is what drives our success.
3. The learner is always first
The learner is at the centre and is at top of mind in everything we do. Those who know me know how much I love learning. I started Curio because I wanted to improve learning for a changing world; this is our vision statement. It means that we should always be out front, thinking about how we can make learning fun, interesting, efficacious, and efficient.
Over 80% of our people are educators or have a background in learning. We interact directly online or indirectly through our learning experiences, technology or advisory services with 10s of thousands of learners every year. Our success is predicated on their success.
4. Invest in the future to drive the change we seek
What we make after paying ourselves, we invest in future technologies and services. This is part of that curiosity that drives us, and provides a channel to creatively express it. Over five years we have invested in the development of five different technology platforms, three new services and new outposts in the UK and US. Half of our income comes from things we were not doing two years ago!
Looking ahead we will also be investing in new learning tech (aka EdTech) start-ups and ventures to keep us stretching our imaginations, and focused on the future of learning. In doing so, we take our partners and clients with us and ensure together as a sector, we are always going forward.
5. Give back where you can
I spent the better part of 12 years in neuroscience research at Melbourne and Cambridge universities as well as benefiting from amazing learning experiences at Geelong Grammar, Melbourne Uni and Melbourne Business School. I now give back my time to these organisations and we support organisations and events financially across the education sector, including EduGrowth. This is key to being a responsible corporate citizen in a sector largely funded by government and taxpayers.
But even more important has been, and will continue to be, our support of First Nations education and their organisations here in Australia. Part of our Reconciliation Action Plan is the support we provide through pro-bono or low-fee advice and funding of Aurora Education Foundation, Lowitja Institute and Abstarr Consulting, as well as designing and developing new learning experiences cognizant of indigenous ways of knowing at the University of Sydney.
Through giving back, we not only further our mission statement to deliver learning for a changing world, but we continue to learn and grow ourselves. We play our part in a virtuous circle, whereby lifting each other up elevates us all.
It has been a great five years and I’m thankful to my colleagues, my family and friends who helped make it happen. We are only at the beginning of our journey. I’m looking forward to the next five years, and to uncovering all the challenges and learning it holds.
Author: Dr David Bowser, CEO & Founder of Curio.