Knowcations : Revolutionizing Knowledge Management

This week, we had the privilege of sitting down with Ulrich Schmitt, the visionary founder of Knowcations. In this exclusive interview, he walked us through his remarkable entrepreneurial journey, which saw him transition from a consultant, professor, and his academic management career to being the driving force behind a groundbreaking knowledge management system in Mauritius. Join us as we delve into his extraordinary story, one that is reshaping productivity by harnessing the power of a digital platform for knowledge co-creation. 

Who is Ulrich Schmitt, and what is Knowcations? 

Ulrich Schmitt, a German-born entrepreneur, brings a wealth of experience spanning diverse domains: engineering, IT, management, consulting, and education. Presently, he holds the title of Professor Extraordinaire at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. 

Knowcations is a novel Digital Platform Ecosystem and Community for collaborative Knowledge Co-creation that provides effective tools for selecting, structuring, personalizing, and making sense of the vast amounts of digital resources available to us.   

What is the story behind Knowcations? 

Originally conceived as a personalized Knowledge Management System to support my consulting, scholarly, and managerial responsibilities, I soon recognized a pervasive issue amidst the information overload of the internet age. The absence of a structured mechanism to make sense of this abundance prompted a shift in perspective. I became convinced of the necessity to adapt and broaden the system’s scope to address these emerging needs—my vision extended beyond personal utility. I aimed to empower individuals to enhance their productivity by effectively organizing their work. My transition from an academic and science research background to entrepreneurship represents a pivotal step toward realizing this aspiration. 

What challenges have you faced within the entrepreneurial journey? 

I embrace challenges in all aspects of my life and make it a personal habit to venture into the unknown unknowns. This approach allows me to continuously engage in experiences that test my abilities and encourage personal growth. In the context of building this platform, I have encountered a multitude of challenges. 

One significant challenge has been the extensive effort required to author approximately fifty publications on the topic. This endeavor was undeniably demanding. Furthermore, given the novelty of the idea, there were no reference systems to facilitate its implementation. Consequently, I had to construct the necessary logic and logistics from the ground up. This process extended into the formative stages more than initially expected, emphasizing the complexity of the undertaking. 

What is your long-term goal? 

My overarching aim is to enhance our support for the expanding creative class of lifelong learners and knowledge workers, aligning with the innovation goals of knowledge-based economies in a sustainable manner. This mission drives our aspiration to elevate Knowcations into the leading knowledge-sharing platform. 

What lessons have you picked so far within the entrepreneurial journey that you think would be important for all aspiring entrepreneurs, especially in Mauritius, to know? 

Based on my experiences working in both academic institutions and various organizations, I’ve come to recognize the paramount importance of continuous learning. Upon arriving in Mauritius, I encountered significant differences, particularly in language and terminologies, which were essential for gaining the broad acceptance I sought for my idea. Adapting to this new environment demanded a considerable amount of learning and, equally importantly, unlearning. 

Furthermore, I’d like to emphasize the significance of humility for entrepreneurs. It’s essential not to be overly confident in the belief that you are creating the next groundbreaking innovation. Instead, humility lies in the ability to articulate how your product or service genuinely benefits customers and addresses specific issues within your target audience. 

Additionally, I encourage entrepreneurs to surround themselves with like-minded individuals—fellow entrepreneurs and mentors, just to mention a few. This kind of network is invaluable, as it provides a sense of camaraderie, fosters shared learning experiences and mitigates the solitude often associated with entrepreneurial journeys. Together, you can share experiences and learn together, alleviating the sense of isolation that often accompanies the entrepreneurial journey, making it less daunting and more rewarding.