Diane Janknegt on why she's expanding to India instead of the US

As one of the Netherlands’ most exciting education technology scaleups, Wizenoze was a perfect fit with the Rise programme. Wizenoze CEO Diane Janknegt had spent over a decade at Microsoft Benelux before starting her entrepreneurial journey. She left the industry giant with a wealth of experience and a determination to focus it on something that would have a global impact.

That something was Wizenoze – a software platform that weeds out internet misinformation, providing learners with trustworthy educational content. Wizenoze uses artificial intelligence algorithms to filter out the noise, then categorises each piece of content so students can easily find what they need based on age and reading level. Specifically, Wizenoze sells an API to education businesses and counts the likes of Pearson, Plantyn, Consortium and Onlineklas among its clients.

Diane’s mission to clean up the internet for learners around the globe brought her to Rise, where she joined as part of the programme’s very first batch. ‘There are lots of accelerator and mentor programmes for startups,’ she explains, ‘but that wasn’t what we wanted. We were focused on growing the business really fast, and Rise was specifically about growth for scaleups. It was the perfect programme for us.’

The coronavirus pandemic really united the first batch of Rise programme entrepreneurs, as they learned together from the challenges it presented. It affected different businesses in very different ways. For Wizenoze, COVID-19 was a catalyst that sparked yet more growth. ‘Everything changed the moment 1.5 billion students were suddenly stuck at home,’ says Diane. ‘The world realised that it needed to change the way we educate children.’


We’re really excited to get to work. We need to have our eye on the ball, but in a year or two this could outperform everything that we do.

Diane Janknegt, Founder @Wizenoze

Diane was already looking at a potential fundraise, but the impact of the Rise mentors and entrepreneurs pushed her to set her targets much higher. ‘Rise puts you in front of role models – people who have done all the things you want to do,’ she says. ‘Having all these founders drive home the importance of thinking bigger and taking more initiative, it’s very inspiring and it makes everything feel more tangible.

Armed with inspiration and fantastic technology, Diane ended up doubling her initial fundraising expectations and joined forces with an investor who has helped Wizenoze expand into India. Diane has always been a great proponent of the potential offered by the Indian market, particularly for ed-tech businesses. ‘If you look at the world and analyse where we should be with our technology, India ticks all the boxes,’ she says. ‘It’s a huge English-speaking market, and education is at the heart and centre of what they do – the spending on education is ridiculous compared to GDP! The willingness to go the extra mile in new technology is there too'.

The default setting of Dutch entrepreneurs is to look to the US,’ she adds, ‘but if you look at what's happening in the east, all the numbers outperform the US. I really think that innovation is going to come from there.’ Consequently, the Dutch government has awarded Wizenoze a grant for new education pilot schemes in India. ‘I just approached them to see if there was anything we could do,’ Diane says. ‘They explained that there’s a grant to do some testing – the grant lets us hire a few people to manage the pilot schemes, and the pilots all transfer into license agreements when they are successful'. 

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