Making the Complex, Simple: Mumshad Mannambeth

Meet the creator of a smooth, accessible learning platform helping upskill software engineers.

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero

In 2018, Mumshad Mannambeth published his first online course. “My goal was to make complex DevOps technologies simple and easy to understand,” he says, referring to the engineering methodology of software developers and operations so crucial to a strong tech workforce. In other words, he set out along his purpose of helping engineers upskill. He soon developed a learning platform to provide hands-on trainings on various DevOps, Automation and Cloud Computing technologies—and in July 2019, he launched KodeKloud to provide an immersive learning experience to students all over the world. “We focus on creating interactive and hands-on trainings that make learning a fun activity,” says Mumshad. With courses at kodekloud.com and explanatory videos, Mumshad himself does quite a bit of instruction himself. 

The key to achieving this goal of immersive learning to students worldwide was the seamless integration between video lectures and hands-on labs. He didn’t want the students to just learn the theory, but to truly understand the technology through practice. His students recognized these efforts. By July 2021, KodeKloud reached 200,000 students. Over 750,000 students around the world have taken his courses.

‘We focus on creating interactive and hands-on trainings that make learning a fun activity.’

During this period of fast growth, he built a team of dedicated experts who helped KodeKloud become what it is today: a smooth, easily accessible and affordable educational platform that helps students become DevOps experts. In 2022, as part of The EdTech Awards from EdTech Digest, KodeKloud earned a Cool Tool Award (finalist) for “Best Professional Skills Solution,” was a Trendsetter Award (finalist), and Mumshad Mannambeth was named Winner of The EdTech Leadership Award for founder/ceo in the startup category. 

What prompted you to first get involved with education and technology?

I’ve always loved teaching. I first learned to code in college while helping my classmates solve bugs in their code. I learned, early on, that teaching helps me get better at technology. I’ve also been an engineer through my career and enjoyed creating apps and tools. I guess it’s my love for technology and passion for teaching that got me involved with edtech.

What prompted you to found your company—what problem were you trying to solve?

Technical education is taught in an unengaging/uninspiring way in schools and colleges. Our teachers shared their screen and typed in commands on a terminal demonstrating concepts. Most of us slept through these sessions. I knew there was a better way with shorter, more engaging videos and longer hands-on training approach. That led to developing a hands-on learning platform which is now KodeKloud.   

‘I knew there was a better way with shorter, more engaging videos and longer hands-on training approach.’

How have you managed your growth, what’s been key?

We have enjoyed a lot of organic growth from the beginning. Our users reacted positively to the content we create and the learning experience we built for them. Courses shared on YouTube channels and popular MOOC platforms helped us gain visibility in the initial stage. The key factor has been word-of-mouth. 

Congrats on your big win from The EdTech Awards! What does an honor like this mean for you and your team?

I am pleased to have received this honor and I’d like to thank The EdTech Awards for this recognition. It’s great to be recognized of course, for the hard work that we’ve put in, and the challenges that we’ve overcome. However, more than anything – I believe it speaks volumes to the trust, passion, and commitment that each and every individual in our team have invested by buying into our vision to change how DevOps is taught.

What key lessons from your past inform your current success?  

One thing we didn’t do early on is not having enough conversations with our users. Getting everyone from our team to have those conversations in person is one thing we are doing today. The insights we gain from these conversations helped us stay relevant and build our platform to their needs.

Another key takeaway that we’ve learnt and are continuously working on is culture. We’ve created a culture where the best ideas win. We have open communications across departments, and shared common goals among the members. In the early days of KodeKloud, when it was just myself and a few other people, culture and communications were not an issue. However I quickly realized that a fast expanding team needed the right culture in order to grow the right way. I think this was fortunately one of the things that we did right when we formed our team.

‘Another key takeaway that we’ve learnt and are continuously working on is culture. We’ve created a culture where the best ideas win.’

It’s been a wild ride these last few years. Broadly speaking, what is the state of education today?

I think it’s exciting and inspiring. I firmly believe that the next stage of education is in good hands.

What makes you say that?

We have so many talented and bright people constantly trying to make the education landscape better, be it by coming up with innovative, disruptive, edtech or by incorporating technology into peripheral educational services and management. Even at a policymakers level, we have seen many countries adopting technology early in mainstream education. The free exchange of information has further allowed for unlimited access to education resources at the students’ fingertips. All it takes is just one’s eagerness to learn.

What’s tech’s role in education? How about your company’s efforts with this?

Technology had given almost all human endeavor a leg-up, and in education it is no different. KodeKloud has been very clear on our vision and mission from the get-go. We see the pain of mundane, uninspiring learning process in IT, and we want to change that. The technology is of course key in helping us create the environment in which students can learn, experiment, practice, and be inspired. KodeKloud’s effort is simply making use of technology to create meaningful learning experiences.

‘We see the pain of mundane, uninspiring learning process in IT, and we want to change that. The technology is of course key in helping us create the environment in which students can learn, experiment, practice, and be inspired.’

What’s ahead for education—trends to watch? any you are setting?

I’m not sure if technology adoption can be considered a trend anymore, I think it has already happened for the last few years. Perhaps a relatively new development that we do see is an evolution in the demographic of learners. Education used to be K-12 and higher education, but it slowly evolved to include professionals who’d want a career change or serious improvements in qualifications, such as getting an expensive MBA.

There is now a third, very large group of people that are looking to continuously acquire less formal but specific, technical skills. The skills learnt here would often be able to help them perform better at their jobs, and potentially improve pay scales. We believe this is a growing trend especially in an increasing digital world where educational resources are readily available.

At KodeKloud, we have had students come back to us saying that having mastered a specific DevOps tool from our platform, they have successfully doubled their salary. These are the inspirational user stories that keep us inspired and excited in the future of education and KodeKloud.

Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: [email protected]

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