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Barry Kayton and Patrick Kayton

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Barry Kayton and Patrick Kayton
Cognician | 
Year Selected
Jobs 2012
Revenue Increase 2011 - 2012
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Company Snapshot

Cognician provides scalable, chat-based learning solutions designed to develop people’s expertise. Cognician is a platform and an app that gets you thinking by leading you with expert questions. Questions are packaged in applets called cogs. You can get free and pro cogs from Cognician.com or the company can develop cogs to suit your needs.

Specialising in people development software, Cognician offers an interactive solution to medium and large companies that seek an effective, scalable method for coaching employees. Cognician’s clients and partners choose to work with them because the experience of using the software is the closest thing you’ll find online to the experience of having a personal chat with a coach or mentor.

Cognician's proprietary cloud-based software helps users at these firms explore a topic through a question-and-answer process. Cognician works with its clients and partners to adapt their intellectual property into a chat-based medium, providing an interactive platform and customised content.

Natives of Cape Town, brothers Barry and Patrick Kayton each received a degree in literature from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 1992 and 1999 respectively. Barry went on to receive a postgraduate diploma in advertising, marketing, and copywriting in 1993 while Patrick gained experience in teaching and publishing.

In 2000, they decided to pursue a shared interest in education and entrepreneurship by founding Bright Sparks, a company that designed and produced educational games for schools and NGOs. Despite producing successful products, which have been used by more than 18 000 educators and 485 000 students, Bright Sparks’ one-time revenue model hindered its ability to scale.

The idea behind Cognician manifested in 2006 after a day-long seminar on creative thinking, conducted by Barry at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. One student exclaimed that he had learned more through Barry's question-and-answer method than through a five-day workshop on the same topic and this set the brothers thinking. It was, however, only in 2008 that Barry and Patrick were able to fully pursue the project, which led to the hiring of Robert Stuttaford, the Chief Technical Officer who developed the product until it was ready for sales in July 2010.

In addition to working with direct clients, Cognician works with partners, including professional development consultancies, to develop and sell bundles of cogs to multiple clients through a revenue share model.

Since its founding, Cognician’s chat-based method has helped to develop people at some of the top firms across southern Africa, including Dimension Data, Allan Gray and Telkom.

Barry and Patrick have proven that they can strategically navigate an evolving business landscape. In 2010, the company was named one of the top 11 new start-ups at the TechCrunch Europa Awards. Access to mentors with expertise in growth strategies and international expansion is crucial as Cognician negotiates global partnerships and seeks to reach the next level of growth. With Endeavor's support, Cognician could multiply its impact on organisations and their most valued asset: their people.