What is Naiku?

Since I started telling people that I founded Naiku with Corey and Kevin, the first thing people always ask is “What’s Naiku?” I’m always happy to tell them that naiku means “teacher” in Lao.

I’m originally from Laos, and am always proud to talk to people about this small nation in southeast Asia. My parents moved my family to the US in 1980, of course in the middle of a cold Minnesota winter. It was quite a shock to go from a warm tropical climate of Laos to the frozen tundra of Minnesota. In Laos, both of my parents were teachers. Like many Asian parents, they stressed the importance of education to their children. Being educators but immigrants in a strange land, they viewed education as the only way for their children to not only assimilate, but to “get ahead.”

I took this to heart. I worked hard in school. I can say that I’ve probably been in school for 30 of my 37 years. I have a bachelors from UC Davis, a masters and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University (where I did research on metacognition, memory systems, student problem solving skills and their learning strategies), and an MBA from the University of Minnesota. I have about as many initials after my name as there are letters in my last name (do you see my last name?). I went to school not to get degrees, but to learn and to teach. I’ve taught or teach undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Minnesota, and various state and private institutions. I guess I could be called a school-rat, if there is such a term. I think the proper term may be nerd. But I prefer to call myself a life-long student and educator.

The reason why I co-founded Naiku is that being an educator, I truly want to help other educators and students. In my professional career, I’ve worked at the Minnesota Department of Education and many of the large “high-stakes” test providers. While I was impacting teachers and students, it was in an indirect way. I want to impact teachers and students in a more direct way.

I want to help create tools that help make the testing and learning process better and more effective for both the teachers and the students. That’s why I’m so excited about the tools we’re building at Naiku. They are designed to help teachers become better educators and students better learners. That’s what a teacher does. That’s what Naiku is built to do.

I am Naiku, are you?

Adisack Nhouyvanisvong, PhD
Naiku, Inc.
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