‘Two for one’ convocation address inspires students to build relationships and solve problems

During the convocation ceremonies of the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, students and guests heard from not just one keynote speaker, but two. College alumni Ketan and Manish Kothari have successfully founded two companies in the field of educational technology—AlphaSmart and Root-1. Currently, they both oversee sales, marketing and growth at Edmodo Global Network, a leading social learning platform.

Both brothers recounted stories that demonstrated the values they found to be important in their careers and their lives.

Ketan began by telling his story of first coming to BYU from Mumbai, India. Having arrived in the middle of Christmas break to the freezing and deserted dorms, he joked that it was a good thing he did not have a roundtrip ticket to India or else his life would have turned out much differently.

The moral of Ketan’s tale is how important it is to build and maintain lasting relationships. He recognized just how many successes in his life had been the result of good relationships. His decision to come to BYU had been encouraged by a family friend from Utah. He landed his first job out of college in large part because of a friend from BYU. That same friend went on to become Ketan’s business partner in starting AlphaSmart. From start to finish, Ketan recognized how the relationships he had made along the way enabled his success.

Ketan closed his remarks by telling graduates, “Today you have more tools, including email and social media, to keep in touch with all your friends and your network—I would definitely recommend as you move to new communities, building new friendships there to keep your old, long-term friendships and relationships strong as well, it can only help you as you progress.”

Manish began his story where his brother had left off. After their first company had been acquired, they had time to reflect, travel and spend time with family. It was at this point in his life that Manish realized just how much support and sacrifice they had from family and friends in building up their first company.

“Don’t forget that support—you will need it,” Manish advised. “Remember then to give support to those who are supporting you.”

It wasn’t long before the brothers began searching out other business opportunities. They considered a variety of industries—including the shampoo business—before deciding that they still wanted to be involved with education.

Although they knew it wouldn’t be easy, the brothers were excited about making an impact in learning outcomes. They were inspired by Kailash Satyarthi. Because of his work for children’s rights and having saved over 80,000 children, Satyarthi received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

The Kothari brothers were motivated by the words of Satyarthi, “I would be restless if I couldn’t change another child’s life.” It was this dedication to doing good which inspired the Kothari brothers to continue working in the education industry and make a lasting impact.

 “In your respective journeys, as you look ahead, there will be many, many problems,” Manish concluded. “But you’re engineers; there will be many more solutions to those problems.”

He then invited the students to ponder the question, “What will make you restless, and what problems will you solve?”

Ketan Kothari received his BS in electrical engineering as well as an MBA from BYU. Manish Kothari also earned his BS in electrical engineering from BYU before continuing on to receive his MS in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Both Ketan and Manish are currently part of the executive team at Edmodo. Used in 190 countries by 64 million users, the company is the world’s leading K-12 social learning platform. The Kotharis co-founded two other companies, AlphaSmart and Root-1, making Edmodo the third successful company in the education technology industry they have been a part of.

The Kotharis’ full remarks at the convocation can be heard here.

Convocation Details

The engineering convocation ceremonies were April 22, 2016 in the Smith Fieldhouse at 11 a.m. The School of Technology’s convocation was held at 2 p.m. that same day in the Wilkinson Student Center.

Ketan and Manish Kothari were the keynote speakers at both ceremonies. The student speaker for the engineering convocation was Ryan Egbert, a civil and environmental engineering student. Egbert’s remarks can be heard here. Kymberly Stone performed a piano solo of Beautiful Savior arranged by Jim Kasen.

Robert Jackson of the Information Technology program was the student speaker at the School of Technology’s ceremony. Brian Capt, Construction and Facilities Management faculty, performed a vocal solo of Impossible Dream arranged by Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh. He was accompanied by Reese Larson of the Marriott School.

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