The Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University was bustling with energetic entrepreneurs taking phone calls and having endless meetings. Some people were focused intently on their computer screens, while others were gathered in a dark room, doing yoga.
Among the sea of people is Ron Glozman, 22, wearing a black T-shirt that says “hip-hop revolution.” One might not be able to tell at first, but this university dropout is the founder and CEO of a startup that just received several million dollars from the Rockefeller family, the largest investment into a Canadian company at this level. His company, Knote is a computer program that essentially “teaches computers how to read,” and started out as a way for him to avoid reading textbooks during exam week. This wunderkind is set on becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg and revolutionizing artificial intelligence.
However, Glozman’s immense success did not come without a fair amount of hardship. He moved to Canada from Israel when he was seven-years-old, and had to overcome the struggle of learning a third language, with his first two being Hebrew and Russian. After years of ESL classes and practise, Glozman hopes he “doesn’t still speak with an accent.”
When Glozman was around the age of 9, his best friend died in a car accident. The months succeeding the tragedy, he suffered from night terrors and developed an intense fear of dying without leaving an impact on the world. As he grew older, he became passionate about computer science and entrepreneurship, and even had his own startup in high school. It was a platform similar to SoundCloud that allowed indie artists to post their music for people to listen and download, and was intended to help indie artists. According to Glozman, this was a “relatively successful” startup, with over 100,000 plays.
Aside from his first startup, Glozman had a three “real” jobs before starting Knote, one of which involved selling things door-to-door. This is where he developed a lot of interpersonal skills and taught him how to face rejection, something that he believes is what greatly contributed to his success. “It’s one of the toughest jobs ever,” says Glozman, who estimates that he has knocked on over 10,000 doors throughout his life. “When someone slams the door in your face, it’s pretty polite compared to some of the other things I have experienced.” His early experiences working for other people led him to the conclusion that he needs to work for himself.
When it came time to choose a university, he opted to do a five-year double degree in computer science and business, between the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. However, for Glozman, who officially has the IQ of a “genius,” the pace of university-level courses was just too slow. In high school, he was put into advanced placement for many of his classes, and was named one of the top 50 computer programmers in Canada, for four years in a row. However, by the time he reached first year, he was already miles ahead of his classmates. His AP high school credits allowed him to skip some of the prerequisite first-year courses, but he felt ready to take on master’s level courses.
“I was gifted in school and I’ve always been a fast learner, but the school system doesn’t account for people like me,” says Glozman. “There’s no gifted program in university, I’m the same as every other kid, but I learn a little bit faster than every other kid. Something has to happen.” By second year, Glozman felt unchallenged and bored. He began to stop attending lectures and spent his weekends at the local karaoke bar.
As exams would creep up on him, he needed a way to get out of reading all of his textbooks, leading to the birth of Knote. He spent months developing the software, and taught himself all the programming. He posted it on the App Store, and for a while, things were quiet. However, seemingly overnight, after being rated the best app for students by Product Hunt, the biggest newspaper in Silicon Valley, Knote became a worldwide sensation. In that one night when this article came out, it got over 2000 sign-ups from 33 different countries and from 44 different universities.
As the company began to take off, Glozman was able to fundraise money and was accepted into an elite program called The Next 36, a Toronto-based program that is considered to be one of the top entrepreneurial accelerators. He believed this was a “once-in-lifetime opportunity” so he took a leave of absence to pursue his company, and he hasn’t looked back since.
Two and a half years later, Glozman’s company is going strong, and has pivoted from the student market, and is now mostly working with insurance companies and government documents, creating programs that teach computers how to read important documents and build reports based on this information.
“Right now, I’m revolutionizing artificial intelligence, and the way we read books. I’m helping people work better, since our company motto is ‘work smart, not hard,’” says Glozman. “The people who use our technology are people who work overtime, who don’t get to see their families and spouses, and we’re going to help solve that.”
Glozman intends on becoming the world’s youngest billionaire, and despite his confidence and high IQ, he reveals that even he has doubts about his abilities. “The best way to deal with doubts is to just push on,” says Glozman. “The biggest thing that drives me to be an entrepreneur is making an impact, because when I die, I want to live on through my accomplishments.”