Who we are and what we stand for

EdgeMakers: Empowering young innovators to change the world.

We are a young yet global company based in San Francisco that seeks to amplify the creativity and sense of purpose of this generation. We believe that all young people can  become powerful innovators and make a difference in the world, and we want to empower them to do so. We help students seek the “edge” – the competitive edge, the edge between traditional and new practices and disciplines, and the edge between what presently “is” and what is possible. The idealism of the young is one of the planet’s greatest untapped resources.

We believe today’s rising generation of young people have a moral perspective and a desire to do good that EdgeMakers can provide the tools for expressing. They need patient guides who can show them “how to” and provide the encouragement that in turn engenders the belief that they can do it.

We want to make the extraordinary ordinary.

What is EdgeMaking?

EdgeMaking is a unique learning system that is available both in the classroom and to self-directed learners on mobile/internet platforms.  It presents an integrated portfolio of disciplines meant to increase the employability of young people, as well as their ability to succeed in life.

We also equip young people for an increasingly global and technology-mediated world –  one that prizes an ability to be proactive and to couple innovation and entrepreneurship to purpose. What we call edge capacities require an ability to grasp the nature of our changing world and exercise judgment.  They require practice and continual development and cannot be reduced to a simple set of skills that can be read from a book and tested on an exam.

Plant, Grow, Harvest

At the core of EdgeMakers is our model of “Plant, Grow, and Harvest.”

Plant refers to the germination of seeds that then grow if enabling conditions are set in place to yield a harvest that has value for someone. EdgeMaking is a process of generating ideas directed towards some worthy purpose (plant), cultivating and developing those ideas (grow) and realizing the value from those ideas by deploying them in the real world (harvest).

Are you an EdgeMaker?

EdgeMakers are “dreamers who do” – they are artists with a purpose.  They are designers, innovators and entrepreneurs. They want to make a difference in the world now – not only after having earned a university degree or influential career. EdgeMakers care about the planet and the people in it, and know there are “wicked problems” and “un-Google-able questions” that need tackling, and they are not afraid to make that bold step. An EdgeMaker understands that we are shifting from a knowledge economy to a creative economy – and that students need to prepare for industries, careers, and political and economic models that do not yet exist.

What will it take to succeed in this world –  to have an impact, to make a mark, to find meaning and fulfillment? A set of capacities is required: These include the ability to harness and manage personal creativity and the creativity of others; communicate effectively and with empathy; be a pro-active catalyst and change-maker; generate fresh approaches to existing problems, innovate and create new sources of value; think and behave entrepreneurially; collaborate with a diverse, global, ever-changing array of partners, and cultivate the emotional intelligence needed to lead and inspire.

What we do

Our Curriculum

Our  highly integrated, adaptable curriculum for both secondary school and higher education begins with our foundational course on Creativity and Innovation and continues with master courses in Storytelling and ChangeMaking, Design, Character and Collaboration, Digital Fluency, Entrepreneurship and Startups, and Sustainability and Innovation. Our founder, John Kao, dubbed “Mr. Creativity” by The Economist ),  has spent the past thirty years focused on innovation and entrepreneurship as an educator, practitioner, and activist. During his fourteen years on the Harvard Business School faculty, John created breakthrough courses in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

The EdgeMakers pedagogy is shaped by the Character Strengths of an EdgeMakers student. Our approach is inquiry-based because EdgeMakers are curious, inquisitive problem-finders. It is project-based and challenge-based because EdgeMakers are innovative and strategic. Each lesson involves working in a team, because Edgemakers are collaborative, empathetic, and need to be resilient.  But EdgeMakers are also purposeful and seek to integrate diverse bodies of knowledge and experience, so the courses provide many opportunities for personal exploration and self-reflection.

EdgeMakers explore “epic questions” – those deeper, open-ended, often controversial, questions that cannot be easily answered. They see so-called “wicked problems” – complex and apparently insoluble challenges – as opportunities for creative change, and work collaboratively to tackle them.

Learn more about our curriculum

Our Community

EdgeMakers is more than a curriculum – it’s a movement. Our community is growing in North and South America, Asia, and Europe. The relevance and flexibility of our courses allows for customization to our clients’ needs – whether it be a Middle School student  in Brazil or India,  a High School student New York, or a University student in Colombia. Join us in our social media network of EdgeMakers.  We benefit from a global network of partnerships with government agencies, ngo’s and companies that enable such innovative offerings as summer internships at the University of Arizona’s BioSphere as well as a range of sponsored programs. 


Meet the Team



John Kao
Founder + CEO

John founded EdgeMakers because he is convinced that the passion and talent of teenagers is one of the most underutilized resources on the planet. He’s been working in the field of innovation for thirty years and is excited about sharing his knowledge with young people worldwide.

John has not had a conventional, linear career. One way to know this is through his many nicknames. He was called Mr. Creativity by The Economist, and the “innovation sherpa” by the US government because of his emphasis on getting innovation done. He himself prefers the nickname “innovation activist.”

Although he’s done many things, there has been a common theme: how to cultivate creativity, drive it through entrepreneurship to make things happen. He was a Harvard Business School professor for 14 years and launched the innovation curriculum there. He started the Institute for Large Scale Innovation in 2008 because of the need for a global network of innovation leaders; representatives to the Institute now come from over 40 countries. He’s been a professional musician who apprenticed to rock legend Frank Zappa and last year was made Yamaha’s first-ever “artist in innovation.” He’s advised numerous governments and companies on innovation strategy. And he’s been a best selling author – Jamming – the Art and Discipline of Business Creativity and Innovation Nation, as well as a Tony nominated producer of film and stage.

His education was equally diverse. John got a BA from Yale in philosophy and behavioral sciences, an MBA with a concentration in entrepreneurship from Harvard Business School, and an MD focused on psychiatry and social medicine from Yale Medical School.

In short, John is the original EdgeMaker, always looking for the edge that links different fields together and that locates opportunities in between what exists and what is possible.



Thais Alencar
VP Program Management

Thais is an award winning information architect with more than 12 years of experience in the interactive industry. Thais has worked on several high profile projects, many of them financial and academic institutions. Her work includes the redesign of the University of Phoenix digital presence, Bank of America’s online banking system, and Charles Schwab’s billing and enrollment systems. Thais also served as the lead information architect for clients like Crown Imports, Lego, and Visa.



Small Kat Pic

Kathleen Horgan
Design + Media Chief

Kathleen is a recognizable element to the team being the first employee to help lift up EdgeMakers. Kathleen has her BS in Visual Communication Design, her experience in graphic design, photography, and video production has led her to gain industry insight by working with production companies around the Bay Area, Stanford University, America’s Got Talent, Prudential CA Realty, I Am Sound Records, Creativity Explored, non-profits, and many more at a young age.

Kathleen’s eagerness to make a difference in the world is what keeps her motivated to excel and pursue great lengths in her lifetime.



Ramit Bhatnagar

Ramit Bhatnagar

Country Manager India

Ramit is responsible for developing the India market for EdgeMakers. Ramit got a Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. Ramit has management consulting experience with McKinsey and Company. Ramit was selected as a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum in 2012.