On the show this week we have Filipe Pereira and Mario Frade from Crowdclass, a web3 protocol for online education using the power of blockchain, tokenization, composability and the metaverse to create new monetization models for online educators, and better learning environments for students to grow and develop.
Crowdclass are the third of ten founding teams forming the Launchpool Web3 Techstars Accelerator Class of 2022 that we’ve got on the show over the next few months.
In this episode, we talk to Filipe and Mario about how the crisscrossing of their lives and careers with that of their co-founder (and CTO) Bruno Costa has resulted in the funding of Crowdclass, the shortcomings of the online education experience today for learners, teachers and content creators, the longer-term vision for Crowdclass, and how Crowdclass will get to market in 2022.
This episode of MoneyNeverSleeps is sponsored by Philip Lee, one of Ireland’s fastest-growing corporate law firms and expert advisors at the heart of the Dublin and London start-up, fintech and crypto communities.
Filipe Pereira on driving his passion for education into web3:
“When I finished college, I founded a small startup delivering non-formal education, training and workshops for youth - it was called GetSkilled - that's how my passion for education started.”
“Later on, I moved into the corporate world as a consultant and trainer for a couple of years for KPMG, but then I felt the need to go back to the startup world with Hillgate in London.
“When I moved back to Portugal, I continued to work on startups. I was leading sales at Prodsmart where I scaled the team and revenue up to $1 million ARR. At some point in all of this, I started to get more and more curious about the world of crypto and web3, and I moved into Bepro.
“Bepro is a web3 protocol for decentralized software development, and I was the Head of Ecosystem. That role brought me deep down the rabbit hole of web3. At some point in all of this, I met up with Mario and Bruno again and laid the foundation for getting started on our own project.
Mario Frade on his reunion with Filipe Pereira and Bruno Costa to found Crowdclass together:
“During my 10 years in marketing and sales, I always did quite a bit of corporate training inside these companies [such as Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Carlsberg] and also for other institutions and companies. I also had some strong connections to universities and did a bit of lecturing.”
“A few months after Filipe and I started talking again last year, I was quitting my job to move back to Iceland, and we started talking about web3. I already had some knowledge of web3, but he deepened my knowledge and we jumped into [Crowdclass with Bruno].”
Mario Frade on what’s making Crowdclass possible:
“We’re at the stage of our careers where we could do this, and we all wanted to do this at the same time. We all have this educational backbone inside of us and we all wanted to do something in web3. We suddenly had this opportunity to blend three things together: the deep education backbone from the past, this web3 knowledge and our business and marketing knowledge.
“I think it was the combination of these things plus the right levels of availability and maturity of the technologies, alongside the market interest that made a lot of sense for us to bet on Crowdclass now. Also, online education took a big leap during Covid in terms of its importance to society. There was a big mix of societal, environmental and personal factors that point to Crowdclass as the right thing for us to do now, and for us to try to make the world a better place in our own way.”
Filipe Pereira on Crowdclass’ main goal and intended outcomes:
“We're not the typical web3 native project, because we are trying to address real-world problems using web 3 as a backbone, and those problems exist in the online learning world. Our main goal is to build an e-learning ecosystem unlocking the world's learning potential and bring online education into web3.
“The outcomes will be better monetization for teachers, incentivized learning for students and financial access to provide education to underserved communities. These are the core goals for Crowdclass, and we want to use web3 to change education.”
Filipe Pereira on the real-world problems to solve with Crowdclass:
“There is a lot of disruption happening in e-learning because it’s a 15-20-year-old industry with some persistent issues. The first problem is very high instructor fees – some of the e-learning platforms have a 75% take rate in exchange for the distribution of courses for online instructors, which is absolutely huge.
“The second persistent issue is student engagement, which is incredibly low in e-learning - less than 10% of students finish the courses that they start. As we speak with more and more instructors and passionate teachers we’re finding that they really care about increasing the engagement of their students.
“Finally, when access to quality education becomes expensive, it is not accessible to that many people in the world. The original promise of online education was to provide educational access to everyone in the world. When we start gating courses at $500 or $1,000, then you're not really opening the doors of education for everyone in the world.”
Filipe Pereira on how the Crowdclass ecosystem will take shape:
“We have three main elements that we are envisioning for this ecosystem. The first is a decentralized protocol to distribute online courses with a token-based economy that's particularly designed to reduce the fees that we charge instructors to drive student acquisition and guarantee that there's a share of the benefit for the network growth among all users - kind of a user-owned learning network.
“The second element is an open app ecosystem to give tools for instructors to build what we call ‘web3-powered courses’, which are courses featuring gamification, learn-to-earn rewards, community learning and peer-to-peer learning. All of this is designed to drive engagement and incentivize positive behaviors in students.
“Our third element of this ecosystem is the creation of pools for direct funding by sponsors and benefactors in an open and transparent way. Many we’ve spoken with are interested in helping to finance education for others, but they prefer to do it in a transparent way. If you go through typical institutions, they are black boxes when it comes to how funds are distributed.
“This is what we envision for Crowdclass - it's a new ecosystem with web3 as a backbone but targeted on real world issues that are also worldwide issues.”
Mario Frade on the longer-term vision and introducing metaverse-enabled learning:
“We’ll always want the human factor to play a big role in education, and you can do that at true global scale in the metaverse, along with the social delights and social pressures of offline learning. This is something that we think the metaverse is uniquely positioned to do, and there's a level of composability that we will also introduce.
“For example, say I want to build a music school. Instead of creating these environments myself, one to teach guitar, one to teach music theory, and so on, why don’t I just curate those that others have created, and guide people through the environments. Then, a portion of the revenue I make flows back to the creators.
“We see Crowdclass as a mediator of this exchange of value, both on a financial level and on a learning level.”
Episode title inspired by ‘Reunited’ by Wu-Tang Clan
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