The Polygon community hosted Forward Protocol co-founders Mr. KEY and Mitch in an AMA session on 13th October 2021. The AMA goes into great depth on the inspiration behind Forward Protocol and its role in revolutionizing the education sector using blockchain technology and since we know you just can’t get enough of our inspiring co-founders, here’s the gist of it.
The Inspiration Behind Forward Protocol
The co-founders have a perfect mix of Blockchain Tech, Blockchain Marketing, Education, Business, Growth Hacking, and Product Development experience.
Mitch lives on the East Coast of South Africa and has a background in international businesses, mainly in the property sector. Some of his investments include the Hollywood Circle, The Circ, and the Protea Hotel. He has also made significant contributions to Children in Distress, a community-business NPO.
Mitch provides great insight into how his journey to co-founding Forward Protocol started. He says that the idea was born right after taking 10 years off to homeschool his two kids and travel. This period gave him first-hand experience on the benefits and challenges of online education.
For starters, he realized there is no one-size-fits-all approach best for the students — both of his kids needed different learning styles to get the best from their education. Therefore, he had to match them with the right teachers and curriculum.
Most importantly, he also had to create an incentive reward system for them. When he got this right, they excelled — his daughter finished high school 2 years ahead of her peers.
This experience, and the extra push from Peter Diamandis’ book “Bold” challenging him to create a business that could solve a grand challenge of humanity, led to the birth of Forward Protocol. He would create a platform that could impact 1 billion people positively by helping them have a better learning experience. Forward Protocol would connect them with experts that could solve challenges they had at a local level.
KEY’s background story is equally incredible. Born in India, KEY started his first business at the age of 14. This was right after dropping out after his 10th grade and despite passing it with 97.5% and turning down a scholarship for further studies.
KEY has been running a Marketing Agency for the last 15 years and has worked with Fortune 100 brands like CISCO, AJC, etc. He is also the founder of KEY Difference Media, one of the top 3 blockchain marketing agencies and the oldest in the space with a 350+ member team. The marketing agency has worked with Ledger and Yahoo and has raised $550M+ for 100s of blockchain projects.
KEY has worked with most of the top 10 crypto media and is well connected with influencers, launchpads, exchanges, and all parties in this space.
KEY has been challenging the current education system from the 2nd grade — the repetitive homework didn’t go down well with this young and ambitious entrepreneur. His childhood passion was to reform how we learn, study and grow as a community, hence the birth of Forward Protocol.
Forward Protocol: the Learning Blockchain Ecosystem
Mitch is quite enthusiastic about how Forward Protocol will help more people access quality education worldwide. He explains how Covid 19 has pushed most educational institutions to work online, positively pushing the EdTech space ahead.
With online education as the new normal, Mitch believes blockchain adoption is the next inevitable step to solving online education problems.
Forward Protocol aims to create a decentralized educational environment. It will give students access to the best education and teaching experts. On the other hand, experts will have global opportunities and revenue potential. A decentralized educational environment can level the playing field for everyone on earth.
Mitch goes on to explain how Forward Protocol breaks barriers;
Imagine how an expert can charge $10 per student a month and teach 1000 students across the globe and make $10,000 a month, earning more than they currently do, while the cost to students is lower than they would pay because of the economies of scale.
Therefore, people from anywhere can hire any expert. Besides, since experts will work with a larger audience, they will make it affordable for more students.
With Forward Protocol, what people achieve in life is no longer solely determined by their place of birth, gender, religious beliefs, disabilities or cultural orientation.
Forward Protocol Integrates EdTech with Blockchain
So how does EdTech integrate with blockchain? Mitch states that most companies are aware of blockchain and will try to venture into the space in the future. The same applies to the EdTech sector as well. However, the challenge is the cost, technical knowledge and experience, as well as the time it takes to build an application and get it to market.
Forward Protocol reduces the barrier to entry in the blockchain space for any organization in the Edtech sector. KEY adds that thanks to Forward Protocol, developers will not have to spend millions on developing their own protocol. The technology will be a fully open-source, customizable blockchain solution that any developer can just deploy on their platform.
The protocol is modular, so any organization in the education space can use whichever module they need to make their platform functional. Besides, you can customize the UI for branding and visit Forward Factory to set the settings for the smart contracts and deploy them (like Token Factory). With Forward Protocol, developers can run their standalone application in a matter of hours rather than weeks and months.
Just like DeFi, the DeEd revolution will bring many new participants into the space, creating new tools for the EdTech sector to grow. In addition, all of these participants will be able to build on top of the Forward Protocol architecture and toolkits.
Forward Protocol as the WordPress of EdTech
Mitch states that Forward Protocol’s goal is to pioneer a new paradigm that will change how the world learns: Decentralized Education (DeEd). Moreover, KEY claims that they envision developing Forward Protocol as a “WordPress”-like model. Hence, any EdTech app developer, expert, or entity can install an open-source application pre-integrated with Forward Protocol and $FORWARD tokens.
KEY explains that Forward Protocol will be layered, dividing each segment of the EdTech industry into multiple smart contracts. Any EdTech dApp deploying Forward Protocol can use the Forward Factory to create customized smart contracts with easy UI/UX and deploy them. They will also set fees percentage, turn features on/off, and set terms/policies.
Forward Protocol’s architecture currently features 5 core smart contracts:
- Proof of Value-Delivered
- Proof of Value
- Distributed Reward/Revenue Sharing
- Proof of Ownership
- Initial Knowledge Offering (IKO)
That said, Forward Protocol has plenty of other features to explore.
You can check out how each of the smart contracts works in Forward Protocol’s whitepaper with examples: https://whitepaper.forwardprotocol.io/4.-english-forwards-deployment#the-5-core-smart-contracts
Also, check out videos explaining the same on Forward Protocol’s YouTube Channel; https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsXXdemjff0tnYMMRfom4rg
Management and Revenue Streams to Sustain Forward Protocol’s Ecosystem
KEY explains that the protocol’s ecosystem is managed with developers contributing to the Forward Factory — where smart contract templates are customized — on one side and platforms integrating and deploying on the other side. The platforms will onboard users to their application, which will grow the underlying Forward Protocol’s user base.
Besides, like any business, Forward Protocol will require revenue streams to remain sustainable. Both KEY and Mitch explain that there will be a percentage of fees for all smart contract services. For example, suppose someone uses an escrow service with the Proof of Value — Delivered model. In that case, Forward Protocol will charge a small fee for all transactions (decided on each independent use case and volume metrics).
Additionally, each of the 5 smart contracts will have a “fee” that will act as a scalable revenue model with added integration partners, each with its own growing user base.
Partners integrating Forward Protocol have to buy tokens from the market to reward their users. What’s more, all smart contracts deployed by the protocol’s integration partners are programmed to acquire tokens from the open market as necessary to reward their users. As a result, this will increase the growing demand for $FORWARD.
With the millions of users in the protocol’s partner ecosystems, this revenue will be far higher than most protocols out there to sustain a long-term model of growth.
Forward Protocol’s Major Milestones
Mitch explains that Forward Protocol’s unique architecture and real use case has helped establish strong partnerships and an actual user base. Some notable mentions include Polygon, MahaDAO, Unilend in the crypto community, and Oxford, Cambridge, and Singularity University in the EdTech space.
The ecosystem has also partnered with their genesis deployment partner, English Forward — a 19+ years old platform that has served 310M+ users.
Polygon recently awarded Forward Protocol a grant to recognize the platform’s fostering of a decentralized learning system. Mitch states the grant will build and maintain the Forward Protocol infrastructure to make learning accessible to every learner globally.
Forward Protocol has also been awarded as one of the best startups in the European Union.
Regarding the protocol’s future, Mitch states that as of September 2021, they had already completed their private round. They onboarded reputable investors such as AU21 Capital, MEXC (Exchange), ZBS Capital (CryptoDiffer), X21, MarketAcross, Magnus Capital, Darkpool Capital, Tokenova, Ardura Capital, Utopian Capital, and Octopus Capital.
What’s more, the developers plan to implement Forward Protocol in English Forward. They already launched the private beta version of the first integration in June 2021.
Forward Protocol as the Genesis of a New wave of DeEd
Mitch provides some context on the outlook of the EdTech Space and why Forward Protocol is the genesis of a new wave of education and EdTech: Decentralized Education (DeEd).
He states that the EdTech space is one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors — EdTech expenditure will increase from $227 billion to $405 billion by 2025. This growth was fast-tracked by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The current education marketplace is served by traditional centralized markets, many of whom are exploring adopting blockchain for various needs.
He adds that no known existing blockchain serves as a dedicated educational protocol with an ecosystem. Nor do any factory pattern customizable smart contracts exist in this sector. Therefore, Forward Protocol will fill the current gap in the intersection of crypto/blockchain and Education/EdTech.
With Forward Protocol adopting a B2B market strategy of acquiring users, the developers are constantly researching and discussing new possible partnerships and integrations. These include contacts with government agencies, learning institutions, EdTech platforms, marketplaces, coaches and authors, etc.
Through Forward Factory, the protocol will support broad-scale integration to any knowledge-based website and platform, including:
KEY says that there is much to look forward to in the last quarter of 2021 and Q1 in 2022. He says that in Q4 2021, they will;
- Conduct the Forward Protocol IDO in November 2021 — the protocol is already approved in multiple launchpads and exchanges.
- Deploy the staking and LP contracts.
- Deploy 3 out of 5 of our core smart contracts (Proof of Value-Delivered (PoVD)/ Proof of Value (PoV) / Initial Knowledge Offering (IKO)).
- Deploy FUSD stable coin contract.
- Deploy our Open Source Q&A application.
For Q1 2022, they will;
- Integrate with EnglishForward.com
- Release the remaining 2 out of the 5 core smart contracts (Distributed Reward and Revenue Sharing (DRRS) + Proof of Ownership (PoO)).
- Deploy Forward Factory & Forward Pay.
- Deploy our Decentralized Course Marketplace and Decentralized Freelancing Marketplace.
- Sign at least 3 New Partners.
The Ideal Forward Protocol User
Forward Protocol is the change the world needs. KEY explains why the protocol will be so easy to adopt. He states that an ideal user of Forward Protocol does not need to know blockchain to use it.
What’s more, a reputable expert using one platform who moves to another will not start from zero. With their reputation on blockchain, they can transfer their credentials from one platform to another as long as they have integrated Forward Protocol. So their effort is not wasted.
The same applies to a learner. They can save their earnings in DeFi and benefit from the APY/earnings. Besides, their creative work is protected as NFTs, which can be rented out.
Mitch adds that the earning potential goes through the roof. In addition, experts can reach learners worldwide, and learners can trust experts “trustlessly” because of their transparent background.
Therefore, with every data being on-chain, there is a change in the quality level, awareness, and trust factor across the board.
What about data security? KEY explains that all Forward Protocol transactions will be on-chain and secured by the most trusted and decentralized blockchains. Besides, all contracts will be audited and the reports published.
They will also harness Polygon infrastructure and framework to create a secure ecosystem.
Forward Protocol is All About Collaborations
When asked about Forward Protocol’s competitors, Mitch states that currently, the project doesn’t have any competitors. Besides, the ecosystem is open-source and powered by the community; hence the community will help develop it further to include more attractive features, ensuring it remains competitive against upcoming technologies.
That said, Mitch adds that Forward Protocol provides the blockchain solution that connects the EdTech sector.
Therefore, it doesn’t compete with the content creators or other platforms but collaborates with them — providing a platform to launch their blockchain applications.
KEY is keen to emphasize that Forward Protocol is a technology rather than a platform. He says that the protocol is modular; hence any organization in the education space can use whichever module they need to make their platform functional.
What’s more, the rules are defined by the organization deploying it — Forward Protocol only sets the stage for Decentralized Education (DeEd). Therefore, Forward Protocol sees every brand in the DeEd space as potential collaborators.
Moreover, Forward Protocol has lowered the barrier to entry into the DeEd space. As a result, KEY encourages other organizations and developers to use the protocol and create more tools for the DeEd space.
The technology is beneficial across the board. Developers will have a foothold in the DeEd sector; students will earn as they learn, while teachers and experts will have a sustainable active and passive income. Everybody wins!
And here you have it. These were your questions our co-founders were called to answer. If you missed out on this AMA, worry not, we have plenty more on the agenda!
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