The world doesn’t stop, it evolves! Is this true for the education sector, too? It seems that state institutions are acting the same as they have been since the Middle Ages, and that the e-learning platforms we have now are similar to the ones we’ve had in the 90’s. Miguel Caballero, CEO of Tutellus, saw the opportunity and gathered a dedicated team with the same vision to create a true tool that decreases the gap between unemployment and education.
Ola, Tutellus team! It’s always nice to learn something new. This time though, let’s learn a bit more about your project and your team. What brought you all together?
Hi everyone! We define ourselves not as a family, but also as a Formula 1 team: we are a very coordinated group of people who knows each other perfectly, and has a shared vision and clear goals in the short and long term. I met my partner, Javi Ortiz, 20 years ago at university, and we started to work together (on other projects) since 2006. We have been building Tutellus since the beginning, trying to improve the world and break the status quo in education.
Hello, Miguel! It seems that you have a lot of experience with various enterprises. Could you tell us more about your past? Why have you decided to deal with education industry?
I studied engineering and got an MBA in IE-Instituto de Empresa in 1999. Since that moment I have been creating companies; Tutellus is my fourth project and the most important one. Like any entrepreneur, I had good and bad situations, but looking in the long term I believe all experiences make you stronger and smarter, and define the person who you are now. So I decided that education is a sector with a very poor evolution since the Middle Ages, while being the most important one to define what kind of society we want to leave our kids in the future. So we had to do something there.
Tutellus could hardly be described as being a new project. It has been around since 2013 and is doing pretty well. So what’s changed in those past five years? Why have you decided to develop Tutellus in this way?
Tutelus was born because of a bad online learning experience. In 2012, the way you had to learn online was really bad: e-learning platforms were similar to the ones we had in the 90’s, so we had the chance to create another way to learn: we wanted to create something more attractive, sexy, and more interesting. And video helps a lot with this mission.
It seems that you know a lot of bad aspects of the modern education system. What is the basis for this knowledge? Was it personal experience?
Education is the sector that has not evolved in the last 600 years. If you compare it to transport, energy, medicine, architecture… pretty much every sector has changed a lot, except for education. We still hold the same processes (teaching and learning, offline or even online) that we had in the Middle Ages. Education is centered around the institution or even on the teacher, but never on the student. We changed that by focusing on the student not only from the learning perspective, but also from the financial one.
Difficulties in university/work transition really do exist. As well as some other fundamental issues. Is this purely an educational problem? Why do we still have these problems? How can the blockchain change the situation?
We detected three main problems in education:
• The process is not designed for the student, so we, as a population, have to suffer. Studying is expensive and you have to invest in yourself during those years in order to have a chance in the future.
• Teachers are paid poorly. They don’t get more money dependent on the excellence they generate, and it’s not fair.
• There’s a huge gap between employment and education.
With this perspective, the blockchain can help us to change this industry, creating a rewards system that put the user in the middle and generate a token economy that works in a self-sustainable way for the long term.
Student stimulation turns out to be a difficult problem indeed. Most of them don’t even know why they have applied for the courses that they did. Could this be solved purely by monetary compensation?
Monetary compensation is not the final goal, but it’s the beginning of improving user behaviour. The more you learn, the more relevant you become in the community and the more influence you have over global decisions. People like power, it’s just something inside our DNA, and we give power to the people.
Lots of the teachers are not happy with the reality as well. Low salaries combined with inefficient systems of educator performance assessments turns out to be a major factor that compromises their motivation. Could we create a fair system of wealth distribution in this sector of the economy?
We’ll add more services for teachers, improving and increasing business options. The most important thing to understand is the importance of the token structure and how our internal token STUT works: the more productive things you do on the platform (helping other users), the more tokens you get. It’s a new economy based on the token.
Now that we’ve covered the two main parties of Tutellus users, we can’t skip the companies. Is the information about the academic performance of users that valuable? You can get this from any university with the student’s approval for free. Are you also planning to collaborate with some major HR-related companies?
Yes, that’s the goal. We believe we can offer the job market a true tool to decrease the gap between unemployment and education: our relevance system based on the STUT token can’t provide fake candidates. If you are marked as having relevance in blockchain/solidity is because you earned it recently, so there’s a correlation between your real knowledge and your STUT tokens.
The platform will operate with a pair of two tokens: TUT and STUT. With STUT being a purely reputational token that you can’t buy, it turns into some vision of a karma-based financial system from a cyberpunk novel. While the ability to turn STUT into TUT remains important, it seems that rep function of STUT should become the most important one. How would this be realized?
STUT tokens are differentiated by microskill, it doesn’t add in your knowledge. We realized that we hold two different kind of users: the ones that will trade STUT for TUT tokens (the liquid one), so they are interested in earning money; and the ones who want to influence in the community and decide to hold onto their relevance. Both models are fair, and the most important thing is that any kind of user who earn tokens should help other users, so they are contributing to the community and creating value through other users.
STUT exchange system creates the constant need of TUT reserves. Also, there are a lot of ways to gain TUT tokens, meaning that demand might sometimes overcome supply. This could turn out to be the issue if market players hold onto the token. Could you describe the lifecycle of TUT tokens en masse?
On important point to clarify is that having separated the governance power (based on STUT) than the financial one (based on TUT) we avoid confusing situations and decisions that could affect the working system. TUT token holders don’t influence the governance. From a financial perspective and through the pool tokens (and grants), we can add more liquidity in the system if we observe it. Having such a big community like the one we have, we work hard to have a very high token distribution.
Your platform applies giveaways and airdrops on an entirely new level. It’s said that both harsh and kind methods of education should go hand in hand. Do you have some ideas about the way this principle could be realized in Tutellus?
We use right now airdrops and grants (in the short term) as a catalyst to boost the learning viral loop: the more you use the platform, the more tokens you want to earn so the more you need to help other users, and the happier these users will be. For us, the methods that grow and create value are like Adwords for other companies.
It looks like you are well aware of the main players of the market that you are dealing with. Since the project has been around since 2013, please tell us how has it been performing alongside other projects in Hispanic-speaking countries? Are you going to compete with them or are you going to use the growing potential of the market instead?
We were born as an Spanish content platform, but since we launched Tutellus.io in 2017, our vision changed and we wanted to become the leading global platform. We made a big effort in translating the platform to 12 languages, and after the ICO we’ll create local teams to start to uploading content in all these languages. We have the processes and know-how to have done it in Spanish, the second most spoken language in the world. Now, we’ll scale to all of them.
We were pretty impressed by your chart for token distribution in the near future. How could you make such plans and predictions? What analytical benefits do those plans add?
If we (the crypto ecosystem) believe that this is the new economy, we have to adapt the things that worked in the old one. To work with cash flow status is a daily job in classical companies. We have adjusted this philosophy to the decentralized project, so yes, I think financial people will need to start to think in tokens. The world doesn’t stop, it evolves.
Though the roadmap of this project seem to have deep roots it goes only as long as a year and a half. Do you have some plans beyond this line?
Products will never stop improving, but we are conscient that in a startup it makes no sense to plan 4 years ahead. Of course we have a roadmap with new functionalities that scares us.
The NEM network seems to gain more and more popularity from the various project while still being underestimated by lots of users and investors. Why have you chosen to base your project on NEM?
We started using Ethereum, but we soon realized we couldn’t do the things we designed. So changing from ETH to NEM was a strategic decision that was carefully thought over. Of course, we are just working with other blockchains. For example, we integrated with the Indorse token (ERC20) through APIs and webhooks.
Now, being included in the education sphere too, blockchain turns to be integrated into our mundane life more and more. What’s next, blockchain-based nursing services or marriage registrations?) How do you feel about this reality?
The blockchain will be in the daily atmosphere but in a transparent way. As we don’t wake up each day asking ourselves how a Visa transaction works, this will happen the same with blockchain. It will just work.
Which education approach do you think is the most effective one: state or private? Or is this something that could flourish only when variety is present? What benefits may nations as institutions achieve through the use of Tutellus?
I believe private initiatives can help public education evolve; they are tools used to improve classical behaviors. If the iPad and educational apps help in school, then why should Tutellus be treated any differently? It is just a tool to help people learn more and live better.