Clarence Wooten is the founder and CEO of STEAMRole, a mission-driven startup focused on helping the workforce of the future discover whom they can become and how to get there. He is a serial Internet entrepreneur whose been building internet startups since 1997. Since then, Wooten has built and exited successful Internet startups including ImageCafe.com (acquired by Network Solutions/Verisign), Groupsite.com, Progrerssly.com, VentureFund.io.
STEAMRole’s mobile app makes it easy for busy STEM/STEAM professionals to showcase who they are and how they got to where they are so that students and aspiring professionals can discover and learn how to achieve their dream career while enabling companies to build a pipeline to diverse up-and-coming talent. RoleCoin is a digital currency that brings transparency to the $100+ billion in STEM/STEAM education spending by providing proof-of-progress as it happens on STEAMRole.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Why did you decide to start RoleCoin?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: RoleCoin is a key part of the economy and gamification that we are building into our core business STEAMRole, a skill and career-development mobile app that showcases inspirational videos and skill roadmaps from successful professionals with careers in science, tech, engineering, art/design and mathematics (aka STEAM careers). RoleCoin is the digital currency that fuels and incentivizes an ecosystem of steamers (aka students and aspiring professionals), role models, the companies that recruit them, and the organizations that develop them. RoleCoin and its accompanying blockchain dashboard and protocol provide proof-of-progress to education and career-focused organizations and foundations, as well as economic development-focused organizations and impact investors.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How does the platform work?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: RoleCoin is the currency of the STEAMRole network. Transactions require RoleCoin and rewards are paid in it. The coin will serve an important function in incentivizing the actors in the network to help grow it further. Whenever a contribution is made to the platform such as inviting a new user, a role model recording a new inspirational video, or a steamer completing a skill, the contributor is awarded newly mined RoleCoin.
RoleCoin’s Proof-of-Progress (PoP) protocol will leverage Stellar Lumens Blockchain technology. Stellar was designed from the ground up to support efficient trading. Using Stellar’s blockchain, any RoleCoin can be bought and sold immediately on Stellar’s decentralized exchange by means of Stellar’s native offer mechanism. Holders of RoleCoin will not have to rely on a third party exchange to list or make a market for them. STEAMRole will embed Stellar’s exchange into our Proof-of-Progress dashboard for easy access. A RoleCoin wallet will also exist within each user account on STEAMRole’s mobile app.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How can the platform help grant-making foundations?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: The Proof-of-Progress (PoP) dashboard is available to any foundation, non-profit organization, or large impact investor that funds steamers with RoleCoin. The dashboard allows them to track the RoleCoin they have donated. If an investor chooses to give to an organization, rather than to individual Steamers, the organization is then added to the investor’s tree and high-level information about how the organization has chosen to spend their RoleCoin is made available. This information includes aggregate demographic and proof-of-progress data from all Steamers and STEAMRole Models who ultimately benefited from the utility of the gifted RoleCoin. We leverage blockchains tracking and transparency properties to enable grant-making foundations to track and measure the long-term skill and career development progress of RoleCoin recipients associated with their gift or investment.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Do you have any partnerships with non-profit organizations?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: We currently have HP Inc. as our charter employer customer and several other enterprise organizations in our pipeline. In addition, we have partnerships with WIST – Women in Sports technology, SummerSearch.org, The East Bay College Fund, and the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation. These organizations will primarily leverage our platform and protocol to provide ongoing role modeling support to the students they serve and to track each student’s long-term skill and career development progress.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are your views about the future of STEM education?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: There is currently about $100 billion invested annually in STEM/STEAM-related education initiatives largely due to the recognition by business at large that there is going to be a shortage of workers with advanced skills. In 2016, more than 3 million STEM-related jobs went unfilled in the US alone and by 2020 it is estimated that globally we could be facing an 85 million shortage of medium and high skilled workers.. This presents a mission-critical challenge for Enterprise companies. STEM & STEAM education is key to the workforce of the future and economies globally, we see the STEAMRole app and RoleCoin as a technology solution set that can help these companies inspire and build talent pipelines of diverse STEM/STEAM professionals.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the main advantages of using blockchain in STEM education programs?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: Distributed ledger technology and blockchain’s tracking and transparency properties make it the ideal technology to underpin and incentivize an ecosystem of organizations, foundations and impact investors that support STEM/STEAM students via education programs and training initiatives. By providing these organizations and investors a fully transparent feedback loop (aka proof-of-progress) to track the long-term skill and career development progress of student RoleCoin recipients, organizations as the foundations and impact investors that support them are able to measure and monitor the effectiveness of their program-related investments and track the long-term outcome of each students career development.
Additionally, due to the trustless nature of the blockchain, all actors in the RoleCoin ecosystem can have full confidence in the integrity of every transaction. Because each RoleCoin token’s path, both in and out of the network, is easily tracked, investors will have access to the kind of qualitative information that simply is not possible when investing with fiat currency. Through the power of smart contracts, investors can dictate precisely the conditions under which their tokens are allocated, giving them easy and automatic ways to reward those they deem deserving with additional funding and support.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What role is your project hope to play in moving adoption of blockchain forward?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: RoleCoin will completely transform the way impact investing in STEM & STEAM programs operates by leveraging blockchain technology via RoleCoin’s proof-of-progress protocol enabling STEAMRole and online education providers that accept RoleCoin to share an immutable record of each student’s education and skill development data to organizations that supported the student with RoleCoin. RoleCoin’s proof-of-progress protocol and dashboard is a compelling use-case of how blockchain technology can provide transparency and insights into the true impact of impact investments.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Why did you decide to raise money through an initial coin offering (ICO)?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: STEAMRole is a mission-driven company and the ICO vehicle is a great way to have the community of contributors be a part of building the workforce of the future, showing and sharing their support of our mission and finding like-minded individuals and groups with mutual interests in both the advancement of blockchain technology and education. Any participant can now use RoleCoin to “give the gift of a role model” and see what happens as a result.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: How can RoleCoin holders profit from the token if they invest?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: RoleCoin will be utilized in a robust ecosystem where the token gains increased utility as more partnerships integrate RoleCoin’s proof-of-progress protocol. For example, through a recent partnership with Kadenze.com, a leading STEM/STEAM online education provider, following the completion of the ICO, RoleCoin will be an accepted payment method for Kadenze’s online classes. To further extend the utility of RoleCoin, Kadenze will also integrate RoleCoin’s proof-of-progress protocol into its Kannu platform which currently powers online education courses for over 100 global universities including Stanford, Princeton, Pratt, and others. As online education providers such as Kadenze integrate RoleCoin’s proof-of-progress protocol to track and report the courses taken by each role model to the blockchain–establishing an immutable record of progress, the utility of RoleCoin will continue to increase. Given that the total supply of RoleCoin is capped at 1 billion tokens, as demand for RoleCoin increases due to its special transparency and reporting properties, holders should benefit.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Where do you see your platform in 5 years time?
CLARENCE WOOTEN: Our vision is to become the Worlds most impactful platform for aspiring STEM/STEAM professionals becoming the standard for how the workforce of the future discovers who they can become and how to get there. RoleCoin’s proof-of-progress protocol, dashboard, and clear utility make it a compelling offering. It is our hope that RoleCoin becomes the standard digital currency and protocol for tracking, measuring and rewarding the skill and career development progress of millions of students as aspiring professionals using STEAMRole and the ecosystem of online learning platforms to advance their on-going professional development.
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