Proof of Learn Raises $15M in Seed Round Led by NEA
Proof of Learn, Inc (POL), a Web3 education platform with a mission to unlock accessible, high quality education across the world through blockchain and a learn-to-earn protocol, today announced it raised a seed round of $15 million. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and joined by Animoca Brands, GoldenTree Asset Management, gumi Cryptos Capital and Infinity Ventures Crypto.
The funds will be used to develop the POL protocol, where users learn employable skills, gain professional on-chain credentials, and access Web3 employers via a careers marketplace, while earning cryptocurrency and NFT rewards as they learn and contribute to the community. POL will focus on delivering high-quality curriculum with an engaging experience, with the first project expected to beta launch in mid-2022.
Angel investors and advisors to POL include Jeffrey ‘Jiho’ Zirlin, co-founder of Axie Infinity; Gabby Dizon, co-founder of Yield Guild Games (YGG); Thomas Vu, Riot Games’ Executive Producer of Arcane and League of Legends; John Ciancutti, former Chief Product Officer of Coursera; Anthony Borquez, Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship at University of Southern California (USC); Brit Morin, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Offline Ventures; and others.
POL is led by co-founders Sheila Lirio Marcelo, Kevin Yang, Chris Swain, and Lauren Tornow. Marcelo founded and was former CEO and Chairwoman of Care.com — the world’s largest online marketplace for care, serving more than 35 million people across 20 countries and growing more than 100% year-over-year from its founding in 2006 until the company went public in 2014, and then sold to IAC in 2020. Yang is a technology entrepreneur, blockchain developer, and Stanford Computer Science graduate, specializing in crypto and mobile apps, who helped build and scale the Philippines’ leading mobile fast food delivery app. Swain is a professor at USC’s Iovine and Young Academy and the co-founder/director of Electronic Art’s Game Innovation Lab at USC. Tornow also hails from Care.com, where she led marketing and international expansion; she also led marketing at Brainly, an online global learning community.
“When Care.com was developed, we had a vision to support the global gig economy and employers by efficiently matching people with specific skills to much needed care jobs. Now, the most in-demand, fastest-growing sector is Web3, yet the world is lacking people with the necessary skills and access to education is still a challenge for billions of people. Through Proof of Learn, we will level the playing field when it comes to engaging, quality education that leads to career opportunities in Web3. Building with a collaborative community, and using the techniques of scaling effective marketplace businesses, is an exhilarating combination for social entrepreneurs,” said POL Co-founder and CEO, Sheila Lirio Marcelo.
“The global demand for accessible and affordable education has created a massive opportunity for POL to make learning scalable with a new decentralized model for people around the world,” said Tony Florence, Managing General Partner, Technology at NEA. The firm’s numerous investments in education and crypto-focused companies include Coursera, MasterClass, Everfi, DesireToLearn, FTX, MoonPay, OpenSea and Royal. “Proof of Learn’s co-founding team, who are proven innovators, and leaders with deep operational and global marketplace expertise, are taking a very creative learn-to-earn model that we expect will transform education,” Florence added.
“The rise of play-to-earn gaming demonstrated the transformative potential of Web3 to deliver true digital rights and economic mobility for internet users, particularly ones traditionally excluded from the global economy. This has fueled the expansion of the Web3 ecosystem, and now we need more adequately skilled people to help build our vision for life in the open Metaverse. The POL protocol will help to reduce the skills gap by democratizing access to education for the underserved and lowering the barriers to life-changing career opportunities in Web3,” said Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands.
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About Proof of Learn
Proof of Learn, Inc (POL) is a Web3 education platform with a mission to unlock accessible, high quality education across the world through blockchain and a learn-to-earn protocol. With a focus on addressing the skills shortage experienced by the Web3 economy, the platform will facilitate learning in the metaverse with cryptocurrency rewards and collectible NFT credentials earned as on-chain representation of skills advancement. The company’s vision is to ensure that anyone with an internet connection can gain a world-class online education, as well as direct access to income earning opportunities and employment via its careers marketplace.
New Enterprise Associates, Inc. (NEA) is a global venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With nearly $24 billion in cumulative committed capital, NEA invests at all stages in a company’s lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. The firm’s long track record of successful investing includes more than 250 portfolio company IPOs and more than 425 mergers and acquisitions. Companies in education and crypto investments include — Coursera, MasterClass, Everfi, DesireToLearn, FTX, MoonPay, OpenSea and Royal. www.nea.com