Michael J. Garbade from Education Ecosystem on Teaching College Students to Build Products (Episode 116)
Today Michael J. Garbade joins us to discuss how Education Ecosystem helps you improve and expand your skills to make more money in your career.
Michael is a serial entrepreneur, hybrid business executive, and Python engineer who enjoys building applications in Python, Django, and Sencha Touch. He co-founded and exited the e-Commerce cashback platform Kyuda and ran business operations for multiple start-ups at Rebate Networks. He previously worked at Amazon, GE, and Photobucket. From past projects, he is experienced in building live music and video streaming applications using Wowza, NGiNX RTMP, and Red5. He has a Masters’s in Business Administration and Physics and a Ph.D. in Finance. He speaks English and German and has worked in the US, Europe, and Asia. At Education Ecosystem, he is the CEO and runs business operations. He has been involved with multiple bitcoin and cryptocurrency startups. A few years ago, he built the Bitcoin education quiz app Bitcoinmillionaire on Android, iOS, and the Web. Initially created as a personal side project, he plans to add it to the list of projects on Education Ecosystem and open-source the codebase so other developers can develop it further.
*Disclaimer. None of this information is financial advice.
The following transcript was created using artificial intelligence. There will be some grammatical errors below.
00:00:32:08 – 00:00:44:13
Richard Carthon: Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of Crypto Current, your host here, Richard Carthon, and today I’ve got a very special guest all the way up in San Francisco. We’ve got Michael with Education Ecosystem. How are you doing today?
00:00:44:15 – 00:00:45:25
Michael J. Garbade: I’m good. How are you doing?
00:00:46:22 – 00:01:07:15
Richard Carthon: Aw man, I’m great. I can’t complain. Beautiful day out here. Well the summer, but I mean, I was looking into your platform and looking at all the ways that you’re all about education. I’m all about education. Really excited to learn how you’re leaving your imprint in the world right now. But before we dive into this conversation, you know, give us a little background about yourself.
00:01:07:17 – 00:01:53:13
Michael J. Garbade: Sure. So my name is Michael. I’m co-founder and CEO of Education Ecosystem, formerly known as LiveEDu. I am an engineer and business guy. I have worked in the past with Amazon, GE and UniCredit. Before that, I co-founded an e-commerce company called Chela, which is very similar to our team, right? I have experience working in the e-commerce space, venture capital, investment banking, corporate finance and transportation. I also have experience working in Europe and Asia. My studies in business administration and physics for my master’s degree and then I completed a PhD in finance.
00:01:53:15 – 00:02:18:28
Richard Carthon: Quite impressive. I mean, sounds like you’ve been on the grind and working on a whole lot of interesting projects and I’m sure all of that background has especially helped you as you look to educate all the people in the various ways using your platform. So go ahead and give us a little bit of background on like what was the very first introduction into the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain space for you? What year was it? How do you hear about it? And tell us about that.
00:02:19:24 – 00:02:54:00
Michael J. Garbade: Yeah. So it was actually a mass event. So my girlfriend at the time, she went to go to a hackathon, right? I didn’t really know what a hackathon was about, but I just went along, right? And it was a weekend blotch in Berlin. I was living in Berlin at that time in 2010, right? And that hackathon was organized by an organization called Chaos Computer Club, right? So the Chaos Computer Club, they organize these crazy hackathons where they ask people to hack on different topics like future topics, right? Like future technologies that are not yet established.
00:02:54:12 – 00:02:54:27
Richard Carthon: Ok.
00:02:54:29 – 00:03:31:20
Michael J. Garbade: And all the people build like about 20 applications, right? And interestingly, some of the applications they build, right? Some of those products nowadays exist like in us big companies like you know, cryptocurrency brokerages, payment systems and it’s very interesting. So I got my you know, entry into the Blockchain space by accident. I didn’t really even know what Blockchain at that time was, I got into it by accident. And one funny thing that I remember is at the hackathon, we ordered pizza, right? For the whole group and being like 100 Bitcoins for the pizza order.
00:03:31:22 – 00:03:32:07
Richard Carthon: Oh my God.
00:03:32:09 – 00:03:38:04
Michael J. Garbade: You can take those Bitcoins, right? That would be worth thousands of dollars today, right?
00:03:42:26 – 00:04:23:21
Richard Carthon: Millions at that point man. And it’s wild just to see I mean, but the fact that it was being used to purchase something, showing like not just supply and demand, but there’s a use case that it can be used as an exchange of value and that you were getting to work on that as early as you were back in 2010. So you know, fast forward a decade later, you’re 10 years into the space, you see everything happening in the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain world and you decide to get a little bit more involved and start doing some things with Education Ecosystem. So tell us you know what it is and when you started it and what’s the vision for it.
00:04:23:23 – 00:04:58:22
Michael J. Garbade: Right. So Education Ecosystem is a decentralized peer-to-peer project based learning platform, right? What we do is like we help people improve their job skills in areas like artificial intelligence, Blockchain, cyber security, data science, game development and programming, right? We are the West’s biggest project based learning platform and we teach people how to build real products. There are other online education platforms like Udemy, Coursera that people know of, right? But those platforms, they are really like, focused on beginners, right?
00:04:59:00 – 00:04:59:15
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:04:59:17 – 00:05:20:07
Michael J. Garbade: If people want to just kind of like jump into artificial intelligence or they want to jump into python, they heard programming is cool, so they want to learn about programming, those platforms are great, right? We are more focused on people who are in the intermediate level who have at least two to three years experience, right? Who are interested in improving their current skills, their existing skills and they want to take their skills to the next level, right?
00:05:20:22 – 00:05:21:07
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:05:21:09 – 00:05:38:04
Michael J. Garbade: So we are actually targeting the 360 billion professional development market, right? And our users are geographically located in the U.S. and Europe and we have two main types of users, mainly professionals who are already working in the industry, right? And college students, right?
00:05:38:18 – 00:05:39:03
Richard Carthon: Okay.
00:05:39:05 – 00:06:16:13
Michael J. Garbade: Those are our two types of users and our product, you can imagine that as a hybrid of twitch and pure asset, right? So that’s like how you can describe our product and I got this idea about the product when I was actually interested in building Blockchain applications and I didn’t find any platform that teaches me how to build like you know, reading products. All the platforms I found was like, “Hey, how to do beginner stuff in this, how to do beginner, how to do beginner stuff in python, how to do beginner stuff in artificial intelligence.” But it was no platform that taught me, like real skills and building, you know, products from A to Z that I can really launch.
00:06:16:16 – 00:07:09:28
Richard Carthon: Right. And I think that is a very valuable, like, niche thing to be going after because as you know in the education piece, just like you said, with things like Udemy and some other things. If you are a beginner and you’re just fresh out, you’re just trying to learn the basics of like how do I even get involved with this, you know, there are some various platforms that you go on for that. However, when you start looking at Blockchain, you start looking at things like, how to start building Cryptocurrency protocols and everything else there. There hasn’t been a huge way for the developer world to like go and watch videos to do it, it’s more of like let me go work under somebody that’s already working in this space, learn through just working with someone on a project, instead of just me on my own free time going and learning this skill. So I definitely see where this need was.
00:07:11:16 – 00:07:16:29
Michael J. Garbade: Exactly, but that’s basically where we come in and that’s actually the problem we are trying to solve.
00:07:17:01 – 00:07:40:24
Richard Carthon: Right, which is great and very much needed. And as you built this out and you know, have your users and they’re starting to utilize these features, what have you noticed about everyone that’s been coming through? Like do they come in and they do one particular session or they come in and like what’s the user experience been like coming on the platform?
00:07:41:21 – 00:08:17:18
Michael J. Garbade: Right. So what we have experienced is that people don’t land just on one project, right? They want like four to five projects, right? So the way that our platform works is then people kind of like, watch a project, right? There are like multiple videos, then they are also like cool resources and material resources, which people come you know, people come join the whole project, right? And replicate the project. And what we experience is that when people watch their video, in the beginning, they think their project is pretty easy, right? I can just do it myself, I can build it, I can assemble it because the person showed me in each session. It seems pretty straightforward, right?
00:08:17:26 – 00:08:18:11
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:08:18:13 – 00:08:30:15
Michael J. Garbade: As soon as they try to replicate the project and build them for themselves from scratch, they realize that it’s not that easy. Nothing works easily, right? And then they start to understand the different, you know, components of the project, right?
00:08:30:24 – 00:08:31:09
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:08:31:11 – 00:08:42:19
Michael J. Garbade: How they can tie it with each and how to kind of like run each model, right? How to run like each part of the code. Why if you change a small part of the code you don’t pay attention, why everything changes.
00:08:44:07 – 00:08:56:20
Richard Carthon: And so to help fix that, do you have some staff on deck that will come in and then help them with that particular problem? Or what are the next steps if let’s say they come and they watch the video and now they’re stuck?
00:08:57:25 – 00:09:18:02
Michael J. Garbade: Yeah. So how that works is that users can kind of like write the creators and message on the platform, right? But normally how they resolve their problems, they go over the project themselves again from scratch and then they realize it isn’t the attention or the concept that would explain their being it was easy, but it was not.
00:09:18:15 – 00:09:31:01
Richard Carthon: Gotcha. Yeah that makes a lot of sense and so right now for everyone that’s listening, if they want to come and like learn about various things and sharpen their skills, what kind of modules do you have that they could potentially come and learn more about?
00:09:31:03 – 00:10:11:05
Michael J. Garbade: Right. So right now what is pretty hostile is Blockchain smart contracts, Ethereum Blockchain smart contracts, right? So we have a lot of engineers who are excited about Blockchain and applications, right? And that entry point for most of them is like Ethereum you know, Blockchain smart contrast because Ethereum is like the dominant in Blockchain, even though Bitcoin is like established. Ethereum in terms of like, smart contracts and development, Ethereum offers a lot of tools and applications, right? Using Zeppelin, so Zeppelin is pretty popular right now for people who want to take a look at smart contracts, right? And we are seeing a huge demand.
00:10:11:07 – 00:10:35:29
Richard Carthon: Got it. So that makes a lot of sense. And so for everyone listening, especially if you’re trying to get even deeper into your development skills and learn more about setting up smart contracts on Blockchain, this is definitely something you should go check out. But kind of shifting gears a little bit for you Michael, I know you’ve been in this space for over a decade now. I’m sure there’s all kinds of Crypto and Blockchain projects that have caught your attention. What are some right now that you’re currently looking at?
00:10:36:25 – 00:10:46:01
Michael J. Garbade: That’s a very good question, so we’re reviewing a lot of projects, but one that I’m really, really excited about is a project called Zinc Sync, right? Zinc Sync.
00:10:46:06 – 00:10:46:21
Richard Carthon: Okay.
00:10:46:24 – 00:11:47:29
Michael J. Garbade: Zinc solves a credit card failure issue that all you know, Blockchain writers have. I’ll show you. That goes back to the first half of them I went to, right? I wasn’t even thinking of Bitcoin, right? I was a bit excited about it as a payment mechanism, right? To make payments without having cash, something that is like you know, alternative to cash, right? And that’s what excites me about Bitcoin you know, and Cryptocurrency in general is like a payment mechanism. And that’s actually what’s so exciting. And unfortunately, Ethereum and Bitcoin are not being able to solve it so far, right? The cost, the transaction that you have to pay for Ethereum and Bitcoin is just insane, right? So if you are running an ELC 20 project and you have like 20,000 micro transactions to run, nowadays, Ethereum will cost you between 40 cents and 80 cents per transaction, right?
00:11:48:10 – 00:11:48:25
Richard Carthon: That’s up quick.
00:11:48:27 – 00:11:51:11
Michael J. Garbade: That’s really too expensive.
00:11:51:22 – 00:11:52:07
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:11:52:09 – 00:12:14:17
Michael J. Garbade: No company can run it, you know, can scale it you know, millions of transactions or thousands of transactions about price per transaction, right? And this is where Zinc Sync comes in. Zinc Sync is basically deployed on Ethereum. I mean, it’s running, it’s not really populated, it’s not really using a full scale, but it’s really interesting in a sense like it’s reducing the cost per transactional rate you know. ELC’s 20 taking transactions from 40 cents to 80 cents currently to about four cents.
00:12:14:29 – 00:12:22:18
Richard Carthon: Wow, that’s amazing.
00:12:23:05 – 00:12:50:00
Michael J. Garbade: Yeah. That’s amazing and second, if you want to do an ELC 20 transaction on Ethereum network, you don’t have to pay for Ethereum anymore, right? So if you want to kind of do a transaction, without tokens, volitaty tokens material, we can pay volatility tokens for a gas cost, right? So instead of paying with material for gas fees, now Zinc Sync makes it possible to pay for gas because of the tokens we have sent, as soon as a fraction of the cost.
00:12:51:25 – 00:13:00:04
Richard Carthon: That’s impressive. Yeah. Where can people potentially go learn more about that cause this is actually something new that wasn’t put on my radar yet?
00:13:00:25 – 00:13:41:21
Michael J. Garbade: Yeah, so Zinc Sync is run by Madar Labs. I think you can enter it into Google, I think their website is just Zinc Sync, like synchronization, right? Vitaly actually pointed us to that project, right? We’re just communicating with him and he said like, “Hey you guys should really look into Zinc Sync, we saw it and it’s really, really amazing.” Right? So the project like I said, is like a nascent project that is really working already. It’s a really great technology that will reduce the cost of transactions for ELC 20 projects.
00:13:42:24 – 00:14:17:27
Richard Carthon: For sure. I mean just everything you said makes so much sense and is making it more fiscally feasible, especially when you talk about scaling up with a business when you talk about 20,000 transactions at 40 to 80 cents and you’re going down to four cents, that’s a lot easier to chew. So I definitely see where that is going to be very, very powerful. But you know, 2020 has definitely been an extremely interesting year to say the least with everything going on in the world. What are some things in the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain horizon that you think a lot of people should be looking out for?
00:14:19:16 – 00:15:14:06
Michael J. Garbade: Right. I think so far, like, what I think the Blockchain space is filled up is like all of us have been too much focused on the value of, you know, Cryptocurrencies, instead of Blockchain applications, right? And that has carried into expectations that people have like you know, that you know, Cryptocurrencies is the representation of Blockchain, right? And as soon as the prices of Cryptocurrencies are down like 60, 50 percent or some of them more, some people lose interest in Cryptocurrencies or anything in the Blockchain space. So what I’m looking at, I’m sort of like a re-application to the Blockchain space that normal, individual people are able to use. Not even people like me, right? Or you, but normal, everyday folks who are not interested in the technology behind it, but more in the you know, the utility they get from using that product, right?
00:15:14:09 – 00:15:15:00
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:15:15:03 – 00:15:26:19
Michael J. Garbade: You don’t use an iPhone because you want to understand how it runs on the back end because they just want to use it to make calls. You know, that’s it as the utility they get from using an iPhone.
00:15:27:06 – 00:15:27:21
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:15:27:23 – 00:15:48:25
Michael J. Garbade: And that’s like where we need to get to that, we are able to kind of bring Blockchain applications to online users and the users from the utility standpoint, thinking about the value of the currencies or the technology behind it. And right now, I think it’s pretty hard, even for people in the industry. I mean if you want help, like, do like a simple Cryptocurrency transaction from one wallet to another wallet.
00:15:49:01 – 00:15:49:16
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:15:49:18 – 00:15:54:09
Michael J. Garbade: Why not just jump on board?
00:15:55:26 – 00:16:27:24
Richard Carthon: Yeah. And I think you bring a ton of great points to that, in the sense that one of the things I’ve been talking about previously with some other guests, to get some mass adoption simplicity is the key. And right now, it is very challenging in a lot of ways to just come into the Cryptocurrency world, Blockchain world and just use a thing. With the big transition from people that started using Androids to iPhones, is that the simplicity in an iPhone, you didn’t have to think you could just do, anybody could pick it up and just start using it.
00:16:28:08 – 00:16:29:05
Michael J. Garbade: Exactly.
00:16:29:07 – 00:16:51:21
Richard Carthon: And that’s what the Crypto and Blockchain world’s moving towards, but it takes time to build to that point. And I think that more energy is being poured into just like you said, the infrastructure and application part, to build the tools that people can come and start creating these types of applications. But you’ve got to build the work to get there, right?
00:16:52:06 – 00:16:53:06
Michael J. Garbade: Yeah.
00:16:53:08 – 00:17:31:04
Richard Carthon: Those companies today aren’t gonna be as valuable as these, as some other companies. But at the end of day when you look at the dot com bubble, right? A lot of the companies that survived, they’re huge now, but it’s because they tried to build infrastructure to last. And I think that’s the same direction that the Crypto and Blockchain space is going as well. And people should be paying attention to that as well, so I do appreciate that point. And you know, on that note, I think you’ve dropped a lot of really good knowledge and a lot of great things that people can go look out for. What is a final thought that you want to leave with all of our listeners here today?
00:17:31:06 – 00:18:01:19
Michael J. Garbade: Right. I think that Blockchain has a huge, you know, future potential. It’s gonna take a lot of time before we are able to seize you know, full you know, use cases. Just like you know, in 2010, 2011, people didn’t, all of us didn’t understand the potential on the Internet, right? What Internet companies could become, right? Nowadays, everybody takes it for granted that all these big Internet companies are like our lifeline to the economy, right?
00:18:02:05 – 00:19:04:23
Michael J. Garbade: Like I think with other Internet companies, if the coronavirus would’ve happened in 2010, the world would look very different than if it happened in 2020, right? So in 2010, we didn’t have all of these Internet services and companies, right? Where you could easily work from home, where most people could work from home, where most business transactions can be worked from home. And I see it in the same way, like the Blockchain industry was like 10 years back, where the Internet was 10 years ago and there are a lot of opportunities, a lot of companies that will come out, right? A lot of founders are learning as they go and they try and help their products and I love new companies being launched. It takes time, but I think you’ll see a lot of innovation. The first iteration, in my view, was you know, learning by doing and then learning new things. And I think now people are working on like real products and are interested in working on re-applications and not just like you know, products where it’s more about you know, coming down to develop a Cryptocurrency.
00:19:06:07 – 00:19:49:18
Richard Carthon: For sure. And I agree and believe that’s where the future is headed as well of true applications that are are being built to last and being built to create value to others because you know, early in this, when the 2017, 2018 bubble happened, you had all these ICOs, all these people were trying to do these get rich quick and not trying to really build something to work, rather than just try to build something to have short term monetary gains. And now I think the shift in focus is definitely building for the future, so I really appreciate that final thought. And you know, what are some different ways that people can connect with you and learn more about Education Ecosystem?
00:19:50:27 – 00:20:09:05
Michael J. Garbade: Right. That’s a good question. The best is e-mail, right? Email is the best way to reach out to me anytime. My email’s Michael@Education-Ecosystem.com. Michael@Education-Ecosystem.com. That’s my email.
00:20:10:19 – 00:20:18:03
Richard Carthon: Okay, great. Well, I really appreciate that. We’ll make sure to put links to everything else discussed in this episode in the show notes. But for everyone listening, Stay Crypto Current.
Crypto Current will be guiding all of you who are new to the cryptocurrency world to becoming a cryptocurrency and blockchain expert. Crypto Current was founded to give access to information to everyone on current events occurring in cryptocurrency and blockchain in a digestible way. Since its creation, we have created content that impacted thousands of people through its podcast, blog, and social media.