Behind EduNode, a recently created startup business seeking to put an end to the falsification of educational diplomas and fraudulent CVs, are Lucas Gil and Diana Montañez, the Company’s CEO and COO respectively. These two students at TBS Business School in Barcelona, together with six other partners, have made their dream of being entrepreneurs come true.
How was EduNode born?
LUCAS: We entered the Mousebelt University Pitch Competition as EduNode, and we ended up as the winners. This organisation had contacted me previously, because while at TBS Business School we had founded a trading and blockchain club. Thanks to that, we are going to have financing and accelerated support. So you see that it really is possible to get things done – and that’s why we want to encourage people from TBS Business School and from outside it. Not only did we create the business, but we were also lucky enough to win that competition, and that is going to be a real boost for us. Sometimes this kind of thing can appear complicated if one is still at university, but capital really does arrive — in our case the investment came directly from an enterprise company in Silicon Valley. My advice would be that people should launch themselves into projects about which they are passionate, and in which they can succeed.
What does Edunode aim to produce?
DIANA: At EduNode we offer a platform through which universities can certify the authenticity of university diplomas and certificates. This is all done digitally, using the blockchain system. Our system is secure and tamper-proof, such that it is not possible to falsify any documents. We also provide the students with a means of verifying, by blockchain, all the certificates issued by the university, and a means of safeguarding their own certificates.
What changes would you like to make in education and in selection procedures?
LUCAS: The problem of false diplomas is a very real one. For example, in the United States alone there are more than 500,000 people with false diplomas, and every year 100,000 people, instead of going to university or enrolling for a conventional course of study, simply buy a false diploma. Obviously, this creates problems in the whole world; first, for the universities, because they lose prestige, clients and time when they have to check these certificates. As for the students, they are faced with the situation in which they can go to TBS, obtain the degree which costs them effort and a financial investment, and then see someone buying a false version of that same degree certificate. For employers and businesses, too, there is a problem because they can find themselves employing someone who has neither the education nor the characteristics that they need. So with our system of checkable certificates, we are resolving all these problems. We are also trying to give students control over their certificates, and a lifelong “passport” of certificates and courses which can help them to be more competitive, and to really boost their careers and their professional development.
When did your interest in blockchain begin? Where did this curiosity come from?
LUCAS: In my case, a couple of years ago, in economics and the blockchain industry. I began with the subject of cryptocurrencies and the bitcoin, with which I suppose people are more familiar, but then I saw that there could be applications in more important fields such as finance and education – in which we are now involved – and in many other sectors. So I decided to immerse myself in earnest, and now all my time is devoted to blockchain.
DIANA: Blockchain technology can be adapted to many sectors, and as students living in this environment, we experience what’s happening at first hand. That is why we decided to use blockchain in education, and to be pioneers in this.
So your interest is in both businesses and centres of education?
LUCAS: At present our model is mainly intended for universities. We want to start working with them because, in the first place, falsification is a big problem for them, and secondly, that will help us to better understand the ecosystem and to see where the problems are. For example, at TBS Business School we have been fortunate enough to discuss with various departments the points at which there are weaknesses in the procedures. As for the future – yes, obviously we would like to transfer all of this usefulness to companies, because, in the end, it is they who are going to use EduNode for checking.
The role of TBS Business School
What role has TBS Business School played in the creation of this company?
DIANA: A crucial role. By working with TBS Business School we can find, together, what they are really looking for. We don’t simply want to create a product merely for the sake of innovation, but to create a product that the university really needs. We spoke to Admissions, the IT Department and other departments to discover the problem which each of them is facing and to offer to reduce their costs and also to win prestige for the university. After several meetings this year, the problem that they are facing was clear to us, and we definitely want to solve it using blockchain. After all, when one has a startup business, one has to apply what one knows, and one also has to learn something every day. Most of the EduNode team are from TBS Business School, so the relationship with TBS Business School is close in all its aspects.
Why would you recommend TBS Business School to people who are considering studying at this university?
DIANA: Because TBS Business School always tries to bring out the most innovative and enterprising side of its students, encouraging them to find new methods to create projects, and, in today’s technological world, to develop new ways of entering the marketplace with something innovative and different. Being different is also fundamental for TBS Business School.