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- After selling Care.com, Sheila Marcelo got curious about crypto.
- She then started Proof of Learn, a company that teaches and credentials aspiring Web3 developers.
- Marcelo said the shift from a caregiving marketplace to NFTs was natural because of her curiosity.
Some entrepreneurs succeed and step back from the limelight, but others continue learning and get excited about new technologies.
That's the case with Sheila Lirio Marcelo, who already saw success as the founder and CEO of Care.com, which became a leader in the caregiving marketplace and became a multimillion dollar company.
Now, Marcelo runs Proof of Learn, a company that credentials Web3 developers with an NFT certifying their expertise. Through a learn-to-earn model, Web3 developers can earn cryptocurrencies when they pass tests to validate their credentials.
Marcelo told Insider the shift from operating Care.com to being a Web3 startup founder isn't as wild as one might think.
"I'm just naturally curious. I'm a learner," she said.
Care.com, which went public in 2014, made Marcelo one of only 22 women to found companies that launched an IPO. In 2020, IAC bought Care.com for $500 million, giving Marcelo the opportunity to join venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA), which invested in Care.com, as a partner.
Marcelo, and her husband Ron, also began investing in crypto. But it wasn't until Marcelo came across Yield Guild Games (YGG), a Philippines gaming company that uses the play-to-earn model to allow users to win rewards like crypto to use as in-game currency for games like Axie Infinity, that she saw the possibilities of starting her own Web3 company. Marcelo, who grew up in the Philippines, was immediately curious.
While doing due diligence on YGG, Marcelo came across a documentary about people in rural areas of the Philippines playing on the company's platform. In the documentary, Marcelo saw a grandmother using YGG and understood how to transact crypto and it inspired Marcelo.
The idea of a new technology like crypto changing the lives of people in the country she grew up in really resonated with Marcelo, who says her work revolves around advancing social impact for people. After that, she went about figuring out how to work within crypto to provide social impact and decided to leverage what she knew best: starting a company.
And so, the idea for Proof of Learn was born. Users can access modules to learn how to code on different protocols beginning with Solana and then other blockchains and Web3 programs. Once they pass the assessment, they can get an NFT that certifies their expertise in the field. The company released its NFT in late June and will first roll out in the Philippines and India. It raised approximately $17 million from NEA, Animoca Brands, GoldenTree Asset Management, gumi Cryptos Capital, Infinity Ventures Crypto, Arca, Wavemaker Ventures, Learn Capital and Rethink Education.
Proof of Learn also launched Metacrafters, a project Marcelo said is a web developer curriculum baked into a multiplayer game. The company secured a $4.5 million grant from Solana, Flow, Avalanche, and Polygon Foundations. The grant will be used to fund cryptocurrency rewards for students. Students can earn the Proof of Learn NFT and a Treasure NFT which they can use in the game or sell in a marketplace.
Marcelo hopes this new foray into NFTs and crypto benefits people in other countries. With Proof of Learn, she said its curriculum can help engineers and web developers in emerging countries like the Philippines and India demand high wages for their specialized skill sets.
"I'm a proud Filipina, so I wanted to figure out how to help developers in developing countries, who are often paid at a fraction of what developers are paid [in the US] but are very talented," Marcelo said. "How do we train them up to be ready for the digital transformation that we're going into?"
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