Yogev Shelly, is a designer and tech maestro whose innovative platform, TinyTap, is questioning what it means to learn in the digital age. With a recent raise of $8.5 million and a groundbreaking shift towards Web3, TinyTap stands at the cusp of educational upheaval, transforming passive screen time into interactive learning adventures. The plaftorm already has over 9 million users.
As we sit down with Shelly, the creative force behind TinyTap, it’s clear that his passion extends beyond mere business success. He has a deep emotional connection with interactive learning and how children engage with educational material
In this exclusive intervie with Brave New Coins, Shelly shares the start-up successes of Tinytaps. He describes the inspiration behind the revolutionary Publisher NFTs, and his unwavering commitment to empowering educators and learners worldwide.
This interview is part of a series of articles Brave New Coin will be conducting with speakers at Hong Kong Fintech Week.
Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023 (HKFW) is here. The eighth edition of HKFW, themed "Fintech Redefine." took place between October 30 to November 5. This flagship event lies at the core of global fintech innovations and aims to shape the future of fintech across various dimensions of financial services and beyond.
1. How did the idea for TinyTap come about and what was the primary motivation behind its inception?
The founding of TinyTap was not the first iteration of the tool. I first designed an interactive slideshow app, a primitive use of what you see in TinyTap today after my father was diagnosed with dementia. It was meant for my father to practice motor skills and memory exercises revolving around recognizing family members and everyday objects. I would record my voice over a picture of myself or my sisters and say “This is your son, this is your daughter…” my father would connect our names to our faces and rebuild our family tree, in a way.
After some time, I noticed the app was getting a lot of attention and the users seemed to be educators, creating interactive lessons for their classrooms. Seeing the present need for teachers we pivoted to a broader educational model.
2. From your perspective, what are the main limitations or challenges inherent in the traditional education system today, and how does TinyTap seek to address or mitigate these issues?
The most obvious is funding limitations for educators. Teachers are the most undervalued asset in any society, shaping young minds. We want them to have the best tools to do so and receive fair compensation for it. The TinyTap model works on sharing subscription revenue with teachers and educators as children learn from and engage with the educational material they have created.
This also offers a lot more autonomy for households to decide what their children will be learning, either supplementary or in addition to what they are being taught in schools. That opportunity for a teacher’s content to reach communities around the world to help them learn is something we strengthen with the TinyTap platform.
3. TinyTap’s recent partnership with The Pinkfong Company is an exciting one. They have had incredible success creating educational content. Can you shed light on how this collaboration will enhance the TinyTap platform?
The future of education should be about inspiring an intrinsic love of learning in children by providing them with relatable material. By infusing Pinkfong’s iconic characters with our education architecture on our platform we’re on a mission to make learning fun and relatable, promoting creativity, critical thinking, and early childhood development with familiar characters.
4. TinyTap’s Publisher NFTs model is unique and innovative. It’s a fun way for NFT traders to support teachers and the education industry. Can you share the long-term vision for this model, especially in terms of scalability and global reach?
Creating partnerships between education providers and education supporters can go a long way on a global scale. We are building out a flow of $EDU (Open Campus’s native token) where donors can sponsor immutable scholarships for student learning with locked tokens that will be used to access content in which teachers and educators can withdraw that money from the educational material they have created. Students who have completed these courses will have verifiable proof of their academic accomplishments.
There is an ecosystem diagram in the Open Campus whitepaper which outlines the incredible lengths we are going to provide educational support worldwide.
5. Your background is quite diverse, spanning design, development, and entrepreneurship. How do you think this multifaceted experience shaped your leadership style at TinyTap?
I studied design but the rest of it was self-taught, or rather finding the right mentors to supplement my knowledge. With the right initiatives and motivation, I believe everyone can be full stack and stay ahead while being on trend. It’s not a matter of inherent skill, it’s a matter of learning.
With it, I’m able to put my trust in my team, when everyone is aware of the company’s progress and direction, anyone can bring the next dev idea and next business breakthrough.
6. Are there any new features on the horizon for TinyTap that you’re particularly excited about?
TinyTap.AI is our current frontier. A tool to create on-the-go lessons on any topic to aid independent learning and cognitive development for young children. The tool can be used by any age but it is based on TinyTap learning architecture for the past decade so it is specifically trained to convey information to younger audiences.
We are aiming to create a product that can seamlessly be incorporated into classrooms. Teachers can use TinyTap AI to expound on subjects with more information and offer full courses on desired topics.
7. How do you see the intersection of education, content creation, and Web3 developing in the next 5-10 years?
As I mentioned previously, the opportunity to support education will become easier with traceable scholarships that can only be used for learning within the Open Campus ecosystem and our academic partnerships. However, the opportunity for teachers grows exponentially with the adoption of blockchain.
With more educational content creators finding audiences around the world via the innovative Publisher NFTs, the entire academic landscape will change. Teachers have this new source of income, upfront sales of Co-Publishing rights, and the longtail earnings of new learners accessing the content. Educators will receive fair value for their contributions and have the opportunity to invest back in their teaching material as lessons they have created find favor and receive market validation from the community.
Learners will no longer be limited by the opportunities within their communities but rather can find the right educational material for them. Students will have an immutable record of academic achievements which can be used to verify applying to colleges or universities.
The big vision is for universities, or accredited institutions, to adopt the idea of online courses with immutable records which can then reflect well on a student when applying for jobs and seeking employment.
But even on a vocational level, wouldn’t you prefer to hire a plumber you know has completed courses on the precise issue you’re facing?
8. What are some emerging trends in edtech that you are most excited about?
AI is a big fish for education and there are so many ways it can be applied. With the biggest hurdle being verified information there are other instances where AI can create a more engaging learning environment. It can be using familiar characters or even the likeness of parents for young children to better understand and comprehend subjects.
I think as this technology develops education applications will really take off.