You can see our full pitch deck here:

Click this for the pitch deck.

Inspiration

Without a doubt, there are many people all over the world who know they can achieve more. They have the intellectual capacity and the drive that many employers would consider as great assets to any organization. However, not everyone will get to realize their full potential and one of the biggest hindrances is the lack of skills that they would have gained if only they had the proper training. In third world countries, although the government states that proper education is a right, it in fact, remains a mere privilege accessible only to those who can afford it. And so is a fulfilling career.

College degrees are usually a prerequisite for certain jobs. However, in countries like the Philippines, the main thing a college degree really guarantees is that you found a way to finance your studies, whether it’s by being supported by parents, by securing a scholarship, or by making it into a state university. So what about the rest of the population, who may be just as smart, as talented, just as driven, but were not lucky enough to have any of these? There are many ways to conduct an elimination process that would leave companies with only the best talent. But financial capacity should not and should NEVER be the main qualifier.

And while we are wasting a huge pool of intellectually capable and driven people to a lack of education and resources, there is a huge deficiency in skilled talent for companies, especially in the tech industry. There is a huge gap between what today's fast-paced technology industries require and the talent being produced by the current education system.

So the irony is that it seems as if we are unnecessarily suffering the winter cold while literally living in a forest with an excessive amount of trees just waiting to be turned into firewood, or built into a cozy abode.

Someone just has to get working.

So how can smart and driven but underserved talent be included in the work force, where they will have a chance at a better career and future while serving the unmet requirements of today’s tech-driven industries? Instead of waiting around for people to come out of universities as “full packages” containing everything companies need, why don't we admit that this just hasn't been working out for a while and be more proactive about it?

What it does

PRODIGY connects companies with talent for training and/or hire using skills-specific, logic-based tests tailored for specific positions. Unlike conventional recruitment sites and applications, PRODIGY does not just give up on “less-than-qualified” candidates.PRODIGY encourages and facilitates bridging the skills gap through education.

Prodigy screens people based on logic, cognitive ability, pattern recognition, and problem solving exams that can gauge whether a person is capable of the type of thinking required for a specific job, narrowing down your list to those who are likely to possess the technical capacity required for the positions you need the most. The platform also facilitates safely financing a candidate’s skills-specific training with an accredited institution before they are formally hired.

Prodigy gives quality candidates a chance regardless of their college degree, or lack thereof. At the same time, it gives employers direct and quick access to the talent pool without having to go through the grueling (and often futile) tasks involved in the current standard recruitment process.

Who Will it Benefit?

  • Raw talent - candidates who are "less-than-qualified," people who have the capacity but cannot afford the education/training required for them to qualify for better, more in-demand jobs. One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is quality education, which significantly affects the other goals in the list such as alleviation of poverty, and decent work & economic growth. In 35 developing countries surveyed by researchers from Cambridge University, less than 10% of people under 25 reached tertiary education; in some countries, it was less than 5%.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that an additional 3.4 million will be unemployed by the end of 2017, bringing the global total to over 200 million for the first time in history.

Apart from this, underemployment is also a growing problem as more and more people drop out of the labour force worldwide—in developing and developed countries alike. And with the forthcoming reign of automation, it doesn't look like the situation is going to get better—not unless somebody does something about it.

  • Companies - companies who are in need of special skills but cannot find qualified talent. A 2016 survey by American multinational human resource consulting firm Manpower Group concluded that 40% of global employers have shortages in talent, the highest shortage since 2007. Consequently, businesses have been seen turning to training and development in an effort to fill the gaps.

How it Works

The application will run on the public Ethereum blockchain.

  1. Candidates from anywhere in the world get verified. Legal documents would be required in addition to a photo/video verification system. Each user’s public profile, however, appears only as an ID number along with exam scores.

  2. Users take specific exams, such as IQ tests, pattern recognition, problem solving and other tests that are tailored for specific positions. (We’re still doing some research on which tests have been reviewed and are being used by tech companies). We are exploring systems to avoid fraud and cheating.

  3. Their scores are recorded on the blockchain, helping them build up their reputation, and serving as a credential history that cannot be tampered with or forged. Whenever a user scores high enough, companies get notified and they can check out the user's profile. Each company can choose which exams they want to be notified for, and how high the scores would have to be to get their attention.

  4. Companies can then contact the user and set up an interview via Skype or any other video chat platform, where they can gauge the user as a person. If all goes well, then the companies and users can negotiate an agreement. It could be that the company will pay for the user to take a specific course with an accredited institution, for example, a crash course on programming, or any other course based on what the company needs.

  5. The accredited institution submits the user’s scores or course status to the sponsoring company. If the user passes, the user gains employment with the company.

Challenges

There are certain aspects of the system that cannot be automated and are still trust-based, and these human aspects of the system (and any system) have a room for error/dishonesty. As agreements go, there is always a risk that one of the parties involved will not honor the terms agreed upon. As is the case in the scenarios below:

  • Employees/scholars can ghost out on a company
  • Companies can fail to provide the financial assistance agreed upon
  • Accredited training institutions can make errors in fund transfers, course modules, etc.

We need to find a mechanism to mitigate these risks. The team also has to find the best way to ensure the integrity of the system and the exam results. Finding a business model to bootstrap the project is also a priority.

What's next for Prodigy

For this hackathon, we will be releasing a prototype focusing on the interface and flow. We still have a lot of research to do and we are still formulating a watertight, fraud-proof system.

Apart from this, we are hoping to make it to the conference in DC this November. We are also on the lookout for an experienced business development mentor—someone who would help turn PRODIGY into a self-sustaining organization.

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Updates

posted an update

Week 3 September 21 - September 28: Product Development

UPDATE: Check out our project prototype here!

Click this to see the InVision prototype for PRODIGY.

*This is being updated as we go along.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The MVP for PRODIGY includes: Applicant login and functionalities - take exams, score records Applicant and employer verification systems Exams (a few to start with) and score records on the blockchain Viewable profiles showing ID numbers of users and their scores Employer login and functionalities - high scores, launch exams Messaging system

Later developments include: Accredited training institution login and functionalities Customization of exams Accreditation of training centers Escrow and transfers to accredited training institutions for tuition funding Transfers from institutions to for allowances Blockchain records of certifications issued for completion of courses

Testing and Campaigns

We plan to employ agile testing for development, with the Philippines as a testing ground for the user side of the app, and a neighboring Asian country for the client side. We’re thinking of approaching other startup communities and incubators within Asia.

Alpha:

  • Small groups can be used to test the flow from client to user, and vice versa
  • Set up booths in campuses where students get to test a non-live version of the app and leave feedback in exchange for some freebies
  • At this point, the website should be live with an email subscription function, and an overview/introductory video on what the project offers when it goes live
  • We will start promoting the Facebook page to gain followers and update as the project develops

Beta:

  • A dedicated website with demo videos and tutorials to help with onboarding users
  • Advertisements through social media for reaching audience and gathering analytics, market research
  • Campus tours for testing, feedback, and user sign ups
  • Membership pages and tutorials for clients
  • Free trial for select companies/partners
  • Feedback

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posted an update

Reposting Week 1 checkpoints with formatting: Week 1 September 7 - September 14: Defining assumptions

Team members Cecille de Jesus, Johan Stén, Gerard Netro

Choose which challenge you are going to be working on

Our project deals with both Financial Inclusion as well as Identity & Vulnerable Populations. With PRODIGY, we will be working on financial inclusion for the economically disadvantaged, by providing a sustainable solution that aims to also bridge the gap between education and employment.

Define specific problem you're addressing

Lack of access to free education hinders an individual’s ability to get himself out of poverty. Even when an individual theoretically has the capacity to be a valuable resource to a company in need, the lack of training automatically renders the individual’s resume as “unqualified” for jobs in demand.

Student loans are also not very accessible to people who come from poor families, since even their parents cannot qualify as guarantors for credit.

There aren’t enough scholarships to go around, and companies will only provide training to people if they are already hired. This loops back to the main problem which is that an individual cannot get hired without the proper training, and yet he cannot acquire the training because he cannot afford it if he doesn’t have a decent-paying job.

On the other end, businesses all over the world, especially in the skills trade and tech industries, are struggling to fill roles with competent talent. The current education system is lagging behind in terms of producing the talent needed by today’s fast-paced technology industry. Even university graduates do not come fully packaged with all the specialized skills needed by companies.

PRODIGY is an application that connects employers with potential talent from anywhere in the world. Using logic-based exams, candidates are screened and sponsored for skills-specific training and eventually hired by participating companies. We are initially focusing on technical skills, analysis, pattern recognition, logic and other quantifiable metrics that are critical for candidates required by tech companies. Although skills trade is higher up on the list of talent shortages, targeting tech talent may be a more feasible testing ground for the initial/trial phase of the app since remote working is an option.

Why is blockchain needed to solve this problem?

Fraud prevention - identities can be verified and exam scores connected with verified accounts. Verifiable credentials - provide a platform that allows users to build a professional reputation online that is test-based and cannot be fabricated, forged or tampered with, and can easily be verified by participating companies. Fund protection - facilitate the transfer and release of funds to accredited institutions in order to minimize the possibilities that the fund will be misused, or liquidated by a candidate who then disappears.

What is the size of the market?

Candidates will be tested for technical capacity and connected with companies in need of these skills. Therefore, there are two main groups that the app will be targeting:

  1. Users - people who sign up as “candidates.”

One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is quality education, as it significantly affects the other goals in the list such as alleviation of poverty, and decent work and economic growth. In 35 developing countries surveyed by researchers from Cambridge University, less than 10% of people under 25 reached tertiary education; in some countries, it was less than 5%.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that an additional 3.4 million will be unemployed by the end of 2017, bringing the global total to over 200 million for the first time ever. Apart from this, underemployment is also a growing problem as more and more people drop out of the labour force worldwide—in developing and developed countries alike.

  1. Companies - companies who are looking for candidates to sponsor for training and eventual hire.

A 2016 survey by American multinational human resource consulting firm Manpower Group concluded that 40% of global employers have shortages in talent, the highest shortage since 2007. Consequently, businesses have been seen turning to training and development in an effort to fill the gaps.

What other solutions are currently being used to address this problem?

There are many initiatives being done by international non-profit organizations in terms of providing equal access to education for students in developing countries. Scholarships have also been existing in different universities all over the world for a while, although they are scant and extremely competitive. Businesses are also training their employees to learn new skills that their companies need.

However, we haven’t found any organizations doing what we are attempting to do on a global scale. We are still doing our research and will definitely update this section should we come across something significant.

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posted an update

Week 1 September 15 - September 21: Pain points and user story

Who are your clients/users?

There are two main targets for the app:

  1. Tech companies looking for talent to acquire but are having a hard time finding qualified applicants due to a gap in skills.

  2. Talent/potential candidates who have the intellectual capabilities needed for specific technical jobs, but lack certain skills and do not have the financial means to take courses that would help them fully realize their potential and build a meaningful career.

Demographic: Smart, ambitious, driven, always looking to learn new things beyond what the academe dictates; Age range: 18-30; Most probably comes from a low-income background.

USER STORY: “Undiscovered geniuses” The user is the type of person you see in feel-good movies. If you have seen “The Pursuit of Happyness,” then that quickly paints a picture of who the users are going to be. Their struggles usually revolve around getting through each day when they’re not sure whether they would even have enough to eat.

They acknowledge the fact that there is an inequality in the way the world works and that they were not lucky enough to born with all the resources they need. But they hustle on. For now, they focus on getting by, but they constantly have one eye open for much more than just surviving.

While they do not have a lot of credentials in terms of degrees under their belt, their years of struggle has made them far more creative, far more resourceful, adaptable and hardworking than an average person who didn’t have to navigate difficulty on a daily basis.

What are their pain points?

Candidates College degrees are usually a prerequisite for certain jobs. However, in countries like the Philippines, the main thing a college degree really guarantees is that you found a way to finance your studies, whether it’s by being supported by parents, by securing a scholarship, or by making it into a state university. So what about the rest of the population, who may be just as smart, as talented, just as driven, but were not lucky enough to have any of these? There are many ways to conduct an elimination process that would leave companies with only the best talent. But financial capacity should not and should NEVER be the main qualifier. How can talented and driven but underserved people be included in the workforce, and be given a chance at better job prospects, and subsequently a better future?

Companies As technology accelerates, what jobs require of applicants becomes ever so much higher, and at a significantly faster pace. The current education system cannot keep up and is obviously lagging behind in terms of producing talent that would supply the needs of the tech industry. The current education system (in the Philippines, at least) requires students to take up a lot of subjects not necessary for the profession they chose. Most of these general education subjects have also already been covered in high school.

What is your product's value proposition?

PRODIGY connects companies with talent for training and/or hire using skills-specific, logic-based tests tailored for specific positions. Unlike conventional recruitment sites and applications, PRODIGY does not just give up on “less-than-qualified” candidates. PRODIGY encourages and facilitates bridging the skills gap through education.

What is your distribution and go-to-market strategy? Who can you partner with?

Partnerships can be made with: Schools/universities for user acquisition - local campus tours Schools or training centers Testing authorities Research facilities, statistics, psychology research on education, intelligence, and employment Recruitment for tech companies

Distribution channels: Social media marketing - ads, competitions, forums Campus tours - establish partnerships and create events with local campuses that involve small competitions, career orientation, etc. Reaching out to tech companies, starting within Asia and eventually expand globally

What are the risks associated with your solution?

As with all agreements, there is always a risk that one of the parties involved will not honor the terms agreed upon. a. Employees can fail/fall out of the program due to unforeseen circumstances, or intentionally ghost out on their sponsor; b. Companies can fail to provide the financial assistance consistently

Apart from this, one of the biggest challenges for the project is fraud prevention and detection, deploying mechanisms to ensure the integrity of exam results such as online proctors, and making sure that all of this function properly and smoothly altogether.

What is the impact of your solution? How will it be measured?

The impact will be measured by how many successful hires companies get through the app, and how long the employees stay with their sponsor companies. A cross-comparison between the success of this project and conventional recruitment processes may also be employed.

Long-term, we hope to see more and more Filipinos (and nationalities of other poor countries) succeed in breaking through the global workforce. Since we plan to use the Philippines as the starting point, we hope to raise the quality of the Filipino worker into an internationally competitive professional.

Globally, the project aims to produce more experts on different fields at a faster pace through targeted, skill-based education, while trying to alleviate poverty and student debt.

We aim to put intelligence back on the pedestal where it belongs and subsequently create more masters of specific skills—specialists instead of generalists. Should the project succeed, we expect to see competitors doing the same thing. This would actually be helpful in the advocacy and may help alleviate the overall global talent gap. This would be a win for all.

Define the technical specifications and development roadmap

PHASE 1: InVision prototype At the end of the hackathon, the end deliverable will be a prototype that focuses on the UI/UX flow. Time frame: 2 weeks (October 5) PHASE 2: Pre-alpha Initial testing Alpha Official testing Beta

Define your impact criteria and how you measure it

In the trial run, we would like to get the numbers on the following: How many people sign up How many people reach the scores desired by companies How many candidate sponsorships were made How many sponsored candidates successfully finish their programs and proceeded with employment These data can easily be pulled out from the application.

Ultimately, on a business perspective, the overall impact of the project is defined by the following criteria: How satisfied the companies are with their hires Overall reliability of the platform in acquiring qualified talent Ease of process from both ends How likely more companies will use the platform

Testing and QA, as well as surveys of clients/companies/users can be conducted to acquire these data.

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posted an update

Week 1 September 7 - September 14: Defining assumptions

Team members Cecille de Jesus, Johan Stén, Gerard Netro

Choose which challenge you are going to be working on: Our project deals with both Financial Inclusion as well as Identity & Vulnerable Populations. With PRODIGY, we will be working on financial inclusion for the economically disadvantaged, by providing a sustainable solution that aims to also bridge the gap between education and employment.

Define specific problem you're addressing: Lack of access to free education hinders an individual’s ability to get himself out of poverty. Even when an individual theoretically has the capacity to be a valuable resource to a company in need, the lack of training automatically renders the individual’s resume as “unqualified” for jobs in demand.

Student loans are also not very accessible to people who come from poor families, since even their parents cannot qualify as guarantors for credit.

There aren’t enough scholarships to go around, and companies will only provide training to people if they are already hired. This loops back to the main problem which is that an individual cannot get hired without the proper training, and yet he cannot acquire the training because he cannot afford it if he doesn’t have a decent-paying job.

On the other end, businesses all over the world, especially in the skills trade and tech industries, are struggling to fill roles with competent talent. The current education system is lagging behind in terms of producing the talent needed by today’s fast-paced technology industry. Even university graduates do not come fully packaged with all the specialized skills needed by companies.

PRODIGY is an application that connects employers with potential talent from anywhere in the world. Using logic-based exams, candidates are screened and sponsored for skills-specific training and eventually hired by participating companies. We are initially focusing on technical skills, analysis, pattern recognition, logic and other quantifiable metrics that are critical for candidates required by tech companies. Although skills trade is higher up on the list of talent shortages, targeting tech talent may be a more feasible testing ground for the initial/trial phase of the app since remote working is an option.

Why is blockchain needed to solve this problem? Fraud prevention - identities can be verified and exam scores connected with verified accounts. Verifiable credentials - provide a platform that allows users to build a professional reputation online that is test-based and cannot be fabricated, forged or tampered with, and can easily be verified by participating companies. Fund protection - facilitate the transfer and release of funds to accredited institutions in order to minimize the possibilities that the fund will be misused, or liquidated by a candidate who then disappears.

What is the size of the market?

Candidates will be tested for technical capacity and connected with companies in need of these skills. Therefore, there are two main groups that the app will be targeting:

  1. Users - people who sign up as “candidates.” One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is quality education, as it significantly affects the other goals in the list such as alleviation of poverty, and decent work and economic growth. In 35 developing countries surveyed by researchers from Cambridge University, less than 10% of people under 25 reached tertiary education; in some countries, it was less than 5%.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that an additional 3.4 million will be unemployed by the end of 2017, bringing the global total to over 200 million for the first time ever. Apart from this, underemployment is also a growing problem as more and more people drop out of the labour force worldwide—in developing and developed countries alike.

  1. Companies - companies who are looking for candidates to sponsor for training and eventual hire. A 2016 survey by American multinational human resource consulting firm Manpower Group concluded that 40% of global employers have shortages in talent, the highest shortage since 2007. Consequently, businesses have been seen turning to training and development in an effort to fill the gaps.

What other solutions are currently being used to address this problem? There are many initiatives being done by international non-profit organizations in terms of providing equal access to education for students in developing countries. Scholarships have also been existing in different universities all over the world for a while, although they are scant and extremely competitive. Businesses are also training their employees to learn new skills that their companies need. However, we haven’t found any organizations doing what we are attempting to do on a global scale. We are still doing our research and will definitely update this section should we come across something significant.

Log in or sign up for Devpost to join the conversation.