In Conversation With Richard Maaghul CEO Of ODEM
We had a pleasure interviewing Richard Maaghul CEO of ODEM. Richard has over 20 years of experience in web technology and entrepreneurship. In 1999, he founded Jadworks, online web and intranet builder for growing companies contracted for large-scale use by companies such as Chevron and Bright Horizons Family Solutions. ODEM believes that education and employment should be universally affordable, accessible, verifiable and transferable. The ODEM Marketplace is developed to directly connect employers, students and educators to put skills and growth at the center stage of today’s global workplace.
- Can you tell us what inspired you to pursue this career path? What do you want others to take from your story?
Education is the foundation for success in America and around the world. Education is something I have always been passionate about because it’s so integral to the trajectory of our lives. But there are some fundamental issues with the global education system, and I wanted to see those issues addressed, so we started to build solutions, one by one, first with Excelerators, then with ODEM.
I want others to understand that learning is what you make of it; your education is yours to develop, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to learning. Education shouldn’t put you into debt the way that it does today. It’s okay to pay for value. But education should be accessible and attainable. I’d also like people to consider that innovation is incredibly important, whether the developments are small or large. There is always room for improvement to our societal institutions and practices.
- Could you tell us about any of the interesting projects that you are working on currently?
Today, ODEM is focused on bringing the best educators and courses to the marketplace. Our mission is to provide educational experiences that result in better employment opportunities. To support our global initiative, the ODEM team is working diligently to ensure that we provide simple and straightforward learning management and classroom booking system, which is facilitated by ODEM’s Ethereum-based smart contract.
We’re also working with many organizations to help students and educators claim their education records on the blockchain. In today’s digital world, this ensures that their hard-earned diplomas, degrees, and credentials are validated and easily transferable across the globe. At present, we’re in the process of connecting with over 3,700 universities in North American to provide instant verification of student academic records.
This assists educators and employers in understanding the achievements and capabilities required to up-skill and employs for today’s labor market. Working closely with other pilot partners, including individual educators, universities, private training companies, and employers, creates immediate value for our marketplace participants. Some of these partnerships include the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Excelorators, SPOCE Training, Blockchain Intelligence Group, Chart Learning Solutions, and the Internet Bar Institute. We have recently announced a strategic collaboration with Bitfinex to expand cryptocurrency and blockchain education.
Together, ODEM and Bitfinex will launch a series of programs and courses aiming at increasing the level of education of both novice and advanced Bitfinex users who are interested in obtaining more knowledge about the technical features of digital tokens. In conjunction with these educational programs, ODEM will launch a full simulation of its education marketplace.
Bitfinex will provide the liquidity for ODEM transactions, reflected through ODEM’s smart contracts. This way, Bitfinex users purchasing educational programs on the ODEM Marketplace using the same credentials as on Bitfinex will be able to view their ODEM Token transactions on Bitfinex’s order book. Find out more here. We look forward to announcing more partnerships soon!
- Is there a particular person who you would like to credit with helping you get to where you are? Can you share an anecdote about that?
It would be unfair to only credit one particular person at any time throughout my life journey because there have been so many I have met over many years. I do thank the people that have been my constant such as my family, close friends and life long colleagues who wall with me when I had taken the wrong path and help guild back on the right path while I continue to grow both personally and professionally to ultimately leave a positive impact on making people’s lives a little bit better.
- What are the 5 things that you think are most fascinating about blockchain and crypto? Why?
The five things that I think are most fascinating about blockchain and crypto are:
- Decentralized networks are creating positive change that prioritizes users over corporations.
- Because of blockchain and crypto, security has become a core consideration of companies
- Cryptocurrency offers a legitimate vehicle for the creation and transfer of value based on users’ adoption and usage.
- The ability of a distributed network to remove intermediaries and cut fees for users.
- The ability for a distributed network to reach people who have been ignored or forgotten by traditional services.
- What are the five things that concern you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
The five things that I think are most concerning about blockchain and crypto are:
- The rate of adoption both with users and developers; we need education and accessibility to increase global adoption, and innovation and focus on scaling for meaningful mainstream use
- Whether the SEC will find a regulatory balance, not stifle innovation while curtailing wreckless application, i.e. derivatives, crypto scams, etc.
- Interoperability of public blockchains, like Ethereum. To increase usage and usefulness, users need to be able to leverage applications and the value of multiple chains congruently
- Transaction fees; how these will be managed moving forward to ensure the Ethereum blockchain, and others, remain accessible to any users who want to transact on-chain, and
- The misunderstanding of the technology; it’s not a general fix for fundamental business and societal issues, though it does provide real solutions to specific problems.
- How have you used your success to bring positive change to the world? Can you share a story?
With the growth of ODEM, our reach has also increased. Having a wider audience means that we’ve been able to maximize our impact as we’ve continued to develop our offering. This is the root of our positive change; being able to bring personalized and accessible continued learning to the widest audience possible.
We’re reaching people who previously felt that higher education was out of reach or cost-prohibitive, and people who live in areas of the world that other online learning services haven’t reached because of our global payment system.
- What are the three things that you would advise someone who aspires to emulate your career? Can you share an example of each idea?
- Don’t be afraid to do ‘the hard thing.’ Tackling big problems can be intimidating, but everything is accomplished one step at a time. Education is an enormous industry with roots that go very deep. We’re not trying to overhaul the whole industry; we’re tackling issues from a certain perspective, one layer at a time. With each day, our understanding of the problem becomes more manageable, and the solution simplifies as our team and audience grow.
- Surround yourself with motivated and supportive people. The people that you surround yourself with will have a remarkable impact on your ability to achieve your goals. Good people will benefit your mindset, productivity, and creativity. Choose to work with people who trust and believe in your vision. In particular, this is critical to the overall success of a team.
- Perseverance is key. Everything worthwhile takes time. Influencing change, making inroads, developing a new product, or building a great team, all of these things require consistent effort and determination. Perseverance will mean the difference between success and stopping short of success. You’ll always come up against people and organizations who don’t understand your ideas, especially when you’re aiming to change the status quo. But you’ve got to keep going!
- What is the one “Life Lesson Quote” that you stand by? Can you tell us how that had relevance to your own life?
You can find great success in supporting others. I finally found personal success when I realized that money was not the measurement of fulfillment. During my early years as a startup junkie, I had my share of both financial fortune and failure.
Regardless of the outcome, I was never satisfied. It wasn’t until I had more life experience under my belt and discovered what life was like outside of the United States that I realized my definition of ‘success’ was too narrowly focused. I also realized that what I had learned could be valuable and of service to other people, and potentially to other cultures and countries.
I wanted to pass on what I had come to understand about continued learning to support others in pursuit of a better life through education and employment. This was the genesis of ODEM, and through this deeper understanding of success, I have found a sense of self-worth that is incredibly fulfilling.
- Who would be one person in the world that you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I would have to say, Ted Turner. Ideally, I’d love to spend an entire day with him at his ranch in Montana. Ted is the visionary who believes in making the world a better place for everyone. He believes everything is possible, even against challenges and naysayers.
Having such big ideas, Ted dealt with much criticism he has built his companies and foundation, but always maintained his focus and pushed forward. I’d love to get a better understanding of what transpired in his life that cemented such a positive attitude, and personal courage, through good and bad times.
- Please share with us your opinions about the article we published about your startup on our website.
The article did a good job of explaining how ODEM leverages blockchain technology.
I particularly liked these parts: – “A good education can help build the future of an individual’s life, and for that, the future of the entire education system must become a part of the digitalized world that we are a part of today!” – “The education system has turned out to be the source of more money for the ones in power when the students should be the ones getting the most benefits out of an education system that has been created for them.”
- Where can our readers find you on social media?