Factom Protocol / West Virginia University Partnership

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#1
As was provided in our update, the Veteran team is now at a decision point in our efforts to partner the Factom Protocol with the West Virginia University (WVU). Please review the attached proposal.

Over the last nine months, the Veteran team members have met dozens of times with faculty and staff of WVU, evangelizing the potential of the Factom Protocol and garnering support for our initiative. These efforts have reached a point where we require community participation to decide if this is an effort we want to pursue. Our pledge was to foster awareness for the protocol through establishing a partnership with a well-known university. Through our efforts we have gained the support of the Dean of the John Chambers School of Business and Economics, the Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives, Assistant Dean for Development, and the West Virginia Forward organization. Bottom line - WVU is ready to partner with the Factom Protocol.

WVU is seeking an endowment in the form of $300,000 over three years to establish a Factom-specific hackathon with the intent to grow into a blockchain curriculum offering made possible by the Factom Protocol. WVU seeks to host three annual Factom hackathons with the intent to grow to an inter-collegiate competition following the first hackathon. This is WVU committing to the Factom Protocol; reallocating their own resources to market and host the hackathon.

Some key points to consider:

  • WVU is comfortable with attaching their name to the Factom Protocol. This is huge.

  • The hackathon challenge in the proposal is only a suggestion and we have influence in deciding the challenge.

  • We have say in the schedule of the hackathon. Initial planning was for a fall timeline, but this is likely aggressive to accomplish. Spring is looking more likely now.

  • We can possibly negotiate the dollar figure but not the time frame (three years). This is to ensure a commitment on the protocol’s part.

  • As has been identified by others following the success of the Odyssey hackathon, this is an opportunity for the Factom Protocol to be the ONLY blockchain technology used in the hackathon.

Decision to be made:

Will the community support an ongoing effort in the form of protocol grants to fund the endowment and partnership?

We ask for full participation and discussion from ALL in the community to decide if this is an effort we want to pursue. This will have lasting impact on the protocol and has been initiated as a major timed discussion.

Thank you,

-Nolan
 

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#2
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#3
Hi Nolan,

Congrats on your progress with this entity and thanks for opening up this discussion.

The 100 000$ figure right now represent about 2.5% of the remaining inflation of the grant pool. If the price was to fall to 4$ again, this would be over 5%, for 1 item only. By onboarding new ANOs this could represent an even larger % of the grant pool allocated specifically to this event.

Here are my questions for you :

1. How would a contract with them be built. Who would be liable ? Could it be possible to bail out of this if the price of FCT was to fall lower than what it currently is?

2. Does the Factom governance allow for this type of multi-year grant ? Or would the standing parties have to renew their vote every grant round ? How do you see this ?

3. Why couldn't this be sponsored on a yearly basis?

I feel entering in such a long partnership using $ amounts is a little bit risky. There is a lot of recurring paid work using the grant pool right now and if the price keeps dropping like this, this is probably a project I would like to remove the funding quickly.
 
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#4
@Nolan Bauer @Kyle Heinemann

Incredible work gentlemen. I'm sure there was an enormous amount of leg work that went into it. If the Factom Protocol is truly going to be considered the data integrity layer of the internet, then partnerships like this are a "must."

From a financial perspective, Go Immutable shares the same concerns as outlined by @Miguel Proulx . However, we also are looking at this through a different lens:

1. We will be having ANO elections again sometime in the next 6 months
2. Let's assume the average ANO runs at 50% efficiency, which equates to 1123 FCT a month received
3. Let's use $7.50 for the price of FCT (that's around the average price since Jan 1, 2019)
4. Let's do some math:

(1123 FCT/Month) * (12 Months) * ($7.50/FCT ) = $101,070 per year

So, I think the question, "Should we allocate $100K/year for three years to the West Virginia Partnership" can be reframed as:

"Six months from now, is it worth it to have one less ANO than we otherwise would have if that means that we can lock in a partnership with West Virginia University and reap the benefits of all the marketing awareness, new developers, and enterprise contacts it would create?"

To Go Immutable, this is a no-brainer. This opportunity can be funded via a VBIF efficiency drop as well as grants.

Great work again guys!
 
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#5
Thank you VBIF for your hard work on this initiative.
Will the community support an ongoing effort in the form of protocol grants to fund the endowment and partnership?
I understand the hackathon but you've used the word "partnership". What I'd like to see if something more formal in regards to what the partnership would encompass. If it would include curriculum, what department would that curriculum come under. For example, I know they have a strong biometrics program so if they had a "Biometrics and Factom blockchain 101" that might be interesting to me. If it was, "Basket weaving and blockchain", not so much.

Does it include social media mentions by them. If so, how often and which platforms? How prominently will this be featured on their website?

I'm interested but I need more information on what we'd get.

Again, thank you for this work.
 
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#6
I think US student population mind share is great real estate and I can see a situation where WVU becomes the de facto university for future blockchain/DLT "specialists". It would be nice to have Factom at the forefront given it's versatility.

Although I see the rationale behind a minimum 3 year commitment, it feels a little excessive in the risk department at first glance. Wouldn't it be logical for the budget to increase YoY if it experiences any kind of success? Is some kind of contingency based on the first years performance (maybe some standing representatives from the community who attend can report back for a reassessment?).

I see the potential student groups included. Is there some kind of hard number WVU or you can estimate to attend?
 
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#7
Thanks for sharing the oppprtunity with us.

When is payment due? Is there flexibility to reduce Prize allocation incase of FCT problems?

We gained a lot of success from sponsoring Odyssey for $15k. So value is an important point:

I’d love to know a rough idea of size and scale the event will be - and any commitment they are putting towards the event in return for ours?
 

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#8
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#9
I wanted to thank you all for your questions, comments and candid and genuine concerns. Nolan and I appreciate your support and the acknowledgment of the work and time that has gone into where we find ourselves. I have compiled the outstanding questions and have forwarded this to the Dean of Strategic Initiatives at WVU. Once received, I will post to this thread unedited. I felt it was not fair to you to give you my opinion, but rather to convey directly from the source so all of us potentially enter into this eyes wide open.
I rarely post in these forums, yet regularly observe the discussions among the protocol and follow the temperament of the ecosystem for various initiatives and developments. I did, however, believe it would be valuable to step into the forum as I've been in the meetings on a weekly basis with WVU for the preceding two months. Prior to our selection as ANO, Nolan and I pledged to merge this protocol with an institution. We pledged to catalyze awareness, development, adoption and usage. Since being selected, what we have accomplished with WVU in just 6 short months should be incredibly encouraging for everyone in this community. In a real, tangible, deliverable way we have as an ecosystem a university institution that is at our doorstep. If I thought it was a waste of our time, energy or all of our resources, Nolan and I would not have brought this to you for your consideration. I don't want it to be lost on anyone how excited WVU is in collaborating and partnering with the Factom protocol. I understand your concerns with the duration of the commitment. I personally see this as less risky on our behalf, and significantly more for WVU. Understand that they want to be known as a leader within the national university structure when it comes to blockchain. Hackathons are the initial vehicle, but curriculum, commercial development, adoption and usage within the institution and their subsidiaries is their long-term objective. They are committing to the Factom protocol just as much (if not more) as we are committing to them. In a sense; they are putting all of their blockchain eggs into the Factom protocol basket.
Again, thank you guys for your support. I'm looking forward to receiving and posting the answers from WVU for your review and continued consideration. My hope was to set the table so to speak. To communicate clearly how potentially large of an opportunity this is for the protocol not just in terms of awareness and development initially, but in adoption going forward.
Respectfully,
Kyle Heinemann, CEO
Veteran Blockchain Investment Firm
 
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#10
Despite reading the forum posts here on a regular basis, I dont often actively post. This potential partnership though is worth dipping a toe in the water for!

I just wanted to say, as a token holder and strong believer in the future of the Factom protocol, I see this as a phenomenal opportunity. Not just now, but for the long term vision of the whole Factom ecosystem. Introducing students to the protocol is one of several crucial steps for mainstream adoption; we have the best tech (imo) and this type of partnership ensures we attract the best people in the years to come. This helps feed the obvious positive feedback loop built into the protocol; more development = more useage = higher FCT = more development. Having students leaving a top university knowing how to develop on Factom is huge for the future.

I hope this continues to progress and massive well done to VBIF. 👍
 
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#11
Would the university be interested in being on-boarded as an ANO?

It makes more sense to have the WVU as an ANO with “skin in the game” where VBIF along with guides provide the university with guidance and knowhow. This way capital for the “partnership” can be allocated on a regular basis instead of a lump sum that puts much pressure on the ecosystem with factoids at $8 and potentially going lower.

Factoid price is crucial for continued progress and development of the protocol and ecosystem. Resources must be allocated adequately while price remains at the lowest levels since 2017 FOMO run-up. If exchange committee sucessfully lists on US licensed exchanges and marketing committee creates a successful campaign, price should be in double digits and higher. Higher price translates to more opportunities, this should not be underestimated.
 
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#12
Would the university be interested in being on-boarded as an ANO?

It makes more sense to have the WVU as an ANO with “skin in the game” where VBIF along with guides provide the university with guidance and knowhow. This way capital for the “partnership” can be allocated on a regular basis instead of a lump sum that puts much pressure on the ecosystem with factoids at $8 and potentially going lower.
That's my exact suggestion for how we should proceed as an ecosystem.

I can't begin to communicate how frustrating it is for me that we're not taking a more sophisticated approach to who we onboard as ANOs.
 
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#13
Thanks for the question Cointech and follow-up David. I'm not sure if you remember; but Nolan and I actually spoke about this exact concept at the Factom Protocol Summit this past fall in Austin. In short; the answer is yes that it is our belief (and previously communicated goal) that we will be able to eventually onboard WVU as an ANO.
Let me first state that this possibility would in no way alter the endowment requirement of providing complete funding for the planning and implementation ahead of the initial hackathon.
It is, however, completely realistic and our full expectation that in concluding the initial hackathon that a combination of student, faculty and university leadership would be identified by our own protocol representatives and advocated for in running as an ANO (think of the marketing the protocol would garner on a continual basis).
Secondly, Nolan and I have met with the Office of the Secretary of State of West Virginia to include the Chief Information Officer as well as the Chief Technology Officer of the state. To say they were impressed with what we presented to them would be an understatement. These state representatives would be in attendance of this event and would likely be candidates as well. It is possible that we as a protocol could have the option in selecting both WVU and the state of West Virginia to be onboarded as ANO's. There is a method to our madness and believe me when I tell you that Nolan and I have a plan. In your language David, we think a highly sophisticated plan. We were not speaking tongue in cheek of merging the protocol with an institution. I do, however, want to pose several questions for thought and consideration of everyone. What if we were able to merge this protocol with more than one institution; simultaneously? What would happen if both a university and state government were selected to run the protocol? Might that give the market a reason (or more) to put the spotlight on the Factom protocol? Would the awareness through WVU's marketing and social media efforts change our course markedly? Would the development of the protocol be altered positively with an influx of computer science, cyber and biometric students? Would the protocol be comprehensively adopted by the very same institution that is currently running it? Finally; would the institution and its subsidiaries use the protocol that they are currently developing and running? What I'm trying to say is this. Some in the protocol see this as a risky commitment. We see this as a partnership that fulfills all four attributes of what we are all working very hard towards. Awareness, development, adoption and usage.
This plan will take time to develop; but the connections have been made, meetings have taken place, trust has been built and the initial deliverable is at our doorstep. It is our hope that you can at the very least see the vision that we have to advance the protocol and appreciate that the first institution has already agreed to committing themselves to our protocol for three years.
Respectfully,
Kyle Heinemann
 
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#14
All,

Please find below WVU's unedited responses to the questions posed to them. I trust that you will find I posed questions to WVU to put them in the appropriate frame of mind to communicate some of their intangible thoughts. I will likely follow-up with my own thoughts on the matter later in the day after further thoughts and discussion has been introduced by the community. Again, thank you for your consideration and look forward to the continued conversation.

Respectfully,

Kyle Heinemann, CEO
Veteran Blockchain Investment Firm

Dear Kyle,

Thanks so much for the opportunity to respond to questions posed about our proposal. Our responses are below. In responding, I reached out to Javier and looped in Sarah Biller.
If you have any suggestions or if we have missed anything, please let us know.

Liz

1. The long-term partnership with WVU is risky. Is this a partnership or merely a collaboration? If it is only a collaboration; then why are we committing ourselves, our name, our technology and our technological expertise to them?

Like Factom's Founders, West Virginian's have long seen the world differently. For example, the state of West Virginia has already made headlines with its use of blockchain, engaging Voatz to create a secure app for our deployed military and their families to cast vote in last year’s midterm election. This initiative was a huge success and has garnered attention from academics and industry. The secretary of state, Mac Warner, is champion of the technology and its potential to not only support the exchange of secure, confidential information such as a person's voting preferences, but demonstratively aggregate, often opaque datasets among other use cases for blockchain. WVU is participating in weekly calls to help identify these use cases and offering our support and resources. Additionally, the WVU John Chambers College of Business and Economics is looking to expand and incorporate blockchain into what we do and how we can prepare our students for the future.

More specifically, the hackathon is an excellent way to develop Factom as a technology in the toolkit of the next generation of business leaders, but also insure that the protocol an elevated stage with state and university leaders. Those that are well versed in the technology understand the potential of blockchain. Many students and faculty are still nascent in their understanding and the hackathon will provide an impactful introduction to the university community through a hands-on approach that will seed future opportunities at WVU. WVU is the flagship institution of the state and has the opportunity to lead change. We would love to lead the expansion of blockchain into West Virginia. ’

2. The protocol is interested in partnerships and what that would encompass. If the university is to create a curriculum based substantively on the Factom blockchain, what department(s) would it include? Example; Biometrics and Factom Blockchain 101? Other departments, programs?

The John Chamber College of Business and Economics can create new curricular options through special topics courses. By creating a buzz through the hackathon and related activities and speakers, a demand for blockchain courses in the area will grow. Courses can expand into concentrations, certificates and eventually full degrees. We have experienced similar evolutions in cyber security and data analytics where we now offer degree programs, executive education, we have dedicated faculty lines and robust research agendas. Other curricular opportunities include guest speakers, experiential learning opportunities and more. These opportunities are not specific to business students. We offer programs across campus to include health sciences, engineering, law and others.

3. What do the WVU representatives have in mind in terms of size and scale of the event? Estimates of numbers in attendance? What notable speakers/attendees does WVU plan to bring forward?

As mentioned above, West Virginia's blockchain commitment has garnered widespread, positive business media, industry and government attention. To insure a successful hackathon, WVU will reach out to our global community, including the many alumni who are industry leaders, to make the event a success. For example, our executive Director, Sarah Biller, is an active participant in the Blockchain community, works closely with the Simon Johnson, Jonah Crane and others assessing the impact of blockchain on finance; is an advisor Adjoint.IO; and is the Cofounder of the Fintech Sandbox. She committed to leveraging her network to bring innovators and global thought leaders such as Meltem Demirors (Chief Strategy Officer of Coin Source) and Anders Brownworth (Chief Evangelists of Circle) to speak at the event, to mentor hackathon participants and to create media awareness. We would work closely with you to determine the optimal size of the hackathon participants and adjacent events.

4. How prominently will this be featured on their website and under their social media vehicles? Which platforms? Frequency of mentions?

The hackathon will be a huge event on campus and will be messaged aggressively. A formal communication plan will be created by our Communication Strategy team and the John Chambers College of Business and Economics will partner to WVU university relations and the alumni foundation to disseminate, brand and market. All of our channels, website, social media, alumni events and communication portals will be leveraged to create awareness and draw participation.

5. Does WVU have any tangible plan on adopting and using the protocol? If so, when?

We do not have a formal plan for adoption as of yet, we understand the importance and need to build expertise in this space on campus and for all of our stakeholders. Through your partnership and guidance, we want to create opportunities for students, faculty, university and state leaders to adopt the technology so that more use cases can be identified.

Elizabeth Vitullo, PhD
Assistant Dean for Strategic Initiatives
John Chambers College of Business and Economics
West Virginia University
 
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#15
As the Factom Protocol Marketing Chair, the marketing committee will support these hackathons through our current and soon to be formed channels.

Exciting stuff. As things move forward we are happy to be included in marketing meetings
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As an ANO, this is extremely exciting. From my experience on these things, we need to execute well in these hackathons which will then open up conversations for a more formal partnership with WVU.
 
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#18
Thanks for the question Tor.
As of this moment; our efforts are focused on building awareness on behalf of the protocol through WVU's global marketing reach as well as the multiple Factom-specific hackathons and its pipeline of students, faculty and university leadership for protocol development and Factom protocol curriculum generation. Once the initial hackathon has taken place; we (along with other protocol representatives) will identify individuals at WVU that we believe would be a great selection for running as an ANO (still to be determined by the protocol as a whole). This is something we continue to work with them on, however, they are not in a position to be pledging to be an ANO to the protocol without first being introduced and using it meaningfully. As previously stated; it is a reasonable objective of ours to bring institutions to the protocol to be candidates for ANO, but we are not currently in a position to negotiate on something we know to be likely three steps ahead of us. In short; the Factom protocol (via Veteran) needs to walk alongside them as a collaboration before we can begin running together as a partnership. The proposal is for the initial two attributes previously noted to be fulfilled (awareness and development) and is not contingent upon WVU becoming an ANO. If the protocol develops as we all believe it will and are working so hard towards, it is our belief (and have every indication from WVU through dozens of meetings and conversations) that the remaining two attributes (adoption and usage) will follow closely in an extremely meaningful way. This is why I have limited my personal (and what could be viewed as a subjective viewpoint) and instead reached out directly to WVU for their objective and measured responses. I would encourage everyone to review the answer from Elizabeth to question #5 in my previous post as to their overall goals as well. Specifically; "through your partnership and guidance, we want to create opportunities for students, faculty, university and state leaders to adopt the technology."
Again; thank you all for your continued questions and consideration.

Respectfully,
Kyle Heinemann, CEO
Veteran Blockchain Investment Firm
 
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#19
All,

This will be my last post in regards to this topic unless anyone has anything further for me. I wanted to disseminate the attachment at still an appropriate hour for most time zones in the community for discussion. Please find below what this would look like from a grant proposal going forward. Take note the initial $100,000 USD equivalent to be paid out in full the September 2019 grant distribution. Following that, the grant requests would be divided on a going forward basis to be paid prior to a 30 June Fiscal Year deadline for WVU. The request this week from WVU is to have had the initial contribution by the end of this month; of which is an unrealistic timeline and something I have already messaged. A poll is to be opened up over the weekend where we will request a vote of support or non-support for this undertaking. If supported, I will engage directly with WVU for a revised contribution timeline as well as continuing our discussions for future plans to merge our protocol with WVU the institution. Thank you again for all of your questions, thoughts and constructive feedback we have received.

Respectfully,
Kyle Heinemann, CEO
Veteran Blockchain Investment Firm
 

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#20
TFA supports this initiative.

Having a top university partnering with Factom is a very exciting prospect, especially if there’s a good chance it leads to introducing Factom into their curriculum and the possibility of a university managed ANO. These opportunities are too important to turn down and great work, VBIF for getting it this far.

We recognize that the amount requested is rather high, and that it will put extra pressure on an already strained grant pool, but even with this in mind we believe the potential upside outweighs the risk and we are prepared to support this going forward.
 
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