While on the web, I stumbled across a new social media app that is still in BETA stage but appears quite intriguing. The app is called STEAMRole, which CEO Clarence Wooten, a self-described “Black Unicorn” of Silicon Valley, compared to Tinder in a Forbes interview with Devin Thorpe. Here is a clip from the interview that captures the essence of STEAMRole:
OK, sounds interesting, but what is it? Upon digging further, I soon realized that STEAM is an alteration of the STEM acronym commonly used in Silicon Valley and stands for – science, technology, engineering, arts and math. STEAMRole appears to be geared towards expanding opportunities in STEAM fields to economically disadvantaged youths and young adults. The video below shows how STEAMRole leverages the boundlessness of the internet and social media by connecting individuals in underserved communities with role models and resources that are not locally available to them.
This business model seems to hold quite a bit of potential. By providing individuals with access to resources that they normally would not have and by showing that that there are paths to achieving a future in STEAM careers, STEAMRole may be able to help address the lack of diversity that exists in Silicon Valley. By showcasing their talents to companies and linking with role models, economically challenged individuals may find paths to success that may have never seemed possible.
There is one item of the model, however, that gives me pause. Part of the success of the business model hinges on their in-house created block chain currency called RoleCoin.
Here is how it works:
I understand that the monetization model as presented is intended to increase participation from corporate investors and members, but it just feels a bit off.
There are so many block chain currencies popping up that it is hard to keep track and hard to know which ones are actually reputable. Wooten’s intentions to help advance the future of underserved and economically challenged communities by leveraging the boundlessness of technology seem genuine and are admirable. I am concerned, however, that he is basing his business model on something so risky and potentially fleeting as block chain currency.
As STEAMRole continues to develop it will be interesting to watch. I think Wooten is on to something here, but I am not convinced that his business model will prove to be successful. My gut tells me RoleCoin may prove to be the Achilles heel of the business model and that an altered model of STEAMRole will emerge post-BETA, or a competitor will enter the market with a model not revolving around a block chain currency.
Regardless of the outcome of STEAMRole, I truly hope that some business model emerges that helps to have a fundamental impact on the issue of limited diversity in STEAM roles. After all, diversity is what advances us as a society.