The Genesis of Permissionless Academy: A Journey from 21st Century Skills to Financial Independence

In 2016, I founded Schoolze with the aim to revolutionize the way schools engage with parents and raise funds. As we grew, it became evident that the education system was stuck in a time warp.

Despite technological advances, the curriculum remained largely unchanged. This realization led us to develop products focused on 21st-century skills. However, these products didn’t gain traction. Schools were reluctant to change without immediate incentives.

Then the pandemic hit and the idea of 21st-century skills became an afterthought for already struggling schools. As any black swan event will do, schools were barely getting by using remote tech and teaching students, let alone helping kids build new forward-looking skills.

The Eureka Moment

The seed concept hit me last month on the first Sunday morning when I was contemplating what to make of all this mess in 2022. I did a blog post that day just to get some clarification in my own mind. Find it here.

The idea was “What if we could incentivize young adults with the promise of financial freedom by the age of 21”?

This idea was inspired by the concept of “permissionless leverage,” a term I came across while diving into the works of thinkers like Naval Ravikant. Naval argues that the most potent form of leverage in the modern world is “product and media,” which essentially means creating value that doesn’t require your constant time and attention.

What is Permissionless Academy?

Permissionless Academy is expected to be an online, cohort-based school that aims to make young adults financially free by the time they turn 21. How? By teaching them to build online systems around their personal brand. These systems are designed to generate income without consuming all their time. A lot more can be added here but this is the seed we will remain with for some time.

We will run a 6-week long cohort, each with 30 students. The goal is to have students start building some version of online authority with the goal of making their first dollar in the third week and compounding it every week after that.

By the end of the cohort, most students should be generating between $500 to $1K, depending on their local market conditions (or actually any money so far as it is growing).

Why Permissionless?

The term “permissionless” comes from the concept of leverage. Traditional forms of leverage, like education and job experience, require someone else’s permission to be useful. You need a company to hire you, a hospital to employ you as a doctor, or a bank to give you a loan.

In contrast, permissionless leverage—like writing a book or starting a YouTube channel—requires no one’s permission. You create value and put it out into the world. If it’s good, it will generate income. By using the permissionless concept this work can stay clear of colleges and universities until the first level of success is achieved. This is the core thesis behind Permissionless Academy.

The Long-Term Vision

Our long-term vision is to change the education system from the top down with this concept.

We believe that if we can prove the efficacy of our model, colleges will either become redundant or would like to adopt the Permissionless Academy model to help students make money while they also get a degree. Once colleges are redundant SAT will become redundant. Once SAT is not required, what will K12 prepare for? Why are those math and science majors just because they will be on the test?

On a long enough (10-year time horizon), there will be enough collateral for us to get back to schools asking them to focus on 21st-century skills because that is what they should have been doing all along.

They will have to adapt to a world where young adults are no longer solely focused on landing a 9-5 job but are instead building their own paths to financial freedom. How does it make sense to screw up 20 years of youngsters life just to prepare them to do a 9-5 job anyways.

The Power of Financial Freedom

Financial freedom isn’t just about money; it’s about the freedom to live life on your terms. Naval Ravikant often says, “You’re not going to get rich renting out your time.” The idea is to build systems that work for you, freeing you to do what you love. Imagine the possibilities if you didn’t have to worry about paying bills. Would you still opt for a 9-5 job, or would you explore the world, create, and contribute in ways that a regular job wouldn’t allow?

Permissionless Academy is more than just a school; it’s a movement. It’s about breaking free from societal norms and taking control of your destiny. We’re starting this reformative journey one cohort at a time, and we invite you to join us in making history.

I’m super excited about doing this and starting my search to build the core team next week to carry this search forward. If you are excited about building it together – drop me a DM on Twitter and let’s do it together.

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