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founding OpenClassroom - the open marketplace for local learning

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Thread starter #1
Hey, I'm Corné, and my goal for 2018 is to found OpenClassroom: the open marketplace for local learning


ABOUT OPENCLASSROOM

Imagine you're interested in learning something. Be it Spanish, advanced calculus, online marketing, yoga, building your own website, woodworking, playing the guitar, graphic design, coding, entrepreneurship, or whatever you're interested in. Wouldn't it be ideal if you could find someone close to you that already knows what you want to learn; so that you could learn from them, directly? This is what OpenClassroom is going to facilitate.

Companies like Airbnb and Uber have shown the incredible value that lies in decentralization, through mobilizing resources that were previously idle. Airbnb knew you don't need a hotel to host people and Uber knew you don't need a taxi to give someone a ride.

At OpenClassroom, we know that you don't need a school or a teaching degree to let someone learn from you. We want to decentralize learning in the same way Airbnb decentralized hosting: all the way to the p2p level. Our ultimate goal is making the school system completely obsolete.

Peter Thiel is famous for asking aspiring entrepreneurs this question: what truth do you know; that very few people agree with you on?
At OpenClassroom, our answer to that question is: anybody can be a teacher.


PROCESS

When I came up with the idea, there were two main problems:

1) I didn't know how to code, so I couldn't build a platform like this unless I paid someone to do it. And I didn't have any money either, only student debt.
Over the last year, I taught myself how to code with the sole purpose of building this online platform; and I've been building on it since about November 2017. A few months ago, Gerrit joined the project, doing awesome work as the Front-End developer. We're currently in the prototype stage, looking to have our first Alpha version live pretty soon, for you guys to critique.

2) My (American) wife, Katie, and I live in the Netherlands, whereas we needed to launch our company in the US, because the market for alternative education is literally ten thousand times bigger in America than it is here.
Because of this (and for a host of other reasons) we're looking to move to the United States by the end of 2018. This will involve a lengthy and complicated immigration process for me, personally, since I'm not American.



If you're interested, you can tag along and follow our journey in this thread.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have :)
 
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#4
Oh my gosh! This is incredible! I didn't know all the in's and out's of OpenClassroom, but seriously, this is incredible. I'm stoked to see you guys move and for this to come to fruition!


"Peter Thiel is famous for asking aspiring entrepreneurs this question: what truth do you know; that very few people agree with you on?
At OpenClassroom, our answer to that question is: anybody can be a teacher." <-- YES!
 
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Thanks for the encouragement, guys!

Katie and I are currently getting ready to embark on my immigration journey. We've read through dozens and dozens of pages worth of forms and instructions and collected all kinds of official documents necessary to make it all happen: like travel records, employment records, housing records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, residence permits, income statements etc. etc. etc.

A lot of Americans would like Trump to build a wall against illegal immigration. I can assure you that the (paper) wall against legal immigration is already well in place.

The process is lengthy, confusing, expensive and uncertain. And seeing that I don't have any relationship to the United States at this time, I don't have any rights. I'm just applying for a privilege, so I'm really completely at the mercy of government agencies, without a leg to stand on.

But as you can see from the (simplified) flow chart above, I actually have one of the easiest routes towards immigration there is, being married to an American citizen. And because this is the easiest route towards immigration, the default position of the authorities is to think that I got married in order to immigrate. This would be a crime, punishable by a quarter million dollars in fines, five years in prison and a lifetime ban from the country after that. Yikes. So it's up to us to prove them wrong and that's basically what the whole process is about.
 
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#7
Dang, that's crazy. I'm excited to follow along the immigration journey though. I've known people that have done this process, but never got an up close view of it. Can you post updates and such?

Also, I'm glad you guys are willing to embark on the journey! :)
 

Kylon

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#8
Hahaha guess you'll have to prove that you married Katie for love, not her citizenship! lol send them a bunch of romantic pictures of you two or something.

This is exciting because we get to follow you on a quite a LITERAL journey.

I'm certain that you will have no problems Corne. But seriously, if there is anyway this community or I can assist, let me know! I can't imagine what that would be but you never know!
 
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Thanks guys!

Unfortunately, we just hit our first MAJOR setback. Turns out that we are most likely not eligible for Direct Consular Filing because the USCIS field office in Frankfurt, that has jurisdiction over the Netherlands, only processes petitions for US Citizens residing in Germany.

This means that instead of ± 4months processing time, we're looking at 12-14 months! :oops:o_O :mad:
So OpenClassroom will most likely not get founded in 2018. :cry:

This is a very hard pill for us to swallow, obviously. We just sent a letter to the Field Office Director, requesting they take our case anyway based on 'exceptional circumstances', but chances of them accepting that are extremely slim...
 
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Hahaha guess you'll have to prove that you married Katie for love, not her citizenship! lol send them a bunch of romantic pictures of you two or something.
This is actually literally required. Pictures of me with her family, pictures of her with my family, pictures of us together over regular intervals throughout the last three years, proving an ongoing marital relationship.

There's actually a quite hilarious line in the documentation, saying that you're not eligible to file a petition for your spouse if you weren't both physically present at the wedding ceremony.... unless the marriage was consummated.
Like, how are you gonna prove that? Submit a sex tape? :unsure: :ROFLMAO:
 

Sam

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#11
This is actually literally required. Pictures of me with her family, pictures of her with my family, pictures of us together over regular intervals throughout the last three years, proving an ongoing marital relationship.

There's actually a quite hilarious line in the documentation, saying that you're not eligible to file a petition for your spouse if you weren't both physically present at the wedding ceremony.... unless the marriage was consummated.
Like, how are you gonna prove that? Submit a sex tape? :unsure: :ROFLMAO:
That's hilarious!
 

Sam

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#12
Thanks guys!

Unfortunately, we just hit our first MAJOR setback. Turns out that we are most likely not eligible for Direct Consular Filing because the USCIS field office in Frankfurt, that has jurisdiction over the Netherlands, only processes petitions for US Citizens residing in Germany.

This means that instead of ± 4months processing time, we're looking at 12-14 months! :oops:o_O :mad:
So OpenClassroom will most likely not get founded in 2018. :cry:

This is a very hard pill for us to swallow, obviously. We just sent a letter to the Field Office Director, requesting they take our case anyway based on 'exceptional circumstances', but chances of them accepting that are extremely slim...
Sorry to hear you've hit such a major roadblock. Holding out for any chance they'll take the case though, let us know of any developments :)
 

Kylon

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#13
This is actually literally required. Pictures of me with her family, pictures of her with my family, pictures of us together over regular intervals throughout the last three years, proving an ongoing marital relationship.

There's actually a quite hilarious line in the documentation, saying that you're not eligible to file a petition for your spouse if you weren't both physically present at the wedding ceremony.... unless the marriage was consummated.
Like, how are you gonna prove that? Submit a sex tape? :unsure: :ROFLMAO:
HOLY. That's crazy and hilarious.
 

Kylon

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#14
Thanks guys!

Unfortunately, we just hit our first MAJOR setback. Turns out that we are most likely not eligible for Direct Consular Filing because the USCIS field office in Frankfurt, that has jurisdiction over the Netherlands, only processes petitions for US Citizens residing in Germany.

This means that instead of ± 4months processing time, we're looking at 12-14 months! :oops:o_O :mad:
So OpenClassroom will most likely not get founded in 2018. :cry:

This is a very hard pill for us to swallow, obviously. We just sent a letter to the Field Office Director, requesting they take our case anyway based on 'exceptional circumstances', but chances of them accepting that are extremely slim...
Wow man, no way. So sorry to hear that. Yes, please keep us updated.

It could be interesting to discuss alternative forms of fundraising sometime. Would love to hear your current ideas and then share any I have.
 

Teliah Gienger

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#15
Thanks guys!

Unfortunately, we just hit our first MAJOR setback. Turns out that we are most likely not eligible for Direct Consular Filing because the USCIS field office in Frankfurt, that has jurisdiction over the Netherlands, only processes petitions for US Citizens residing in Germany.

This means that instead of ± 4months processing time, we're looking at 12-14 months! :oops:o_O :mad:
So OpenClassroom will most likely not get founded in 2018. :cry:

This is a very hard pill for us to swallow, obviously. We just sent a letter to the Field Office Director, requesting they take our case anyway based on 'exceptional circumstances', but chances of them accepting that are extremely slim...
WHOA. That sucks. So sorry!

Please keep us updated! Glad you sent that letter...you never know!
 
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Thread starter #16
Thanks for the support everyone.

Unfortunately, after some utterly confusing back and forth* with the consulate in Amsterdam and the USCIS Field Office in Frankfurt, we now received an email from Frankfurt clearly stating that our petition will be rejected because we don't reside in Germany.

So that's that. We're going to have to file through the Chicago Lockbox; and we'll have to sit through 11-14 months of petition and visa processing. :rolleyes:

So we're probably not going to be stateside until May 2019



*It was a typical kafkaesque crazy bureaucratic circus, where the USCIS Field Office in Frankfurt directed us to the Consulate in Amsterdam; and then the Visa Chief in Amsterdam said we should continue filing in Frankfurt because they would forward our petition to them for approval (which gave us hope). But then we contact Frankfurt for their preferred method of payment and we get an outright "your petition will be rejected". And now that we're calling for clarification, we're forwarded to an answering machine. o_O
 
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Teliah Gienger

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#17
Thanks for the support everyone.

Unfortunately, after some utterly confusing back and forth* with the consulate in Amsterdam and the USCIS Field Office in Frankfurt, we now received an email from Frankfurt clearly stating that our petition will be rejected because we don't reside in Germany.

So that's that. We're going to have to file through the Chicago Lockbox; and we'll have to sit through 11-14 months of petition and visa processing. :rolleyes:

So we're probably not going to be stateside until May 2019



*It was a typical kafkaesque crazy bureaucratic circus, where the USCIS Field Office in Frankfurt directed us to the Consulate in Amsterdam; and then the Visa Chief in Amsterdam said we should continue filing in Frankfurt because they would forward our petition to them for approval (which gave us hope). But then we contact Frankfurt for their preferred method of payment and we get an outright "your petition will be rejected". And now that we're calling for clarification, we're forwarded to an answering machine. o_O
Ugh. What a large bummer. Sorry guys!
 

Kylon

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#18
Thanks for the support everyone.

Unfortunately, after some utterly confusing back and forth* with the consulate in Amsterdam and the USCIS Field Office in Frankfurt, we now received an email from Frankfurt clearly stating that our petition will be rejected because we don't reside in Germany.

So that's that. We're going to have to file through the Chicago Lockbox; and we'll have to sit through 11-14 months of petition and visa processing. :rolleyes:

So we're probably not going to be stateside until May 2019



*It was a typical kafkaesque crazy bureaucratic circus, where the USCIS Field Office in Frankfurt directed us to the Consulate in Amsterdam; and then the Visa Chief in Amsterdam said we should continue filing in Frankfurt because they would forward our petition to them for approval (which gave us hope). But then we contact Frankfurt for their preferred method of payment and we get an outright "your petition will be rejected". And now that we're calling for clarification, we're forwarded to an answering machine. o_O
Ahhhhhhh duuuuude no. :(
 

Sam

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#19
Thanks for the support everyone.

Unfortunately, after some utterly confusing back and forth* with the consulate in Amsterdam and the USCIS Field Office in Frankfurt, we now received an email from Frankfurt clearly stating that our petition will be rejected because we don't reside in Germany.

So that's that. We're going to have to file through the Chicago Lockbox; and we'll have to sit through 11-14 months of petition and visa processing. :rolleyes:

So we're probably not going to be stateside until May 2019



*It was a typical kafkaesque crazy bureaucratic circus, where the USCIS Field Office in Frankfurt directed us to the Consulate in Amsterdam; and then the Visa Chief in Amsterdam said we should continue filing in Frankfurt because they would forward our petition to them for approval (which gave us hope). But then we contact Frankfurt for their preferred method of payment and we get an outright "your petition will be rejected". And now that we're calling for clarification, we're forwarded to an answering machine. o_O
That really sucks! Sorry to hear there's going to be such a delay on that :(
 
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Thread starter #20
Thanks guys! Yeah it's a big bummer for sure.

I just sent out our (substantial) application package to the USCIS Lockbox in Chicago IL, yesterday. We're trying to take some joy in the fact that we're at least moving towards something, even if it's a lot slower than we had hoped. :)

We're currently reevaluating our options. Most of the business can be run remotely, but just like with Airbnb, getting things off the ground is going to take some old-fashioned face to face hustle; and that requires boots on the ground.

So I wish we could at least fly up and down to the States a couple of times to get things going, but our finances won't allow for that right now. As a one-income family in the Netherlands, we are almost literally taxed to death*, so we're already struggling to save funds we need to get the business started in the first place.



*Literally paying €8500/year more in taxes than if we made the same as a two-income family. But with a newborn, both of us working is not really an option.
 
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