Call for Applications for DeFi Talents: An 18-Week Mentoring Program Empowering Talent for Leadership in the Decentralized Finance Space

Philipp Sandner
11 min readAug 5, 2021


We have designed an 18-week long program with 3 phases that will help ambitious and young career starters to break into the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem. Our goal is to guide the way for you to become entrepreneurs, technologists, lawyers, investors, or multiplicators in the surging DeFi space. This program is completely free, you just have to apply. We will admit a maximum of 200 applicants to this program starting on October 09/10, 2023. The application deadline is September 17, 2023.



DeFi Talents launched in 2021 is part of the wider Web3 Talents education initiative operated by the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center. With this program, we seek to empower innovators to dive into blockchain technology, in particular DeFi, to become leaders in this quickly developing field, and to build the basis for a successful career path. With DeFi, a new financial architecture might arise with loan protocols (e.g. Aave, Compound), trading protocols (e.g. Uniswap, Sushi), derivative protocols (e.g. Synthetix), asset management protocols (e.g. Yearn) — and many others. DeFi is an umbrella term for technologies and platforms that enable decentralized financial markets and services. They do not depend on the participation of traditional players like banks that act as financial intermediaries but are accessible to virtually anyone in a peer-to-peer manner with the minimum requirements of having a PC or smartphone, access to the Internet, and the willingness to learn. Thus, DeFi expands transactions on a blockchain from basic peer-to-peer cash functionality to complex financial operations, possibly reaching new markets (“banking the unbanked”). It is time to onboard yourself into this exciting and buzzing ecosystem.

Here is our track record so far: More than 2100 talented people have applied so far; of these, we have mentored 700 from 2021 to 2022. After these “Defi talents” have passed our 18-week mentoring program many of them will be ready for jobs in the blockchain space. We expect that approximately 200 talents will easily find a job in the Defi space. In the future, we expect 1,500 applications per year and we will educate 400 talents per year. We offer 2 batches per cohort in order to meet the increased demand for this program — one in the afternoon, and the other in the morning (Central European Time). We are grateful to our sponsors: SWIAT and KfW.

We envision that participants passing our program sooner or later can follow these career paths:

  • You become an entrepreneur of a successful DeFi startup that is quickly valued at more than US $1,000,000
  • You become a technologist or developer ready to work on DeFi applications or token protocols
  • You become a lawyer helping to advise entrepreneurs and companies in the future
  • You become an investor (or venture capitalist) helping to shape the future of startups and protocols
  • You become a multiplicator or influencer in the DeFi space and an important “node” of the network

Background: Preparing for a more decentralized financial sector

There are many DeFi use cases set to reshape the financial sector not too far in the future. There is enormous transformative potential for the financial sector once smart contracts can replace middlemen and even institutions. And DeFi is not limited to a country — like decentral networks, it is international by nature. As DeFi is still in its infancy, it can be expected that DeFi will continue to give rise to the creation of complex financial products accessed by human beings on all continents. We need future-proof individuals ready to spearhead the DeFi era and to shape the financial future for everyone’s benefit.

Now is a critical moment to seize this opportunity and to immerse yourself in DeFi, position yourself, and build a network. The network and the prototypes developed today will lay the foundation for essential professional relationships and real-life projects in a couple of months or years.

Who is operating this program?

This program is operated by the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center and partnering organizations. If you are interested as an organization in supporting this program, please contact us. This is the core team driving this endeavor:

In our bi-weekly Zoom sessions, we will invite other blockchain and DeFi experts. For this, we draw on a pool of mentors and coaches:

What can you expect from our DeFi Talents program?

Starting with our fifth cohort on October 09, 2023, we will select a maximum of 200 high-potential candidates and coach them over the course of a 3-phase program over 18 weeks to become entrepreneurs, technologists, lawyers, investors, or multiplicators in DeFi. Every two weeks, we will hold a Zoom session to deepen your knowledge and to advance your career in the DeFi space.

This program is different. We will not do mentoring the conventional way and we do not do lectures. This is done elsewhere. With our stringent 3-phase program and remote group coaching sessions, we will focus on empowering you to build a footprint in the DeFi space and become entrepreneurs, technologists, lawyers, investors, or multiplicators in this field. Remote sessions happening bi-weekly are a key tactic to bring together people from different countries.

These are the key principles of our program:

  • You are your own teacher. We want to empower participants to learn DeFi through the use of blended learning concepts built upon peer learning. This is explicitly NOT a university lecture. We will facilitate the learning journey by providing you with a curated study guide. You must commit to self-studying the proposed concepts and come prepared for our joint Zoom sessions.
  • Sharing is caring. In the Zoom sessions, we will deepen the knowledge and clarify open questions. We will ask you to actively share your learnings and questions in these sessions to foster progress through guided individual and group reflection and sharing of our perspectives towards a common topic. It is key to apply your newly won knowledge with a “just get it done” mentality.
  • Content is everything. We will ask you to become a DeFi co-creator, for instance by writing a blog article, interviewing other DeFi experts or creating a video on a DeFi topic (e.g. on Medium or YouTube) and get public exposure. We want to foster execution. But no worries, we will assure you that what you write will be brilliant! We ask to do so because we have made the experience that by “owning” a specific topic, your own journey accelerates and becomes more fulfilling.

Why should you apply for this program?

Enter into DeFi. This program should allow you to get an easy entry into the DeFi space. We believe that this program strongly improves your employability and that your future career path will experience a significant boost.

Structured learning journey. You will also be equipped with the knowledge to understand DeFi as a concept and to judge DeFi applications. You will be able to “access” this very special domain with extremely varying characters — from entrepreneurs to lawyers, investors, and corporates. Our mentors and facilitated peer sessions are designed in a way to help you understand the core essentials in a short period of time. Our guest speakers are experts in their fields in the DeFi universe.

Thriving network. Finally, we will provide a network and contacts to professionals in the DeFi space. This is of particular importance because, in such a small yet dynamic and growing field, the breadth and depth of one’s personal network are key.

A DeFi “boot camp”. Please only consider applying if you are up to the challenge. We are awaiting your application. In your application, shortly outline what brought your attention to DeFi and why you are the right candidate.

What exactly does the program look like?

We aim to develop all participants into specialists of their chosen domain. To achieve this, however, it is necessary to first learn the basics of DeFi and also to gain insights into as many stakeholder domains as possible. To achieve this, we have developed a 3-phase model, which forms the backbone of the entire program — the basics phase, the multi-disciplinary phase, and ultimately the concentration phase (see Figure 1 below). These phases accompany the participants from the beginner level (basics phase) upwards to the generalist level (multi-disciplinary phase) and up to the specialist level (concentration phase).

DeFi Talents 3-phase program over the course of 18 weeks to empower future DeFi leaders

We meet every two weeks virtually as a group. These meetings last 90 minutes, and they are meant to help share our learnings, discuss open questions, and learn from experts in the field. We will ask you to come prepared for the meetings.

Table 1: Program schedule

What is the agenda for each Zoom session?

Each Zoom session will have the following structure and a duration of 90 minutes:

  • DeFi news (7 min)
  • DeFi Talents best practice tip (3 min)
  • Participant presentations (25 min)
  • Reflections from the group (20 min)
  • Assignment for next session (5 min)
  • Guest speaker presentations, if scheduled (20 min)
  • Q&A (10 min)

In each Zoom session, the participants will present the findings of the assignment from the last session. The goal is not to lecture content to others. The goal is mainly to showcase what you have learned and what insights you have gotten — we call it “reflections”. Specifically, the participants should present their insights. They should not teach others. Learning of content is being done in the assignments the participants have to work on alone. The reflections will follow a structured format:

  • Please share your key insight from the topic covered. What have you learned that you didn’t know before? What fascinated you?
  • Why is the topic you investigated important, or innovative to the industry? What problem was solved? How will this change our current economic system?
  • What are the potential drawbacks or obstacles?
  • Where do you have open questions?

After the participant presentations, we will discuss the patterns that occurred regarding the insights of the entire group. The goal is to deepen and enrich our mutual understanding of the topic at hand. Thereafter, the assignment for the next session will be presented. All participants will work in one joint Google Slides document. Link sharing will be turned on and everybody will work on her/his slides within this single joint document. We do this to foster knowledge exchange and reduce technical frictions when presenting. We then have guest lecturers hold a keynote presentation. Questions on their presentations will be discussed subsequently. Each session closes with an outlook on the next session.

Summary: What are the key characteristics of the DeFi Talents program?

  • Starting Monday, October 09, 2023 (batch 1) or Tuesday, October 10, 2023 (batch 2)
  • The Monday sessions start at 5:30 PM (CEST/CET) and the Tuesday sessions start at 9:00 AM (CEST/CET)
  • Duration: 18 weeks (ending Monday, February 12, 2024 or Tuesday, February 13, 2024)
  • Working mode: bi-weekly Zoom sessions with assignments to be worked on in the meantime
  • Cost: $0 (scholarship program)
  • Size: maximum of 200
  • Application: required (see URL to the application form below)
  • Language: English

Who should apply for this program and where to apply?

You should apply if you fulfill the following criteria:

  • Your age is 18+
  • You have at least 12 free hours per week to dig into the area of blockchain and decentralized finance
  • You love technology and ideally also finance
  • You are good at mathematics
  • You speak and write English proficiently
  • You have already had leadership experiences in your life (extra-curricular roles count as well) or deep tech experience (e.g., smart contract experience)
  • You have a solid understanding of at least one programming language
  • You are motivated to try out and compare different DeFi protocols (Aave, Compound, Uniswap, etc.) on Ethereum or another base layer
  • You feel comfortable speaking to an audience
  • You are entrepreneurial-minded
  • You are eager to fulfill the milestones of the program with a “the best I can do” attitude
  • You seek to comply with the deadlines given
  • You give your best to attend every single session of our schedule (every second Monday and Tuesday, starting on October 09, 2023; the Monday sessions start at 17:30 (CEST/CET) or October 10; the Tuesday sessions start at 9:00 (CEST/CET)

If you have decided to apply, simply apply via this application form (you will need to upload a motivation letter and CV as a PDF file for the application; a Gmail address is also required). In case you have questions, please contact us via an email addressed to — we will respond to you as soon as possible. The application deadline is September 17, 2023; 11:59 PM (CEST/CET).


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Do you want to learn more about how blockchain will change our world?

  • Blockchain knowledge: We wrote a Medium article on how to acquire the necessary blockchain knowledge within a workload of 10 working days.
  • Our two blockchain books: We have edited two books on how blockchain will change our society (Amazon link) in general and everything related to finance (Amazon link) in particular. Both books are available in print and for Kindle — currently in German and soon in English. The authors have been more than 20 well-known blockchain experts in startups, corporations and the government from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein — all contributing their expertise to these two books.
Our two books: the first one on blockchain and the society and the second one on blockchain and finance


Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner has founded the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC). From 2018 to 2021, he was ranked among the “top 30” economists by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a major newspaper in Germany. He has been a member of the FinTech Council and the Digital Finance Forum of the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany. He is also on the Board of Directors of FiveT Fintech Fund and Blockchain Founders Group — companies active in the field of blockchain startups. The expertise of Prof. Sandner includes crypto assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, decentralized finance (DeFi), the digital euro, tokenization of assets, and digital identity. You can contact him via mail ( via LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter (@philippsandner).



Philipp Sandner

Professor | Lecturer | Author | Investor | Frankfurt School Blockchain Center