EthGlobal Hackathon | Winning $4300 And Advice For Future Participants
EthGlobal hackathons are the largest and most prestigious in the blockchain developer space. The February 2022 “Road To Web3” event was focused on the migration from web2 social networks to web3 technologies.
Over the weekend around 400 teams built projects using sponsors technology including Polygon, Uniswap, Moralis and Web3Auth. This video talks about the experience of participating in a EthGlobal hackathon, the project that me and John built, the prizes that we won and advice for anyone thinking of attending EthGlobal hackthon in the future.
EthGlobal Road To Web3
The main sponsor for the event was Polygon which is an EVM compatible blockchain. They had a number of tracks which participants could build for.
- Top 15 Teams – $5K each
- Top 5 Teams – Best DeFi: $3K each
- Top 5 Teams – Best NFT Dapp: $3K each
- Top 5 Teams – Best Gaming Dapp: $3k each
- Top 5 Teams – Best Tooling/ Infrastructure: $3k each
- Top 5 Teams – Best Web3 Implementation of a Web2 Product: $3K
We decided to specifically go for the “Best Web3 Implementation of a Web3 Product” and “Best NFT dApp” as well as the top prize of course.
Note that rather than one big prize there were lots of smaller prizes but when combined with other sponsors prizes these stack up on top of each other to make it quite lucrative.
Alongside the main sponsor there were about 10 other tech sponsors where you can apply for those prizes if you use their technology. We decided to integrate three sponsors products:
- Moralis which provides serverless cloud functions, authentication and event logging. It’s a bit like firebase for web3 and quite interesting as an option to store and process data off chain which doesn’t need to be there.
- Uniswap v3 was used to setup a liquidity pool for our governance token and then implement buy back and burn functionality from the smart contract.
- Web3Auth is a wallet management tool that enables users to generate a digital wallet from a social login.
The EthGlobal hackathon schedule ran from Thursday 5pm UTC – Monday 2am UTC. There were events broadcast on YouTube and via Zoom over that period.
The application process is very long winded and almost certainly designed by a politician. First you need to post an application form which is like a job application. Then if you get accepted (I assume everyone does) you need to stake about $10 in Eth to a contract address. You get this back once you’ve submitted your final application.
I assume the reason they’ve made this as painful as possible is to try and cut down on the numbers and make it more manageable for the event organisers and judges.
There’s some good content being broadcast on the events and even if you aren’t interested in submitting a project it’s probably worth subscribing to the EthGlobal YouTube channel.
EthGlobal Hackathon 0xTree Demo
The product we built was a Web3 implementation of Linktr.ee where users can browser wallet addresses to see galleries of NFT’s. It has a built in marketplace where you can bid on any NFT in any wallet (note it’s only currently live on Polygon’s Mumbai Testnet.
The most notable feature was the Twitter integration. This embeds an iframe within Twitter itself which on desktop allows for you to complete transactions directly from within Twitter using Metamask. On mobile you can deep-link to open up Metamask mobile and complete the transaction from there. This seamless integration, to my knowledge, has never been done before.
The full source code for this is at: https://github.com/JohnRSim/0xTr.ee
Live demo at: https://0xtr.ee
Pitch & Judging
The coding was hard and I spent about three hours fighting with Uniswap’s Router convinced that I had an issue in my code only to realise that I had the wrong router address 🤦♂️
There is a EthGlobal Hackathon Discord channel which is extremely useful if you need help. After posting on there and humiliating myself I figured out my issue about 30 seconds later before anyone else replied. There’s something about explaining how to recreate a problem to someone else that puts things into perspective and helps problem solve.
I spent nearly as much time on the submission process as I did on the coding. You need a demo video between 2-4 minutes (I made a pretty fancy one which is my own fault), then description, screenshots etc.
Once that’s complete entrants need to attend a judging panel via a Zoom call which lasted over 2 hours. If you are going to enter a hackathon like this be prepared for the procedural aspects of it which are very time consuming for participants and judges alike.
First you get put into the green room of hell where poor Emily has to explain how to share a screen WITH VOLUME ON to hundreds of developers who apparently have never used zoom before. I was in there for an hour and a half listening to this chaos before our team got called. If you want to submit your project you have to go through this and it’s painful for everyone involved. On a side note Emily deserves a raise.
Once you get out of the green room of hell you go to a private judging room with two judges and you play your video pitch over zoom then they ask you questions for a couple of minutes.
This whole process could be streamlined in future hackathons. The video is already uploaded so the judges could watch it and then if they want more info they could do a call or fire off any questions over email or discord. This was the feedback provided to event organisers who noted that the number of participants was far greater than they expected or had dealt with before.
Scaling a hackathon is a tough job and full respect to the EthGlobal team for the work they do.
Prizes & Conclusion
Overall the Road To Web3 EthGlobal Hackathon was good, had interesting sponsors, content and challenges. I got to build with Solidity and mess with things that I’m interested in. If the organisers could perhaps optimise the application and submission process to remove any data they don’t actually need it would be perfect.
Probably the most valuable parts are the discord channel where you can ask for help from mentors and the content that gets posted to YouTube. Wait what about the prizes?
Well we won three prizes. One for the web3Auth integration, one for Moralis and another participation prize from Polygon. Our project was not selected as a finalist for the main Polygon prizes and was lost in the black abyss of bad hackathon ideas.
You can see the hackathon winners here. My favourite was GM Space which was a Metaverse type apartment where you could go, hang out and view NFT’s. It kind of makes me want to learn Unity and start building 3D objects and spaces for Zuckerverse.
My advice for anyone looking to participate in a future hackathon would be:
- Go in with an open mind about what you are going to build.
- Build a product that is specifically targeting one of the tracks or challenges available.
- Try to use the sponsors technology wherever possible as its an opportunity to learn something new and you expand the potential for multiple prizes.
- If you get stuck, ask for help and try to help others along the way.
- Leave plenty of time (at least a day) for submitting what you have built.
- Don’t expect to win any prizes no matter how good your project is, there will be variance.
- Use boilerplates or lego brick code where possible to provide a starting point so you aren’t spending all the time on basics.
- Be nice to the organisers and judges, it can’t be an easy job organising a bunch of degenerate blockchain developers.
If you are interested in learning more about web3 development check out this blockchain developer roadmap.
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Disclaimer: Not a financial advisor, not financial advice. The content I create is to document my journey and for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not under any circumstances investment advice. I am not an investment or trading professional and am learning myself while still making plenty of mistakes along the way. Any code published is experimental and not production ready to be used for financial transactions. Do your own research and do not play with funds you do not want to lose.