May 16, 2024

EasyA co-founders Phil Kwok and Dom Kwok join "First Mover" to preview the upcoming hackathon at Consensus 2024.

Video transcript

Consensus 2024 is right around the corner and there are a ton of events happening that we all here at Coin desk are very, very excited about. One of those events is the E A consensus hackathon, a three day multi chain, IRL hackathon, that's going to feature some of the most innovative and creative builders in the some of the best developers in the world. The most famous investors and Blockchain leaders will all be involved in this. Now, I have two people here to unpack what this is going to look like and they are the two perfect people to unpack what this is going to look like. E A co-founders, Dom Kwok and Phil Kwok. Welcome to first mover. Thanks for having us long Jen. Hi everyone. Amazing. So let's start by laying the foundation for the initiated. Just give me a quick introduction to EZ A what it, what is it that you guys do so easy? You can think of it like Duolingo for Blockchain. We allow anybody to learn about the top blockchains right from the comfort of their own app. So it's an app that allows anybody to learn about the top leading L ones and L twos with the push of a few buttons, you can go all the way from zero, knowing nothing about a particular Blockchain all the way up to actually deploying a first smart contract. We are the biggest web free education app now. Uh we're coming up to a million developers. So anywhere from, if you're in the States, if you're in the UK, Europe, those are our two main markets, you can just learn about it. But the app is available wherever you are in the world on All Play Store and App Store. All right. And Dom, we got to talk about this. You two are brothers who have co-founded this company. What's it like working with your sibling? Well, I think it's great, you know, uh Phil and I obviously grew up together um in the UK and in the US and, you know, ever since uh leaving university, we've worked together on different start ups. Um Even actually, in fact, during university, uh we founded two Ecommerce start ups, exited those and then decided to focus on Blockchain full time after working briefly in finance and law. Um So yeah, definitely think it's, it's been a great journey. Um And no one else I'd rather uh build E A with, I feel like there are a lot of siblings watching this who just can't imagine uh building a successful companies in the way that you've just outlined. So, congratulations on that. Feed. I think that that deserves some applause. Thank you. And I didn't force them to say that. All right, let's, let's talk about the hackathon you partnered with Coin desk for this three day hackathon at consensus. Uh I got to ask you why partner with the coin desk on this? Why not do it on your own? Yeah. No coin desk. Um, obviously is, you know, the premier, um, marketing company in Web three. And ultimately, you know, we wanted to do this hackathon um at consensus, um you know, really to attract sort of the world's best developers. Um And we thought there'd be no better partner um than Coindesk to do so. Um originally, uh when we started working and then figuring out the hackathon, um we thought, you know, Coindesk would have um this huge reach and ultimately, as well, uh when Coindesk approached us with the potential uh possibility of hosting the hackathon, we thought, you know, this would be a no brainer combining our respective expertise and, you know, obviously the E A side getting developers, educating them, getting them built on the walls, leading chains and then ultimately coin desks, you know, great distribution network as well. Um We thought this would be a great partnership with tons of synergies. So ultimately, we thought, um you know, this is gonna be uh probably one of the most important hackathons and ultimately, you know, coming up um with, uh you know, two months to go to the hackathon. Um It's definitely shaping up to be, uh to be quite the event. Uh We have, you know, amazing speakers coming in. Um Top V CS who will be actually judging the pitches on the final day, we have uh just announced actually, um or just announcing, uh today over $200,000 in prizes for participants, uh who are going to be hacking with us and millions more in VC funding and grant funding from different ecosystem teams who are participating. So it's going to be an absolutely incredible show. Um And we're pretty much already sold out. So looking forward to seeing what everyone builds um at the hackathon, Phil, it sounds like the two of you have been to your fair share of hackathons and thought through really challenging problems come up with solutions to those problems. What makes a hackathon really good? And I guess more specifically what's gonna make this hackathon really good. What's special about a hackathon? Is it really forces you to build something very, very quickly and ship it? So some of the world's greatest products came out of hackathons. Um You know, if you could think about the Facebook like button came out of hackathon, um and even within the E A community, um start ups are now valued at over $2.5 billion and that's just from hackathons. So, uh what's special about it is that it's a melting pot of people of ideas and brilliant minds and it just forces you to ship something. We all get analysis paralysis at some point. And this just makes you cut through all of that. This hackathon in particular is really special because of course, it's hosted alongside the main consensus conference in exactly the same venue. And so hackers are gonna be able to come to the hackathon, but also pop downstairs, attend amazing talks by the industry's world leaders and get inspired by them. So they'll then come right back up, start hacking again at the hackathorn or rebe begin hacking. And we're gonna have mentors who've flown in from all over the world to be there. Um, especially on the roster of people who are coming to hack. You know, there's one thing to have top blockchains, top mentors and top judges as well, but it's quite another as well. A huge part of it is also the other people that you'll meet at the hacked on. So we have people flying from top universities from Harvard, Stanford, Yale Brown, you name it and also people from amazing companies from the methods of the world to the Netflix of the world, to the Amazons, you name it, everybody is coming and they're gonna be launching their ideas and we think of the hackathon not just being a hackathon where you start on one day and you end on the other and that's it. As Dom said, we have millions in grants and VC funding available at this hackathon. And it's gonna be this place where people can launch their start ups and actually, it's gonna be the breeding ground for the next web. Three unicorns. Dom, talk to me about what a winning project looks like in, in your eyes, what what elements does a winning project need to have? Definitely. So winning projects typically that we see at some of our hackathons um typically have a couple of characteristics. Number one, they have a really robust team. Um So this doesn't necessarily mean they have real expertise in Blockchain per se, but they've all had interest in founding start ups before in launching companies. They have backgrounds where, you know, maybe they've actually launched a small business in the past and they really know what it takes to actually bring a product to market and actually sell it to people. Um So that's a really big um underrated factor. I think when people look at hacked projects, they typically look at it from a technical perspective. And while technicals are definitely important and you need to have expertise and you need to know how different blockchains work, especially the ones that you're building on. Obviously. Um It's really about actually marketing the product, selling it to people seeing, you know, what actually resonates with the end user and why would someone use it? I think at web three. there's so much interesting technology. Uh but oftentimes you know, the use cases aren't always there. Uh People don't always know, you know, why would I use this product? How is it actually going to fit into my daily life? And so actually being able to articulate what you are building and actually show people, for example, you know, why they would use your product is super important. Um And then of course, you know, good team dynamics always come into play and actually having a desire to keep on building your project well beyond the hacked on is something that we also always look for. So making sure for example, that um you know, obviously winning the prize bounty is one thing. But then thinking about what is the future road map, you know, where are they going to go afterwards? Are they gonna then go and raise a seed round and a series a and, and, you know, continue their journey? Um Like we've seen so many successful E A projects do in the past, like Phil mentioned earlier projects now have a combined evaluation of 2.5 billion and those are all hackathon projects that have come out of our hackathons in the last couple of years. Um So we really have a good grasp on what actually um it takes for a project to go from, you know, idea and actually building around a certain prompt to actually going out there and raising from a 16 Zyc founders fund, all of these really amazing V CS. Phil. Tell me a little bit more about the developer experience. You started kind of unpacking it there for me. It's going to be at the consensus venue. Uh It's developers are going to have access to all of the talks and stages that are happening. But if I'm a developer, I'm coming down with my team, I have uh a project that we've been thinking about. What does the day to day look like? Yeah, great question. Well, first of all, you're gonna get a hero's welcome from none other than yours. Truly. Um Dom and Phil, of course, me, um we're gonna welcome you to the actual uh consensus hackathon bright and early in the morning, that'll be the first day you're then gonna be greeted by the actual blockchains themselves. And so we're gonna have people who have flown in from really across the world um who have flown in from the UK, they've flown in from other states within the States. Uh People have flown in from Asia as well. They're all gonna be able to be there so that you can meet them. They're gonna be hosting workshops day two. It's gonna be stuck in to the hack on. We're gonna have a very, very special set of panels as well from uh other blockchains. They're gonna be debating with each other. They're also gonna be talking about different themes that you should look out for. We're gonna have a happy hour that day as well. And on the final day, you're actually gonna be able to pitch in front of an all star roster of judges. Uh and also, of course, the chains themselves. So really, it's gonna be an amazing experience. It's three days. Um and developers are gonna be able to go all the way from just, you know, an idea, all the way up to launching their start up. And of course, there's a huge amount of grant funding available. So really it's an opportunity not just to build but also to network and get to know other people who will help them in their journey. Later on, there's a multi chain aspect to this hackathon. You keep mentioning all of the chains that will be there. Uh unpack that a little bit more for me. Do developers need to be thinking about developing on a specific chain or are there specific chains that they need to be thinking about? Definitely. So there are the chains who we've partnered with to put on this amazing hackathon and developers will be able to choose which chain they want to build on. Um They could choose just one. Sometimes there's the opportunity to be able to choose multiple if they interconnect with one another. Well, um but typically developers are gonna have to be able to choose one chain or the other. And of course, there are gonna be synergies between each one, but at least at this hackathon, they'll start off just developing on one chain. I have a question for you. You know, you often see builders at these conferences and they say I'm spending all my time at the conference. I don't have time to build in your opinions. How much time should you spend on networking and how much time should you spend on, on building? What's the ratio there? Well, that's a great question. The good thing is that we've actually made it very easy for developers to choose. Um I think that uh the, the great thing that we've set up is actually that since the venue um will not be open overnight, you can spend overnight networking and you can come back in the morning and start hacking. So no sleep, just hack during the day, during the night network. Have some fun. And I don't know if after a night of partying, your brain will be fully there for thinking through some of the challenges that this industry is facing right now. But maybe exactly. Well, who knows, who knows what people can create with a, well, with a fresh pair of eyes after a little bit of uh partying or a little bit of fun in the evening. Now, I didn't ask you yet. Uh What stage of development should projects be in? Is there a requirement for the stage of development? Um A project can be in for developers who are wanting to join? Yeah. So we're really um accepting applicants who either are starting af Freshh or have existing projects, of course, depending on where you come into the hackathon, your project will be charged relative to um where, you know, where your um project is currently. So, for example, if you are starting completely af Freshh building something new on, you know, sui, for example, which is one of our um great partners on this hackathon, um then you'll be judged in that light and the judges will know that if, of course from your repo, but ultimately, if you're coming in at the maybe slightly later stage, um and you want to build out an extra feature um or what not on one of the partners technologies. Um Then of course, you're able to do so. Um But, you know, obviously the work that you do in those 2 to 3 days of the actual hackathon itself is what's being judged, it's not being um judged relative to, you know, maybe the previous year um that you've spent building your project just to make sure everyone has a level playing field and everyone's judged fairly. All right, before we wrap this up, Phil, I want to ask you what's one piece of advice you wish someone would have given you when you were building your first product. That is a great question. I think I distill it down. If it, this is just a rapid fire one sentence, I'd say launch fast. I think that I mentioned this earlier, you can get analysis paralysis, so, so easily, just launch fast. I think that's why hackathons are so good. Um You come in, you're forced to actually build a product and ship it. Um Don't overthink it just, you know, just do it dumb. A piece of advice you wish you would have had when you were building your first project. I think one piece of advice a lot of people forget is, you know, really speak to people out there, speak to your potential users, figure out whether they would actually use what you're about to build. And if so then go ahead and build it. Um don't spend, you know, half a year or a year building something and then come to it and realize, oh, actually, no one's gonna use the product because, um I never actually, you know, tested this idea with people who, you know, might be by potential users. Um So, yeah, definitely go out there, speak to people um gauge their interest and if there's a lot of excitement, go out and build it.

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