ETH India is Asia’s biggest Ethereum Hackathon and the second installment of it just took place in Bangalore, India from 2nd August to 4th August. I decided to participate in the Hackathon as a hacker with my colleague Satyam and a college friend Saad. There, we created an open reputation protocol – Credeth. We ended up winning the overall prize (one of the top 6 projects), Torus bounty for best UX and ENS integration bounty.
I usually don’t blog about my real-life experiences but I really wanted to share the wonderful time I had. Many developers that I have never met in real life before, recognized me as the guy that writes an awesome blog :). I was flattered. For the first time, I could really feel how my posts helped other developers. I am glad I started writing this blog. Thanks to all my wonderful readers!
My overall experience at ETH India was awesome but not perfect and I’ll go into more details later. In this post, I’ll also share some tips for new hackers that want to win hackathons. Some tips might be unethical but as they say, everything is fair in love and wars, and a hackathon is a love war 🙂
What I loved about ETH India
I have been to numerous events but I have never seen a more welcoming and helpful community than our lovely crypto community. Every time you go to an ETH Global event, you get surprised by the awesome community and you feel like it can’t get any better. Then, you go to the next ETH Global event and the same thing happens 🙂
The community is the most important part of any social event and it can either make or break the whole event. Thanks to our awesome community, if ETH India would have happened at a place identical to what the western stereotype says, it would’ve still rocked. Lucky for us, India is more than what the stereotypes suggest and the place where the event took place was quite good.
It was lovely to meet old and new friends!
ETH India 2.0 took place at the same venue as the original ETH India and it was a rock-solid choice. The venue was beautiful, clean, spacious and maintained. It even had parking space! Everyone used Uber so maybe the last point is not as important but that one guy that dared to drive in Bangalore traffic was so happy.
To be honest, I was not expecting such high-quality hacks from ETH India’s participants. I was pleasantly surprised to see such awesome Ideas and even better Implementations. I guess, this is what happens when 175 hackers are shortlisted from almost two thousand applications! There is no shortage of talent in India. Pro-tip for companies based outside India, Hire remotely from India. You might have to go through quite a few applicants to find some awesome ones but trust me, there are plenty of top-notch talents waiting to be discovered in every single town of India.
Special thanks to all the volunteers that worked for free to make this event a success! They were always ready to help with a smile on their face. Indian hospitality is something that very few other nations can match.
Things that didn’t go so well
The food arrangements
India is known for its food and the food available at the venue was plenty and not bad at all. However, the arrangements, including the “ticketing system” just plain sucked and led to big queues. Given that food was free, we can’t complain but when comparing to other ETHGlobal events, it was a bit underwhelming.
The talks and workshops
I felt that the quality of talks and workshops was not at par with other ETH Global events. There were a couple of really good talks but most of them were meh. One reason I think this was the case is that there were no public speaker applications like there are at most other ETHGlobal events. Most of the workshops and talks at ETH India were reserved for the sponsors, and that led to a repetition of content. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against sponsored talks. Sponsorships are what make these events a reality but perhaps give each sponsor one or two talks rather than five? After all, nobody likes a shill fest.
Another thing that bugged me was that a few talks were done in the main hacking hall. It was distracting. I don’t want to be forced to hear a talk I am not interested in when I am deep into my hack, trying to model global reputation economics and doing even more arduous task of centering a freaking div using CSS.
Let’s just say that my back is not happy right now.
Tips for winning a Hackathon
- Think of an awesome Idea. This one is obvious but I still want to emphasize it. An awesome idea can win you a hackathon and a shitty idea can lose you a hackathon even if your implementation was perfect. For fairness, You shouldn’t start working on your hack before the hackathon. However, you can start brainstorming ideas before the hackathon.
- Target bounties. Bounty winners are also winners. Sometimes, there are super easy bounties that go unclaimed. For example, in ETH India, there were 6*200 USD bounties for ENS integration. ENS integration is super simple. All you have to do for resolving an ENS address is
web3.eth.ens.getAddress(ENSName). Hackers could have earned 200 USD by just having this one line in their code. Even then, only two teams (including us) claimed this bounty. You read it right, 4 bounties worth 800 USD total went unclaimed. This was the easiest bounty of my life. ENS literally has the best dev experience and still, people didn’t claim their bounties. I guess, hackers thought that it was too good to be true.
- What looks good, sells good. Make sure that your hack is presentable and looks good to even the non-tech savvy people. At least make a cool looking landing page to wow everyone.
- Judges are humans and humans are biased. Know your judges and modify your pitch accordingly. Try to talk about things they can relate to. Not everyone is an expert in every field so keep the strengths and weaknesses of your judges in mind. Some flattery might help as well. Just don’t do obvious ass licking.
- Present your future product. Everyone knows that two days are not enough to finish a project. Try to present your project’s full potential along with what it can currently do. Just make sure to make it clear that you are talking about future potential and not current implementation. The hackathon implementation is usually a proof of concept anyway.
- Don’t say controversial things in your presentation. Don’t sell your governance use case as “This will prevent bailouts like DAO fork from ever happening”. If you say something like that, chances are that one or more judges will take offense and there goes your chances of winning.
- Do little, do well. Instead of stuffing a hundred non-working features, just implement a single working feature and explain other 99 as future expansions.
I hope that these tips will be of help to new developers. If you need any help, feel free to reach out to me via the contact form on this blog or my social links available in the footer of the blog. I am always happy to help anyone. Especially if you are a student. If you want to talk to me in real life, catch me in Berlin during the blockchain week or in Japan during Devcon.
Cheers and Happy Hacking!