Cronos developer series: 5 tips to stand out in a Web3 hackathon
The Cronos team has supported several hackathons during the last few months, from the Cronos hackathon in late 2021 to Activate.build Miami…
The Cronos team has supported several hackathons during the last few months, from the Cronos hackathon in late 2021 to Activate.build Miami and ETH New York. And of course, applications are now open for the exciting Moralis X Cronos Gaming & Metaverse hackathon which will take place in August and September 2022.
We thought it could be helpful to share a few pieces of advice that we have gleaned from our team as well as other judges and sponsors, in terms of how to stand out in a Web3 hackathon.
Tip #1 — Solve a crypto/Web3 native problem
Hackathon newbies often choose to focus on a real-world problem that could be addressed via blockchain technology. For example: electronic voting in local elections, identification of counterfeit wine, ethical coffee distribution, cross-border remittances, airline loyalty programs.
Truth is, these ideas are rarely new and it will take years before blockchain technology reaches sufficient adoption to put these solutions into the hands of end-users.
Hackathon winners typically focus on solving for needs or problems that crypto users are experiencing right now, so that their proposed solution can potentially be scaled to tens or hundreds of thousands of users within the next 6–12 months. For example:
how can we make DeFi users access the same features/services as the users of centralized crypto exchanges?
how can we prevent users from sending funds to the wrong chain or wrong address when they are depositing or withdrawing funds with a centralized exchange?
can we create a security / reputation dashboard that crypto investors can easily integrate into their workflow to stay away from suspicious projects?
how can we create DeFi protocols with smaller / more capital efficient liquidity requirements?
how can we design a decentralized off-chain / on-chain crypto exchange with order book and on-chain settlement?
how to make NFT lending faster and more secure for gaming guilds?
how can we use decentralized identity (DID) and verifiable credentials to privately issue, trade and authenticate some achievements in a game?
looking at my favorite video game, is there some way to turn it into a web3 game, with or without the consent of the game developer?
what is a novel play to earn game tokenomics model that does not rely on the unsustainable assumption that new players will fund earlier players?
E-commerce started at Amazon and Ebay, not at Walmart. Make sure that your hackathon idea does not rely on integrating legacy companies and systems.
You and your team should focus on solving a large, tangible problem that crypto users (either new, or experienced ones) are experiencing right now. Do not hesitate to seek advice from hackathon mentors and judges early on.
Tip #2 — Don’t put everything on chain
Blockchain is a great technology to store and transfer value. It is not the best technology to deliver low-latency user interactions, perform heavy computing, or store large volumes of data.
We have seen game developers who try to put every game interaction on chain, and others who have tried to create an on-chain messaging protocol. These designs are unlikely to deliver the best possible user experience.
As a hackathon team, you should think deeply about what parts of your MVP (minimum viable product) need to be on-chain and/or decentralized. In the early days of NFT, all NFT metadata was stored centrally by NFT issuers. Only NFT ownership was recorded on-chain. The decentralization of NFT metadata with IPFS, on-chain SVG code or other methods, is a more recent evolution.
As a general rule, a Web3 game does not need to execute every game interaction on-chain. To get started, only value transfers, which can support the payment of a transaction fee to the network, should be on-chain.
Keep in mind that people have developing Dapps for years now, and there are hackathon mentors and judges who have faced similar problems before and can advise you.
Tip #3 — Don’t overlook tokenomics
The current bear market has not been kind to unsustainable token models, particularly those that rely on significant token inflation to fund DeFi yields or play-to-earn rewards.
However, the notion of utility token remains central to the world of Web3, as it enables protocol users to capture some of the network value that they are creating, and to participate in the protocol’s governance.
As a hackathon participant, your first priority is to design a product, not a token. However, if you can assign one team member to work on the protocol economics of your project, do it. This will help to show that you have thought about the actors of the ecosystem that you are creating, and the incentives needed to get each of them to behave the way you want them to.
On the other hand, half baked token concepts and “magic money” can definitely hurt your credibility, so don’t include those in your final submission if you are not excited by what your team has delivered.
Tip #4 — Design goes a long way
Most hackathon teams prioritize functionality over design. As a hackathon participant, this means that you have an opportunity to differentiate.
Whether you are starting the hackathon with a fully formed team or you are forming your team on the fly, try your best to have a product designer or a graphic designer on your team.
Many hackathon judges are aware that Web3, as an industry, needs to onboard founders who can deliver better user experiences. They appreciate teams who have thought about UX/UI.
Also, keep in mind that the world is mobile nowadays. If you can run your demo on a mobile phone, do it.
Tip #5 — Plan your presentation like a show
Don’t prepare your pitch at the last minute. When you compete in a hackathon, your deliverable is not an idea, it’s a pitch, and particularly the live demo which should be >50% of the time of your pitch.
You should think carefully about the user journey that you want to demo. It should be self explanatory in terms of showing how you are solving the problem or pain point that your product is addressing. Also, it should end on a high, unexpected note (Remember Steve Jobs and his “one more thing”). You want the “wow” factor to be the last thing that judges see and remember.
Keep in mind that demos often fail. You should rehearse your demo, and record the rehearsal so that you can use the video recording if you encounter unexpected errors in front of the judges.