Decentralised Futures: The Blockspace (a series of hacker houses) by WebZero

Dear Community,

I’d like to share this proposal on behalf of all WebZero members. If you haven’t heard of us; we are a Polkadot events community initiative founded in 2022. Since then the team has hosted 12 events, you may have attended this year’s Sub0 opening and closing party or perhaps the side events of Polkadot Decoded 2023, the Hidden Blockspace and/or others.

For 2024 we are proposing “The Blockspace”, a series of hacker houses which aim to increase the amount of developers and entrepreneurs in the Polkadot ecosystem. In short: at major conferences there should be a space to learn, work and network, accompanied by good wifi.

Selected events

  1. ETH Denver → 23/02/2024 → 03/03/2024
  2. ETH Global London → 15/03/2024 → 17/03/2024
  3. Consensus → 29/05/2024 → 31/05/2024
  4. ETH CC → 08/07/2024 → 11/07/2024
  5. Permissionless → 09/10/2024 → 11/10/2024
  6. Devcon → 01/11/2024 → 30/11/2024

Problem Statement

  1. Polkadot needs a stronger presence at major conferences, decentralizing these functions without dedicated specialist teams to maintain and improve the activation funnels would not be productive.

  2. A certain level of expertise and experience is required to organize and deliver professional events consistently. Consistency is needed to build a lasting presence and grow a strong community.

  3. The execution of events on short notice and by changing teams has the potential to be costly as events agencies and vendors take high percentages under these circumstances.

  4. Applying consistently for individual event funding can delay processes and lead to uncertainty which could ultimately damage the reputation of the entire community, Polkadot, relationships with vendors, other ecosystems, attendees etc.

  5. Managing multiple stakeholder interests within the ecosystem while adhering to community conduct and brand guidelines (e.g., design, concepts, digital marketing 1. terms, event naming) can be challenging for effective understanding and execution.

  6. The Polkadot ecosystem has a comparable low number of active participants in comparison to its technological relevance.

  7. The developer experience is not enticing people to start building and deploy.

  8. The community grew into somewhat of an echo chamber and can use fresh ideas.

Solution

1. The best possible hacker house series. WebZero has selected Web3 events with high developer attendance around the globe and will host hacker houses to attract this audience to the polkadot ecosystem.

2. An experienced team. WebZero consists of a core team from the Polkadot ecosystem with expertise in events organization, management and has added technical team members to address the challenge properly.

3. Hustling the bottom line. By understanding the impact and results projects wish to achieve, WebZero has the expertise to negotiate, accept and/or reject costly offers from vendors. Consistently negotiating prices to achieve optimal results, such as partnering with the local Lisbon community Chilli Bangs to find more competitive offers to accomodate 400+ Sub0 guests with an open bar at the heart of Lisbon for half the price of the next best offer and ⅕ of the highest one, or organizing a sponsored Pizza Rave with an open bar for 1000+ guests in Austin/Consensus for 20,000 USD.

4. Let’s grow towards a goal. To allow for better planning in 2024 and achieve higher goals, we aim to apply to the fund for a full sum of all the events for the year. To lower the cost in the future, 50% of net revenues incl. sponsorings will be used to purchase DOT for long term staking. Staking rewards will then be used to supplement future capital requirements, equalizing a growing rebate rate with the ultimate goal of cost-neutrality while retaining and growing output accordingly.

5. We are the ecosystem. WebZero is uniquely aware of the code of conduct and the requirements of all main network stakeholders like W3F and Parity, the community and ecosystem teams on a variety of fronts; including marketing, metrics, design. We started the process of meticulously outlining the KPIs and impact metrics of each stakeholder 1. organization and will manage these continuously.

6. So let’s deploy! Create challenges which will entice Web3 developers to deploy on Polkadot, while being directed to the right channels (builders programs, parachains etc).

7. Iteration is programmed. Improve the developer experience with stakeholders through trial and error at WebZero hosted hackathons by collecting feedback from developers.

8. Build a stage and shine a light! Execute cross-chain events and promote polkadot and the strong toolkit around other large conferences for the purpose of growing the ecosystem. We will also make it a great space to hang out, network, with reliable tech on-site, i.e. stable wifi and more!


Where do WebZero’s events fit in?

We can identify a few different types of events and participations in the ecosystem:

1. Strategic and flagship | Decoded, Sub0, Web3 Summit
2. Sponsorships at large conferences | SXSW, Consensus, ETH Denver…
3. Side events & parties | side events organized alongside large conferences mentioned above
4. Hackathons | sponsorships & standalone events
5. Local Meetups

WebZero blends together categories 3 and 4. With day programs we aim to provide a comfortable space for competitors and those keen to learn, while organizing parties and casual evening programs for networking purposes.


Where does WebZero fit in the ecosystem ?

The Blockspace is positioned in between events and developer relations.

Events → Scoping, creating and managing 6 events

Developer relations → Hiring developer relations staff, approaching and directing builders / entrepreneurs at our dedicated events and directing them to various programs in the ecosystem;

  • Deploying Own Coretime → helping devs find relevant assistance
  • Polkadot Blockchain Academy
  • Substrate Builders Program
  • Treasury
  • Building dapps on relevant parachains

Target Audience

  • Developers (hackathon challenges)
  • Entrepreneurs (pitch deck challenges)
  • BizDev and VCs where the opportunity arises (eg. investor dinners at Consensus)

Our mission

1. Increase the number of builders in the Polkadot ecosystem & the usage of Substrate → Increase the number of users.

At WebZero, we understand that every successful technological project stands on a foundation of builders. That’s why we’re committed to expanding our ecosystem by growing its builder base.

Our hypothesis is simple: the more builders we have, the more user-facing applications we can create. And the more applications we have, the more end-users will eventually find something that sticks. We’re focusing on DevRel and events to get us more developers, business-oriented individuals, designers, and other talented people to join our ecosystem and help us build great products.

2. Establish the Polkadot brand presence amongst popular conferences and other Web3 ecosystems

We aim to do this by reserving budgets for bounties, collaborating with other ecosystems on challenges, bringing parachains and other stakeholders along and coordinating educational content at the Blockspace houses.

3. Collect feedback and improve developer experience for coretime deployment

  • Issue surveys for hackers and participants
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Share with stakeholders

Self-sustainability

In the final stage of the project, WebZero would have:

  • Positioned itself as a cross-chain events agency with a focus on side events and hackathons.

  • Gained recognition amongst builders and entrepreneurs.

  • Increased developer and public exposure to the Polkadot brand and added value to the ecosystem as a whole.

  • Become self-sustainable by creating a treasury from additional sponsorship funds, as well as client bookings for 2025.

How do we plan to finance the project in the future?

  1. We will onboard sponsors, as well as additional clients and use their revenue to purchase DOT for long-term staking. The staking reward revenues will be calculated against future cost on behalf of W3F and represent a dynamically growing discount rate.

  2. Creating WebZero flagship events which would focus on real-life user acquisition of high-value target audiences and providing these services (2025).

  3. Partnerships with revenue share.

  4. Merchandise → Test out which items guests like and launch an online shop next year if there is an excess of revenue.


Progress

The team is already connected with Polkadot Blockchain Academy, Substrate Builders Program, Parity Ecosystem Success and Web3F. Based on the conversations we have made a concise table to identify similar goals and challenges within the ecosystem. Parachain case studies and research will be conducted per event. Please see some of our findings below:

Stakeholder Name Goal
Polkadot Blockchain Academy More signups (devs and entrepreneurs), higher quality candidates, rust devs
Substrate Builders Program Deployment of more parachains (ideally 1k in 2024), feedback on developer experience and improving it
Web3 Foundation Web3 devs from other ecosystems, higher participation in governance
Parity Ecosystem Success Keeping participants in the ecosystem and tracking metrics

Additionally, we have already prepared the milestones, prices and vendors for ETH Denver. The downpayment for the venue has been done as well.


Team

Roman Kemper | Director Strategy & Marketing

Roman joined the Polkadot ecosystem as the CMO of Subsquid in 2021 and initiated WebZero after working on Polkadot ecosystem events during Berlin Blockchain Week in 2022. Worked at Apple during the iPhone launch with sales and marketing ops experience in multiple industries. Started getting involved in the blockchain industry in 2017 with activities that included founding shitcoingraveyard and working with different companies like Wallstreet: Online and Bitwala. Roman has been involved with almost every WebZero event as a producer, manager and director of sales, as well as strategy.

XyloDrone | Creative Director and Lead producer

XyloDrone has previously worked for the hologram and film company Kaleida / 12th Battalion productions which have produced the biggest hologram installations in the world (Riot games, Kanye West, etc). Additionally, her experience includes setting up exhibitions in short time periods with limited budgets, as well as working on an indie feature film which has resulted in high production skills with low resources. XyloDrone has worked on almost all WebZero events as a producer, creative director, designer, occasionally photographer and bizdev. Ex. KodaDot, RMRK, ChainSaw.

Denis Pisarev | Tech lead

Denis has been with Parity since 2018, leading multiple tech teams, and occasionally supporting events’ tech side. He is an experienced open source maintainer with a keen eye for UX/UI, QA, DevOps, and security, formerly a bartender in a club. Been to too many conferences and events, has a quirk for the way ecosystem folks like them.

Sacha Lansky | DevRel

Sacha Lansky is a Developer Relations Engineer, most recently working at Parity on Polkadot SDK guides and documentation as well as developer video content to help onboard new developers to the Polkadot ecosystem. He’s launched initiatives such as the Substrate Newsletter, opening Substrate Seminar to the community and the recent SDK Unwind streaming series. He’s been a mentor and speaker at a number of hackathons and Polkadot related conferences andalso was a teaching assistant for the first wave of the Polkadot Blockchain Academy (Cambdrige).

Simon Hipkins | Photo/video production and management

SIMON HIPKINS is a producer / director, photographer and cinematographer with 20+ years experience in broadcast production. Over his career he has worked for the BBC, Channel NewsAsia, Discovery Networks, Channel Four (UK) and Al Jazeera. He became interested in blockchain when he made 4 x 60mins TV series called ‘Inside the Cryptokingdom’ (CNA 2018).

At his initiative he used some of the material to create the ‘Polkadot: Behind the Code’ series (2020-22) which he produced and directed. This 3 part short documentary was aimed at communicating the story of Polkadot to a wider audience and is still some of the most widely viewed video content on Polkadot today.

Darren Seah | Producer

Darren brings a diverse range of experience in event management to the table. He joined Parity Technologies in May 2022 and held the positions of Organizational Events Specialist and Community Events Coordinator until July 2023. During his tenure, Darren successfully managed high-profile events such as Polkadot Decoded and Sub0. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in organizing and overseeing all community events and activities for the Polkadot ambassadors. Darren’s expertise in event management and community engagement makes him an ideal candidate to oversee proposals.

Dercio Hoffmann | Producer

Dercio is an individual who has a wealth of experience in various fields. He has hosted raves in Germany, Cologne. He has also done data analysis and built data pipelines. Dercio has managed user and platform onboarding of Builder. Place and contributed to the first MVP of TalentLayer. He has built his first app in 2020. Dercio is a Graph advocate and handles events and technical workshops related to The Graph Ecosystem.

Daniel Artamendi | Technician / IT/AV

Daniel Artamendi is computer scientist, event producer and cultural agent with special focus on the intersections of technology with other disciplines. He has extensive open source experience producing and curating back in the early days of Processing.org, Arduino and other media technologies. He has worked as Head of AV and IT in major contemporary art institutions in Spain for more than 10 years, and collaborated with awarded media festivals and events like Interactivos? (Medialab Prado), European Cultural Capital 2016 or SSIFF. Lately, he has been working in Parity Technologies as Head of IT in the Security Team. Lives and works in Berlin.

Patrik Kogoj | Producer / contributor | Apillon

Patrik has been connecting the dots in the ecosystem by co-organizing multiple events last and this year and initiating Polkadot Meetups in two cities: Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Zagreb, Croatia. Patrik is one of the core members of WebZero, with his primary focus on the production aspect. Patrik has helped WebZero setup a couple of events, including ETH Denver and BlockSplit. His production, management and liaison skills have been impeccable thus far.

Elisa | BizDev / contributor | KILT Protocol

Elisa joined the Polkadot ecosystem in 2019 when she started working at KILT Protocol. At KILT she leads marketing, communications, events and community initiatives as well as working closely with the developer relations team. Elisa became involved with WebZero from the very beginning, joining the team for business development and production. Elisa has helped WebZero set up side events for Consensus, Berlin Blockchain Week and Polkadot Decoded.


WebZero encourages everyone to provide constructive feedback, inquiries and reviews of our proposal. We are in this ecosystem together!

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Big fan of this team and proposal!

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It’s a real privilege to be a part of this team. Having seen and filmed in similar initiatives for other blockchain protocols - I know how important a space they can be to both capture and nurture talent into the ecosystem. Looking forward to hopefully meeting and capturing the stories of the next generation of builders who come in to innovate and ideate inside WebZero’s hacker houses.

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Would love to collab on events for ETH Denver, I’m currently in HK for the PBA program part of cohort 4.

I just dm’d @XyloDrone on telegram, I’m running a hacker house for the University of Waterloo with Blockchain Acceleration Foundation and College DAO. Would love to get connected to the dev rel team.

Any connections here would be much appreciated.

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As @XyloDrone knows we organize pop up hacker houses in the style of code camps. Did one in Taipei, one in Chiang Mai, then Berlin, Wales and latest close to Lisbon (after Sub0). Was sharing the latest with @XyloDrone in Nov but did’t know WebZero is also working on these similar concepts. Would be nice to share the know how with each other as we’ve been doing this for many years now :blush:

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Hi all thank you for all the comments!

@SimonHip thank you so much for the kind words! We also look forward to collaborating on the project together and very much hope that the new “Behind the Code” series will come to life.

@0xwasian Thanks also so much for getting in touch via DMs! I am excited to see where our potential collaboration can take us and how it can grow the ecosystem

@ninabreznik Hey Nina, yes we are very well aware of the Wizard Amigos hacker houses, I do think the key difference is that we positioned our events around existing conferences and are heavily focused on building a pipeline for reporting on developer experience to improve Polkadot.
We are always open to chatting further on any potential collaborations.

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wow, that’s huge!
Will be happy to join!

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Thank you @Motif ! Feel free to reach out via DM on telegram for more details; @XyloDrone

I like the idea of creating a comfortable, collaborative and what’s most important, reproducible environment for hackers and learners, as well as organising parties and networking events.
The team is more than suitable, LFG!

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Stoked to be working alongside the WebZero team to help deliver Polkadot hackerhouses and help grow our builder community at these major web3 conferences.

In a separate post I’ve made a call to action for anyone who wants to help shape the content we deliver and I’ve also outlined part of our strategy for curating the schedule or talks and workshops.

Well put! This is a good summary of my goal here.

@0xwasian, @ninabreznik - let me know how we can collaborate, always happy to support.

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Hello guys,

I’m software developer in blockchain field (solidity, Rust)
I’m planning to attend Eth Denver 2024 and I came accross this thread regarding the hacker house
Is there any hacker house for Polkadot in Eth Denver ?
I would be happy to join you

Please let me know if any news ? :slight_smile:

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Hey @ielboulo , thanks for reaching out! We are indeed doing a week long hacker house at ETH Denver. Details about the hackathon and how to apply will be shared early next week! We also have a plethora of evening programs which will be hosted by a number of sponsors.

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Wonderful ! Thanks for your answer !

Please let me know if any news about it
I would love to apply and to join the polkadot community ! :slight_smile:

Hey @ielboulo , here is the link to our calendar where you can sign up for the events. The bounties will be on the official ETH Denver page soon!