Decentralized Futures: Establishing the EasyA x Polkadot University

Hey Everyone!

I’m Phil, Co-Founder of EasyA (the world’s most popular Web3 education app). We’ve been actively involved in growing the Polkadot ecosystem for over the past 2 years, educating over 95,000 developers (from top universities and institutions globally) on Polkadot and bringing hundreds of developers to in-person Polkadot hackathons at Harvard and in London. Over these years, we’ve had the honour of working with almost every Polkadot ecosystem team.

In summary, we’ve seen a huge need for Polkadot to have a coherent universities strategy, embedding Polkadot teaching within top universities like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cambridge, forging key alliances with their blockchain clubs, and supporting them with launching on Polkadot to drive top talent into the ecosystem. In addition, especially after the decentralization of Parity’s core developer relations and go-to-market teams, Polkadot needs a top team to execute this strategy. EasyA will build and execute this all fully end to end.

Web3 stands on the shoulders of academia and top universities. Vitalik Buterin was just a student when he dropped out to found Ethereum. So too was Robert Habermeier when he co-founded Polkadot.

We recently caught up with Gavin Wood at Stanford University, and will be funnelling the very best developers towards the JAM Implementer’s Prize. The JAM Tour itself is focused on universities, with Gavin Wood appearing at universities around the world in lectures designed to explain the Gray Paper and attract the best talent to build the future of Polkadot.

Even aside from the future of Polkadot with JAM, it is widely recognised by parachains and ecosystem teams that Polkadot today needs more fresh, top-quality talent. This is exactly what we will bring through the EasyA x Polkadot University.

The below is a more in-depth explanation of the EasyA x Polkadot University, our vision for it, and how we will execute it. We welcome participation from the whole Polkadot ecosystem, since we know that this will benefit all projects, founders and parachains alike building on Polkadot.

We can’t wait to bring the next massive wave of founders to Polkadot!

– Phil, Co-Founder of EasyA

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EasyA builds a dedicated programme focused on teaching university students about Polkadot and supporting them with launching new projects in the Polkadot ecosystem.

About EasyA

With almost 1 million developers from top universities, companies and projects across the US, UK and Europe, EasyA is the world’s most trusted and engaged community of Web3 builders. Founded by Oxbridge/Ivy League grads, EasyA works very closely with over 300 of the world’s best blockchain clubs, frequently ranks as one of the top apps on the App Store, and has been featured as Apple’s App of the Day. Our hackathons and crash courses on the world’s leading Web3 networks such as Solana, Polygon, Polkadot, Ripple, Algorand, Aptos, Tezos, Binance, ImmutableX, Sui, Stacks, Stellar and many more attract the world’s most talented hackers, since EasyA is a powerful signal to them of quality and excellence. Projects coming out of our hackathons have in turn raised from the best: all the way from a16z to Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund to Y Combinator and beyond. The combined valuation of companies launched by EasyA hackathon winners is over $2.5 billion.

With the support of Decentralized Futures, we will build the EasyA x Polkadot University. In summary, Polkadot needs a coherent university strategy and execution. EasyA will build and execute this end to end.

Key voices such as Bill Laboon have expressed this need too. We caught up with Bill Laboon about it at ETH Denver, as well as Rob Habermeier at Decoded, and there is no doubt that this need is both urgent and important. One of the secrets to Solana’s success is its Solana University, which was formally announced in 2022. Solana University is Solana’s programme ‘aimed at equipping university students with tools to connect to the Solana ecosystem, learn Rust, and launch new projects’. Since inception, it has on-boarded thousands of students to Solana, and created some of Solana’s most die-hard supporters and contributors.

Students are the key to blockchain growth. Vitalik Buterin was 19 when he wrote the Ethereum Whitepaper. Polkadot co-founder Rob Habermeier was a student when he dropped out to co-found Polkadot. Solana’s recognition of the power of students has contributed to its exponential growth over the past few years.

Our goal is to find the next Vitalik Buterin or Robert Habermeier and get them building on Polkadot.

EasyA x Polkadot University

The EasyA x Polkadot University will be tightly integrated with Polkadot, Kusama and of course Substrate, teaching university students and developers about all three.

EasyA has been an active contributor to the Polkadot ecosystem since early 2022, when it hosted the first ever in-person Polkadot hackathon for students in London. The full report from that first Polkadot hackathon is available on Gov1, and since then we have continued to draw the best developers to Polkadot.

In 2023, we launched our #60DaysOfPolkadot educational campaign which went viral, attracting 40,000 talented developers to learn about Polkadot.

Our hackathons at Harvard University (USA) and in London (UK) in the summer of 2023 then brought 550 of these incredible developers together. They launched projects which have now raised grant and VC funding, and are continuing to make huge strides in the Polkadot ecosystem. Our full report for the #60DaysOfPolkadot, along with our milestones and KPIs (which were all successfully completed), is available on OpenGov.

We are now continuing to build on this success with our 2024 #180DaysOfPolkadot. This focuses on growing momentum further and hosting what have now become Polkadot’s flagship hackathons at Harvard and in London. The first of the two milestones was recently approved on OpenGov with a huge 88% support.

Decentralized Futures requests/needs which this addresses

:white_check_mark: Growth

:white_check_mark: Developer Experience

:white_check_mark: Events

:white_check_mark: Development Services

:white_check_mark: High-Value Partners

:white_check_mark: Decentralized Marketing

How we will do it

Over the past 4 years, EasyA has developed a tried and tested 3-step formula for ecosystem growth:

  1. Educate developers via the EasyA app
  2. Invite hundreds of the best ones to in-person hackathons
  3. Support these students with launching their blockchain startups

Polkadot needs a core team that will maintain relationships with universities and student clubs and execute on this all. Currently, there is nothing like this in the Polkadot ecosystem. There are amazing people like Shawn Tabrizi who are bringing Polkadot to universities. We will supercharge this, and leverage EasyA’s immense universities network and the EasyA app to grow Polkadot in universities at scale. In other words, we will be Polkadot’s universities team.

So far, we have already started the above three steps using the funding we have received via OpenGov. However, we need to go into more depth with each one. For step 1, we need to educate developers even more deeply via the EasyA app and also in-person workshops. For step 2, we need to host more hackathons to build developers’ confidence. Most importantly, for step 3 we need to give grants to builders so that they have the funding required to launch.

To do this, we’ll educate students directly on Polkadot.

As Bill Laboon noted (on this Polkadot Forum) in support of Polkadot education at universities: ‘There is a lot of room to use Substrate at universities and teach Rust in general‘. Polkadot has a number of great resources, like the EdX course. We just need to package them in such a way that we can get these Polkadot resources straight into universities without reinventing the university curriculum yet. We will initiate this via EasyA’s immense universities network, first via the EasyA app and building grassroots momentum (e.g. with workshops), eventually decentralizing this education for maximum scalability. Once the grassroots students learn about Polkadot, they will then discuss it with each other, and subsequently teach it to each other. Polkadot education will then rise up to professors, who will in turn restart the cycle by teaching Polkadot to their students, ultimately forming part of the university curriculum.

We will administer and manage a grants model too. The overall goal of the grants: anyone who wants to build on Polkadot can get initial funding to do so. They could build anything in the Polkadot ecosystem, be it developer tooling, their own Substrate pallet or a dApp on one of the Polkadot parachains. Numerous EasyA teams, such as DotIAm, have already won grants within the Polkadot ecosystem and we can’t wait to continue showing them the potential of building on Polkadot.

Ultimately, we will also give these student teams exposure to VCs. We have had huge success with this already. Students coming out of EasyA have been funded by a16z, YC, Founders Fund, and many more top VCs. They’re literally building the next unicorns. Chances are, you’ve already even seen them! Let’s take an example from just last month. Did you see Devin on Twitter, the viral AI software engineer? The one that was retweeted by pretty much everyone, like the co-founder of Coinbase and Paradigm, Fred Ehrsam, the co-founder of OpenSea Alex Atallah, the Collison brothers (Stripe co-founders), and pretty much everyone else! Yep, their co-founder first started building at an EasyA hackathon when he was studying at Harvard University!

Today, they’re backed by a who’s who list of tech founders, from the co-founders of Stripe (the Collison brothers) to Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and more. Collectively, in just the past 1.5 years alone, startups coming out of EasyA hackathons are valued at over $2.5 billion dollars.

Imagine if we got just one Polkadot startup the same exposure. This would be all Polkadot needs to get an exponential increase in developers and founders building on it.


Hundreds of developers lined up around the block for our Polkadot Hackathons in 2023

In addition to the EasyA app, we have some of the strongest social media accounts in Web3, and are growing rapidly. This is an unmatched distribution channel. Combined, we have over 1 million fans, and billions of views:

  • TikTok: 410k followers
  • Instagram: 352k followers
  • Twitter: 150k followers
  • YouTube: 445k subscribers
  • LinkedIn: 3k followers

About EasyA’s founding team

EasyA’s co-founders (both Oxbridge and Ivy League graduates) are serial hackathon winners active in crypto since 2013, giving them an in-depth understanding of what makes hackathons succeed and how protocols can attract the best talent. Prior to founding EasyA, Phil Kwok founded two groundbreaking marketplace startups and worked at top New York law firm Sullivan & Cromwell. He was one of the youngest people ever to pass the New York Bar and consistently ranked top of his year as a scholar at Cambridge University. Our other co-founder, Dom Kwok, worked at The Blackstone Group and Goldman Sachs, after graduating Cum Laude from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania as a Joseph Wharton and Benjamin Franklin Scholar.

Phil and Dom are both respected thought leaders in Web3 and developer/universities education. Phil and Dom each have over 100k followers on Twitter.

They have both been featured on the world’s most respected news outlets, from the Wall Street Journal to the BBC to Yahoo Finance and beyond.

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This is great, exactly what Polkadot needs to galvanise support among the leading student communities across the world. University students who start building on Polkadot, will be launching the big projects of tomorrow. A big aye from me!

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Thank you for your support! We can’t wait to bring all this fresh talent to Polkadot! They’re going to drive momentum in the ecosystem to the next level!

– Phil (EasyA Co-Founder)

Excited to support the EasyA x Polkadot University proposal! The team at EasyA has a proven track record of successfully engaging and educating top-tier developers over the years now, and their dedication is simply impressive. By focusing on university students and providing them with the tools and support they need, EasyA will bring a new wave of talent and innovative projects to Polkadot. Looking forward to see this happen!

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Thank you, Sofiya! We’re thrilled to have the support of you and the Astar team, and can’t wait to bring these top-tier developers to Astar and the Polkadot ecosystem as a whole! We just need to show them the true power of what Polkadot can do!

– Phil (EasyA Co-Founder)

Hey @Phil_EasyA ,

This initiative is exactly what the Polkadot ecosystem needs!

Embedding Polkadot education within top universities and forming alliances with their blockchain clubs will significantly boost the ecosystem. The focus on teaching and supporting university students to launch projects on Polkadot will ensure a steady influx of fresh, high-quality talent.

By providing resources and creating a structured path for students, Polkadot will see increased innovation and development. The success of similar programs, like Solana University, shows the potential impact this can have. The integration with Polkadot, Kusama, Substrate, and EasyA’s proven track record makes this a game-changer for the community.

This initiative will drive new projects and attract talented developers to Polkadot.

The EasyA team has consistently proven its ability to deliver and get results.

I fully support this initiative!

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Great initiative and the best team in the industry behind it. Full support for Phil and the whole Easy A team.

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Hey Chris!

It’s awesome to have your support! You’re a brilliant showcase of the awesome things that can happen when we bring super bright people together and teach them about Polkadot.

Keep crushing it with dAppForge!

– Phil (EasyA Co-Founder)

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Thank you, Travis! We’re honoured to have your support. The Acala team have played an immense role in Polkadot education, especially through huge contributions like Chopsticks. We’re here to help scale this, and bring these tools to the world!

– Phil (EasyA Co-Founder)

Hi everyone, this is Ryan from SubWallet. I’ve been following Phil and Dom and their work at EasyA for the past few years. They are committed to providing high-quality work and have successfully introduced Polkadot to many students at top universities.

I support this initiative!

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Love this initiative! We need more minds in this space to drive decentralized computation and metaverse worlds with the future of JAM/PVM!

I support this!

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Hey Ryan! Thank you - we’ve been thrilled to bring so many students to Polkadot, and host these hackathons as such incredible places! We’re looking forward to welcoming many more to the Polkadot ecosystem soon.

Keep up the awesome work with SubWallet!

– Phil (EasyA Co-Founder)

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Hey Marti! You’ve got that absolutely right - especially looking forward to JAM/PVM, we’ve got to start the developer journey early on. Once people start to appreciate what they enable, that’s when the magic will happen.

– Phil (EasyA Co-Founder)

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I strongly support this initiative. Phil, Dom, and the entire Easy A team have a track record of consistently delivering excellence. Polkadot can derive substantial benefit from the Easy A x Polkadot University!

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We had the pleasure of having Phil and Dom on our podcast a while back and we had an insightful chat about education in the web3 space. A topic we are passionate about at TEACHMEDEFI.

Easy access to learning and streamlined onboarding for developers is important for the growth of every blockchain ecosystem.

I thought they were professional, ambitious, knowledgeable and experienced in that domain and thus well positioned to execute on this vision.

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Hey Kevin! Thank you for the kind words. It was our absolute pleasure to host you and Moonbeam at our EasyA x Polkadot Hackathon at Harvard last year. It’s been incredible working together as part of our #180DaysOfPolkadot too.

We’re excited to build on these strong foundations and launch the EasyA x Polkadot University!

– Phil (EasyA Co-Founder)

It was awesome to come on the podcast back then - thanks for hosting us!

Education is the cornerstone of Web3. We can’t wait to bring more people in through showing them what this ecosystem holds!

– Phil (EasyA Co-Founder)

On behalf of Harvard Blockchain, we want to express how grateful we are for everything EasyA have done and continue to do to help educate students on Web3. It’s crazy to think that our first Blockchain Hackathon, “Hack Boston”, was nearly two years ago now and it’s unbelievable the amount our community at Harvard has grown since then. Every Hackathon and Developer Day we host is always packed, and we’re constantly requested to host more frequently.

We are super passionate about the importance of EasyA’s involvement at Harvard, especially since there are no Blockchain classes currently offered, whether that be development or just introductory level. Bringing students through the app challenges and into developer days and hackathons has enabled us to grow our community enormously to over 100 members as of this year.

We would love to see more Hackathons at Harvard for students to test their knowledge gained from the EasyA app challenges. We would also like to see more post-event assistance in terms of helping bring projects to market.

We’re hosting another EasyA x Polkadot Hackathon at Harvard in July and have the most signups and interest we’ve ever had. The movement is only beginning and we’re here for it! Road to one billion devs!

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It’s been awesome working together too, Harvard Blockchain team! Our Hack Boston hackathon together really was incredible, with teams from that one today being backed by a16z, Founders Fund and more.

As you say, given that there are no blockchain classes at Harvard, there’s a huge gap in fulfilling students’ demand for blockchain education. The EasyA x Polkadot University will do exactly that, teaching students at Harvard about Polkadot, Substrate and beyond.

We’re excited to continue working together on bringing more genius students to the ecosystem. Keep up your awesome work too!

– Phil (EasyA Co-Founder)

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Phil and Dom through Moonbeam, and it has been a phenomenal experience.

When they did their 60-day Polkadot challenge, they worked hard to ensure the content for each Parachain (Moonbeam, in our case) was on point. They did a lot of the lifting, which was extremely helpful, and they were always very, very responsive and energetic.

They worked hard to ensure everything was a success and had an excellent track record and good connections with universities.

I would suggest bringing all sorts of developers to Polkadot, not only Substrate-specific developers. Not everyone needs to build blockchains. Educating developers on how they can build on top of existing parachains is also as important.

Fully support this initiative.

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