Hi all. With the decentralization of the Polkadot ecosystem through the W3F Decentralized Futures Program, we believe this is the perfect opportunity to gain meaningful adoption for Polkadot in Asia. As a result, we wanted to present an overview of our upcoming proposal to strengthen Polkadot’s presence in this broader region.
The Problem Statement
Although Asia is one of the fastest growing regions, with generally high levels of adoption and more friendly and clear regulatory environments than other parts of the world, all APAC regions with the exception of Mainland China have seen fairly low levels of awareness and adoption of Polkadot. Historically, Parity, W3F, as well as other builders in the Polkadot ecosystem have not deployed significant resources in the region compared to competitors. Mainland China has seen huge success because of early efforts by W3F members to spread DOT awareness in the region and gather a large number of investors for DOT token sales. Asia marketing and BD has been historically performed by a small handful of individuals in the ecosystem, and by only a few within Parity.
There is a lack of marketing, communication, and builder-specific growth activities revolving around Polkadot in Asia, resulting in a lack of familiarity of the Polkadot tech stack, ecosystem, or benefits over other ecosystems. Major competitive ecosystems such as Ethereum, Solana, NEAR, Avalanche, Polygon, Aptos, Sui etc. have set up efforts ranging from partnering with local players for market entry to setting up significant local teams, some with significant amounts of success.
We therefore believe there is an urgent need for Polkadot to step up its efforts in Asia. Specifically, markets such as South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Singapore currently need accelerated efforts to mature Polkadot builder adoption. In addition, these regions all present valuable targets for general growth efforts. Failure to act now will mean yielding a huge developer and end-user market to competitors.
We have assembled an initial team composed of a significant portion of people that have previously worked at Parity that have developed the APAC region to any meaningful degree to lead the charge in solving this problem. More specifically, we intend to onboard a variety of crypto-native builders to the Polkadot ecosystem including parachains, dapps, as well as applications on top of parachains.
In order to address the clear and urgent needs detailed above, we propose an initiative focused on marketing, communication, and builder community growth campaigns around Polkadot in broader Asia. These would include several focus areas (in no particular order):
BD oriented hackathons: Hackathons are a proven way to recruit new builders into the ecosystem, as they provide teams with a platform for awareness, education, and resources (including money). Especially in certain geographies, hackathons can be a very effective channel for recruiting new builders to Polkadot if executed properly. Our team has experience engaging builders via various hackathons across Asia, and we plan to continue to leverage this mechanism to recruit new teams to build on top of Substrate. We anticipate a focus on the following geographies for execution of hackathons:
- Hong Kong
We expect that certain regions will have a higher return on invested time, capital, and efforts (e.g. Vietnam), and that certain regions will have lower returns (e.g. Japan) due to the nature of the developer community in these regions. This list of anticipated regions and number of hackathons may change as we further develop our thesis on the ground once we actually commence operations in each of these geographies. For example, we may consider executing a hackathon in Singapore if we learn that there is significant enough builder interest in that region. For each of these regions, we plan to work with a local partner on the ground that has the operational capabilities to help us execute these hackathons successfully. Additionally, some of these hackathons may be conducted IRL, and some of them may be entirely online. Each of them may also have a bounty amount allocated for the winners or all of the participants in the hackathon, to incentivize engagement.
BD and growth focused events: Educational and side events are also a proven mechanism by which to recruit new builders, and our team has successfully executed numerous side events over the last few years (e.g. at Korea Blockchain Week, Hong Kong Fintech Week, Singapore Token2049). As with hackathons, side events need to be tailored to different regions and the builder base. And the ROI for side events is also different according to which geography we are focusing on. We anticipate a focus on the following geographies for execution of builder focused events:
- Hong Kong
We again expect that certain regions will have a higher return on invested time, capital, and efforts (e.g. Vietnam), and that certain regions will have lower returns (e.g. Japan). This list of anticipated regions and number of events may change as we further develop our thesis on the ground once we actually commence operations in each of these geographies. For each of these regions, we may also work with a local partner on the ground that has the operational capabilities to help us execute these educational and side events successfully. We may also choose to execute these events using only our own team on the ground.
Direct BD efforts: Our members have collectively converted over 100 Parachain or application projects to the Polkadot ecosystem from Asia. We have done this through a combination of in-person meetings, online BD efforts, and event attendance, followed by rigorous deal conversion methodologies.
Over the course of the last 2.5+ years, the team has attended every major crypto native conference globally. In Asia, this has included Korea Blockchain Week, Buidl Korea, Japan Blockchain Week, DAOTokyo, WebX Tokyo, Hong Kong Fintech Week, Taipei Blockchain Week, Singapore Token2049, and others. These events represent one channel by which to recruit new builders into the ecosystem, and we have in fact met many builders at these events that we have been able to onboard into Polkadot.
Over the course of 2024, we anticipate that the team’s BD efforts will occur at the following events:
- Korea Blockchain Week
- Buidl Korea
- Japan Blockchain Week
- WebX Tokyo
- TeamZ Tokyo
- Hong Kong Fintech Week
- Taipei Blockchain Week
- Vietnam Blockchain Summit
- Singapore Token2049
This list is not exhaustive, and there may be other events in other geographies that we attend and conduct BD efforts at. It is meant to be demonstrative.
In addition, we will leverage our extensive network of key supporters and partners and personal connections to discover and convert new leads separate from events. Our ability as a team to comprehensively pitch Polkadot as a tech stack and ecosystem has directly contributed to growing the community of founders, and we plan to continue to leverage this channel to onboard new builders into the ecosystem.
As detailed above, the focus of this mandate will be on onboarding builders in the outlined regions in APAC into the Polkadot ecosystem. While we may provide some follow-on support to builders after the top of funnel, we will largely depend on other entities within the DF ecosystem to work with us to enable builders after they have committed to building on Substrate, a parachain, or somehow integrating with the Polkadot ecosystem. For example, we may pass them onto a marketing entity (e.g. Distractive) for help with marketing, a regional BD focused team (e.g. Transistor or PoKe) for help with partnerships in North America or Europe, the Substrate Builders Program at Parity for help developing blockspace procurement strategies, Delivery Services for technical support on high value projects, Forcefield, PolkaPort East, or various other partners in the ecosystem that can help builders with functionally specific requirements after the onboarding process.
We believe in our efforts being measured concretely based on results as well as execution. Execution refers to both hackathons and events executed in each of the regions described above. Results will be a set of success metrics that refers to a concrete number of teams directly onboarded based on our efforts. We plan on submitting detailed numbers in our more formal proposal to the evaluators.
We have assembled a team of people who have walked the walk for years already. The core team includes William Croisettier, Vincent Chan, and Eric Wang, with Cris Nguyen and Rhee Sang-hyun as initial hires. This initial team has a combined 13.5 years of Asian focused market development and BD experience in the Parity and broader Polkadot ecosystem. Each of the team members are not only knowledgeable about the Polkadot ecosystem but also have successfully carried out numerous growth deals and initiatives from start to finish. Detailed backgrounds of each team member follow:
William has worked for Parity for almost 2.5 years, where he has been leading the Institutional Relations (VC) team. His focus was on evangelizing Polkadot to a global crypto native VC community of 300+ VC firms, and advising the Polkadot ecosystem of builders on early stage venture issues including fundraising. He has worked with 150+ Polkadot/Substrate builders directly as an advisor and mentor on anything related to early stage Venture Capital. He also contributed directly to expanding the ecosystem of builders as a first point of contact with hundreds of teams globally. In total, William has 8 years of VC experience and 8 years of crypto native experience across multiple ecosystems including Polkadot and others (e.g. Ethereum, R3 Corda, Terra, Cardano). William has also worked in Asia for the last 6 years, with a specific focus on Korea and Japan markets.
With several years driving growth across the Polkadot ecosystem, Vincent has established himself as a leader and advocate in the space. He began by leading growth initiatives at Parity Technologies, where he was also part of the Substrate Builders Program committee and a judge for multiple Polkadot hackathons. Vincent then moved on to spearhead growth strategy at Astar Network, managing partnerships like Sony’s first Web3 incubation program in collaboration with Astar. Vincent has also championed Polkadot adoption in Hong Kong and China. He organized Hong Kong’s first Polkadot conference, Polkadot opening side events and meetups in November 2023, convening stakeholders like government officials, investors, and builders to highlight Polkadot’s developments and increase visibility.
Eric brings his deep experience in BD, partnerships, and various L1/L2 ecosystems to this initiative. Eric had worked at Parity for over 3 years, where he oversaw Ecosystem Growth as the Ecosystem Growth Lead and then Head of Strategic Growth Projects. His focus was leading a team to bring crypto-native builders into the ecosystem to build parachains, applications, infrastructure and tooling. He also launched core Parity initiatives such as the Substrate Builders Program. His team brought hundreds of projects to the ecosystem under his leadership. Subsequently, Eric was a Founding Partner of one of the leading crypto funds in Korea, ROK Capital, which was a co-host of Korea Blockchain Week in 2022. At ROK Capital, he was in charge of Venture Capital investments. Eric has also been an advisor to projects like Equilibrium, Moonbeam and Injective Protocol. Currently, Eric is the Head of BD for an interoperability project built on the Polkadot SDK called Analog. Analog also allows for Polkadot parachains to connect with blockchains outside of the Polkadot ecosystem.
Cris has worked in the Polkadot ecosystem for 2 years, where he has led the Polkadot Insider team to become the biggest research and educational platform in the Polkadot community. His focus has been on business development and partnerships, working with more than 40 parachains and applications by addressing their marketing and community needs and helping them with growth strategies. Cris is also a prolific connector of the Polkadot ecosystem in South East Asia with a focus on partners including VCs, media organizations and communities, and web3 projects. Cris has successfully organized three side events on behalf of Polkadot in South East Asia with 100+ attendees. He has also been a speaker at various events, bringing Polkadot closer to local crypto communities. Cris has most recently been working at Moonbeam Network as a Business Development professional based in Vietnam, focused on building partnerships with builders and facilitating growth for the broader Polkadot ecosystem.
Rhee has been building the Polkadot Community ecosystem in East Asia for 4 years, and serving the ecosystem as the Head Ambassador of East Asia for 3 years. He also worked for Parity for 1 year as an Ecosystem Community Builder in the EcoDev department, focusing on supporting parachain teams and helping them to collaborate with each other (e.g. via the Polkadot Forum). Rhee is based in South Korea, and is now the Korea Growth Lead for Astar Network, focused on developing the Korean market for Astar’s initiatives. He has represented Polkadot and Astar and given keynote speeches at various conferences and meetups in Korea. Rhee is a Korean local, and has broad connections with key players in the Korean market.
In addition to the members mentioned above, we plan on hiring additional members to support specific targeted APAC regions including Korea, Japan, HK, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
In summary, broader Asia adoption is extremely important for an ecosystem’s success, and we believe we have a potentially great opportunity through the DF program to tackle this problem. We welcome any feedback, comments and suggestions on our proposal overview!
Regards, William, Vincent, Eric, Cris, and Rhee