Decentralized Futures Proposal: APAC market expansion / BD / builder onboarding

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.

Solution

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:

  • Korea
  • Japan
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
  • Indonesia
  • Thailand
  • Philippines

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:

  • Korea
  • Japan
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Vietnam
  • Indonesia
  • Thailand
  • Philippines

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
  • DAOTokyo
  • 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.

Deliverables

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.

Team

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 Croisettier

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.

Vincent Chan

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 Wang

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 Nguyen

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 Sang-hyun

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.

Concluding note

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

23 Likes

As the cofounder of Manta, we like to support Will and his team on this proposal. Its very important to build a community with fairness and justice and based on the builder’s effort, the more effort you put into the ecosystem, the more incentives should be, definitely Asian builders put huge effort into Polkadot but have been discriminated by the previous team a lot in ecosystem growth and development, its time to get ecosystem support in Asia back again.

6 Likes

Super Team and initiative. APAC is currently leading the web3 narrative in terms of adoption, so having a dedicated team in the region to unlock business opportunities for the ecosystem, is a win in my book.
Would be great to see how the team intends to work with BD teams from Parachains to support growth in the region.
Having had the pleasure to work with a number of people from the team in the past 2 years, I am ready to support them in this next step.

5 Likes

I offer my resounding support for this proposal – this could not have come at a better moment in time.

Given how Japanese regulators are really motivated to catch the Web3 wave and Hong Kong attempting to become the crypto hub for the greater China region, this initiative is vital for capturing interests and awareness in the less-marketed East and Southeast Asian region.

Moreover, expertise in developing businesses in the East and Southeast Asia region is essential, as the business culture is markedly different from Europe and North America, where Polkadot traditionally operates. I personally have interacted with the majority of the team members in this initiative, and I can vouch for their diligence and attentiveness to business demands in East and Southeast Asia.

6 Likes

Happy to see this initiative coming together! I’ve worked with most of the team members in this group directly and can gladly say that my experience has been positive. They each bring vast and diverse networks and skills to the table and have been passionate about growing the Polkadot ecosystem since the first day I met them.

With a growing and ambitious population, relatively high internet penetration and a digitally native younger generation, Asia is a key market not just within web3 but also across multiple industries which makes it ripe for user adoption. There is an urgent need to cater to users in these emerging regions. The best team suited for this job would be able to navigate local cultural nuances adeptly and sensitive to the tastes and preferences of regional demographics.

5 Likes

I can’t recommend this team enough and the initiatives mentioned above. I’ve met most of the initial team members here and I believe in what all of them can achieve for the ecosystem. As someone handling Polkadot’s APAC community, I myself have been active attending local community events and seen the importance of adoption in this side of the world. It would be great to have a team focused on working here specific in APAC.

5 Likes

This is a very sharp team who really has their finger on the pulse of web3 in Asia. I fully support this proposal.

4 Likes

Polkadot can’t afford to miss opportunities in APAC as it is the fastest growing and most crypto-friendly environment for innovation in Web3. This team has the domain expertise of both Polkadot and the region to execute a productive growth strategy within a mission-critical geography.

As an executive of a Polkadot SDK project, they have my full support for this initiative.

4 Likes

Looking forward to this from Taiwan! Having helped organize past Polkadot events here, I can definitely say there is not enough awareness about Polkadot, yet there is an abundance of technical talent and a great community, which is attracted by other blockchains that spend more resources on engagement and events.

4 Likes

This team is highly qualified to carryout this plan and they have demonstrated great competence and commitment to growing the ecosystem. The importance of a APAC region will be pivotal to the growth of crypto for years to come and it should be a priority for every chain. This plan fulfills an obvious imperative for the Polkadot ecosystem to expand in Asia and the team has the experience, vision, connections, and track record to execute it. I support this plan without reservation.

4 Likes

Hello, this is Hoon Kim, former CTO of Astar Foundation, the spiritual CTO of Astar Network, and the CEO and founder of Team STEP.

Overall, I fully support this initiative. Considering the market potential we saw, it is a no-brainier to increase our focus on APAC. However, it also feel like support for this imitative is long over-due.

At Astar, we’ve placed our roots in Japan because we saw an opportunity, but because we couldn’t get enough support from Polkadot (or Parity), we had to take our own initiative. One of the main challenges were explaining the whole concept of Polkadot or a Relaychain. In fact, it was easy to discard Polkadot completely, since our primary target were dApp builders on Astar. I imagine this would be a different case for Polkadot, so narrative planning and regional priorities sounds very important (IMO South East Asian countries seems to have a high builder tolerance for Substrate compared to Japan or South Korea). As long as Polkadot doesn’t make Astar’s technical composition complicated for the average Japanese builders, I think there is a good potential for on boarding more parachains or apps to the Relaychain.

Another thing I want to note is the difference in regional preferences as well. For example, from my experience through Astar, the local Japanese builders seek technical novelty that they can learn and build (like WASM ink), while Korean local builders generally prefer proven and stable tech and focus more on UI/UX through centralized means. Understanding the local trend would help us understand where we should start. If the team have that information already, I don’t see a problem at all.

Is there any data from the previous hackathons Polkadot did in APAC? Seeing the turnover rates and the results would be very helpful in illustrating the potential of APAC. At least from my observations, some of them were really good, so I’m bullish on it!

5 Likes

I fully support this team. In my opinion, every member possesses the highest knowledge in their respective fields. The APAC region truly benefits from this initiative.

2 Likes

The APAC market is crucial for any ecosystem due to its large and diverse population, economic growth, and increasing tech adoption. As a community established since the early days, PolkaWarriors wholeheartedly endorse this plan.

This team exhibits high qualifications and a strong commitment to executing the plan, showcasing competence in fostering ecosystem growth. This is definitely crucial for the long-term expansion of Polkadot ecosystem to establish a presence in Asia.

2 Likes

Thanks for putting this in, always excited to see more BD-focused teams look to step up. I fully agree with the regional focus of this proposal and have worked with all of these folks (to varying degrees) and believe collectively they’ll do a good job representing Polkadot for APAC. I do have a few concerns and not necessarily about this direct proposal but more about the timing and structure.

For any BD efforts to be successful, there needs to be good infrastructure in place. I’m confident that this crew can find leads, get them excited to build and down the path but they’ll need to have a support structure in place after the “commit” has been made and I’m not sure what that looks like right now. Once a team is committed there needs to be a handoff to ensure as they build they’re getting the technical and marketing support so they feel like they’re on the path to being successful. I believe the marketing piece (Distractive or otherwise) will be there but I’m not sure what the plan for technical success looks like.

The other piece I feel is missing right now is almost a “sales generalist” team/person who can help take inbound “leads” and make sure the teams regionally are getting them, have the materials needed, and are tracked to ensure teams aren’t slipping through the cracks. I’d love to see someone step in to get that pulled together as without that, these regional pitches will be flying their own direction.

TLDR - In support of this but feel like there are other pieces that need to be lined up prior to implementing this kind of setup.

-Nate

5 Likes

Asia is where the center of gravity in crypto has shifted. A great deal of Fintech innovations are also coming out of Asia. Expanding the focus to a region home to 60% of the world’s population is a good move.

2 Likes

Polkadot has too many potentials and it is an amazing technology. As a blockchain developer in Asia market, I truly want this plan to be executed successfully and widespread to the developers in APAC.

I talked with Cris Nguyen a few times and he is a very dedicated community stakeholder who cares a lot about the growth of the Polkadot ecosystem. Hence, we shared the same vision and have already kickstarted reaching out to developers in SEA and it will keep growing: Introducing TheLowLevelers - Low-level developer community for Polkadot

They have my full support for their initiative.

2 Likes

Hi everyone, I have been actively involved in the APAC region in the past years and have had the opportunity to collaborate with most of the team on this BD proposal for the APAC region. William, Cris, Eric, and Rhee have been spearheading the Polkadot ecosystem collaboration initiative by organizing key events in APAC. I’m pleased to see their ongoing efforts to maintain focus and onboard more web3 builders in APAC.

Given the team’s expertise, I am confident in their ability to effectively promote Polkadot in the APAC region. The opportunities in APAC are significant, given its status as the fastest-growing and most blockchain-friendly environment. This team possesses the necessary knowledge of the Polkadot ecosystem, partners in the region, and the local communities to execute a successful growth strategy in this critical geography.

Remy

2 Likes

Hi everyone, I wanna voice my support for this team and this proposal.

The problem this proposal is tackling is indeed popular. Attracting more developers and builders among APAC market should be one of the top priorities of Polkadot ecosystem, because of the potential of this region. We are also a builder from APAC and acknowledge that this region needs that reachout and effort from Polkadot.

Cris Nguyen has been the one actively devoting himself to promoting Polkadot, starting with “Polkadot Insider” then moving on to a lot of additional BD efforts/events/networking for Polkadot, which I believe is the true passion and his capability. His work did introduce at least hundreds of builders to Polkadot in general, especially in the side events: Polkadot Networking Night (BUIDL VN in June), Moonbeam Igniting Innovation with Web3 (GM Vietnam Side Event), etc. Been working closely with him since, I can say he’s got the mentality and ability to deliver this proposal solution.

Additionally I wanna express my support for Rhee Sang-huyn, an incredible guy. He’s clearly got the expertise and experience to expand the leads in this market. Overall, I believe this team is necessary for our ecosystem, and more opportunities for us as well.

-Peter (MoonFit)

3 Likes

Awesome initiative; I offer my 100% support for this proposal and the whole team behind it.

The APAC region has definitely been a rising player in the crypto and blockchain space over the past year, and the numbers back them up. In the Philippines alone, we’ve ranked in the top 10 in terms of crypto volume, NFT & coin ownership, etc.

As the cofounder of Bitskwela, the leading education brand in the Philippines, we are proud to support this initiative and will work hand-in-hand with Cris and the rest of the team for upskilling and educational campaigns.

2 Likes

Great proposal. These are all key elements which are fundamental to enhance Polkadot’s presence in Asia, and ones which are largely missing from our proposal (ForceField), so it’s great that this DF initiative is allowing synergies and collaborations between experienced such entities. Good luck to you guys!

2 Likes