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If there aren’t enough engineers, why not train any more?
The appetite for smart contract developers couldn’t be stronger in a bull market for decentralised finance, with teams producing new products at breakneck speed — but the amount of potential talent couldn’t be smaller.
Team members from various ventures, including reps from high-profile mainstays including Yearn.finance and SushiSwap, have taken to Twitter in recent weeks to complain about the shallow recruiting pool. Despite hefty reward programmes that involve token allocations and generous wages, the concerns continue. However, no matter how many carrots ventures deliver, there just aren’t enough developers to go around.
Fuck, we’ve hit the “developer crunch” portion of the bull market
— I’m just a doggie boi (@fubuloubu) April 7, 2021
In the absence of experienced developers, many projects have turned to an unconventional, though in several ways perfect, recruiting tool: hackathons.
Delphi Digital, a multiservice investment capital firm, and IDEO CoLab co-sponsored a weekend hackathon last weekend. Competitive hackathon ventures were then welcomed to an 11-week mentorship programme with the possibility of a full seed investment at the end, which was designed exclusively to incubate promising young teams.
“We found early on that hackathon style events are better at identifying talent than they are at surfacing investable ideas,” said Delphi’s José Macedo. “That’s mostly because getting to an investable idea in a few days is really hard, but it’s also because we’re simulating what it’s like to work with folks and see things like their bias to action and how they work with others. People stand out pretty quickly based on their actual behaviors which allows us to identify and work with talent based on merit.”
Hackathons, according to Macedo, are “one of the main channels” that the company uses for recruiting and finding investment-worthy early ventures.
Similarly, Chainlink is currently hosting a virtual hackathon that will end on April 11. The $130,000 prise pool, according to city organiser Keenan Olsen, drew over 300 proposal entries. Developing and nurturing talent was built into the process from the start, with several seminars planned during the festival.
Synthetix, a synthetic asset network, is also keeping an eye on the Chainlink hackathon, as the project’s GrantsDAO voted to co-sponsor the event. As a result, 15 separate initiatives are being built on top of the protocol, and the decentralised autonomous organisation will consider financing them for further growth after the incident.
Hackathons, according to Stephen Fluin, Chainlink Labs’ head of developer relations, are a perfect way for young talent to get heard.
“We actively hire both from our community and people we meet at events and hackathons. Hackathons are a great way to showcase your ability to our team, who are often following the event, teams, and projects closely,” he said.
In a Tweet Friday, Macedo revealed that the Delphi team is bullish enough on hackathons that it’s running yet another, just a month after one concluded:
Capital is abundant rn but talent is scarce @Delphi_Digital is a squad of 30+ researchers, investors & builders. Our goal is help build and fund the products that take crypto mainstream
— José Maria Macedo (@ZeMariaMacedo) April 9, 2021
It’s a talent pipeline Delphi hopes to formalize in the coming months.
“Our goal is to create a repeatable process that allows us to source and identify great talent, build strong teams and use our experience to help guide them to solve some of the most important problems in the space.”