October 23, 2017

Closing out Consensys Academy in Dubai

A few months ago I applied to the Consensys Academy Blockchain Developer Program. For those of you who don’t know, Consensys is the largest company in the Ethereum space and composed of hundreds of talented blockchain developers and specialists. They recently had an academy program where you apply for the chance to take a course on Ethereum Blockchain development in conjunction with b9 Labs. If you successfully complete the class to their standards you are chosen to go to Dubai and compete in a hackathon building decentralized applications on the blockchain network. Over the course of the trip was a mixture of hacking away and forming ideas. Additionally there was a venture pitch for new ideas related to blockchain.

On the first day we start splitting up into teams right away and go off into teams led by our wonderful team mentor for our hackathon idea. This was fairly collaborative where we each proposed some ideas based on our personal interests in what we’d like to see or potentially build. From there we extracted out many of the commonalities shared between the project ideas. From there we were able to sketch out the user story and workflow to grasp followed by the smart contract design up front. From there we separated out the contract build, backend/API, and the frontend. Pretty basic app development stuff.


Besides being a consultancy Consensys also functions as a venture studio. The types of teams range all across the board from applications, services, and development tools, Consensys calls these teams spokes. As an optional part of this trip we get the chance to come up with our own spoke ideas called spokes and pitch them to people who may actually want to make it a reality. There were plenty of good pitches that were presented. Our DataHub pitch was pretty last minute, we talked about it briefly and thought we would have more time during the week to prepared, that was a wrong assumption. We presented at a high level and actually were given meaningful questions and advice which was pretty sweet. Nothing came of it but it was my first time pitching anything so there’s some lessons on preparation and handling questions that will be very helpful for any potential pitches going forward.


Why Dubai? Consensys is the blockchain advisor of Dubai, a government that has high ambitious goals for blockchain integration. Their goal by 2020 is to get all government documents on to the blockchain and build from there. By being in Dubai, Consensys Academy participants gets to see Consensys work onsite as well as Dubai to see the the reach of Consensys and their seriousness of the project by training developers even if they may not join the project.

To that vane, Consensys is serious about helping not only build the Ethereum ecosystem but also educating the world. It cost me $0 for the whole experience minus 2 cabs rides to and from the airport and a canceled Uber ride because it was impossible to find the driver in the Dubai Airport parking garage. There was a ton invested in this trip and program and it shows. Now whether graduates join Consensys or not, they are all part of the Ecosystem and will function as Ethereum development ambassadors whether they know it or not.

Investing in education and getting people excited is a fantastic recruiting tactic. Like I mentioned before I paid $0 for all of this, I learned really cool stuff that I had no idea of before and am now able to build DAPPS and can write pretty solid smart contracts and create new coins. I got to go on a pretty cool trip and connect with many people who are really into Ethereum and blockchain in general. To cap it off they want you to interview with multiple spokes at their company and join Consensys. At every step of the way it’s a win for the applicants and a win for Consensys no matter the outcome.

The future of Ethereum is still unknown but looks bright. There are plenty of people who drink the crypto and blockchain koolaid and are betting it all on Ethereum and other blockchain solutions being world changing. There are die hard skeptics that feel blockchain will amass to nothing and yet another fad, but no one knows for sure. I personally will keep my eye on the space even if I don’t work on it full time and will try to contribute to smart contract development, education, and helping mature the ecosystem. Not everyone needs to be an expert at it but maybe it’s something that developers need know how to interact with soon. That’s why we have DBAs but also people that just want a hosted Postgres and that’s the end of it. Plus it’s probably a good time to be super knowledgeable with blockchain technologies if you’d like to get into blockchain consulting while it’s hot.

This is a really special community and the whole academy program was a great shared experience. Maybe we are all drinking the koolaid but boy does it taste really sweet. In the end Ethereum can’t survive without the community even if it nails everything else on the technology side. It’s up to us who do believe and know of the feats it can help build to be it’s greatest champions so that community will always be Ethereum’s competitive advantage.