By Kaavya Prasad, Founder, Lumos Labs
The global web3 ecosystem is currently home to 16K+ startups and a total of $89 billion in funding with more capital ebbing and flowing everyday. Being a nascent industry, the web3 sector has already disrupted several centralized sectors and has led to niche branches that are independent and flourishing decentralized structures.
The ‘new normal’ of digitization during the period of lockdowns had a big impact on the technology world as it exists today. Yet, this dramatic shift towards upliftment of web3 technologies and startups was already well underway with 2019 reporting over $3 billion in funding in blockchain based technologies.
Apart from funding giving the required push to innovators in the space, hackathons and accelerator programs have also been a big part of the overall developer and startup ecosystem. These initiatives are often conducted and hosted by leading software technology firms to have developers work on their platforms to create new solutions. These are then recognized and rewarded through competitive grants and funding. The end goal of these programs ranges from having problem solving sustainable solutions onto the company’s platform to supporting the startup from their idea stage to their go to market stage for ecosystem growth.
Hackathons, Accelerators, Incubators and Innovators
Hackathon is a process of creating a software or project within a stipulated time which usually ranges from 24 to 48 hours. Finding its roots in 1999 with OpenBSD and 10 developers under one roof, modern day hackathons today have seen more than 3000+ developers gathered together to solve real world problems through their visionary outlook and innovative spirit, in addition to more than ten thousands who register and show interest in participating.
Today, more than 80% of Fortune 100 companies regularly conduct hackathons to drive innovations and India is second only to the USA in the number of hackathons conducted. This aligns well with the vast developer pool already present in the country. Interestingly enough, Indians have been one of the earliest supporters of open innovations where Mahatma Gandhi, in July of 1969, organized a design competition for a smaller, more portable spinning wheel to support the homegrown textile industry.
Additionally, incubators and accelerator programs are another great source of push for the budding startup sector. Incubators are closer to hackathons and are kickstarters for early to growth stage startups, giving them access to mentorship, expert guidance, investor support, and other essentials to get their companies off the ground and market ready.
On the other hand, accelerators work on solidifying the position of an established startup through focused mentorship, guidance, and investments. In addition to these, the accelerator programs may also provide networking opportunities, technical support, and logistical resources to further ossify them as revenue generating firms.
Along with the rapid growth of the technology and startup sector, the world has also witnessed over 7000 incubators and accelerator programs globally. Currently, disruptors such as Airbnb, Stripe, Dropbox, Reddit, and more have kickstarted their journeys with accelerator programs and hackathons have become a part and parcel of a developer’s daily life. In 2015 it was reported that one third of U.S based startups that raised series A funding had gone through acceleration programs.
With this amount of pervasive push, the developers are bound to get great opportunities and facilities to gain rewards, funding, expert mentorship, and peer guidance to ensure the success of their ideas. Within the Web3 sector as well, the frequent hackathons have had a positive effect on the overall growth and increased awareness around the ecosystem. But, there is still a glaring gap between web2 and web3 developer talent where out of 26.8 million software developers, active web3 developers are only slightly above 18K in number.
The Key is to Hack
Through Web3 Hackathons, developers in the space stand to gain experience, accessible resources, mentorship, and extensive networking opportunities that help them through the various stages from having a disruptive idea to having a flourishing business model to going to market with the same. Hackathons enable developers to –
- Hone their skills
- Allow them to explore diverse platforms
- Get practical experience in solving real world problems
- Association with leading web3 experts by way of mentorship and guidance
- Exposure to other existing projects and startups in the ecosystem
- And plenty of networking and community building opportunities
Furthermore, the hackathons and accelerator programs help in debunking innumerable myths plaguing the web3 ecosystem as they allow outsiders, beginners, and stakeholders to look deep into a web3 project being built from scratch.
While enabling augmentation of visionaries and startups, the hackathon industry still needs to iron out certain shortcomings. There is a general lack of diversity in hackathons and a disbalance in the gender distribution of the coders with the scales tilted in the favour of males. As of 2022, only 25% of computer based occupations are occupied by women.
Apart from this, there is a general lack of uniformity in the ecosystem where a plethora of opportunities are chaotically presented across several platforms which are hard to keep track of or navigate for every developer in the sector. This particular problem in the web3 sector is being solved by Lumos Labs where through their Lumos Metaverse they are aiming to establish a single web3 ecosystem where all opportunities to learn, earn, upskill, and innovate would be present under the same ecosystem.
And with the world ever evolving, the pertinent problems of the web3 and overall IT sector can be expected to be smoothed out sooner rather than later.