Fresh off a plane to Mexico, I entered a home of 26 women who had spent the past 48 hours together, preparing to compete. They weren’t just any women. These women had swum upstream in a man’s world and had no intention of slowing down. These women were strong, tenacious, confident, friendly, and so welcoming to a newcomer like me: a newcomer who didn’t know exactly how a hackathon worked. Were we going to break something?
In a hackathon, you “hack”, or innovate, at a marathon pace. Our “hacker house” included female developers at Fortune 500 companies, Ivy League IT graduates, and blockchain directors at financial institutions.
It felt like the culmination of two years of exploring the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain, also known as “web 3”. Through a partnership between Blu3 DAO and Polygon, these 27 women were sponsored to compete for over $150,000 in prize money at ETHGlobal in Mexico City. Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, would even speak live in a masterclass on the future uses of the protocol.
There are many different niches in Web 3; they are similar and different at the same time. It’s similar to the consumer electronics industry, where you’ll find home theater, pro-av, security, and retail all sharing many of the same vendors and technologies, with minimal participant crossover. at the event. In cryptocurrency, events are either “protocol”-based (i.e. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Near, etc.) or sector-based (decentralized finance, NFT, metaverse, regenerative finance, decentralized autonomous organizations, games, etc.). Many of these events include a hackathon or have numerous co-located hackathons. At all of these events, you’ll find developers, founders, venture capitalists, retail investors, Fortune 500 companies, NFT artists, lawyers, accountants, costumers, and more. The balance of these types of attendees depends on the niche of the conference or event, and they each have their space to shine.
ETHGlobal was about innovation on the Ethereum platform, specifically how we plan to innovate and onboard the next billion users to the Ethereum blockchain. As hackathon participants, we were there to form teams, learn new protocols, create an app, compete for bonuses (prize money), tweak, fix, change, pitch, and pitch again, all in just 38 hours. .
So why was I there? Because I had spent two years doing pretty much everything to understand this blockchain/cryptocurrency/NFT space you hear about in the media, and curiosity got the better of me. I had gained early exposure to crypto through college friends, but maintained a healthy skepticism and a duffel bag full of misconceptions.
Eventually 2020 arrived and we all found ourselves sitting with more downtime than we knew what to do with. Along with my efforts to get a YouTube gardening degree, I started exploring the blockchain space. I can attest that both interests have stood the test of time.
My first crypto event was Miami Crypto Experience in 2021. This event was light-hearted, NFT-focused, and much like you might imagine a “crypto event.” Luxury cars were raffled off and workshops were offered on how to create your own NFT. Although I ultimately left that event unconvinced that the industry knew what it wanted to be when it grew up, that’s when I realized how welcoming the people of Web 3 are. It’s really unbelievable. The day before the conference, I unknowingly bumped into NFT/crypto influencers Kenn Bosak, Miss Teen Crypto, Miggy Crypto and their cohort, who welcomed me on their evening adventures and spent the night responding to my many questions about what the heck an NFT actually was.
Fast forward to 2022, I found myself walking through ETHDenver sites. More established than the Miami Crypto Experience, this event boasted its own buffalo unicorn mascot, event motto ($SPORK), adjoining performances by DeadMau5, and incredible support from the Colorado government. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Something akin to a well-established GenZ science fair spanning downtown Denver. A street full of food trucks filled orders from eager event attendees, and surprisingly, that food and the extensive offerings inside were included free with attendance (which was actually free upon accepted request).
Again, I was warmly welcomed by the web 3 community. New and existing friendships with team members from FiO Protocol, KeepKey, ShapeShift DAO, Mandala and SimpleDeFi, allowed me to roam the sides of crypto specialists and absorb. Once again, I found myself asking many, many questions. After ETHDenver, I was officially confused about the journey of cryptocurrency as an industry, although interested like never before.
ETHDenver was a huge stop on my Web 3 journey because for the first time I saw a group of women walking through a crypto conference together. There were actually two groups! I took to Instagram to find out what it was about. I learned that these were relatively new women’s organizations, HER DAO and Blu3 DAO. DAO is a Web 3 term for “Decentralized Autonomous Organization”, meaning an organization run by a common mission statement and coded smart contracts. Their rationale, benefits, risks, and future applications is a separate article. For today, we will leave this: “a DAO is an organization”. I instantly joined both groups on their favorite chat apps, Discord and Telegram.
Several months later, I found myself riding a scooter through the streets of Austin with five friends from ETHDenver. They were driving to escort me to HER DAO’s women’s event during Consensus, a crypto conference in Texas. Kind of like being dropped off at an afterschool program, they patiently waited at the adjacent restaurant as I timidly entered a room full of ultra-smart women. I left this event inspired and excited. When I left, I made a commitment to find a place to participate in the female world of web 3. I wanted to contribute to this mission of making web3 accessible and inviting for everyone.
Last August, an announcement was published by the two DAOs. They were opening applications for women to compete in Mexico at ETHGlobal. A moment of impostor syndrome and hesitation passed, and then I filled out the forms. What was the worst that could happen?
Three weeks later, I was smiling ear to ear on the ETHMexico stage with Blu3 DAO as we celebrated a slew of team awards and prizes. Through a partnership with Polygon, Blu3 DAO transported 27 women from around the world to Mexico City. This was an unprecedented number of female competitors for any prior event. This distinction can be directly attributed to the efforts of Blu3 DAO and HER DAO.
Electronics, finance, art, transactions, verifications and much more will eventually evolve with the continued innovations of blockchain technology. Buzzwords like “NFT” will be replaced with less provocative ones, like “digital certificate” and mobile validation,” hiding the underlying blockchain technology from the end consumer.
What clearly won’t change? The tenacity of the women in this space who work nights and weekends to ensure that every woman and girl has the opportunity to thrive in the blockchain universe.