BlockChain MVP Selection

A constant theme I have heard since we took the initiative in early 2018 to map out the framework for our BlockChain project is that there is a shortage of coders proficient in BlockChain. It is clear that not only are there a lack of experienced BlockChain developers, the majority of those likely reside in Silicon Valley, are gainfully employed working for one of the 1500+ Blockchain projects that completed an ICO or actively writing code for the thousands of crypto projects in progress around the world. In fact, in the Crypto_101 podcast of 6 July 2018 titled “Evolution of the BlockChain Space” (https://apple.co/2KJUEt6) Tracy Leparulo created a Twitter group, @crypto_chicks, with the purpose of getting more “inclusion” in BlockChain. Beyond just women and diversity but simply inclusion.

My primary focus for writing this article is to highlight the lack of experienced BlockChain developers located in close proximity to where I work and live — in Qatar. Wait. BlockChain? Crypto currency? Not an easy topic to bring up in virtually any conversation and as I wrote in my article of 23 July 2018 (https://bit.ly/2Obu75L), most people tend to confuse BitCoin with BlockChain. I remember hearing once that whenever you are caught in a social situation you are desperate to escape, the fastest two ways to ensure the other person disappears is to either:

  1. Tell them you sell insurance; or
  2. Tell them you own a tele-marketing company.

In Doha, the quickest way to scare off an IT specialist or an investment banker is to tell them you need coders to develop a BlockChain project or that you need funding to hire the programmers.

BlockChain, crypto currency, BitCoin and related terminology are rarely understood by people at all levels: plant workers, finance colleagues, IT specialists, engineers, electricians, chemists, cleaners, auditors, CEO’s, drivers, warehouse stewards and even PhD accredited experts. During the boom period of BitCoin rising from $4,000 in early 2017 to $20,000 by December 2017, virtually all of the above were intrigued and immediately found common ground to chat “Is it too risky?” “Should I open a crypto account?” How can I invest in Bitcoin” “Are you rich now that you own BitCoin and crypto currency?” My work colleagues, whether from India, England, Philippines, Korea or America, all got excited about BitCoin during this period.

To be clear, when I started learning about BlockChain, I opened a Kraken account, created an Ethereum private key (using MyEtherWallet) and sent myself Ethereum after converting US dollar fund sent from my normal bank account. This is the subject of a future article.

The BitCoin excitement during those 2017 encounters at work or in social settings did not translate into a shared passion for BlockChain and a commitment to help with building out our BlockChain project. As the market cap of Bitcoin and all crypto currencies dropped in early 2018, enthusiasm waned and the questions turned to “Did you sell your Bitcoin?” “How much did you lose on your crypto investments?” “What is going to happen to your BlockChain project?”

From early January 2018, my only focus was finding developers to help draft the WhitePaper and build out the core architect for an MVP. That is a term I learned from years of playing ice hockey and baseball waiting to see who was voted the leagues most valuable player (or MVP) at the end of the season. A BlockChain MVP gets no trophy or their name engraved on a plaque. BlockChain specialists will tell you that achieving MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, is the key to attract venture capitalists. This is the common theme I heard when listening to guest speakers on two podcasts I subscribed to from late 2017: The BitCoin Podcast Network and Crypto_101. This MVP selection is the key to showing investors the early workings of your BlockChain project; to use a baseball analogy “to be on deck” with no certainty of reaching the “batter’s box”. In other words, MVP may be sufficient for potential consideration by the Angel or Venture Capital investor with no real certainty that they will invest in your project. Of course, this assumes we can get their attention from Qatar.

MVP? Investors? BlockChain? BlockChain experienced developers? None of this exists in Doha and flying to Silicon Valley with the “hope” of attracting developers and investors would be prohibitively expensive and not a viable option. I literally felt like Tom Hanks in the movie “Castaway”, with the only person available to talk to with was “Wilson”. No one shared my passion for BlockChain. No one understood what I was trying to accomplish with a BlockChain project. IT specialists I have known for years — experts in Web design, SAP, HTML, C++, JavaScript — had no interest in developing or learning what it takes to code for BlockChain projects. I recall a conversation I had with Sleem Hasam (http://www.privitylle.com) when he said:

“There are probably 10 million plus website designers around the world and only a handful of BlockChain experienced developers. It will be difficult to find them”.

That was my reality. A lack of qualified developers across the globe let alone any in Qatar. Who could I complain to? Where was my “Wilson”? The podcasts and reading WhitePapers from numerous crypto projects played an integral role. Then social media: Twitter and LinkedIn. Once our WhitePaper was completed in March and our Corporate Presentation in April, I turned to social media to find a developer to create our MVP. That is when I stumbled across the 100 days of code on Twitter (@100daysofcode); website link (100daysofcode.com). This is brilliant. A public forum of guys / gals of varying age, nationality, religion and culture learning to code for free — with the only condition that they tweet about their experiences. I am like a kid in a candy store waiting to read their posts. I spend hours re-tweeting their accomplishments and seek to find creative ways to connect these talented coders with other like-minded individuals. My intentions are purely selfish. I no longer want to talk about our BlockChain project with Wilson. I want the world to pump out more developers that can code in BlockChain.

I will continue to tweet out my enthusiasm for Matt in England, Kumar in India, Audrey from California or Jocinda from Nigeria and promise to cast as many votes as I can for MVP selection at the end of this season.


Allen Wazny is a Canadian Chartered Accountant with a passion for all things Blockchain. Allen can be found on Twitter (@allenwaz), Instagram (Allen Wazny) or LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/allenwazny). Allen is also the co-founder and CEO of Solarnity (www.solarnity.io).