ETHDenver: Creating Social Impact Through Community & Technology

Recap of ETHDenver’s Trends and Amentum’s Bounty Winner

To start things off: ETHDenver was a true testament to the general capability and the imagination of the developers that are clamoring around building on Ethereum. We were very lucky to be invited to attend, speak, judge, and interact with so many brilliant people last week.

That said, we had such a good time and so much information was shared and disseminated — as well as so many great projects were presented, that we wanted to take the time to highlight our insights/takeaways.

The equation above says that Power is a result of Work divided by Time — this is common equation in physics. But it also greatly illustrates the work we have to do right in front of us. To reign power back in from legacy institutions, and disseminate that back to people and savvy entrepreneurs, we have to put in the work, and we have to work quickly and intelligently to ensure the groundwork we have laid out will be continuously fruitful and innovative.

Project Highlights

When we spoke on the Power, Decentralization, and Diversity panel, we stressed the importance of diversity, and how these technologies seek to empower people given their decentralized nature (and the potential for Casper’s Proof of Stake and its affects on diversity -videos below-). We also gave a quick workshop on power, social impact, and the importance of building applications that reduce trust and improve efficiencies, while helping to eliminate risk and empower humanity to be able to work together to solve some of our biggest problems.

That said, our fund itself has 4 core focuses when seeking projects to invest in and help build their vision: Diversity (of the teams and assets), Interoperability (potentially extendable), Security (adherence to secure standards and practices), and Sustainability (of the protocol ecosystem, technology, or having some positive ecological aspect); our goal was to find project’s that highlighted some portion of these components as they’re important to our thesis, and the future of this industry. With that, our company Amentum hosted a $1000 ETH bounty for the team and project that would most likely to give power back to a marginalized group.

We lucked out, roughly 21 different teams (of the 130+ that competed) opted to compete for our bounty as well. That was extremely rewarding for us, and we’re so happy that many felt inspired to hack to try to have a positive social impact.

The team that won consisted of Bud Aminof, Neeraj Engineer (great name, imo), Matt Wallace, and Kierston Clingersmith. In just 36 hours, they built a platform called “RefugeID”, that utilized uPort (the decentralized ID system on Ethereum) and would track and manage refugee identities on the Ethereum blockchain; allowing them to be able to create a persistent identity as they move from refuge to refuge, and eventually retain ownership of that identity once they were settled.

They created this video about their submission, so we’ll let them explain it better than we can:

We of course had to get a picture with these brilliant folks. They were a very diverse team, and had a vision for social impact with a real-world implication. There submission was excellent, and we hope that more teams in the future have similar aspirations when they go to build their next project at future events.

Matt Wallace (grey shir, left); Neeraj Engineer (black shirt, left); Kierston Clingersmith (orange shirt, right); Bud Aminof (navy shirt, right). Boyma & McKie of Amentum in the middle. :)

More info into their project submission/GitHub can be found here:

There were a few other projects that also caught out eye which aligned with our other core focuses, and we think they deserve a little more recognition for that:

Interoperability:

Security:

Sustainability:

The Developer Tools

There was much excitement about the various utilities available to the continuously maturing toolbox for Ethereum developers to pull from. There were many hot discussions around implementing Token Curated Registries (TCRs); integration of various ERC 721/821 non-fungible tokens (everyone at ETHDenver basically loves CryptoKitties, but we knew that); Truffle, and their many new tools like Ganache; Open Zepplin solidity contracts; scaling with Infura + IPFS; a lot of discussion around the Python-esque Solidity alternative language for Ethereum, Vyper; uPort identities; and finally tying it all together with a mobile browser such as Cipher.

It would appear that the Ethereum community is finally converging on a similar tech-stack for many of the projects presented. This was extremely pleasing for us to see at Amentum as engineers and developers ourselves, we know the importance of tooling and ease when bootstrapping a new ecosystem. And, we can only imagine that this trend will continue to evolve and mature throughout 2018.

In Closing

With over 800+ hackers and 1000+ attendees, ETHDenver was one of the most intriguing and buzz-worthy hackathons in the crypto-community that we’ve ever experienced in our many years in the trenches. We are very bullish on the Ethereum development community, and all the innovative developer tools, DApps, middle-ware, and extensions that will soon proliferate.

Overall, there were lots of great and exciting projects; it was really hard to contain our energy throughout the weekend interfacing with everyone. The event was very humbling, and we cant wait to come back next year!

Extra: Shoutout to Steven Jones who lead the A/V team for the event, and recorded/livestreamed all the talks. As well as a special thank you to all the organizers and volunteers.

Videos + Pics

Video of Founding Partner Steven McKie speaking at ETHDenver (Starts at 43:00). Will update with YouTube links once those are live.
Steven McKie discussing Diversity, Power, and Decentralization on a panel at ETHDenver (Starts at 2:35:00). Will update with YouTube links once those are live.
Steven McKie (me) presenting our workshop on Power && our bounty prize.
Pete Kim the Founder and Lead Engineer of Cipher Browser
Amentum Founding Partner, Boyma Fahnbulleh, helping lead a discussion on diversity.
Joe Lubin of ConsenSys giving some opening remarks for the start of the hackathon.
Robby Greenfield (ConsenSys) and the high School kids that built CryptoKicks, a platform to trade non-fungible collectible sneakers.
A bunch of various awesome ETHDenver melanin-based attendees :D
The panel on Power, Decentralization, and Diversity
Words to remember as we build the future of trust-less infrastructure.