IDEO + CoinList Hackathon, featuring Ethereum, NEAR, Oasis, Stellar, and Tezos

Dan Elitzer
Jul 25, 2019 · 5 min read

A multi-protocol online hackathon focused on growing the global crypto ecosystem. Get started building by signing up here.

Earlier this month, IDEO CoLab announced the launch of its new Startup Studio program to help accelerate the world’s best blockchain entrepreneurs and startups, in partnership with over 20 leading organizations and protocols and 50+ world-class mentors.

Today, we’re excited to announce a global online hackathon in partnership with CoinList and the foundations and development teams of five leading blockchain protocols: Ethereum, NEAR, Oasis, Stellar, and Tezos. The online hackathon will run from August 5th through September 22nd, with one important twist: teams will be expected to ship a functional version of their project by September 9th and spend the last ~2 weeks getting adoption and demonstrating traction.

Challenge Overview: Making Blockchains Useful and Usable

A majority of the world today has yet to interact with decentralized crypto-networks in part because the end-user experience is sorely lacking. At best, most product experiences feel foreign. And at worst, they intimidate. The interactions are anxiety-producing, characterized by confusing steps and new user behaviors that are native to each network.

Improving the end-user experience is one of the most important pieces to realize the potential of this movement towards open, decentralized systems. IDEO has a long history of championing design that extends the reach of new technology to the masses, and with this challenge we hope to inspire the community to try design-led approaches. Regardless of the network — or tool — of choice, now is the time to create radically improved end-user experiences for the next billion people. To this end, one of the ways teams in the hackathon will be judged is by how successful they are at providing evidence that there is real demand for the products, tools, and experiences they build.

What We’re Looking For

Teams are welcome to focus on any area that excites them — from finance to gaming, social media to marketplaces. We’re most interested in applications with the potential to greatly expand the number of people that interact with crypto and blockchain-based applications. Below are three categories we’re looking to get submissions in.

1. Things that Radically Simplify the User Experiences

How might we radically simplify the end-user experience to make it easier and/or more familiar to use crypto-networks? Can we better design for existing user behaviors and interactions? Can we reduce the number of clicks, decrease wait times, find novel “single player modes,” or design other ways to make the user experience 10x better than today, without relying on fully custodial models?

Examples might include: send crypto to a friend’s social media or email address, Eth2-style; one-click (or even automatic) creation and verification of blockchain-based proofs of authenticity; use crypto to autofill a virtual card at checkout; exchange a single crypto asset to supply liquidity to any Uniswap market.

2. Things that Bring People into Crypto

How might we onboard more people into the crypto ecosystem? Can we design new products that are 10x better in terms of performance, cost, or experience that make it a “no-brainer” to adopt crypto-native networks and services? What creative growth hacks (in the product or how it’s marketed), games, and incentives will bring the next million users into crypto?

Examples might include: cross-border micropayments for Mechanical Turk-type work that can be done on mobile devices; lend digital game items or cards secured by crypto collateral; a remittance-focused mobile interface for LocalBitcoins or similar peer-to-peer exchange services.

3. Things that Bring Crypto to People

How might we bring crypto to more people by integrating into the experiences, channels, and places they already visit, like YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, etc.? Can we seamlessly design crypto into and/or alongside existing user experiences — in ways that add value or new functionality? Can we design bridges from existing centralized services to decentralized ones?

Examples might include: an extension for viewers to tip streamers; tools for streamers to gift cryptocollectibles to fans; collectible trophies for posts that reach the top of a Subreddit; automated payments to high-follower accounts that upvote/Like/Retweet a piece of content.


While the joy of building is its own reward, we also have prizes:

Grand Prize (1)

  • $10,000
  • Invitation to become an IDEO CoLab Resident and spend 2 months at IDEO CoLab in either San Francisco or Boston
  • Invitation to attend and demo at IDEO Blueprint 2019, IDEO’s annual innovation conference in San Francisco in October 2019

Runner-Up (1)

  • $5,000
  • Invitation to attend and demo at IDEO Blueprint 2019, IDEO’s annual innovation conference in San Francisco in October 2019

There is no requirement to build on any of our partners’ protocols to be eligible for the Grand or Runner-Up prizes. However, doing so will also make entries eligible for protocol-specific prizes:

Protocol Winners (5 — one for each protocol)

  • $2,000
  • Additional experience-based prizes, including participation in incubation programs and highly sought-after tickets to industry conferences (more details)

Timeline and Key Dates

  • Thursday, July 25 — Hackathon announcement
  • Monday, August 5 — Hackathon starts
  • Monday, September 9 — Adoptathon starts
  • Sunday, September 22 — Hackathon and Adoptathon ends
  • Friday, October 4 — Winners announced

Getting Started

All of the protocols involved in this hackathon have their own unique strengths. To help potential builders learn about each protocol, we have collected some resources and scheduled a series of developer-focused online workshops to share why you would want to build on them and how to get started:

All sessions will be both live-streamed and recorded and posted online.

Next Steps

What are you waiting for? Sign up for the hackathon here, learn more about IDEO’s Startup Studio for Blockchain Entrepreneurs, follow IDEO CoLab on Twitter, and join our newsletter. We can’t wait to see what you build and how people use it!


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