zkLend X Encode Club AMA Recap 13/09/2022
Our final ZEND&FRIENDS AMA ‘StarkNet Educatooors’ Series 03 concludes with Encode Club- a multifaceted, multi-chain Web3 community. Co-Founder Brian hosted Head of Talent, Laura and Growth Lead, Yasen on this new AMA.
Listen to the full recording on our Spotify now.
The ‘Why’ of Encode Club [04:56]
Encode was founded mostly during the bear market of 2018. It was quite a different company back then, the way we operated was a bit different. Encode started doing in-person events. It started off working in the U.K. with some of the top blockchain societies within the country, organising a lot of hackathons and events. Just when things were starting to get better and better, that’s when Covid surprised everybody and affected every industry out there, including us.
Encode was in a position where it had to adapt to the point where now everything had to be moved online. That has been a blessing and a curse, it was quite a challenge to find a model to scale everything we were doing in a fully online. But since that was figured out, it was one of the best decisions mostly because it has opened us up to a global audience. Now all of our programs have people from all over the world and the impact that we can provide and the quality of our programs is now global and reaching everybody. Now we are increasing our goal of providing high-quality programs that are willing to learn and want to come onboard from Web2 to Web3.
Encode’s Bread & Butter [07:12]
The key features are probably the educational programs that we run because I believe there are a lot of curious people out there that don’t know where to start. There is a lot of noise and a lot of hard information that needs to be digested for somebody to make up their mind, and decide whether or not the industry is for them. I think the whole different array of events that we conduct is a way for people to ease into Web3. They get to learn about different aspects, more about everything on the technical side to see if they can fit it because crypto and Web3 are not easy for a lot of people to understand. Our goal is to simplify as much as we can and provide people with opportunities to come, grow and achieve their goals.
Target Audience [08:46]
It’s not only education, we are working with people with a lot of different types of backgrounds. Some of them are entry-level, some of them are people with more than ten years of web development experience, and everybody has a different background and different preexisting knowledge. So everybody is in it to learn something new, but the way they learn it is through different types of programs.
The educational series is mostly meant for newcomers, people that are still trying to explore what Web3 and crypto are. For people with a bit more experience, people that have dealt in different Layer 1’s and are looking to explore new ones are the ones that will find more value in being part of our hackathons. We work with pretty much everybody within the space, especially most L1s, these programs provide a huge amount of value for them.
We have accelerators which are mostly for people that already have a great project for themselves, people that are looking for the next step, and people that are looking to get introductions to different companies that can support them. Even the bootcamps that we run are also for people with way much higher levels of understanding or programming. All of these programs provide some sort of educational value for their participants but it’s on a completely different level for everybody. I would like to think of all our programs as complimentary and being part of more than one would shed a light on your weak spots and your strengths which will push you in the right direction so you eventually end up in the right place.
We were happy to highlight the blooming ecosystem of StarkWare and StarkNet because we think everybody on our side is very happy seeing how fast it’s growing and how many great projects are evolving, we’re happy to be working with most of them to support and create such fantastic events online and in person. — [11:37] Yasen
Encode Web3 Developer Cycle [12:57]
It depends on your previous background and where you are on your Web3 journey. If you are completely new to everything, following the educational series which is the entry-level for all of our programs the best place to start. Because you get to experience and learn about different protocols and projects, how different technologies interact with each other and why they matter and how they differ, and what their impact is on everything happening in the Web3 space. That would be the first level where users get to learn a lot more.
For people that are feeling confident in their coding skills and think that they have a preference towards an ecosystem, there are lots of them out there. We usually have hackathons for them, they are a fantastic stepping stone for them to test their skills with people that are at their level. They can try and build something for the duration of the hackathon, the online ones provide a lot more time, and they run over four weeks. But the real actual tests happen for the in-person hackathons like the one we had for StarkNet Paris which was a weekend hackathon. You and your team have two days and there are a lot of challenges and then you need to submit something, it’s not easy, but it’s the second step for people who know what they want and what to pursue.
In terms of accelerators, it’s a step further when you already have a team, you have something that you’re working on, and that’s going to be the step that you would like to take for the next part of your journey. Learning more about fundraising, making sure that the project that you’re working on is being polished, and making sure it’s up to the standards of the top quality ones that we have in Web3.
And last, but not least, bootcamps. The bootcamps are one of the most competitive programs that we run, they’re heavily oversubscribed, mostly because interest is huge. People want to learn, and people want to increase their skills, we run these online and we have dedicated teachers for these which is something we try to run differently than other competitors in the way that they approach teaching. We try to do this in person as much as possible, where people would be able to learn from the teacher and have the time to ask questions, submit their projects, work alongside others and learn from them. And hopefully, by the end their skill level will be much higher for them to go back into the ecosystem in a way that they find appropriate, whether it is coming back for another hackathon, starting their project or moving to a company.
Participant Screening Process [17:17]
There are multiple criteria that we are looking at and for most of them, the bar for participation is quite high for multiple reasons. Mostly because we want to ensure that every party that is going to participate in the program is going to have an equally good experience. We have a lot of team projects that have to be done throughout the curriculum which involves working alongside others and if you’re working with people with different backgrounds and knowledge you end up having a bad experience because not everybody can pull their weight. So we need to make sure that the quality of the developers that are accepted to the bootcamp is high enough so that they can fully participate, follow the teacher, and understand all of the complex matters that are being taught to them. From all the applications that we get we usually go through everybody’s background, we expect them to have pre-existing developer knowledge and experience, we screen for this and we draw a line at some point at which we then invite them to do one-on-one calls with us. Our program managers handle these, we just want to make sure that the person is committed to participating.
Even if somebody is not accepted for a bootcamp these people usually remain, we know pretty much everybody that has been a part of our program and has applied to us, so if we see them participating in other programs such as hackathons that are open to everybody to attend and they come back after a couple of hackathons and try to apply to a bootcamp and see that they have been very driven to participate, make their path forward which means that we can then give them a spot. Maybe we misjudged this person and deserve a spot. Even though somebody might get rejected it’s actually in the long term a big plus for them, if they have the right kind of mentality which plays a huge part, they will eventually get to the place they want to be.
I think the value of being able to work on projects in a kind of work environment for people that are trying to break into the space couldn’t be better. Doing a hackathon over a weekend with the big brand names and then having a piece of work to show to potential employers after that is amazing. — [23:21] Laura
We’ve been blessed to have great teachers with a really deep understanding, they’ve been quite knowledgeable well before we started working with StarkWare on everything StarkNet related and all of our programming. The interested that we’ve seen from the beginning of all of our programs, the huge influx of people that are willing to learn more about everything StarkNet actually pushed us into exploring and trying to leverage more and more events. So far we’ve been really happy with the results both for the ZK bootcamps as well as all the StarkNet related programming. I think so far it’s been a success and our teachers are evolving along the way as well because the more we run these the better the quality of these bootcamps. I think we were really at the right position at the right time with both of our teachers having the right knowledge to be able to provide these programs.
We work with a couple of instructors right now, they’ve been covering pretty much all the bootcamps that we are doing. Obviously, there is a lot of strain on them we love these programs, they love these programs as well so it’s mostly a question of time, and whether or not we can do more. We obviously would like to do more because we see how many people show up, how many people are eager to learn and we know that our criteria is quite high. Even at the time speaking we are trying to do an easier, entry-level course for the bootcamp. Which is again going to be covered by the same teachers that we work with. I think they will have a lot to handle in the coming months, but it’s all for the cause of providing better programs and allowing people to learn.
It’s a relationship that goes both ways, cause we are doing all of these programs because we rely on these projects, they help us grow and we help them grow as well. At the same time, we are helping the StarkNet ecosystem grow through all these programs. In terms of what they can expect, I think being involved and supporting these programs on the stage is growing after every program. It’s not only an exposure type of involvement, so obviously there are projects who will be noticed, but there are also a lot of quality developers that get a chance to network with a lot of new projects that they get to engage with. Being part of these programs is like becoming part of the StarkNet ecosystem family. For the organisation of the in-person hackathon in Paris, I was amazed at how many people know each other in advance, and it felt like a family like everybody knew each other for a long time. It was a nice thing to be a part of. Throughout the programs that we are planning to do in the future, our goal is to extend this to our future sponsors and projects by giving them a type of stage to grow and succeed.
Benefits of the Encode [32:15]
I think having people work on smaller projects has a lot of benefits. It’s a very nice way for projects to get to know candidates and vice-versa and also build out their network through working with lots and lots of different developers and people that can contribute and see a huge positive to that.
A lot of developers in Web3 are very keen on working on multiple projects and there is so much exciting work to be done and it does bring some benefits. There is also a huge benefit in bringing people into full-time contracts with brands. You get a lot of benefits from having people full-time, they will long term be behind a project, and they’re invested in the progress, maybe through kind of equity, tokens or whatever it might be. I’ve seen people doing the newer way of working but I think it seems the more old-fashioned way seems to still be very popular and I can’t see it diminishing.
I think for this new model to work for DAOs, DAOs need to work better, become better at paying contributors, more tools become available for them, and at the same time, when it becomes more reliable for developers to be achieving different bounties, and having a steady income I can see that happening. It’s not got there yet but I can see it going in that direction.
The Future of Encode [36:53]
We are thinking of doing more of what we are doing right, mostly because we think we are not there yet in terms that we think that there are a lot of people that can benefit from more programs. We are expanding the range of bootcamps and covering different topics on different levels. Even though the market out there is quiet, and quite different than several months ago. While we were in a bull market there was a lot of interest, everybody was trying to find a way to become a part of the industry. While now that we’re in a bear market, one would think that some of that interest would die down, but we’re not seeing that much of a decrease on our side. A lot of interest and a lot of people are still eager to learn that’s why our goal for the near future is to scale up and provide as many programs as we can to satisfy quench for knowledge that we’re seeing.
I think Encode is well positioned regardless of what the market conditions are. We are an educational community and there’s always going to be a need for programs such as the ones that we’re organising. We’re quite positive about the future and what it brings.
Scaling is going to be a tough task. Contrary to what people might think we are a small team of fewer than twenty people, and all these programs take a toll on everybody. Scaling feasibly is going to probably be the biggest task that we have.
There is one new thing that we are doing. We are trying to provide something for our community which is we recently announced our own NFTs. As of right now they are just a staple of you being a part of our programs and successfully going through them, a type of memento for your achievement, for being accepted or going through any of the programs that we organise. That counts for all the educational series, hackathons, accelerators and bootcamps. These are all retroactive so people who have been part of our programs can go and claim them. There is nothing specific tied to them as of right now, not sure about the future, but it’s a nice thing to have and our community has been asking for these for some time now. We’ve seen others do it as well, so I think it’s a great thing to have. We’ll see how popular it ends up being and trying providing something more in the future.
About Encode Club
What is Encode Club?
Encode is a web3 education community to help onboard devs and talented individuals onto web3 space through various means such as:
- hackathons and
- accelerator mentorship schemes
Founded in 2020, Encode has trained over 15,000 devs last year alone both online and in-person across the globe with the goal of providing a strong recruitment pool for the space.
Encode has helped founders of over 60 venture-funded protocols/startups through its programmes, and has also helped more than half of its participants to land jobs in crypto upon graduation.
- Education workshops: Teaching blockchain through the lens of leading platforms in the space.
Encode is chain-agnostic. Partners include StarkWare, Polygon, Solana, Near, Avalanche, Polkadot, Algorand, Chainlink, theGraph, and more.
2. Regular bootcamps: Held with their official partners. If you missed it, we were proud sponsors of their recent zk-bootcamp! See more here.
To ensure the fit and quality is right, Encode screens prospective bootcamp participants to ensure its students are well-equipped to benefit from its programming.
3. Hackthons: In July, Encode held a very successful StarkNet hackathon during EthCC.
Hackthons are a great way for talent to get spotted and brilliant startup ideas to get picked up by the ecosystem (but only if you can impress the StarkNet judges!)
We were also a partner and sponsor of the StarkNet hackathon, where we deployed two tech teams to compete and had both teams win prizes. See more here.
Post-programme, the Encode teams continues to follow up and track students’ activities to effective match students with interesting job opportunities.
Devs who go through Encode’s programmes would become part of its family, where their genome are mapped so Encode can give them to attention and support as and when they need it.
4. In-house accelerator / mentorship programmes:
Encode leverages on its networks of leading angels and VCs to back to provide founders with the financial support they need to get their ideas up in the air.
Not to mention, Encode runs a series of fantastic AMAs with founders, CEOs, CTOs of some of the most prominent blockchain platforms, exchanges and dapps with the aim of providing another personal angle to share knowledge and insights from experts in the crypto space.
This section was adapted from our original thread, here.
zkLend is an L2 money-market protocol built on StarkNet, combining zk-rollup scalability, superior transaction speed, and cost-savings with Ethereum’s security. The protocol offers a dual solution: a permissioned and compliance-focused solution for institutional clients, and a permissionless service for DeFi users — all without sacrificing decentralisation.