MetaBUILD Mentorship Series, Episode 1: What to Build?

Maria Yarotska
Hackathon Coordinator, NEAR.

September 30, 2022

The MetaBUILD hackathon has officially started! With 8 weeks of building, a whole constellation of seasoned mentors, a wide range of self-paced education opportunities, and weekly live discussions, it is shaping to be one of the biggest blockchain hackathons of the season, and the biggest online one on NEAR! Submissions are still open to anyone wanting to participate.

To prepare builders to go from idea, to PoC, and then a fully-fledged project we started a weekly mentorship series with advice for builders, hosted on Twitter Spaces! During the first discussion hosted on Twitter Space, we invited seven Web3 experts: our own DevRel engineers Ben Kurrek and Vadim Illin; Carolin Wend and Nate Geier from Mintbase; Gaylord Warner representing Arroz Estudios; Roketo’s product manager Vlad Derkan, and a DevRel engineer from Aurora, Julien Béranger.

The most burning questions we asked the guests were the ones that everyone who ever joined a NEAR hackathon asked themselves at least once. Here's the recap of that talk (and you can listen to the recording below!).


What Should you Build on NEAR?

  • Hackathon are the best time and place to try out your own hypothesis and build whatever you always wanted but never had time for it,– says Vadim. He doesn’t believe you will have any blocker on NEAR, maybe except if you're doing something very specific like a zero-knowledge proof. All you can do on the other blockchains you can do on NEAR but better, faster and cheaper. And if you know someone who builds a Web2 project, tell them about a Web2 to Web3 track where they can integrate blockchain into their existing product and win up to $100k in bounty.
  • If you’re considering building on Aurora, which is also allowed at MetaBUILD, Julien would suggest starting with classic NFT projects, DAOs or DeFi. With Aurora Plus, you’ll be getting a number of free transactions to bring a seamless experience for your users.
  • Your project idea depends on why you decided to participate in the hackathon,– adds Ben. If you’re new to NEAR, a hackathon is a perfect way of learning and experimenting with new things, using this as an opportunity to build whatever you always wanted to. And if you really want to win and continue working on your project after the hackathon, consider building something that people really need. Look at things where blockchain really fits – like ticketing, for example. You don’t have to solve global warming at a hackathon, just address the problem that could really be solved by blockchain.
  • As someone who started their business at a hackathon 4 years ago, Nate suggests trying out the Mintbase referral system integrating NFT sales into your existing business model
  • A hackathon is an opportunity to experiment with anything you want, because you’re here to try stuff,– adds Gaylord. Artistic approach to your work might open new perspectives and formats like live minting performances, building within the context of an artwork and using the smart contracts as a medium for an artist’s creation.
  • Don’t forget about the utility of your future token,– reminds Vlad. You can do this with the help of Roketo, and make sure to review and consult on your tokenomics.

What was the Most Memorable Project you met at a Hackathon?

  • The project that resonated with Ben was the one that solved a problem that could not be solved in Web2. It was a Kickstarter-like project with a government process allowing the users to deny funding or take the funds back in case the team behind the fundraise doesn’t deliver what they have promised.
  • A really important feature of every memorable project is a clickable demo,– says Nate. Nothing too fancy – just a frontend that allows you to log in with NEAR and mess around with the app, which should be really easy to deploy even at a 48-hours long hackathon. 
  • Carolin remembers a team she met at the NEARCON IRL Hackathon – they built an NFT rental service where you can rent and hire property with NFT’s integrated in a simple game. She was really fascinated to see how NFT’s can be utilized for something like buying a house.

What Advice Would you Give to the Hackers?

  • As someone who’s been a part of the crypto space for a long time, Julien advises to use every opportunity to learn, have fun and take advantage of all these amazing toolings that we have now. 
  • It is important to keep in mind that you’re building an application that will be actually used by someone, adds Gaylord. He recommends to never stop thinking of your future users while building the app.
  • As a seasoned hackathon judge, Ben discourages building something that already exists – like spinning up yet another NFT marketplace. Without any innovation, there’s very little chance of winning any prizes.
  • Vadim reminds us that life is too short, and our time and focus are too valuable to spend them on a project you actually don’t want to keep building after the hackathon.
  • Julien encourages to reach out to the mentors as many times as needed – at MetaBUILD, they’re always available on Devpost discussions or on Discord.

TL;DR: Build What People Need

All in all, our guests agreed that while you’re welcome to build whatever you want, it is important to keep in mind the real world problems your project is intended to solve, and the users that will enjoy the results of your work.

Thank you for joining us on Twitter Space or reading this recap. Next week we’ll meet to talk about the importance of storytelling in Web3 and discuss how to explain your product to the people, especially the “normies”. Keep building!

Follow us on Twitter so you don't miss our upcoming Spaces, and hop onto the official NEAR Discord if you need help building!

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