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Chainlink Labs’ Patrick Collins And Zak Ayesh Share Their Best Hackathon Advice

Tomorrow is the halfway check-in point for the Chainlink Fall 2021 Hackathon, which runs through November 28. Yesterday, Chainlink Labs developer advocates Zak Ayesh and Patrick Collins joined the host of Chainlink Live and the Chainlinked podcast, Andy Boyan, to share what they’re most excited about and their best hackathon advice.

The year’s fall hackathon is Chainlink’s biggest hackathon to date, with over 8,000 registered participants and $550,000 in prizes across a spectrum of old and new categories including multiple prizes for teams that create novel Chainlink-powered services.

Collins said there’s no limit to what participants can build and virtually no bad ideas. 

“There is so much in this space that has not been built or hasn’t been built well or could have new features added to it,” he said. “Every time someone says, ‘Hey, I have this new idea to do x or y,’ my answer 99% of the time is, ‘Yes, build that thing.’”

Beginners Welcome

This is the first Chainlink hackathon to offer a Welcome Track in addition to the Main Track. Collins said the beginner-friendly path was conceived to combat imposter syndrome, which affects engineers in all industries, especially blockchain. 

He said new developers might feel like they don’t have anything to offer, particularly when there’s a lot of prize money on the table. The Welcome Track says to those newbies, “Just by nature of you being here, you’re welcome.”

Ayesh, who shared how to become a smart contract developer at SmartCon #1, said he sees the Welcome Track concept working in the official Chainlink Discord. “We’re getting a lot of people that are even more comfortable asking beginner questions like “I don’t know anything about Chainlink, where do I start?”

Many of those questions, he explained, can be answered by watching the abundance of educational workshops offered at the beginning of the hackathon. 

“If you have any questions about how to do anything, look to see if there’s a workshop on it,” he said. 

For participants still looking for inspiration, he recommended reading 77+ Smart Contract Use Cases Enabled By Chainlink.

Shark Tank Meets Crypto

Also new to this hackathon is a VC Pitch Day for winning projects, which Collins summed up as “Shark Tank meets Crypto” – a phenomenon that began when Chainlink hackathon winner Vulcan brought on Shark Tank star Mark Cuban as a strategic advisor. 

“A ton of people want to help these protocols reach their ultimate potential,” Collins said.

Shedding Analysis Paralysis

Collins and Ayesh have the same advice for hackathon participants at the half-way point. 

“Start writing code,” Ayesh said. “If you have an idea and it’s rough and it’s not the perfect idea, start writing it.”

While it’s easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis at hackathons, he said some of his best ideas come when he lets himself enter a flow state.

“I really can’t echo it any harder than Zak just did,” Collins agreed. “Start doing something.”

It’s not too late to participate in the Chainlink Fall 2021 Hackathon. Find out how to jump in here.

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