Meditations on our latest #BUIDL: Omelettes, Frustrations & Hacks

To Hack or Not To Hack?

Did you get a chance to hack at EthDenver? No? Why not?

EthDenver placed a strong emphasis on the buidl this year; however, I was surprised to see most attendees focused on networking and marketing.

I get it, I have a business to shill too. I just hope we remain based during these hard times and build forward.

Enough of my opinions, let’s jump into my hackathon observations.


Before we start, I have a confession to make. YES! Our team worked on Lumen before EthDenver started. I swear it was just one time, well, actually a couple of times, BUT it was just an idea. We didn't code and it meant nothing to me. Please forgive me and I promise not to do it at EthDenver 2024.

Now that I got that off my chest, I can start the story. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Who am I?

I land in Denver Tuesday morning. The only thing on my mind is breakfast. Chloe, our French UX aficionado, suggests brunch at Apple Blossom, I order a vegetarian omelette and Chloe orders an Italian omelette, it’s called a Frittata (she doesn't like American food 🇫🇷). Over a Lavender macchiato 😋, we unfold our hackathon project, Lumen.

We start to question our proposed solution, in fact, we start to question our very existence. Is asset attestation too simple of a solution? Does asset attestation solve UC lending’s transparency problem? Shouldn’t my lavender drink be purple? Is lavender just a smell?

I start to lose sense of who I am just as our friend Tom, Chief Fractal CEO Boss, asks a key question: “What is the core of this solution?” Our heads immediately stop spinning and we start from square one, I realize that I’m doubting myself.

If you get a new sense of meaning from this section, great! If not, understand that bouncing your ideas off other minds will help you find what sticks and what should be thrown away. Doubt, Doubt, Doubt until you find yourself. It's there!

What am I?

The next day Michael, our NY product perfectionist, lands in Denver ready to review the solution and craft our mental chaos into form. He chips away the features to sculpt a presentation that alarms and soothes the crowd. Michael understands a simple truth: your presentation matters! A good presentation can inform, entertain, and inspire a crowd. We hope they’re so inspired, they vote for us!

But here is the real alpha! The judges are (most of the time) the mentors. So, take extra time to go to office hours, ask questions, and attend the workshops, you will learn what each judge and sponsor is looking for. Do not shoot in the dark and be upset when you don’t hit your target. Take time to do your research and refine your pitch based on the audience. Words matter!

Where am I?

With a solution in hand, we find our art studio. The perfect place allows us to focus on the building and interact with other builders to refine our thoughts. The location flows, has comfortable seating, and electrical outlets. More importantly, the wifi is better than the best.

If you do not take things like this into consideration, you will surely die and lose your mind. Nothing is worse than walking around a wifi desert looking for signal and life.

We heed the warning of the hack prophets and decide to work at Vib hotel. Fractal (shameless plug) is hosting a dope event, so, we get energy from people hacking alongside us without the overcrowding of the main venue. There is enough quiet space so I can call David, Fractal’s code connoisseur, to help me with coding questions. This space keeps my soul and my computer charged. WIN — WIN!

How am I?

As the entrepreneurs discuss P&Ls, cap tables, and the “large” sizes of their funds. I get to work putting my code where my mouth is. I grab some space, look at the stickers on my laptop, and hit code. As my vsCode loads, my brain lags, waiting for inspiration. Just as I am about to close my laptop to take a break, Jack, our codified bounty hunter, hits me with ideas. My fingers start moving and all I can remember is a “pragma solidity” before our smart contracts connect to Optimism’s Attestation Station.

A quick word of advice, review the hackathon sponsors before designing your architecture. Trust me, it is easier to measure twice and code once, than to code twice and learn once. You will end up seeing red in more ways than one.

With the attestation feature complete, I move forward to the front end. Thank the Lord that I have access to a wagmi+rainbow template which I can use as my base.

Here is more alpha: do not build EVERYTHING from scratch. The goal is to quickly hack together a prototype, not to deploy it to Mainnet.

Once I get the front connected to the back, it is time to add features and this is where I end up bumping my head. Long story short, I take entirely too long on a feature that can be mocked; however, because of my ego I don’t know when to cut my losses and I waste a bunch of time. Don’t EGO and CODE!

When am I?

At 1 AM on the night before judgment, we are able to submit our sins. In the end, Michael fortifies our presentation, Chloe provides a UX from the future, Jack wrangles up the last bounty, and I accidentally delete a testing site from our Netlify 🤦🏿‍♂️.

After a good night of “sleep” we go into the venue, confident. We walk past the booths (1inch and Boys Club have the dopest swag this year… DEFI DADDY sweatshirt 🤯), and down into the dungeon. Our pitch goes off without a hitch, our discussions with sponsors are fruitful, but we still don’t win EthDenver’s main prize 😢.

HOWEVER… we are able to speed up research and development, meet potential partners, and win the Optimism Attestation Prize.

Quick background on the prize: the attestation station is Optimism's new smart contract which allows for arbitrary attestations. We created an app that attested users’ assets and issued a soul-bound token to act as a badge for would-be auditors. Optimism viewed this novel attestation as an app that could help potential lenders regain trust in decentralized under-collateralized lending.

That sounds like a win to me!

Shout out to Optimism and the rest of the Lumen team. 💡

Find our EthDenver submission here.

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