Alcides Fonseca

40.197958, -8.408312

EXPosure and Pixelscamp

If you aren’t aware of, it’s a 3 days hackathon in Lisbon, Portugal. This time I’m living 3 metro stops away, so despite not taking days off, I’ll be participating.

One of the bigger changes from previous editions is that a new voting system will be used, based on EXP, a closed crypto-currency on top of the ethereum.

Basic rules:

  • If you are at the event, you get badges, each amounting to 100 EXP (I’m ignoring the variance here).
  • There are angels who own a lot of EXP’s (25.000).
  • There is one lucky guy who may win 50.000 EXP by solving a scavenger hunt.
  • Participants can create projects.
  • Everyone can invest in projects. The invested money is controlled by the organization.
  • At the end of the event (and presentations), all the money invested in all the projects is redistributed proportionally to the 10 “richest” projects. These are the main winners of the event.
  • After this, the EXP collected by each project are distributed by the investors proportionally to their investment.

I believe this approach is flawed.

Problem 1: Money is worthless at the end.

Unless you are one of top 10 (out of ~100) project owners or one of the X top investors, you get nothing. There is no actual interest in saving your money, or betting in low-risk investments. You want to hit the jackpot by investing in the number one project, if you are looking for winning the investor prize (I’m assuming the angels are out of the race).

Additionally, if you are the scavenge hunt winner, you should be extra careful with how you spend your money, not to lose it (because that money without investing is useless).

So, you should invest in the best company. The question is when.

Problem 2: Project presentations are in the end of the event.

There are no “investment” rounds here with no incentive for investing early. The best approach is to invest in the end, where you already have an idea of which projects have a chance of winning. What happens if everyone invests in the end? Maybe that’s the most fair scenario, but it is no different than a regular voting system without decentralized coins.

Problem 3: If you are competitive, you should invest in your own ideas.

If you really want to win this, it makes sense for you to invest early in your own project. If everybody does this, then the prize is only decided by the angels. Except if you do the right strategy:

  • Get a small team of developers who are interested in doing something useful. Alternatively, create vaporware. Doesn’t matter as long as the angels are interested.
  • Get a large team of miners, participants who are not interested in building something, but rather want to collect badges and participate in activities.

This will be the best approach towards winning (unless you have the best project according to the angel’s opinions).

Problem 4: There are no rewards in this Kickstarter.

The project presentation is supposed to work like Kickstarter. The most successful projects on Kickstarter had excellent rewards for investors. Here, unless you are rich, you have no real rewards.

If I end up creating a service as a project, I will give pre-access to the service to whoever backs me. If I am doing a prototype of something that will not last, there is no real reward I can give out (except free hugs).

Problem 4: Work vs Play

You should focus either on working (to get one of the 10 prizes) or playing (and getting badges to be a great investor). I don’t believe a half-way approach is very useful towards winning prizes (Although it might be the best fun experience).

Idea 1: VC-like groups.

Let’s say I invite everyone I know to a VC company. We decide amongst ourselves in which project we want to vote. Only the most voted project gets all the money from the group members. This might seem unfair for members who didn’t vote for it, but in the end it gives that project a better chance of winning, thus making VC members richer.

Btw, contact me in case you want to join Alcides&Friends Ventures, LLC. The larger the VC group, the larges the changes of winning a prize.

Idea 2: Betting

If you have been to previous editions (called Codebits at the time), you might remember the launch of a closed instance of Meo Wallet. It was the same idea, although projects didn’t ran on this. Rui and I won the prize for most money transferred, and came close second for the most money totaled (if only I hadn’t been so generous).

Idea 3: Ponzi scheme.

This was something we also worked on. I’ve known Ponzi schemes to last for months, and we only need it to last 3 days. So contact me as soon as you can to be one of the first to take advantage of the Alcides schemeā„¢.

Don’t get me wrong, this is an interesting idea and we should use these events to play with ideas like this. But I have my doubts it will work in the end like it is intended to.