How to attract more builders in our Ecosystems?

Daiana Marculescu

8/4/20235 min read

As an ecosystem lead, I’ve spent years working with blockchain ecosystems. Whether it’s Ethereum, Solana, Cosmos, Polkadot, or any of the multitude of other platforms, the question that I hear most often is, “How can we attract more builders in the ecosystem?”

So how can this be done? From where should any ecosystem start?

This article is a distillation of my reflections, experiences and learnings through the years working in Web3. It’s a guide, for anyone involved in blockchain business development, regardless of the platform, to understand the needs of the builders and the blueprint to support and grow with them.

Who are our builders?

Builders are of many kinds, some of them are building our core infrastructure, others are running the consensus, or are building decentralised applications on top of our protocol or provide b2b services or tooling. They have different needs, motivations, skills and business objectives.

Examples of builders

  • Core Teams: These are the architects and engineers of the blockchain, working to create, maintain, and enhance the protocol. Examples include Parity Technologies for Polkadot, Interchain Gmbh for Cosmos, Solana Labs for Solana.

  • Validators, Miners, Relayers and Guardians: These teams are the ones running the protocol critical systems, like validating the transactions, ensuring the economical security or moving the packages between platforms.

  • Dapp Startups: These ambitious builders are the teams shipping decentralised applications often around DeFi, ReFi, GameFi , AI, and hopefully very soon more around RWA 🙏.

  • Tooling Teams: These are the mechanics and technicians, developing essential tools like wallets, block explorers, libraries, APIs, test frameworks, etc.

  • Service Providers: They are the support system, offering services like infrastructure, security auditing, education, data analytics and more. Most of the renown teams in this area are OpenZeppelin, Chainalysis or Blockdaemon.

  • Enterprises: Those are the conventional businesses looking to expand into Web3, usually looking for both technical and business partnerships. Check out IBM, Google, Revolut, or others that are paving the way for corporations to join Web3.

How to start designing a Business Development Strategy around the builders?

Working with various teams, I started to realize that many protocols are having challenges in designing the right business development (BD) strategy around attracting builders, due to a lack of UX research, profiling, and data analytics. It's like walking blindfolded.

From my experience, the next 3 steps are key, when designing a business development strategy:

1. Understand what are your builders needs
  • First and foremost, recognise that different builders have varying needs and preferences. A developer in the early stage of a startup will have different needs from a corporate client exploring your blockchain technology.

  • Start engaging with your builders on the platforms they frequent like: GitHub, Discord, Telegram, Twitter, or at the events. Find what they need, what they like and what are their pain points. Document the insights and extract data analytics.

  • Tailor your BD strategy based on which type of builders are you interested to attract. What might work for the early stage Dapps developers, will not work for well-established corporations.

  • Track data analytics to understand what’s working and what’s not, and continually refine your approach.

2. Adapt the BD strategy to the builders business maturity

Your builders will evolve, starting from early stage, to more advanced business models. Its always good to consider this and adapt your BD to their changing needs.

  • Early Stage — when they only have an idea of what they want to build, it’s useful to show them the advantages of using your stack, help them define their product and technical design, and figure out things like incorporation or tokenomics.

  • Mid Stage — when they are close to or have already an MVP, offer assistance with go-to-market, promo, and funding. Help on the business development side, matchmaking with Venture Capitals and promoting their project through your media channel are extremely helpful at this stage.

  • Mature Stage — at this poiny, your builders are looking to scale their businesses, and will appreciate help with strategic technical or business partnerships, fast support from the protocol core teams, getting featured on your media channels and why not, investments.

3. Define your uniqueness

In the last years, I met and worked with a tone of protocols. All of them are unique. Some of them are newly launched, others are already mature and well-established. Some are focused on DeFi, GameFi, ReFi or other Fi 😀. Some have unique technical capabilities, others just did a fork and hurried up to mainnet. Some of them have money to spend, others are more frugal and focused on bootstrapping.

It’s critical to identify what makes your protocol unique, how this can be leveraged when interacting with builders and use it to your advantage.

Framework of 5 Steps for Attracting Builders

As we have sorted out the basics around understanding who are our builders and what they need, here is a 5 Steps Framework that I used in my work with various protocols, that had shown very good results in helping builders decide to join our platforms:

1. Become unique
  • Communicate and leverage the unique technical capabilities that set your blockchain apart. For example, Ethereum’s Smart Contracts, Solana’s high throughput, or Polkadot or Cosmos interoperability.

  • Concentrate on optimising specific business areas, like GamiFi, ReFi, Privacy, or Corporate use cases

  • Create an appealing story and unique brand that resonates with your audience. Cosmos, for instance, has positioned itself as having the world’s most popular framework for building application-specific blockchains.

2. Ensure ease of building
  • Provide user-friendly tools, like APIs and comprehensive libraries, to simplify the building process. An example is Ethereum which benefits from tools such as MetaMask, Infura or Truffle.

  • Share well-documented guides, tutorials, and run academies for on boarding new developers on your technological stack

  • Utilise DevRels to ensure adequate technical support, and furnish comprehensive pitch decks and documentation outlining your protocol’s capabilities and strengths. This helps builders promote your technology as part of their stack, making it easier to secure partners and clients.

3. Encourage development
  • Offer a stable platform and features like EVM compatibility, bridging solutions, and technical partnerships that can inspire developers to explore and innovate.

  • Build a flagship app that demonstrate the full range of your protocol’s capabilities, akin to how CryptoKitties showcased the potential of Ethereum’s Smart Contracts.

  • Collaborate with specialised development labs for building essential apps for your niche, increasing the end users pool that can be leveraged by your builders

  • Attract big names in your ecosystem that can come with large pools of users and liquidity. They might be well established web 3 businesses looking for another home, or web 2 enterprises looking to leverage blockchain technology

4. Help them be successful
  • Provide grants, investments, token delegations, or other types of funding for helping your builders grow their business

  • Foster a healthy culture, by encouraging your builders to work together for growing the pie, rather than fighting for the same liquidity and users. Also, reward the most active builders, that contribute to the governance and your code

5. Ensure predictability and transparency
  • Share the blueprint of your project as open source code, so builders know exactly what they’re working with. Also, publish clear roadmaps so that they know what to expect and when.

  • Have explicit guidelines for grants, sponsorships, token delegations and other types of collaborations. Built-in transparency creates trust and ensures everyone is on the same page.

Attracting builders to your blockchain isn’t merely about shooting silver bullets; it’s about recognising the diverse needs of different teams and creating a tailored, transparent, and supportive environment, where we are not just building technology and apps; we’re constructing healthy businesses for a better future.