How MARKET Protocol grew it’s product and team using Gitcoin
Before Phil Elsasser, CTO of MARKET Protocol, came to work in the Ethereum world, he spent a lot of time in the derivatives ecosystem in Chicago. In the derivatives world, closed source was the industry norm.
MARKET Protocol aims to provide exposure for traders to cross-chain crypto assets without having to manage multiple exchanges or take custody of a separate asset.
After building out the initial MVP for MARKET, Phil realized he would need more resources to build out his dApp.
Phil: In 2017, we spent a lot of time silo-ed off from the blockchain community. The focus was iterating through ideas and creating an MVP of our protocol. Shortly after completion, I began going to the Boulder Blockhain meetups and quickly latched onto Kevin Owocki, founder of Gitcoin.
Kevin helped shape my fledgling understanding of developing a project in a community driven, open-source fashion. We started using Gitcoin to get some traction on our project and help with our development needs. For a small, internally funded project, Gitcoin is a great way to control your budget and leverage an amazing community of talented blockchain devs.
It would have been nearly impossible for us to hire a developer with the needed breadth of skills we required to move the project forward. Instead of trying to find a single unicorn, we found many clydesdales that all were able to contribute different expertise.
One of the first folks that Phil found while using Gitcoin was Eswara Sai, a front-end engineer based out of India. Eswara was working full-time, yet came across Gitcoin with the intention of contributing towards open source and making a little ETH on the side.
Eswara: Right after my bachelor’s degree, in 2015, I joined a startup called Eltropy as a Frontend Developer, where I’ve tried to build my skills alongside learning new technologies and the latest design trends. On the side, I’d been doing a lot of freelance gigs. Right when cryptocurrencies were booming, another Gitcoiner, Rajat Kapoor, invited me to the Gitcoin platform.
I’ve like the idea of OSS contribution via bounties. I’ve always wanted to contribute to OSS but never really made the leap before Gitcoin. Unlike other freelance platforms, Gitcoin is a community-driven platform, where there’s scope of lot to learn from other talented developers in the platform, who are happy to help if you’re stuck somewhere with your bounty.
After joining the Gitcoin platform, Eswara worked on a variety of bounties. He made commits to MARKET Protocol, ETH Gas Station, Ethereum’s Remix repo, and (many commits) to Gitcoin itself. Over time, as he became more familiar with the platform, he was able to serve as a subject matter expert for new developers and funders joining the ecosystem. This came in handy as Phil joined the platform.
Phil: Eswara was one of the very first developers to start working on our dApp. I am not a web developer, and having Eswara’s help early on in getting our architecture setup was critical.
Eswara: While I was looking out for bounties on the Gitcoin platform, I came across a frontend bounty at MARKET Protocol. That’s when I’ve connected with Phil, CTO at MARKET Protocol, to discuss the requirements of the task. From there, I’ve tried to help Phil with streamlining the requirements for dApp and also plan out tasks which can be posted out on Gitcoin platform as bounties to leverage the platform in getting things done at much faster speed.
Eswara had begun contributing to the MARKET Protocol project in a variety of ways, including shepherding new Gitcoiner’s through any questions they had while doing MARKET bounties. Shortly thereafter, Phil and Eswara decided to formalize their relationship.
Phil: Gradually, after enough of our bounties had ended up in Eswara’s wallet, we starting just talking about paying him directly. Now, Eswara contributes to our codebase in a more full time capacity. Finding and retaining talent is a priority of our team and Gitcoin is an important means to that end. We hope to work with many more contributors from Gitcoin and grow our team from the community.
Throughout the process, Phil developed some musings on the interesting reputation aspects inherent in Gitcoin.
Phil: By design or not, there is an element of trust inherent within Gitcoin. This isn’t the bad kind of “trust” that we are all trying to move away from in a centralized world, but a much better sense of community trust that gets established through the bounty process.
I think there has to be goodwill on both the funders side and the developers side. While it would be unfair for a funder to drastically change the scope of an issue prior to releasing a bounty, it would also be equally unfair for a bounty hunter to not be flexible enough to handle unforeseen issues that arise (within reason) out of the initial scope of the issue.
This plays out in a few other example in the ecosystem, but overall it allows for people that are trying to collaborate in an honest fashion find one another and continue working together. There is an intrinsic reputation system that I have seen from my time with Gitcoin, which has been very beneficial.
We’re thankful for Phil and Eswara for being key contributors to the early Gitcoin community. We’ve learned a lot through them and wish them both much success with MARKET Protocol.
Let’s continue our journey to grow open source and change the way we work.