Leighlah Ashmore
Leighlah Ashmore

18.03.2021. in daml, Technology

Block8's Blockathon for 2021

What is a Blockathon?

Last week, I experienced my first ever hackathon, or I'd like to call, a blockathon. It's a Block8 blockchain hackathon. For someone not familiar with a hackathon (which was me until about a year ago), it is not a group of people looking to hack into systems like I initially thought. 

In fact it's a competitive event, usually organised by a tech company (like Block8), where a group of brilliant individuals collaborate over a short period, usually 24 hours or over a weekend, to create a project with a working software prototype.

Block8's Blockathon

In the case of our event, we had four teams. Across the teams we had a mix of Solution Architects, Senior Engineers, Test Engineers, UX/UI designers, Agile Delivery Managers, Product owners, Head of Delivery and Engineering and even our COO. A few of those teams also had some incredibly talented interns that were part of the event. 

From the outset, I was impressed by the level of organisation; from scheduling the event, splitting of the teams, the amount of work that went into preparing the teams for the event, setting the expectations, the "Project Brief" documentation and the huge amount of coordination to schedule around our current projects and clients.

Blockathon team

Reasons behind the event

  • The last hackathon we did as a team was in December 2019, when the Sydney team visited our brand new Chandigarh office in India.
  • It was the ideal opportunity for our Chandigarh team to go back into the office together after almost a year of working from home.
  • It was an opportunity to have our team working on Digital Assets smart contract language, DAML and put their DAML skills to good use. DAML being the same language that the ASX have adopted.
  • Also, an opportunity for our teams to focus on developing a project or two in one of our key target markets (Financial Services) in preparation for our up and coming campaign with Digital Asset later this QTR.
  • But most importantly, to have a company-wide event that would be fun and energetic and, as I would soon discover, create some friendly competition amongst the teams.

I was fortunate enough to be on the judges' panel; it was rather nerve-wracking considering I had never been part of a hackathon before, so I was not entirely sure what to expect.

But let me just say that what the teams produced in 1.5 days was nothing short of absolutely amazing!


Learn more about Daml smart contracts


The Blockathon brief

The team had 1.5 days to produce a Financial Services arena project that was focused on Capital Markets using DAML as the smart contract language.

Each team created the following:

  • company name 
  • corporate logo
  • pitch deck with financial information
  • future roadmap predictions
  • an explanation of the problem
  • the solution and the product 
  • and the most impressive parts: 
  • a product demonstration with actual front end UX/UI designs
  • written code 
  • smart contracts and technical specifications for the POC or MVP they had produced.

Again, I had to remind myself that all of these were achieved in 1.5 days as the results were mind blowing!

The final presentation 

Everyone was present for each of the teams' final presentations, and everyone had an opportunity to ask questions and challenge the projects and the teams.

Each team was given 30 minutes to present, and they would receive scores based on four categories:

  • Product design and testing deliverables
  • How creatively they used DAML to solve the problem
  • How well they designed and built the prototype
  • How well thought out was the final presentation and overall project

The final presentations were absolutely amazing, and I was right to feel nervous about the judging. How do you pick a winner amongst such brilliant projects?

Across the board, the judges were very much aligned on each team's presentations. However, the scoring points between two of the teams were unbearably close, and the judges then had to have a serious debate offline before announcing the winners.

The Blockathon winner

The winning team was Team 3. Their project was a Superannuation product called SuperMart. 

SuperMart: An open, fair, and transparent Superannuation Fund Marketplace built on DLT.

SuperMart is a product that will allow the consumer to compare different Superannuation products allowing them to be in control of their options. 

It was incredibly well thought out both from a business plan and tech perspective, but it also looked polished and professional, as if it were an existing off the shelf product available today for all to buy. 

The whole team was well deserving of the trophy and prizes and they should all feel very proud of their achievements.

team 3

As far as I can tell, the bar has been set very high, and I cannot wait for my next hackathon / Blockathan. Once again, I feel so proud to be part of the Block8 team. Every day I am taken aback by the team's brilliance, skills, capabilities and excellent sense of commitment, good humour and sense of fun.

Next time, I hope to be in India with the whole team, just as the team were back in December 2019.


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About the Author:

LeighlahLeighlah has always been passionate about technology, spending almost 25 years in the IT Industry, predominantly in new and innovative, leading edge or bleeding edge technologies.

Leighlah took on a role at Block8 as the Sales Director and Head of Partnerships and Alliances to support Block8 as they expand their DLT and Blockchain Consultancy and development services into Enterprise and Government.

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