Last week, Dataconomy’s Stewart Rogers served as master of ceremonies for a CogX Open Web Forum panel (curated by Fabric Ventures) I participated in along with Muneeb Ali (Stacks) and Josh Tobkin (Supra-Oracles). We were grappling with the question of how we inspire best-in-breed technical stars to join Open Web companies, particularly in the domain of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain talent.

Though global unemployment rates are high globally in the wake of the pandemic, labor shortages in areas such as like blockchain and cryptocurrency remain endemic. Labor supply is constrained, resulting in shortages likely to stay for the rest of 2021 and well into 2022. Although crypto’s $1.3+ trillion market cap has attracted a great deal of attention, it has not perhaps attracted as many of the top developers as the industry would like.

One CEO I know has all of the ingredients to move forward, with key stakeholders aligned, the regulatory environment sorted out, initial customers and investors ready to go, but an absence of the right CTO and engineering team to drive the project. Another CEO is just getting the project on its feet, with three of the world’s largest financial institutions prepared to use the platform, which does not yet exist because it requires the right technical team to build the prototype. In both cases, they are grappling with a question that I have seen come up time in again with my thousands of online students in blockchain and fintech. How do you bridge the blockchain talent gap?

How do you bridge the blockchain talent gap?

Blockchain talent essentials

We covered a good deal of ground in our fast-paced CogX discussion, more than can be summarized here. I can, however, extract for you three essential tips for how founders can attract the brightest minds to work on their blockchain projects:

  1. Having exciting problems for engineers to work on. Top developers are attracted to interesting, knotty problems like moths to a candle flame. Are you addressing a fascinating area of computer science or a notable social issue? Highlighting this can draw in the very best.
  2. Connecting with the employees. At the very earliest stages of a company’s development, the personality of the founder is paramount.  Investors, employees, and early adopters are making a bet on the founder, so heightening your awareness of this will allow you to let you hone your connection with people. They are joining you and buying into to your vision.
  3. Inspiring people with narrative. You can accelerate your ability to get the best talent, raise money, attract users, sell to customers, and achieve your goals with your blockchain project if you find your essential, authentic story and learn how to communicate it with passion and conviction. Well-crafted narratives build an emotional connection with people, and whether or not they want to admit it, emotion drives decisions more than facts do. Find your story, learn how to tell it, and you will have a better chance of enticing and enlisting the top developers.

Expanding the pool

Bonus round: another way to get top talent for your blockchain project is to invest in it and develop it. Courses like Oxford Blockchain Strategy provide people the foundations for how to apply DLT in the innovation context. Every great business starts with a great idea, grounded in the art of the possible and an understanding of the impossible (or how to make the impossible possible).  The Oxford program and ones like it serve as a jumping-off point, on the one hand, on how to launch a new project, and on the other hand, as a vehicle for establishing a common vocabulary and framework for action.

As you progress from strategy to build out, you want to have the right technology applied to the right problem sets. An array of excellent boot camps have emerged to groom more specific technical capabilities to build blockchain systems. A rigorously grounded team will get you there faster and more effectively. You will want to carefully evaluate which boot camps provide the right mix of tools and techniques, and you may even find them fertile recruiting grounds if you build relationships with the host organizations.

The bright future

Of course, these are still early days in the evolution of blockchain. I see even larger scale problems being solved and even more exciting opportunity for developers in converging areas, where we bring technologies like artificial intelligence together with blockchain to solve critical problems in domains like digital identity and financial inclusion (helping over 3.5 billion people), health crisis data management (what happens when the next pandemic strikes), and supply chain.

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