Calling yourself the world’s largest and most diverse ecosystem of developers is no mean feat. But AngelHack has made it happen, based on the shared vision of bringing creators together — an idea that formed six years ago.
Today, AngelHack has become the catalyst for building tech communities all over the world, thanks to the hackathons, incubator programs, accelerators, and virtual competitions it has helped organize. Its global community now boasts over 250,000 developers, with a board of advisors featuring names like Mark Cuban and Ben Parr.
KrASIA spoke with Justin Ng, the head of AngelHack, about its new programs and how they provide support to developers.
KR: Tell us about your professional career leading up to heading AngelHack.
Justin Ng (JN): I thrive in roles where I can meet and connect with people from diverse backgrounds and create unique experiences. After completing my degree in business administration from SMU, I joined the events team at IDC, a global market intelligence provider. There, I gained valuable experience driving registrations and consulting with clients in the technology sector to curate large-scale events tailored to their audiences.
I’ve always been eager to explore new opportunities, which led me to join AngelHack. Working with AngelHack has allowed me to build a global and diverse community of change-makers and code creators. I’m passionate about tackling the challenge of providing access to the right skills and platforms for innovators and developers from around the world. AngelHack helps bridge these talented individuals with futuristic companies, creating social impact. This mission resonated with me, and I took on the role of heading AngelHack in January 2022, with the goal of scaling the brand.
KR: Share with us some of the new programs at AngelHack, including its ambassador programs.
JN: AngelHack is a pioneer of global developer hackathons and is one of the world’s largest and most diverse developer ecosystems. We’ve grown a community of over 250,000 developers and builders in 65 countries, whom we enable to compete in building, testing, and launching new solutions. Our mission is to ignite passion in entrepreneurs, innovators, and students, and to drive open innovation of tech products, platforms, and brands at an extraordinary scale and speed.
We view hackathons as a tool to drive inclusivity and empower women from different nations with equal opportunities to learn and build together. In the middle of last year, we successfully led the African Women Innovation Hackathon. Our ambassadors play a significant role in energizing tech communities and driving them to participate while networking with like-minded people from around the world.
The Polkadot Hackathon Global Series, now in its 3rd edition, brings together a diverse community of like-minded blockchain developers ready to build and collaborate. We also have hackSingapore in the pipeline, supported by the Infocomm Media Development Authority, which brings together tech talent communities to tackle problems through emerging technologies while propelling Singapore’s tech ecosystem forward.
Over the past ten years, AngelHack has partnered with corporate change-makers at Amazon Web Services, Cisco Systems, Dell Technologies, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, IBM, MasterCard, Shopify, and PayPal to run themed, global initiatives designed to rapidly prototype ideas while helping them build relationships with the workforce of the future.
KR: What are the pain points of developers, coders, and entrepreneurs and how are you supporting them through AngelHack?
JN: Many code creators and developers struggle to upskill and build relevant knowledge due to the limited avenues available. In a fast-paced technology industry, keeping up with the latest trends, tools, and skills can be challenging, especially for those who are self-taught or lack access to formal training programs. This limited access to proper training and development opportunities can hinder developers and entrepreneurs from reaching their full potential. Additionally, although the internet is a useful resource, it can be overwhelming to navigate.
At AngelHack, we aim to address these pain points by providing well-curated and structured platforms for learning and development. Our goal is to help individuals remain relevant in an ever-changing tech landscape. By being part of a global community of like-minded individuals, they can strategically network, exchange ideas, and receive mentorship from industry experts. We are committed to increasing diversity and inclusion by expanding our reach to individuals from diverse backgrounds. This will enable them to collaborate and co-create within our community.
KR: What are some of the most interesting innovations that you’ve seen to date? Can you give us some examples?
JN: We are witnessing an increasing number of innovations that allow for interoperability between multiple blockchain platforms. This is a game-changer in an industry that remains fragmented, with each new chain operating independently. While great work is being done in silos, the ability for different blockchains to communicate with each other opens up new possibilities to build more creative and impactful solutions for the Web3 space, across a variety of industries. Notable innovations paving the way for more cross-chain solutions include Polkadot’s bridges for non-native chain communication, Circle’s Cross-Chain Transfer Protocol, Cosmos Tendermint Architecture, and Chainlink’s Interoperability Protocol.
Another significant opportunity area is making technology more sustainable. Sustainability-focused innovations like the Merge, which refers to the original Ethereum Mainnet merging with a separate proof-of-stake blockchain called the Beacon Chain, now exist as one chain, reducing Ethereum’s energy consumption by approximately 99.95%.
KR: Where do you see most opportunities in the blockchain and Web3 space moving forward?
JN: There is a growing interest among local developers in emerging markets like Vietnam in learning about Web3 and other blockchain technologies. To support their growth and skill development, they need exposure to high-quality meetups, workshops, and co-creation opportunities in these areas. Building technology communities and thriving ecosystems that provide ample training and resources to developers and allow for cross-pollination of ideas can spur the next generation of blockchain and Web3 innovations.
AngelHack’s incubator programs and other initiatives are designed to support and nourish communities of developers, entrepreneurs, and technology enthusiasts, helping to build a robust ecosystem that drives innovation and growth in the blockchain and Web3 space.
This is the time to put together the building blocks of Web3, including talent, infrastructure, and security frameworks. Companies working in these areas will be highly relevant and responsible for fueling Web3’s progress.
KR: What kind of hackathons can we expect to see in the next five years or so?
JN: As the technology industry continues to evolve, AngelHack is focused on hackathons that solve industry and societal problems. We offer developers, coders, and entrepreneurs opportunities to learn and grow, with the goal of making hackathons more accessible to a broad spectrum of individuals. This involves offering a diverse range of topics and areas of focus, as well as incorporating new technologies and tools to make the learning experience more engaging. Hackathons may also have a hybrid of meetups and boot camp elements to facilitate a closely-knit developer community for learning and networking.
In the coming years, we expect hackathons to become an increasingly popular tool for organizations to engage fans and build loyalists, particularly in industries such as gaming and sports. By hosting hackathons, these organizations can connect with their fans and bring together a community of technology enthusiasts to work together.
KR: When do you think the Web3 space will rebound following the crypto malaise?
JN: The Web3 space is still in its early stages of development, and there is a lot of work to be done to harness its unexplored potential. We expect that this year will be dedicated to stakeholders focusing on setting up the building blocks for the space to flourish, regardless of movements in the crypto market. Collaboration is key to achieving this. Developing talent and fueling technology communities to come up with innovative solutions is crucial. In the next few years, we expect to make significant progress with real-world applications of solutions being developed. However, it is important to spotlight gaps and subject the Web3 space to tests that will help build a more robust and resilient infrastructure.
It’s also important to highlight that while cryptocurrencies are a component of Web3, they are not its defining aspect. At AngelHack, we plan to make more efforts to educate the public about the true potential of this new decentralized web and highlight the many non-cryptocurrency applications of Web3 among communities of developers.
KR: What are some of the major challenges faced by global developers today?
JN: Keeping up with rapidly changing technologies is a challenging journey for developers, who struggle to find the right avenues to do so. Staying relevant and future-ready is crucial for them to flourish in the industry. Across the technology landscape, we see a skills gap that is being highlighted by nations around the world. For example, in this year’s budget, the Singaporean government announced that it would look to appoint job skill integrators to provide training that improves employment and earning prospects in the industry.
Developers also face challenges in finding the right earning opportunities and job prospects that match their skill sets. Therefore, there is a need to bridge them with global or local companies where they can add value.