Survey Spotlight #2: Aparna Krishnan

Welcome to Survey Spotlight, where we take responses to the ETHGlobal developer survey and expand them into a blog post. Spotlight #2 features Aparna Krishnan and a few of her survey responses.

Aparna is a cofounder of Opyn, a recently launched platform for DeFi protection and risk management. Previously, she was the co-founder of Mechanism Labs — an open source blockchain research lab. Aparna also founded Blockchain at Berkeley, and was awarded a Thiel Fellowship in 2018.

Haven’t filled out the survey yet yourself? 👉 ETHGlobal Developer Survey

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  • 🎟 1 of 2 free tickets to Devcon 6

When the lightbulb goes off and you have a great idea for something to build, what are your next steps?

Talk to my co-founders about the idea I had and brainstorm with them first. After that maybe formally start specifying what I’m going to build and writing it up, at that stage decide whether it makes sense to build it or not and understand what problem it solves. If it is valuable, build it, test it, ship it 🚢

Where do you publish or get validation for your side projects?

ethresear.ch, Twitter, discord, telegram, hackathons

the famous ethresear.ch discourse forum!

What is the most valuable non-Ethereum conference you have attended or would like to attend?

Cal Hacks — really well organized hackathon.

What is the last technological development that got you pumped and where did you discover it?

At ETH Denver, I discovered Buidler by Nomic Labs. Until this point, debugging solidity code was a nightmare. Write tests, write code, deploy, migrate, see if tests pass was a long process. If the tests failed, I would have to comment out line by line and re-run the code to identify where the code was failing. When you have 100s of lines of solidity code to debug, it isn’t fun. With Buidler, I could see stack traces which meant I can finally know where my code is failing. It also allows me to have console.log type functionality with solidity.

What is the best tutorial you’ve ever worked through?

So far, probably Compound’s. Stripes APIs are really amazing though.

How did you first learn about Ethereum?

I first learned about it as a Bitcoin that I can actually build on without having to learn bitcoin scripting. It was exciting, empowering. I was so intimidated by the bitcoin scripts that I didn’t think I could ever contribute significantly to the crypto space as a developer, until I heard of Ethereum. For the first time it felt like I might be young, but it didn’t require 20 years of me being an expert in something to contribute to this ecosystem.

What do you think is the best way for a developer to get involved with Ethereum?

College students are great people who would love the ETH ecosystem. Hackathons, side projects etc are the best ways.

We love hackathons too! 😉 (image from ETHLondonUK — Feb 28 to Mar 1, 2020)

What aspects of Ethereum made you excited enough to get more involved?

The people in the community, positive impact on the world, greater individual freedom, decentralized finance, developer career opportunities

Were there any aspects of Ethereum that turned you off at first?

I didn’t think they would ever ship ETH 2.0, thought a lot of it was just a lot of cool research that would never get built.

Why didn’t you get involved sooner than you did?

Bad documentation or tooling.

What learning resources (blog posts, guides, etc.) do you remember reading first?

Literally Skype calls with a friend. There weren’t good solidity docs back in 2016/2017.

Who within the Ethereum ecosystem has helped you the most? How?

I don’t know that there is a single person, I think the community as a whole felt extremely uplifting, knowing that as an undergrad at Berkeley I could build some of the most revolutionary things for ETH, regardless of how young I was. That’s an empowering feeling

How would you convince a developer friend that Ethereum is worth checking out?

I think there are some applications for which crypto is really interesting. If my developer friend was interested in finance / math / privacy I’d convince them that ETH is the future of finance. Every single financial application that is only accessible by accredited investors can be made available to anyone through DeFi.

If you wanted to see if someone has already built something you were thinking about creating, how would you do so?

I’d look through DeFi pulse, ETH hackathons, Twitter, telegram groups, google search it, ask VCs if they knew something like X.

Have you ever had a goose-bumps moment with Ethereum? Like that moment the lightbulb goes off and your mind races with implications and possibilities. What was it?!

Every few days I do, it’s usually some new DeFi realization / idea I have. Most recently it was thinking through the Uniswap impermanent loss model and realizing there can be a better AMM than one that uses a constant product.

What do you think will cause the next 10x growth of Ethereum developers?

More ETH hackathons, a global financial crisis, traditional Silicon Valley people finally realizing ETH is cool and crypto is not just some over hyped tech, crypto has real usage.

Thank you Aparna for your perspectives and taking the time to fill out the survey!

👉 Join the rest of the ETH dev community and share your perspective here.

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Current: Coordinating @ Ethereum Core Dev call. Past: Community @ ETHGlobal. Interested in how chain culture manifests.

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Current: Coordinating @ Ethereum Core Dev call. Past: Community @ ETHGlobal. Interested in how chain culture manifests.

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