Money itself is just a resource, community is what matters.

Amirbek S.

Amirbek S. Jan 20 · 6 min read

The pandemic has made many things suddenly very clear, not least the benefits of remote work and digitalized lifestyles. More than anything, though, the pandemic has made us all very aware of the value of time and more concerned about how we use it.

Based on an average commute of 30 minutes one-way, remote work has saved us 22 hours a month—that’s 33 full working days’ worth of time in a year. For those of us with offices as far-flung as Kyiv and Shanghai, remote teamwork across countries has saved us days in long-distance flights and recovering from jetlag. 

We’re taught that how hard you work is reflected in how much time you spend working—between hourly wages, monthly salaries, our concept of effort is inherently tied up in the idea of time. Yet, very rarely does the amount of time you put into something reflect the value of what you get out. 

A barista on minimum wage needs to put in far more hours than a banker or stockbroker to earn even a fraction of the amount. The difference between the two is not a difference in effort or talent, but rather a difference in backup. A barista without other baristas can still make coffee; a banker without a banking community would struggle to get any banking done. A broker without a stock market would struggle to make any trades.

Community is a too-often-overlooked asset that saves hours of our lives.

Just look at the software developer community, where “open source” software and the remote, cross-country collaboration it triggers has become a rallying-cry for developers. Public access to the source code of almost every major software and hardware means that there is an entire community available to voluntarily fix bugs in any open source code. It also means that developers starting a new project can use and build on code already written by other collaborators and save hundreds of working hours. That is the power of community.

Sinofy is built upon similar principles. As a borderless community with a vast and varied range of expertise, we make the impossible—for an individual or single company—possible. 

What might take years for an individual or single company, we manage in months.

This is exactly what happened when we got involved with a Ukrainian hackathon struggling to scale up in a truly global sense. So, here’s how we took the “Dev Challenge” to Dubai and then to East Asia.

What is Dev Challenge?

Dev Challenge is the Ukrainian king of hackathons. Just like open source volunteers solve problems and fix buggy code, the 20,000+ developers that participate in Dev Challenge find and fix IT challenges. 

And, like most innovative tech communities with an entire world of talent, technology and know-how to hand, the portfolio of problems that Dev Challenge solves has naturally expanded to include HR-branding and recruiting, PR and positioning, and consultation on new business ideas.

Dev Challenge has created an entire community of highly skilled software and tech developers who have solved the IT problems faced by some of the biggest names in the game—like Intel, Facebook, Amazon, and Vodafone.

But only in Ukraine.

Dev Challenge developers are some of the most talented in the world, but their reach was limited to clients either based in Ukraine, with operations in Ukraine, or with employees and associates from Ukraine. 

That’s where Sinofy stepped in.

The Dev Challenge community in Ukraine is an incredible time-saving resource in and of itself, a resource that tech companies around the world deserve access to. Sinofy is a bridge between borders and diverse global cultures, fluent in both the language spoken by Dev Challenge developers and those spoken by the emerging tech, DeFi, and GameFi communities around the world.  

We’ve faced our own, non-tech challenges along the way, but we’ve now succeeded at connecting two companies to the resource community Dev Challenge has cultivated: Marhaba DeFi and Era 7: Game of Truth. 

Developers, NFTs, and connecting two communities

Marhaba DeFi joined Dev Challenge in 2021 to help Ukrainian designers learn about new opportunities in the digital art world. At its core, Marhaba is all about access, bringing the DeFi revolution to excluded and underrepresented communities across the world. Sinofy unequivocally backs that mission and brought Marhaba into the Dev Challenge with the express purpose of providing Ukrainian communities with safe access to the benefits of ethical DeFi and NFT trading. 

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We connected the world’s first ethical decentralized finance platform to one of the world’s most extensive and talented developer communities to set up an online masterclass for Ukrainian digital artists.

Between Dev Challenge’s extensive on-the-ground network of digital revolutionaries in Ukraine and Marhaba’s ethical NFT creating and trading platform, we set out to create a community that reaches far beyond the borders of a single eastern European state. 

The online masterclass taught these artists how to mint their first NFTs, shared information about the global market potential of NFTs, and introduced SOUQ NFT as a tool for those wanting to join the digital art industry.

Our efforts not only internationalized the Dev Challenge and brought in a new sponsor, we also introduced Marhaba to an entirely new market for their NFT products. 

But our stopover in Dubai with Marhaba DeFi was only the beginning of internationalizing the Dev Challenge.

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Next we headed to Korea, where a Chinese-run GameFi company was looking for opportunities outside East Asia. 

From Dubai to Korea, From DeFi to GameFi

Our next step in internationalising Dev Challenge was to bring in Era 7: Game of Truth, a Web 3.0 game that combines trading card gaming with an NFT-oriented Play-To-Earn concept. The game publishers are well known in East Asia, where online gaming has reached dizzying heights of development, but they’ve never tried to conquer the global gaming arena. 

At least not until Sinofy got involved. 

As a game, Era 7 is lightly competitive, strategic, and fast. Each game round lasts only three minutes, but players are able to make unlimited strategy changes to earn real-life monetary assets right in the game. 

Not only did Era 7 introduce the developers at Dev Challenge to a new potential target market, it also helped Era 7 get their name out and into the Ukrainian hacker and potential gamer community.

The marketing appeal for Era 7 was immediate; a room full of internet-oriented nerds with the processing power to really get into the Era 7 world. We handed out tailored Era 7 merch, everything from t-shirts to masks to thermoses; we organized a photo zone and a photo contest for Era 7 using one of the game protagonists; we even went so far as to get into Era 7 cosplay.

This is what we do best at Sinofy: Bridging the gap between hugely diverse communities for the benefit of everyone involved.

Lessons, takeaways, Eastern Europe and beyond

The continent’s east, in particular Ukraine, has become a developer’s dreamworld of low costs, high-speed internet, and unbelievable talent. As our own Nastya Adamova says, just like the world’s manufacturers outsource their production to China, developed and developing economies are choosing Ukraine for their IT needs. 

And yet, despite this, far too many companies and countries underestimate the sheer scale of technical and human capital on offer. 

It’s one of the reasons we decided here at Sinofy to sponsor and co-organise the Dev Challenge and to make sure it got the international attention it absolutely deserves. And we were not alone in believing so.

Some of the biggest names in Ukrainian tech join us in sponsoring and supporting the challenge — Eleks, Kitrum, Readlle, the Regrow Projector School of Design, just to name a few.

We were joined by 1300+ participants — joining the competition both on and offline — who set out to solve some of the most pressing and complex issues facing tech companies both large and small. 

You can’t imagine the energy, sitting in a room with some of the most advanced minds in tech and development. Watching them work is pure art, sharing a physical or virtual space with them is a rare privilege.

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What is most strange, however, is thinking that, had it not been for the pandemic and the almost-entirely-remote lifestyles it has fostered, the market for Dev Challenge services might not be quite so huge. Now that COVID has challenged and decimated the centralized workspace and redistributed resources towards virtual and decentralized teams, the value of Dev Challenge and hackathons like it will undoubtedly skyrocket. 

And we’re thrilled to be a part of this community.