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Ezgi Yaltay Mandal
Project Manager
July 13, 2023
What’s behind Turkey’s dramatic rise in the Solana Ecosystem?

One of the main goals of every blockchain is to reach more developers, which is not easy, especially in challenging market conditions where most developers are not convinced about transitioning to web3. However, in 2023, we witnessed the great success of Solana in attracting developers in Turkey despite facing numerous challenges. Let's take a look at how they achieved this and the story behind it.

Until September 2022, the Solana Foundation did not have specific initiatives focused on Turkey. In the previous year's global Hackathon, they received only six project applications from the country. However, this year, Turkey became the third country with the highest number of applications with 96, following the United States and India. Let's explore the factors that led to this change:

The prized possession of ecosystems: web3 developers

Developers create applications that provide value to end-users and attract more customers. According to the 2022 Electric Capital Developer Report, developer participation is considered an early and leading indicator of value creation in emerging platforms. Although web3 developers represent only 0.1% of all developers worldwide, each web3 developer creates a value of $12 million.

When viewed from this perspective, it becomes clear why ecosystems invest in allocating resources to educate developers about their technologies and ensure their loyalty to their respective ecosystems.

Turkey has positioned itself as one of the frontrunners among leading countries in crypto adoption, outpacing its European neighbors in recent times. With its growing developer potential and collaborative community efforts, it has successfully ascended to the top ranks on the agendas of web3 ecosystems. The presence of major events such as Devconnect Istanbul, HackJuno, Cosmoverse, Solana Hacker House Istanbul, as well as the involvement of ecosystems like BNB Chain, Polygon, Starknet, Cardano, and Sui in university and community interactions, are clear indicators of this trend.

Through our collaboration with web3 ecosystems in Rise In education programs, we have identified three recurring expectations that these ecosystems commonly hold:

  1. Nurturing developers with advanced technical skills,
  2. Encouraging them to contribute to projects that fuel the ecosystem, either by creating new initiatives or joining existing ones,
  3. Promoting their ongoing engagement and participation within the community,

Ecosystems exert significant effort to attract developers and projects by organizing educational programs, events, and various reward and grant programs.

Solana's Journey in Turkey

In September 2022, the Solana Foundation initiated a bootcamp to educate developers in Turkey. Within just five months, over 3,000 developers participated in this training program, receiving education on web3, Solana technologies, and development with Solana.

In November 2022, Superteam Turkey was established to provide regular support for web3 projects and talents. Through Superteam Turkey, projects receive grants, mentorship, and networking support, while individuals already contributing in the web3 field benefit from a holistic approach that supports their earnings, career growth, and job opportunities. This organized community structure has created a clear path in the web3 domain, eliminating the uncertainties and establishing a route that fosters both projects and talents.

In February 2023, Foundation hosted a distinctive community gathering in Istanbul known as Solana Hacker House Istanbul. Setting itself apart from other events in Turkey, this gathering placed a strong emphasis on developers, event organization, and fostering community interaction. Spanning five days, the event successfully attracted over a thousand participants.

The event featured insightful panel discussions on trending topics, hands-on technical workshops covering diverse subjects, exclusive one-on-one meetings with the Solana team, investor presentations, and enjoyable side activities. Rather than playing a passive role, the Solana team actively engaged with the community, creating an intimate atmosphere. Participants had the opportunity to interact closely with the Solana team, openly discussing their projects and exchanging ideas about their web3 careers without any barriers or obstacles hindering the process.

Hacker House Istanbul was also chosen for the surprise announcement of the highly anticipated Solana Global Hackathon. The atmosphere of the event transformed into a development-focused journey.

Usually, the downfall of events is the hundreds of participants who get excited during the event but lose interest afterwards. However, in this scenario, the local Superteam Turkey community continued to follow up on the talents and projects' progress during and after the hackathon through direct communication. The activities, starting with explaining what a hackathon is, evolved into a comprehensive support mechanism that addressed all the missing elements from team formation, idea development, mentoring, providing feedback, and networking. This accessible support mechanism filled the gaps and provided a clear path.

As a result of this process, Turkey had 96 project participations in the Solana Grizzlython, and eight of these projects continue their entrepreneurial journey through the Solana Acceleration program and investor meetings.

Outputs and Future Notes

This journey served as a concrete demonstration of the rapid return on investment within the Turkish ecosystem. Turkey holds immense potential to achieve even greater accomplishments while remaining in the spotlight. For companies, communities, and ecosystems seeking growth through community building, the following key insights are applicable:

  • Continuity: Attracting talents requires regular and planned efforts. One-time educational programs and large-scale events create temporary excitement but fail to maintain long-term engagement. One of the strongest pieces of evidence for this is the presence of numerous inactive Discord and Telegram channels related to projects, education, and events. The next step for every organized activity should be planned in advance based on the needs of the target audience, and the events should be conducted accordingly in this context.
  • Specific roadmaps that make you preferred: To activate and foster a sense of belonging in the talents you attract, it is crucial to present them with predictable future plans that promise achievable shortcuts. The advancement of technology has facilitated easier access to content and opportunities. Unfortunately, your target audience is also the target audience of numerous competitors, and unlike web2, the web3 space is characterized by a generous landscape for talent acquisition. Hackathons, workshops, educational programs, grants, rewards, airdrops, white lists, promotional items, and more have become customary in this industry. As part of your future plans, it is essential to curate your own value proposition for your target audience and distribute these values while ensuring consistency and continuity.
  • Mentoring and networking needs: One crucial reality that must be accepted is that your community will encounter multiple obstacles throughout the journey you offer them. If you fail to analyze the challenges they face and provide solutions, there is a high probability of losing them or their potential for contribution within the ecosystem. 
  • The situation that a project, which you are currently listening to and cannot foresee its future, may reach after a pivot can even surprise you.
  • Accessibility and effective communication: It is crucial to maintain a genuine and accessible interaction with the community. Being the first to receive updates on new developments and having the assurance that their concerns will be heard are the most fundamental needs.
  • The importance of experimental interaction: Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all recipe when it comes to community. However, the good news is that the principles are the same for every community. You can start by listing and experiencing methods previously implemented by other communities. It is important to remain flexible and avoid insisting on approaches that prove to be ineffective.

Hopefully, in the near future, more ecosystems will realize this potential in Turkey and we will witness a surge in impactful endeavors on a global scale. With the web3 train still at the station, we have a chance to get on board. Everyone, whether from technical or non-technical backgrounds, who aspires to seize this opportunity and join this journey:

  • Gain a deep understanding of the essence of web3 and the opportunities it creates,
  • Experience more web3 products to identify deficiencies and generate better ideas,
  • Participate in communities and events to stay informed about developments and trends in the early stages,
  • Aim to become globally recognized talents by enhancing their skills.

If you would like to discuss this topic further or share your experiences, feel free to email [email protected] or reach out to me on Twitter.

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