One of the biggest challenges for blockchain ventures in a crowded field is building critical mass. Airdrops, or token giveaways, is one of many strategies blockchain companies have tried to attract users, with varying degrees of success.

But an ecosystem is only as good as the technology that drives it and the services it offers. That’s why a number of organizations are now offering developers grants and other incentives to build on their blockchains.

“We’re looking for consumer apps that put Kin at the center of the user experience, and use it to solve real customer problems,” says the website for the Kin Developer Program, which is offering nearly $3 million in grants to developers who integrate the kin (KIN) cryptocurrency into new or existing consumer applications. The application page exhorts developers to help us build a whole new digital world.”

The foundation governing Kik’s ecosystem is offering grants to up to 25 developers to create an app for earning and spending kin.

The digital currency was issued by Kik Interactive, the Canadian company behind the Kik Messenger app.

Making a Marketplace

Kik and its Kin ecosystem have something many blockchain companies don’t: name recognition and a large existing audience. That’s thanks to its messaging software, which dates back to 2010. But the company pivoted to the blockchain and a crypto-based revenue model to avoid being “copied and crushed” by online advertising leaders like Facebook and Google, as Kik founder Ted Livingston explained during the Consensus meeting in May.

Now the foundation that serves as the governance organization for Kik’s blockchain ecosystem is offering grants to up to 25 developers. The one mandatory requirement? “You must implement at least one custom peer-to-peer or spending opportunity,” the developer site says. Put more simply: “Give your users ways to earn and spend Kin in your app.”

In return, developers get promotion via the platform and a “consumer-ready cryptocurrency that can easily be integrated into mainstream apps and platforms,” Livingston said in the press release announcing the program. “The Kin Developer Program … also financially incentivizes developers to create natively with Kin, bringing us closer to our goal of becoming the most used cryptocurrency in the world,” he added.

Building the Back End

Tezos sees itself as a “blockchain governance protocol” that includes on-chain governance, which its backers argue will result in an ecosystem where users can change the rules of the road without resorting to a hard fork.

After a beta version of the Tezos blockchain launched at the end of June, its own governance organization announced its own grant-making program to “support the Tezos protocol and its community.”

Even ahead of the beta launch, the Tezos Foundation had committed funds to support nine organizations playing an active role in the development of the network. Their efforts included providing training for the OCaml programming language that drives Tezos, the development of a bug bounty program and work on a graphical wallet.

Now the Tezos Foundation has opened the call to organizations focused on one of three areas: research, development of tools and applications, and efforts to “strengthen and nurture the burgeoning Tezos community.”

“We look forward to supporting ideas sourced through our new grant-making process to foster a robust, diverse and active ecosystem,” the foundation said in the announcement of its grant program.

Mark Toner
Mark Toner is a Washington, D.C., writer and editor. He has covered business, technology, media, education, and healthcare for a wide range of trade and industry publications.