EthRio Impact Report (Matt McDonald)

EthRio Impact Report (Matt McDonald)

In this retrospective report, Harmony aims to reflect on our experiences at EthRio. This feedback is taken from the Harmony Event Operations team, contributors, and ecosystem partners. Establishing an open forum allows us the feedback needed to celebrate victories and humbly review areas that we can improve on as we move forward.

By: Matty McDonald

First, a moment to reflect and few things to celebrate:

Web3 aims to change the world. To erase the lines that divide us, celebrate the qualities that make us unique, and create equality in opportunity. As an idealist, I get butterflies at the thought of this change. Sometimes; however, we don’t know what those “X’s” and “O’s” look like. We do the best with the knowledge we have, even if that means we unknowingly create assumptions to bridge that knowledge or experience gap. After all, our hearts are always in the right place.

Harmony prepared for EthRio with a singular goal: to build strong connections with the LatAm community through sharing Harmony’s culture, vision, and empowering local builders with opportunities at a grant to launch their projects on Harmony. As main event sponsors, we knew the platform could provide us with an immediate way to make a strong impact. We launched Project Y, an initiative designed to offer spot grants to new LatAm web3 projects with the hopes of onboarding many new builders into the Harmony family.

Once we arrived; however, we realized that all of the preparation in the world could only take us so far - real impact is made when we quiet our minds, our initiatives, our measures of “ROI”. This wasn’t about us. This was about the relationship. Meeting them where they are at; not asking them to meet us where we are. We may have the tools, but it was not our place to call the shots. Until we have felt the earth of the regions we visit run through our own two hands, we can’t begin to develop the proper cultural understanding needed to decide how change can begin to occur. It is when we choose to listen to the needs of the community, from community leaders themselves, that we realize that the path to radical change is through them. They lead the charge, and they deserve the credit. Our duty is to ensure the door to web3 is wide open for everyone to enter, and to empower those who enter with the tools needed to achieve their mission. I am very proud of our team for collectively recognizing this, and shifting their focus quickly to maximize the impact made at EthRio.

This is just the beginning. We have much work to do. I am proud to be a part of a great team of people with huge hearts, strong conviction, and the humility to keep on growing. I look forward to continuing to build these deep connections with our LatAm community and other countries across the world.

With this said, let’s celebrate a few achievements:

  1. 5 additional speaking engagements (8 total) granted by EthRio due to the passion and mission of the Harmony team and our connection to the community.
  2. 40+ new projects funded, including several projects aimed at onboarding thousands into web3.
  3. Partnership with PODS, Blockchain for Humanity, and Museu de Favelas to build a hacker house that will provide education and income opportunities to local builders, reducing the need to engage in drug trafficking or other high-risk paths to income.
  4. 5 of the 12 hackathon projects deploying on Harmony, including the winner and runner-up.
  5. 40 LatAm and Blu3 scholars sponsored, leading to a diversity of exciting projects launched on Harmony.
  6. First ever Harmony TGI Soccer/Futebol Tournament to bring together LatAm builders and scholars.
  7. Strong relationships built with the local community and existing Harmony ecosystem partners.

Initiatives that worked that we should continue:

  1. I think that we need to continue to go to places like Brazil that are in need of Web3 infrastructure. It was very clear to me after going that this is where the opportunity is, this is where we will have the biggest impact. Places like South America, places like Africa...we can really make a world of difference in those parts of the world just by being present and listening to the needs of the people and cultures and communities of those regions. There is massive opportunity to empower people in those regions, and I would argue that it is in Harmony’s best interest to double down on its LatAm and African initiatives.
  2. Continue to host regional specific events, such as the soccer tournament, NFT workshop for locals, and boat hangout. We had a great time, the community loved it, and in the end, our efforts resulted in 5 out of 12 hackathon projects deploying on Harmony - including the winner and runner up.
  3. Continue to sponsor scholars: this makes a huge difference because not only do they serve as Harmony ambassadors, they are also talented and may build on Harmony as well, as seen in Rio. Additionally, continuing to increase diversity in web3 in order to produce a ripple effect within the communities we seek to reach.
  4. We need to keep doing regional events with a regional flavor. As we did this time, we should hire local event organizers, find local contributors, and bring local scholars. We need to keep thinking in a scalable way. Bringing projects that are ready to reach larger amounts of people - these organizations do not have to go and find members, they already have hundreds or thousands of members, affiliates, etc.
  5. There has always been an atmosphere of respect and good vibes, which defines the people that Harmony wants to attract. This will never change.
  6. Ensuring adequate representation of Harmony core team and contributors given the local context. For example, team members speaking the local language or coming from the region.
  7. Empowering attendees that are “in the field” with event-specific investment projects for the purpose of generating greater personalized impact in the ecosystem and in people’s lives.
  8. The collaboration from all members in Rio to help each other and figure the best way to do things, specially when we need to improvise.
  9. I think it’s important to keep this more open-minded talk, especially between the team. Everyone realized, for example, that the metrics were not a “one-size-fits-all” and worked together to reach consensus.
  10. Team collaboration was great. People are super open minded and open to start conversations with.
  11. Working together effectively on the booth, at interactive events, and at hackathons. By helping align new contacts with projects and teams that they would work well with, we are supporting the overall growth of the ecosystem as well as our relationships of cooperation and friendship.
  12. I think that the Blu3 scholarship program was a huge success - providing real impact to local scholars, obtaining their contribution to the DAO, and also support of Harmony’s events. This is a win-win situation for all. It makes me tear up, seeing humanity at a very authentic and real level - with scholars helping each other write proposals and going their way out to “make each others dreams come true”. Blu3 scholars serve as Harmony ambassadors and are multi-talented given our rigorous screening process. Many people now hear about Harmony or Blu3 because of the scholar representation.

Initiatives that DID NOT work that we should stop:

  1. Guidelines should not be given to projects wanting to get funding for any Project X or Y. Guidelines instead need to be given to the staff similar to ETHDenver (example: no doubling up on investments/grants, etc... those guidelines keep the staff on point). To go into a new territory and impose limitations on grants is not the right spirit, when in fact we really just need to go out there and listen to the people and their needs. Nobody knew what a Social Token was. To have that be a guideline was completely out of touch with the community and made us seem very “1st world” in our approach. The people on the ground were very clear that what mattered to them was education and accessibility. A social token by nature actually limits accessibility. It essentially is a membership. That’s fine in a 1st world country when you are trying to create exclusive experiences as incentives. But in a 3rd world country we have to be more sensitive in how we approach this by creating funding that is entirely inclusive and without barriers to entry.
  2. We should stop imposing our own “guidelines” on project funding in LatAm and other markets because many projects fall outside the scope of our 1st world conception of where the industry is at. This imposes limitations on great projects where Harmony can have an impact. Then we will be their blockchain of choice when more mass adoption happens. We should listen to what builders are already working on for their own communities.
  3. I believe it’s important to keep the event-specific investment figures private. If we announce figures that are extremely high in certain regions, we risk attracting unwanted attention, “cash-grab” projects, and we lose authenticity in the interactions with the builders. A solid idea/project will surface on its own, as it should have that intrinsic motivation to be fulfilled, with or without a grant. These ideas/projects that have authenticity and a focus on themselves are the ones that will bring sustainable value.
  4. Specific to the LATAM region, I believe we should enter these spaces listening more than talking. Trust needs to be built with these communities, which takes time. The more we enable local projects/organizations to take the lead in putting on events, with Harmony playing more of a “supportive role”, the faster we can reach the community in an authentic way.
  5. I have realized that some of the local folks require nurturing and support for them to “grow and step into the leadership roles”. But with the support and influence of the Blu3 core team and Harmony team, they were able to do what was once thought to be “impossible”. To be successful, we need to be willing to provide grantees with on-going support, training, and networking. Funding alone is a start, but not sufficient to be sustainable.
  6. My suggestion is to have the Harmony event person be alleviated from their “ordinary responsibilities”, because it takes A LOT to organize events such as this. The person has to be 100% on ground solving issues and be 100% engaged. It is impossible to do both jobs well at the same time and also to avoid any burn out from amazing core team members.

Ideas for improving at future conferences:

  1. From now on, the video team needs a rental car straight from the airport for any foreign activation like this. Safety is paramount and we need the ability to move quickly and dynamically when situations change.
  2. One thing we need to start doing is creating a connecting thread between events. What made ETHDenver special was that each activation led to a bigger purpose or celebration. By engaging people to participate early with incentives such as a party or gathering on the final day, we are building a week long narrative as opposed to disconnected events that touch on different things. The entire experience should reward those who “show up” and engage the most. With 1Wallet approaching release, we can use that to activate more people into our ecosystem and incentivize a ramp up in participation as word begins to spread.
  3. We need to see a conference through. I understand it was a special circumstance to have the creative team leave early for SXSW, but if we go to a conference, those that go need to stay until the conference is over and not leave mid-way through. This is how longer term relationships are built.
  4. More pre-production for shoots so we’re not carrying extra equipment.
  5. We need to start doing events for local partners like we did in DCentral Miami. Also, we need to start sponsoring local small events, as we have done with Harmony Hangouts (HHO)
  6. It would be amazing to have a QR code to assist potential grantees to the grant guidelines, our forum, and any other materials we may need to communicate quickly. Also, a form that can help us keep track of those we made connections with at the event.
  7. Communicate important initiatives such as Project X/Y and our grant programs ahead of time and having someone run a Q&A meeting/group chat to ensure everyone has indeed been notified, the guidelines have been understood, and any pending questions are clarified. Discussing all internal aspects: timeline, process, requirements, forms for grantees. Also, instituting a clear process to help grantees write and submit a proper proposal, how to start a DAO, create a multi-sig, and mint social tokens. If we are funding something and have a requirement, we need to have a proper roll out in terms of education and training.
  8. Host/sponsor LOCAL workshops on how to DAO, how to launch/mint NFT collections, etc as well as host local “Hacker Hubs” to help foster the sustainable adoption of Web3 in these communities. Additionally, encourage/compensate the local communities to translate materials/videos in Spanish and Portuguese to increase access to existing/new materials.
  9. Start lining up more slots for Harmony ecosystem projects to speak at events. Speaking is a great chance for all of us to bring more attention towards Harmony and these slots should be identified before the event.
  10. Communication between ecosystem partners and the Harmony team for targets during the event that we can achieve together to help both the Harmony brand and the individual project.

Survey Results:

The team was asked to rank, on a level of 0 to 10, 5 questions regarding the performance of Event Operations. The questions and the average response is listed below:

  1. Event Operations worked effectively as a team.
    1. Result: 8.9 / 10
  2. Event Operations worked effectively with the venues, sponsors, and event managers.
    1. Result: 8.6 / 10
  3. Event Operations fulfilled the goals of Harmony at EthRio.
    1. Result: 8.3 / 10
  4. Event Operations met their deliverables.
    1. Result: 8.1 / 10
  5. Event Operations produced high quality work.
    1. Result: 8.6 / 10
  6. I would work with the Harmony Event Team again.
    1. Result: 9.9 / 10

Qualitative Feedback:

What is the BEST thing about your experience at EthRio?

The best part of ETHRio was perspective. You really leave that place seeing how much bigger this thing called Web3 is. These are the people that will be affected most by it, and we need to double down on our efforts to empower regions like this.
Being able to see an idea that Boris and I thought of transform into a reality where we are changing lives. It was amazing to be able to see web3 projects changing lives and to be able to support them through Harmony’s funding, which only gives me more motivation to keep empowering more underprivileged communities throughout the world.
For me, the best was the alliances we created with local projects with large reach, like Museu de Favelas. Getting to know that we can actually change lives of people, really changed my perspective of how we can actually make an impact in the crypto world.
Team, team, and team. Booth look & feel. The site was amazing and also the very first booth that possible candidates saw. The amphitheater and audio were both great. Connecting with Afrogames at the booth and going to the Favela to know the project and the community it serves in person. My heart comes back home shaken and changed.
As a latino, it was moving to see so many people wanting to educate, onboard and empower the LATAM community with their projects, as well as showing a general interest and enthusiasm towards Web3. I saw more women-led projects in ETH Rio, an important indicator for inclusivity, sustainability and ecosystem health.
The community, the community, and the COMMUNITY. Incredibly passionate and committed people who have “skin in the game” and are personally invested in growing the Web3 ecosystem in their local communities.
The community was definitely the biggest point for me. It was great seeing so many people trying to build projects and network together while also trying to help others
The talks of collaboration in the community were amazing! We’re all trying to achieve similar goals of epic change, and the talks about how we can work together to achieve these goals were simply amazing. Let’s continue this!!

What was the WORST thing about your experience at EthRio?

The worst thing about ETHRio was the logistics. The venues were in nice buildings that were far from the hotels. Traffic was pretty bad to and from. All that being said, the venues were beautiful.
That I left too early. Was meeting great projects and builders and left early for SXSW. Although it went well at SXSW helping onboard users to 1wallet, I believe I could have been more effective for the team by continuing to meet and further relationships in Brazil / LatAm.
Theft around pick-pocketing, that being during the day or night regardless.
General safety, theft of smart phones is common and unfortunately effected a few of our members.
That I didn’t get more time to spend with all the amazing people there.

Would you want to work with Event Ops again?

Absolutely. This team really does care. Two things I would work on: Get multiple points of view as far as scouting activation locations. While our hotel activations were awesome, I feel it’s the easy way out. A more memorable experience would be to do proper scouts, either in person or via proxy. The second thing I would work on is the connective tissue of the events. Each event needs to have a purpose and have a connecting fiber to the next. That aside, I really do think that our events team is top notch from an operational standpoint and they really care about leaving each event with knowledge of how to make it better the next time around. Mainly, I think the creative could use a tad bit more investment.
Of course. We have some warriors on the event ops team who work relentlessly, and it is a pleasure to be a part of it. The team is always supportive and we have each others back regardless of the situation. Aside from event ops, I feel like everybody on the team has the right personality and their own unique way of contributing to Harmony’s ambitions.
Of course. No doubt.
Absolutely. Every individual has intrinsic motivation and is aligned with Harmony’s vision for ecosystem growth and radical social impact. It’s great to find a team with this synergy.
Most definitely. We have many different skill sets that compliment our efforts well. People are always willing to jump in to help, regardless the task.
Yes. Definitely.
1000000% yes. The team is fantastic and friendly, and if we work together effectively we can achieve some incredible change in the world

Team Open Forum:

Feel free to add in any extra commentary below. This is an opportunity to call out particular “Heroes”, identify potential flaws that could have caused bigger problems, and basically add anything that isn’t captured in the sections above.


I’m super grateful for the team that helped put EthRio together and enabled us to be there. I particularly wanted to shout out Matty and Boris for leading the team before the event and on the ground. Coming off of a grueling two week event at ETHDenver, Matty was still recovering from being sick as he was planning for ETHRio. Despite this, he still managed to organize the team and create an impeccable Notion page, which is now being used as the template for all events. Moreover, even after the unfortunate event of Matty’s phone being stolen, and a painstaking process to regain control of his accounts, he was still able to power through the week professionally and effectively, along with extra support from the rest of the team and scholars. Boris led much of the LATAM efforts and made it a point to have Portuguese/Spanish speaking staff/contributors in order to show up authentically in Rio. I saw many people step up in admirable ways, including Jose who maybe spoke to every scholar at ETHRio and provided priceless feedback/guidance on funding proposals. Juan who rocked the Harmony booth, made many connections and helped engage conference goers about Harmony Protocol. I saw Amy, Novell, and Al work around the clock to make sure the Blu3 DAO scholars were well informed and taken care of. Many people that I have not mentioned played a significant role in making ETHRio a success which all goes to show that you need a village to produce the quality that we do.


This was an incredible trip that I will always remember. I’d like to give a few shoutouts to the Harmony team members I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to more.

Boris - An incredible commander who wants to make a difference for Latin America and anyone he can help. Always a phenomenal person to talk to and it was a pleasure to have more interactions with him.

Matty - So friendly to the point it can hurt him (sorry about the phone mate). Only wish I got more time to speak as our goals are clearly aligned.

Jose - The friendly giant with a heart of gold! Jose brings a super vibrant and happy presence to the Harmony team, and his excitement for helping create change is a testimony to his character.

Cristiano - An incredibly bright guy who was constantly aware of what was going on at Rio. He has some great projects in the works and I have no doubt they will do amazing with his brilliant mind helping lead them.

Juan - How many friendly people can you meet at one event? Juan was a pleasure to be around and was nice enough to start teaching us very valuable information about staking! A great teacher who seeks to help others succeed!

Semar - A brilliant person with immense levels of intelligence. Having a few drinks with him I learned about his journey into Harmony and I hope it will be a long one so I can talk to him again and again! He was very helpful with MAD and introduced us to our amazing new dev Pedro. Thank you again!

PJ - My new amigo who I had many good times with! PJ is dedicated to helping people and has so many great people skills (not all of them involve backflips). He was always on hand with anyone who needed help, and besides being a bro, he’s an incredible asset to Harmony and will continue building a great atmosphere within Harmony.

Danny - Danny is that guy everyone wants to be friends with. An extremely vibrant personality while also being an incredibly hard worker! There’s nothing but love and happiness in his heart and he spreads that to everyone he meets. And with his video skills he helps share that happiness for everyone who wasn’t able to make it to these amazing events!

Adrian - A super easy person to talk to who instantly makes you feel welcome. Like Danny, his dedication to his work is commendable, starting early and finishing late to make sure the mission is captured. Only wish we got to speak more!

Noura / Gabby - I pair these two together for obvious reasons, they’re both incredible. From meeting them in Miami to a reunion in Rio, I never felt the absence of their pure energy in our communications. Two seriously brilliant people who deserve all the praise in the world for their immediately warm and welcoming personalities. Love you guys!

Douglas - Saving perhaps the best for last, Douglas… well what can I say? The most helpful, friendly and encouraging person Brasil could offer. Always thinking of other before himself and is a beyond sincere person. This man deserves everything good to come to him because he will pass it on 10-fold. Thank you again Douglas!!


I am so grateful that we were able to organize this event the way we did it. It was a pleasure to work with every member of the team. Matty. We were charged to make this happen and we succeeded, it would not have been possible without you. Even when you faced the less-friendly part of the city you kept working and helping people. I am infinitely grateful and lucky, let’s have this be the first of many projects! Danny. When we started this conversation back in November I never thought it was going to be this big and complex, so your support, extremely good vibes, and over-the-top work ethics made it easier for everyone to make it happen. I sincerely hope you help us increase our reach in LatAm, and lead our way so we can create a narrative of what we want to achieve here. Adrian. I am just so happy that you could make it, not only your input on how we should present our narrative is invaluable, but your grasp on Harmony’s culture has helped me a lot on how I talk and think about Harmony. PJ. You helped us in so many aspects that I don’t even know where to start. These conferences require that everyone steps up and get their hands dirty, so I am glad you were in the trenches with the team. Also, I am impressed on how you approached the community and the scholars, so they could get closer to Harmony. Cristiano. One can only be grateful of counting with someone with so much knowledge and so in-line with Harmony’s culture, so I am happy you came, and I am looking forward to the next time I have the chance to work with you, and also would like to see how you can help us take what we learned here to events in Europe. Jose. Thanks for becoming our go to guy for DAOs, grants, etc. I have heard so many good things about how you help anyone and everyone, that I sincerely hope we can keep counting with you to help us grow the ecosystem. You did an amazing job!!! Semar. Our man in Brazil. I was thrilled and really impressed with your tech skills, but even more, it was really amazing how you amalgamated with the group, it seemed that you have been part of the team for years! I am really looking forward to establish a strong presence in Brazil and Mercosur, and I hope you can help us lead the effort. Juan. Vini, Vidi, Vici. Thanks for all the help. Yes you are a capable and knowledgeable person, but also are a people’s person. Your workshop rocked and every single person that went for information got what they were looking from you. Let’s replicate these experiences on the European front!

Noura / Gabi. The dynamic duo! Thanks for doing such a big effort of coming to Rio, as always having you in the team is a BIG plus, let’s keep working on increasing our outreach all over the world. So, please keep coming and taking even bigger roles from now on. Douglas. This was a BIG surprise, Douglas helped us so much and blended perfectly with the team. So, I hope we can keep expanding the local community together, you have many ideas, let’s make them a reality. MUITO OBRIGADO!


When throwing events, there needs to be a creative thread that connects everything that leaves the user with the feeling like it was an experience. Currently we are approaching events as a day by day thing, but I challenge everyone to connect each day and build the narrative as each day goes by, ultimately building to a climactic ending where many projects are funded and a memorable gathering is had by all.

The team that goes needs to finish. We shouldn’t be leaving events halfway through.

It’s clear that 3rd world countries are who need Web3 the most. We can really empower so many people to better their lives if we come in with open minds, open ears, and really listen to the needs of the community. We need to create opportunities, not restrictions on funding. 1st world ideas, like social tokens, need to be put aside for the greater purpose: onboarding people who have the will to learn but need access and the tools to succeed. Marcia from Favelas made it very clear: the choice is oftentimes to either get involved in high risk work (violence, drugs, etc) or to educate and empower. I think we can have a massive impact, but we have to be open to listening to the needs of the people on the ground instead of trying to fill the mandates of the guidelines.

Overall I’m super proud of what we accomplished. We were able to shine with at least 5 extra speaking slots, most of which were given due to the importance of the value we were bringing to the table. We were able to empower the community with the proper funding they needed to onboard future generations of Web3 developers, and we most importantly gained perspective. I am looking forward to returning with the mindset of doubling down on our efforts to really empower the people.


SO many heroes to call out so let me try my best to summarize...

Lana and Kate and Novell - for truly making the impossible possible from promoting and running applications, selecting such an impressive batch of scholars internationally to onboarding in 5 days by working around the clock with no pay but just pure passion!

Jose for being so gracious in helping out all our scholars with their Project Y funding proposals. I’ve heard so many of them thank you for your genuine love and support.

Jeff for supporting Blu3 in every way possible and even inviting me to speak with you at the main conference hackathon to call out the racial discrimination event that happened the prior night so we can make a difference.

Juan, Semar, Al, and Estie for being so quick to present and speak during our Harmony workshop for Blu3 scholars so we can all level up together in Harmony.

Boris and Matty for being so ready to support us in every way possible so that Blu3 events can happen seamlessly with Harmony’s schedule - from allowing us to speak on a moment’s notice to ensuring scholars get what they need for an incredible experience.

And of course Riofiestaa crew PJ and Danny for making every night come alive because memories are created after 1am 🙂

And my teammate Christiano and new Brazilian favorite Douglas for sharing your insights and wisdom with me as we hosted ETHRio together.

Not forgetting some of our impressive Blu3 scholars: Daphne for being a true leader from ensuring scholars credit hold were released to standing up for racial discrimination for our local leaders and hosting a liquidity workshop on last day for our scholars. Jaycee for taking the lead and hosting TGI soccer cup. Melonie for being an amazing events lead and scholars check-in to ensure everyone was alright. Aminta and Will for taking beautiful photos and always making me smile especially on days that were hard. Chris and Al for taking care of me and my sister while we take care of everyone else.

Such. An. Epic. Trip. THANK YOU. 💖