Cronos: How the Solana community helped the winners of the Riptide hackathon
It’s been a busy week for Nick Garfield.
“It's kind of a combination between euphoria and drowning,” he said on a recent call. On April 13th, his team’s project, Cronos, was named the Grand Champion of the Riptide hackathon — beating out nearly 7,000 other participants and 550+ projects.
And since Cronos is a tool meant to make building on Solana better for everyone, it’s no wonder so many people want to talk to him.
“[Cronos] is a task scheduler for Solana,” Garfiend said. “The main use case for this is to be able to drive background automations and background tasks.”
It could be a major deal for end users and create a better experience. “Particularly in DeFi right now, there's a UX pattern where everyone checks the tabs and clicks claim on everything,” he said. “Everything is still very manually-driven.”
Cronos originally came out of work that Garfield, founding engineer Elias Moreno, and his team did during the IGNITION hackathon on their project Faktor, a scheduled token transfer protocol meant to help with automated tasks like payroll.
But when the Cronos team attended mtnDAO, a community-run hacker house in Salt Lake City, they hit a breakthrough. “We discovered a way that we could generalize Faktor from only supporting token transfers to supporting any arbitrary instruction,” Garfield explained, “and that was where everything really accelerated.”
The team went from that idea's inception to mainnet in three weeks — thanks to some prodding from the Solana community
“We went to the Solana Hacker House in Seattle and met with [core Solana engineers] Jordan and Bartosz,” Garfield said. “They were giving a little bit of sh*t about it. They asked, ‘Where are you at?’ And I said, ‘Devnet.’ And they're like, ‘Okay, so you don't have anything’ — just kind of like joking, but they had a point…. Things work differently there.”
Cronos already has plans for the future, including a v2 restructuring that is scheduled to be ready by Breakpoint in November. But in the meantime, Garfield has some advice for aspiring builders: Get involved in the community to get feedback right away.
“Everything changes when you're talking with the people that will eventually use the protocol that you're building,” he says. “A lot of design and architectural choices that we made through our conversations with teams like MarginFi, Switchboard, and Friction. We just wouldn't have been able to make those decisions if we weren't talking to those teams.”
It’s a good thing they did.
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