The Web3 space today is divided into two different groups: those who have already anticipated the failure of the decentralized domain and those who think of Web3 as the future of the Internet. One’s opinion, to a great extent, is dictated by what social media echo chamber one is a part of.
While opinions can be agreed and disagreed upon, stories and experiences tend to depict a near-perfect picture. One such story is that of Viral Sangani, 23, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing while he was attending the ETH Global event in Paris.
Currently serving as a DevRel at Celo, a job he landed because the recruiter stumbled upon the articles and guides that he wrote online, it is indeed intriguing to learn that Viral did his early schooling at a Gujarati Medium school at Vapi, a city in South Gujarat.
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Celo is a popular mobile-first EVM-compatible blockchain. Available in over 800 different cities and 150-plus countries, it is one of the fastest-growing Web3 companies. For Viral, it all started when his father brought him a second-hand computer. “It was one of those Pentium 4 single-core CPUs”, he elaborated. Little did he know that his early interaction with technology and his failed attempts at trying to mine BTC by installing random software at the mere age of 14 would play such a pivotal role in landing him what he calls an “ideal job” at 22.
My life would have been on a very different trajectory had I not changed my major to Computer Science.
“I don’t think it was at all planned”, expressed Viral, referring to his current remote job that includes perks like traveling, creative freedom, and good pay. However, he believes that there have been moments in his life whose effect snowballed to get him where he is today. Growing up in a family, with parents who never coerced him into pursuing a certain field and an elder brother who served as a constant source of inspiration and motivation, Viral always had the freedom to choose.
His first key moment was when he was all primed and ready to follow in his brother’s footsteps to become the second Electrical Engineer in his family only to change his decision in the nick of time. With immense joy and satisfaction, he proclaimed, “I’m grateful that I changed my major to Computer Science because otherwise, my life would have been on a very different trajectory altogether”.
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What followed paved the way for Viral and he learned not only his strengths but also the fact that he is passionate about building projects and prototypes from scratch. However, things were not always how he wanted them to be. “It upsets me that syllabuses in colleges are never updated. There was no difference between what I was studying and what students 20 years ago learned”, Viral lamented.
But he knew that if he were to achieve something and utilize his time wisely, he would have to step up. “Fortunately, when I was in college, one could get a Udemy course for under 200 INR and this is how I upskilled myself and learned everything that I did including coding a simple blockchain”, he recalled.
My main source of learning remains the college hackathons that I partook in.
While he had his own reservations about college, he accepted that college also provided him with lots of different opportunities. “My main source of learning remains the college hackathons that I partook in”, shared Viral. In fact, it was in one of the hackathons, organized by Devfolio and Matic, in 2019 that he got in close contact with blockchain technology and Web3. Responsible for solving a problem that had to do with rainwater harvesting, Viral, and his team built an IoT plus blockchain project. This was the time when he dug deeper into decentralization, and learned more about Ethereum and the DAO.
One would expect that at this point, he would have started hunting for jobs in Web3. However, Viral’s story is more topsy-turvy than you think. Perhaps he was still unsure about Web3 so he decided to hustle towards Web2. A rising senior now in 2020, juggling online classes and job hunting, Viral came across the Job Challenge by Tanay Pratap, a Microsoft employee based in Bangalore then. One of the 20 selected participants from the first cohort, Viral worked on coding three projects and writing two articles over the course of 3 months. Upon the successful completion of the Challenge, Pratap recommended him to a Bangalore-based Web2 company known as GeekyAnts.
After having spent the rest of the senior year as an intern mainly responsible for Flutter development, Viral was subsequently promoted to a full-time position as a Software Developer. Task-based work gave him a lot of free time at hand. This was when he started applying for different roles at various Web3 start-ups and companies. “I started applying for different roles at the likes of MetaMask, Ethereum, etc. but it all went in vain as I received no response”, he shared, laughingly.
But as the Scottish Playwright, J.M. Barrie, once said, “If it is meant to be, it will be”, it did happen after all. While looking for some crucial information, he ended up on the second page of Google, a rare event, and found an opportunity that ended up becoming his ticket to Web3. Figment’s program served as an excellent opportunity to craft technical content, and how-to guides related to different blockchains while earning tokens as compensation. Luckily, Viral seized the chance and participated, but regrettably, the program is no longer available. However, this was the beginning of a glorious journey.
“I wrote around 9-10 articles for the next 6 months. For each article, I got some tokens in return. The articles I wrote were mostly for Celo, Avalanche, and Polygon”, mentioned Viral. He also shared that one of his explainer articles is a 1.5-hour long read and it is available on his blog. He was coding a prototype and writing an article on it every 20-25 days. While the program was discontinued, the articles remained. On one fine day, while he was still working as a developer at GeekyAnts, Viral got an email from the recruiter of Celo only to find out that he had been approached on Twitter and LinkedIn before too but somehow missed the messages.
Writing technical articles and putting myself out there helped me land a job at a Web3 company that has witnessed exponential growth in recent times. I can’t see any other reason I would have been noticed!
Over the moon, on top of the world, this was the moment Viral had been waiting for. He instantly accepted the invitation to be interviewed. And lo and behold! His efforts bore fruit and he secured a job as a DevRel. “Initially they thought that I only knew Java Script. Soon they realized that I knew about cybersecurity and creating secure mobile applications, websites, etc.” Viral expressed, humbly. What is fascinating is that he never applied for the position. It was the articles on his blog that impressed the recruiter.
“My time at Celo has been great since I joined them in June 2022”, he shared. At the start, he was responsible for creating tooling for Web3 developers to build on Celo along with writing various articles. With time, his roles and responsibilities also changed. He shared how he ideated and developed a website, which mints tokens, for the visitors who visit Celo’s stall at various events. Viral also mentioned that he always knew that his job would involve traveling, however, he couldn’t do so last year in the wake of the bear market. “It has been a phenomenal experience now that I have started traveling. I was in Tokyo earlier this year. I also plan to represent Celo in New York in September and then in Istanbul at the end of the year”, he stated, with sheer optimism. He shared that he has come a long, long way and he is grateful to everyone, his teachers, family, friends, and mentors, who supported him.
Currently based in Bangalore with his brother and his family, Viral shared that he loves the city to bits. He shared that the Bangalore weather can never be beaten; tech startups and community meetups are very accessible and the city is home to the best vacation spots. He also expressed his views on people’s perception towards cryptocurrencies and Web3 in light of the FTX scandal and SEC regulations. He considered it as a temporary sentiment and firmly believed in the bright future of Web3.
Lastly, on being asked what he plans to do next, he said, “there are a lot of opportunities in the Web3 space and I continue to aspire to grow better and more knowledgeable”.
Humans of Web3 is a flagship program of Metaschool and its sole aim is to highlight and bring to the fore individuals’ Web3 journeys that go unsung. If you are someone or know someone who has had such a journey, you may reach out on Twitter (@0xmetaschool) for a quick chat.