There are various speculations about the future of the Web3 space. While many believe that the bad has outweighed the good in the decentralized realm, some consider the strict regulations and the bear market as a rough patch that is bound to get better with time.
Recently, as part of Humans of Web3, I had the opportunity to talk to Rahat Chowdhury. Formerly a lead DevRel engineer at Polygon and currently a head of DevRel at Biconomy, a Web3 developer and transaction infrastructure platform, Rahat is a staunch advocate of Web3 and he wholeheartedly embraces its principles and vision despite a climate of unease in the market.
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“I am just trying to dig in under all of the crap that exists on top and all of the noise and just find the stuff that will actually help people through Web3”, he shared, earnestly. However, Rahat was not always so confident about Web3. He was not even officially in the blockchain space until three years back. So, what factors contributed to his unshakable belief in the decentralized world today?
To begin with, Rahat’s journey is not as straightforward as you might think. He has had his fair share of personal challenges while grappling with lingering uncertainty about what he wanted to do prior to discovering Web3, something that provided him with an adrenaline surge.
I am just trying to dig in under all of the crap that exists on top and all of the noise and just find the stuff that will actually help people through Web3.
The first child of the Chowdhury family, Rahat was born in the city of Sylhet in Bangladesh. His parents relocated to New York City when he was as young as his daughter today, a two-year-old toddler. As someone who spent his formative years in a diverse and cosmopolitan city, Rahat quickly assimilated into the American way. “We first settled in a Dominican neighborhood so most of my friends were Hispanic”, he recalled.
His father worked odd jobs to provide him and his younger sister with the best education and opportunities. In fact, Rahat went to one of the distinguished schools, Bronx High School of Science, in town. “My father got me into a bunch of tutorial programs just so that I could study in that school”, Rahat mentioned.
Growing up, there was nothing specific that Rahat wanted to achieve or become. His interests oscillated between technology, gaming, and getting into law enforcement by joining the FBI. Only one of them persisted.
But before pursuing tech and eventually Web3, he embarked on a new journey altogether. “I got into music at the beginning of high school. By the end of it, I really, really wanted to become a rapper”, he shared. The music fever continued for some time. Rahat rapped and created his own beats. “I recorded some music during high school. Some of that stuff is available on Spotify but I won’t promote it. It’s pretty old”, he said, laughingly.
To make sure that his new passion paid the bills, he resorted to coding landing pages and making music for other musicians. This is also when he got into learning rudimentary front-end development and played around with WordPress and HTML. Although Rahat realized it way later, it was at this precise moment that he had established a deep connection with front-end engineering.
Unfortunately, he soon realized that music for him was just an outlet, a stress buster, and not something that would put food on the table. Providing music services to other musicians was a path Rahat didn’t want to take. Additionally, he did not want to deal with the business side of things while making music.
I was just a casual observer at the time. I was not involved on a technical level. I’d see a new coin, buy it, and hope it goes to the moon.
As soon as he dropped the idea of pursuing music as a career, college began. He went to a private university in New York known as Mercy College where he studied Computer Science. However, he didn’t learn much skills-wise apart from traditional Java and very algorithmic CS.
Post-college, he took the first job he got in 2015. Rahat outdid himself as a customer care training manager at Payoneer. It was during this time that he got exposed to the world of cryptocurrencies. He kept a close eye on what was happening in the coins-verse. So much so that his degen trading of Tron back in 2016-17 earned him enough to fund his own wedding. However, at this point, he was not considering pursuing a career in Web3. “I was just a casual observer at the time. I was not involved on a technical level. I’d see a new coin, buy it, and hope it goes to the moon”, he shared.
Lucky for Rahat, indecisiveness again knocked on his door. Just when he stood on the cusp of being promoted to the position of director of customer support, he got cold feet. Thus, around 2018, he decided to embark on what would change his life forever. Rahat got admission to a coding camp by Columbia Engineering Boot Camp. The coding camp served as an opportunity for him to rekindle his love for front-end development. “I didn’t actually learn to code until that boot camp. It provided me with hands-on practical experience. It helped me tremendously to change my career path”, Rahat acknowledged.
Subsequently, in 2019, he started working as a software engineer with a focus on front-end development at American Express, a job he landed by specifically volunteering at a conference, Full Stack NYC, because he could not afford the ticket to go as a guest. In fact, it was at a similar conference that Rahat came to know about the term DevRel and the responsibilities associated with it.
His interest in Web3 had now progressed to an advanced stage. “At one point, I had decided to become a DevRel. But I was advised to focus on engineering for a few years as a robust development background comes in handy in a DevRel role. I’m grateful that I followed that piece of advice”, shared Rahat, satisfactorily. At this point, Rahat already had a deep-seated awareness that he would be a perfect fit for a DevRel role but he chose to gain more engineering experience. In the meanwhile, he kept exploring Web3 on his own and started to share his learnings on Twitter.
Fast forward to 2021, the growth potential within Web2 companies fell short of Rahat’s expansive ambitions. This was also the time of the NFT boom. “I was getting more and more interested in the Web3 space aside from trading coins and buying monkey pictures”, Rahat shared. As a result, he started to freelance and in fact, added to some NFT projects which ended up becoming rug pulls and he felt about contributing to them later on.
At one point, I had decided to become a DevRel. But I was advised to focus on engineering for a few years as a robust development background comes in handy in a DevRel role. I’m grateful that I followed that piece of advice.
After switching multiple jobs, donning various hats, and excelling in different roles in the Web2 space, Rahat eventually gave into his dream of making it big in Web3. A defining moment in this journey was when he met Nader Dabit, the founder of DeveloperDAO, a grassroots movement with tens of thousands of developers creating a better internet. Dabit knew Rahat from his insightful tweets. The two kept in touch and contributed to building DeveloperDOA.
While working with Dabit and the team, Rahat realized a need for a virtual conference/hackathon. He, along with other developers, completely engaged himself in setting up the famous DeveloperDAO virtual conference known as Web3Con. The conference had different speakers and major sponsors like Polygon. Web3Con marked the beginning of Rahat’s journey as a DevRel. He knew that he had stunned everyone and was the focus of their attention.
✨ Learn development on Polygon: Build your own web3 Twitter dApp with Solidity
Coincidently, around the same time, Polygon was hiring individuals for the role of DevRel and Rahat had his friend put in a word for him. Fast forward to the ETH Global event in Denver, he got a call from Muskan Kalra, head of the DevRel team at Polygon, who inquired whether he would be at the event. “I went straight to my wife and told her that I’m going to Denver. My wife reacted with a mix of shock and anger. She wasn’t sure if this trip would be a good use of my time. I told her that it is one of those rare cases where I’m right and you’re wrong”, Rahat shared, jokingly.
Rahat trusted his instincts and was proven right. In March 2022, he finally got his first DevRel job at Polygon. Within the next six months, based on his performance, Rahat was promoted to the position of lead DevRel engineer. That very year, Polygon saw a whopping 60% increase in the dApps that were launched on its platform. In the last quarter of the same year, the number of live applications in the ecosystem rose to 29%. Furthermore, the number of monthly active teams on Polygon reached 13,700, an increase of 27%. Not only that, Polygon also undertook some paramount projects such as helping the Brazil-headquartered digital bank, Nubank, to make the transition from Web2 to Web3.
I went straight to my wife and told her that I’m going to Denver. My wife reacted with a mix of shock and anger. She wasn’t sure if this trip would be a good use of my time. I told her that it is one of those rare cases where I’m right and you’re wrong”
But Rahat craved for more space to evolve and grow. He preferred chaos. In its purest and most untainted form. So, he joined Biconomy as their head of DevRel in early 2023. He started with building a proper DevRel experience. A lot of his work today is centered around making sure the documentation is good, creating tutorials, etc. Moreover, at Biconomy, he wholeheartedly cherishes the freedom to experiment.
Since then life for Rahat has been what his name means – comfortable and peaceful. He is earning more in the Web3 space than he did in Web2. Additionally, the remote job allows him to travel and go to exotic locations, which has been an enthralling experience. However, one downside of traveling extensively is that his daughter tends to miss him when he is not home.
Lastly, on being asked what he thinks of the Web3 space with regard to the air of uncertainty around it, Rahat shared that he sees a lot of positive stories coming from the Global South. For instance, women in Afghanistan are not allowed to have bank accounts in the wake of the oppressive Taliban regime and the sanctions inflicted by the US government. However, some of them are able to achieve financial freedom through Bitcoin and cryptocurrency wallets. That instance added a lot of meaning to Rahat’s work and gave it a purpose. “My motive to stick to Web3 is to solely help people improve their lives. After a long period of toiling, I’m glad that I have found my calling in Web3”, Rahat concluded.
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.