Meet the person who offered a comfy bed for ‘scrappy’ hackers during ETHDenver

Thousands of developers, hackers, and crypto and blockchain enthusiasts descended upon Denver, Colorado in the United States for the ETHDenver conference from Feb. 24 to Mar. 5.

With accommodation a limited resource in the Colorado capital city, many opted to seek refuge from the crowds and tight quarters at “hacker houses” — where sleep is optional and networking is the goal. 

Jessy, the name behind one such house — Jessy’s Hacker House — organized four “hacker houses” that hosted 50 participants from the ETHDenver conference and BUIDLWeek — a series of workshops and events as well as a BUIDLathon allowing teams to compete for prizes and investments.

Meeting with Cointelegraph at one of their houses on Feb. 28, Jessy and co-organizer Waylon Jepsen kept busy setting up posters and checking up on the guests’ comfort.

According to the hacker-house host, she had been working at a venture capital firm in 2022 during the last ETHDenver conference when a number of people based abroad posted on social media they were looking for a place to stay in the Colorado capital city. Like many in attendance at the 2022 event, Jessy and her house guests tested positive for COVID-19 but were still able to network and develop projects.

“The motivation previously was like ‘hey, these are cool people — let’s just host them and get to know them’,” said Jessy. “For the longest time, it was a vehicle for me to find my own co-founder and discover what ideas I wanted to join.”

Jessy at one of the hacker houses at ETHDenver 2023

“The magic happens when you carry the most relevant people […] We carry a diverse group of people. We have people who are very crypto native, we have people who are from academia who are doing cryptography and specific research […] You have people who are like 19, 18-year-olds — who are freshmen — who are just starting their career.”

The four “hacker houses” scattered around the Denver Metropolitan Area were home to more than 50 people as well as a few visitors during the week of the conference. Roughly 300 technical-minded individuals applied for a place to sleep and networking opportunities at the houses, which were funded by sponsors in the blockchain space and overseen by Jessy and Waylon.

A hacker house guest working away

Though Jessy said there were some financial incentives to participating in the hacker houses — e.g. connecting with VCs and potential co-founders — guests could also personally benefit from the experience. 

“You’re here to make long-term friends,” said Jessy. “I think the one model that we really have is play long-term games with long-term people. Part of the interview process is that we select people who we think fit the vibe, are genuine — genuine scrappy in the space.”

View of the Rocky Mountains from the roof of the hacker house

Related: Fake Ethereum Denver website linked to notorious phishing wallet

ETHDenver concluded on March 5, but other large conferences related to crypto and wallet in the immediate future include Paris Blockchain Week and Consensus in Austin, Texas. Though ETHDenver had not released official numbers on attendance at the time of publication, more than 30,000 people reportedly registered for the conference.

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