171 Studio, NFT and Community Incubator

171 Studio: a call to action

The NEAR NFT community has been going through turbulent times these past months. We have previously posted an analysis of the market situation and our thoughts on how to improve this:

Current Problems with the NEAR NFT Landscape

Identify, Incubate, Accelerate

Since then our concerns have only become more relevant and I think everyone will agree with us that things need to change. We have been working for several months with both NEAR community stakeholders and the NEAR Foundation to propose a workable solution and to find common ground. However, some of you are aware that we have recently started to publicly voice our concerns regarding the lack of feedback and urgency from the NEAR Foundation.

Due to the above reasons, we have decided to share more of our latest proposal and be transparent with our mission with the NEAR community. Various key topics within our proposal require input from community stakeholders, one of them being our Mentors in Residence initiative. We have changed our approach to the following: initially, we proposed a Venture Capital fund solution that is fully self-sustainable. This is the solution we also discussed at NEARCON with the leadership of the Foundation. However, we understood that this solution was not something the Foundation deemed feasible. We were more than happy to work with the limited feedback they provided to us and have since then put forward more solution proposals. Following true to the Foundation’s motto, “Show us you can walk and we will help you run”, we have aggregated the brightest minds in Web 3 to create a venture studio dedicated to supporting the emerging brand’s in NEAR’s NFT Ecosystem.

Illia’s latest gov post has definitely resonated with us and this is the reason why we feel that it is the correct moment for us to bring our solution to the wider community. We believe that our latest proposal provides for a fast-paced, aggressive and sustainable solution to solve key issues in the NFT ecosystem and to lay the foundations for a thriving NFT ecosystem, which is something all of us desire.

Now more than ever, we require open communication and positive action from the Foundation, as talented founders and key projects have been forced to migrate to other chains to keep their visions alive. The way the NEAR Foundation has handled the discussions over these past months has profoundly shown to us their underestimation of the seriousness of the situation and their lack of ambition when it comes to NFTs. This is why we feel that projects migrating to other chains have had to make a difficult but rational decision. It is unfortunate that it required a mass migration of core teams and communities to highlight the urgency of this situation to the Foundation, but it’s the wake-up call we all needed.

From the first meeting we had we have always intended for our solution to be community-based and collaborative with NEAR ecosystem projects, we do not seek to be “kingmakers”. From this point forward we want to actively start talking with anyone interested in playing a role in our solution. We want to be inclusive and our only goal is to make NEAR the best blockchain for NFT products.

171 Studio

“Mass adoption is our north star, and everything we measure feeds into it.”

The goal of 171 Studio is to positively impact the NEAR NFT Ecosystem. We aim to roll out an NFT-focused Venture Studio with the aim of driving net new users to the NEAR Ecosystem, improving user retention and engagement, and assisting in the deployment of meaningful utility for the NEAR NFT Ecosystem through the portfolio projects we accelerate and incubate. The end result for our portfolio companies is twofold: a better product with more users and giving the best support to builders and founders to lead them on the path to a Series A and becoming flagship projects pushing forward the NEAR narrative and its amazing tech to externals.

Target Portfolio companies

171 Studio will solely focus on incubating and accelerating within the vertical of NFTs specifically applications, and businesses.

Target areas we would look to incubate and explore are the following:

  • NFT applications
  • NFT platforms and services
  • Community-driven projects

We will also focus on projects building and utilising new standards for NFT innovation; especially ones that create interchangeable utility blocks like:

  • NFT Governance and identity - NFTs shaping the way communities interact, engage and coordinate in their ecosystem.
  • Nesting - NFTs that able to contain other NFTs
  • Multi-resourcing - NFTs with variable output based on input
  • Composability - NFTs that can equip owned NFTs to alter utility or appearance
  • Conditional Rendering - NFTs that can have variable output due to on or off-chain factors
  • Fractionalisation - NFTs that are fractionalised and community-governed

These building blocks allow NFT collections to reimagine the way they deploy utility.

Incubation, Acceleration & Mentorship

Education is critical to success. We ensure our portfolio companies have all the resources they need to operate proficiently through participating in our incubator or accelerator that equips them with best practice guidance for all aspects of their business.

  • Legal: corporate, governance, regulatory & compliance support, risk management
  • Compliance: KYC/AML support
  • Tech: smart contract security audits, code reviews
  • Economics: tokenomics design, token distribution mechanisms, commercial viability
  • Finance: treasury management, OTC partnerships, investor readiness
  • BizDev: monetization strategy, sales and partnerships
  • Marketing: strategy, brand building, holder acquisition, community management, PR
  • HR: team governance, recruiting, executive coaching

In addition to educational material, access to the right people at the right time is critical. Our portfolio companies will have access to office hours with domain experts, ecosystem exhibitions with prospective partners, and most importantly, demo days with top-tier VCs. We have identified firms that we have one or two degrees of separation with that we are targeting for our demo days.

Structure

Our core team consists of web3 native professionals that have proven themselves in the NEAR ecosystem and throughout their careers with a combined 50+ years of experience. We are web3 founders with extensive careers in both corporates, fintechs, and scale-ups. We have gained our experience in companies such as the NEAR Foundation, Consensys, Proximity Labs, Antisocial Labs and Bitpanda. The core team will be responsible for all operational functions from hiring and legal to partnership relations and incubation strategy. On the incubation side, they will have specific areas of focus within their respective portfolios to drive education across commercial strategy, GTM, community management, development, product management, design, legal, finance, tokenomics and more.

We recognise that our portfolio companies will need help across all aspects of their business, but in the initial intakes, we will be paying additional attention to our portfolio companies’ marketing, community-building, and UX & UI strategies.

Ecosystem Partners

Additionally to the core team, 171 Studio will onboard Ecosystem Partners. Every single Ecosystem Partner will be responsible for a specific part of the incubation, acceleration and mentorship. The Ecosystem Partners are required to be experts, having vast experience and a proven track record within their specific field. Moreover, the Ecosystem Partners are expected to have a good connection to the NEAR community and to be in good standing amongst their peers. For some roles, we have already identified fit and proper candidates. The following specific areas will have their own Ecosystem Partner at 171 Studio:

  • UX/UI programme & research
  • Tech & product development
  • Business Development
  • Investor relations
  • Auditing
  • Community Engagement

Mentors in Residence

171 Studio is dedicated to having all of the NEAR NFT Ecosystem experts participate in the acceleration and incubation of projects within our ecosystem, therefore our Mentors in Residence represent a wide array of key leaders from our ecosystem to participate in core parts of our portfolio projects journeys.

Portfolio Management

Our framework of Observation, Normalisation, and Evaluation serves as the core tenets of our strategy to ensure success for our incubated/accelerated projects and provides a granular approach to driving ecosystem success.

Observation

The adage summarises it well, “If you can measure it, you can manage it.”
At the crux of it, we cannot achieve ecosystem success without having a baseline and goals. Further below, we outline the Ecosystem Score, a weighted aggregate of project metrics that enable us to quantify a project’s impact on our ecosystem.

Normalisation

We achieve scalable success by identifying best practice and codifying it, creating repeatable steps that portfolio companies execute.

Evaluation

By having a baseline and a standard process for every portfolio company, we will be able to evaluate how our companies perform and pinpoint which parts of the process they need to improve on or course-correct.

Our Approach for Success

We will disintermediate the funding process, from how projects apply to how they grow, by asking at every stage, “how will this make our ecosystem stronger?” A vast amount of data exchanges hands between a project and its investors throughout their relationship. Ultimately, we seek to aggregate this data into a holistic score that serves the ecosystem.

Ecosystem Score: A Digital-first Approach to Investment and Incubation.

The Ecosystem Score is an amalgamation of the critical variables required to join the portfolio. The score assesses an early-stage technology’s maturity and captures its potential upside.

In its early forms, we will use a mix of tools like Discord, Notion and Airtable (and relevant third-party suppliers where required) to digitise the whole application and incubation process and start to collate multiple data points on projects to generate their ecosystem score:

  • Applications
  • Applicant Management
  • KYC and Due Diligence
  • Milestone Management and Payments
  • Incubation and Acceleration Pathways

As projects progress from application to incubation, we can capture and aggregate various data points from social presence to marketplace metrics to establish their baseline in the ecosystem.

We then set goals based on their promised deliverables to measure the impact potential they have on the ecosystem and deploy funds following those goals. At this stage, we require our portfolio companies to report additional data to ensure accountability.

What will start as a very high-level data point to assess applicants will grow into a guiding metric for ecosystem success. Ultimately, the Ecosystem Score is a tool that enables us to quantify the impact of a project on our ecosystem.

In addition to the process, we also aim to democratise knowledge for our portfolio companies by enabling access to multiple databases like:

  • Ecosystem mapping/project relational database
  • KOL database
  • Investor database
  • Partner/supplier database
  • Mentor database
  • Smart Contract boilerplates database
  • IP database
  • Contract template database
  • Regulatory memo database
  • KYC/AML/Compliance memo database

By having a list of our resources at their fingertips, our portfolio companies can cut through unnecessary hurdles and go straight to the source.

Post-Incubation

Having skin in the game in our portfolio companies allows us to ensure they drive value to our ecosystem. Our tools, like the Milestone Playbook and the Ecosystem Score, feed into this singular goal.

We intend to be continuously hands-on with our portfolio companies throughout their time with us. So even after they complete our incubators or accelerators, we aim to keep them involved and see them play a part in educating and mentoring the next generation of portfolio companies as alumni alongside us.

Conclusion

We have the mission to bolster and boost the NEAR NFT ecosystem. Our mission is to create flagship projects on NEAR by seeding founders, giving them the pathway and support they need to achieve a Series A.

We have been at work for several months drafting over 100+ pages of market research, solution, incubation strategies and talks with the NEAR Foundation. We have always wanted to be inclusive to the community and we are happy to discuss with any interested stakeholder. Now we want to hear your thoughts, how can you help and to what extent do NFTs factor into NEARs north star? Want to chat? Reach out to us on twitter: @171ventures.

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Feel free to connect with Blockperks, https://twitter.com/BlockPerksNFT

a well-written strategy.

There’s an incredible amount of experience, effort and energy in this proposal. I would hate to see the opportunity missed to capitalize on all of this. Ultimately, this comes down to a few factors:

  1. problems addressed
  2. clear solution path, KPIs, etc…
  3. structured approach with milestones
  4. desire from the NF to solve problems
  5. market timing

1-3 are obvious. 4-5 less so.

I believe there are goals that should be clear and aligned for all parties. There’s no debating NEAR needs to attract more grass roots developers in non-financial use cases, who are willing to take risks and pour their blood and sweat into efforts. Much like the writers of this proposal, you can’t buy / partner with passion.

While the Foundation may continue to work with partners on big brand deals, I think overlooking the incubation (love the new framing) of grass roots projects and developers for non-financial use cases of NEAR, is a blind spot right now for the Foundation, Pagoda, the entire ecosystem We could argue this should be served by DevRel and/or NF grants/BD, but it isn’t working at the moment and likely isn’t enough in the long run. There’s not enough expertise and bandwidth to decide how to effectively allocate people’s time and resources.

When it comes to DAOs (NDC) and other Web3 funding/incubation models, things seem to be dragging and drowning in process. I would encourage the Foundation and community to think of proposals like this as “outsourcing” incubation of the vertical, in the direction of decentralization. Since crypto has not found product market fit beyond a few niche examples, more entities with a thrifty, startup mindset and single focus are better than monoliths.

It’s Web3… So let’s try new things when we have passionate individuals and proposals, and not simply rely on what’s comfortable and safe.

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Completely agree with all the sentiments shared in the above proposal and comments!

It would be great to see the foundation reach out to work with this concept and/or use it as a point of reference to build on top.

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I agree that trying to “move like a DAO” is a trap. The software is tooling, use it for what it’s good for, aka the ways it elevates your mission.

I do disagree specifically that DAO tooling getting in the way.

We have Sputnik contracts. We have Astro, Fund3r, NEPBOT, etc. It would be a big miss if something like 171 Studio didn’t take advantage of these tools, which are arguably the best DAO tools on any chain and a differentiator for NEAR.

If there is a significant amount of funding involved it would be concerning if the Treasury was NOT a multisig or DAO. It’s so easy for even the best intentioned and trustworthy projects to be rugged or exploited.

We have examples of incubators that run as DAOs with efficiency. TENK launched over 30 projects through it’s DAO. Half of the 200 monthly active DAOs on Astro came through DAOcubator. Seedclub is in it’s 5th season.

What NDC lacks is direction (it’s getting there), something 171 Studio has clearly defined above. With that head start I would love to help 171S discover how the world class DAO tooling on NEAR can multiply their success.

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Interesting how you stated issues and solutions, lets go for it.

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would love for 171 Studio to get involved in the NEAR NFT Builder Group to start getting open source tools and standards spec’ed out in the NEAR Ecosystem NFT Builder Group

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Yeah agreed its a good idea and tackles many needed points. Id love to see this come to fruitarian however I also feel this kind of initiative should involve more than one leader / project to cater to the different evolving project types and diversity we cultivate in our NFT eco system.

We should have many strings in the bow covering mentality and approach. I’d like to see something like this happen in a few places to contribute to building various type of projects. This style of program should be available for application by extension from all marketplaces.

Once we grow to having specific set market places… ie. Art MP gamefi MP other specific mp they could use it as base line to evolve the needs of these specific variations and vet, guide and build out their talent. General mixed MPs could work with these other specialized teams to do it if they defined NFT projects into actual categories.

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I like the idea of several ecosystem projects coming together to form an incubator. Things funded collectively would ensure that work isn’t being duplicated.

An NFT “super group” could also make the case for a larger chunk of funding from NF. An announcement could be made that X million is available to NFT projects on NEAR so that NF and all the projects can make noise around NEAR NFTs. The funds would be visible in the NFT DAO, making the funding tangible and transparent.

Multiple projects with different individual concerns would serve as checks and balances. There will be politics and not everything will be rosy, but having the common thread of NEAR bringing the projects together should mean that the funded ventures are ecosystem first.

It’s cool to seeing support for enabling a “council of projects” from folks like Near Big Brain and NEARVerse Labs :muscle:

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100% @starpause and id like to also note on the question from Near Big Brain recently on this topic about perhaps marketplaces could have control over this… its great in concept (due to their role and position in the function of NFTs and community) BUT in reality, im afraid to say certain MPs (Paras and Apollo from my experience) are nowhere near diligent enough to perform such a crucial role IMO. I’ve not dealt with all MPs so not speaking broadly of all, but in anycase, despite the fact I use and endorse both these particular markets and want both to very successful, they have gave me far more frustration and disappointment than satisfaction in my dealings and interactions with them. therefore, I’d vote “super group” DAO control partitioned by different project types of which a rep from markets should be involved.

great!

have you guys seeing this proposal?

@pinkalsky @ritamaria @estheriorizada @gabrielfelipejacomel

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