[PROPOSAL] A new vertical DAO and how we can improve NEAR Foundations grant process

CC: @marieke.flament @cameron

We would like to introduce you to the idea of an Operations DAO, why it makes sense to implement it and how much impact and growth we will get from it.

Introduction

Last year there were still the Community Squad and Ecosystem Development DAO, which handled small funding proposals that are now out of the scope of the Marketing DAO and the Creatives DAO. Unfortunately, these verticals were closed at that time. We want to bring this vertical back with the Operations DAO.

Problem

The NEAR ecosystem is growing at a lightning speed. While there were about 100 projects at the beginning of 2022, we are already at over 750 projects today, and almost 1,000 projects are in the pipeline. This volume has to be managed somehow and through almost a year of working on the Project Ops team and Onboarding 180 projects, we have noticed that many teams with great ideas and funding sizes under 25k had to wait more than 8 weeks on average for grants to be approved. The grants team is overloaded with so many applications and the competition is growing so fast that we may lose some good opportunities for good ideas to kick off and develop.

Also, project leaders don’t usually get help from the community until they are “verified” by receiving a grant. We think funding approval from the “Operations DAO” is more efficient and can accomplish the same thing.

Here you can clearly see that more than half of our grant requests are still waiting for a response from the grants team after 6 weeks.

And also broken down into sectors, you can easily see that even in the NFT sector where we have identified that NEAR needs to catch up, almost 30% of the projects are still waiting for a response regarding their grant.

image

Case Study

I would like to demonstrate to you with the example of Mintickt how inefficient the grant process was and how long it took to get a response and the first payout.

Mintickt applied for a 50k (Fast Grant) with the NEAR Foundation on 4/19/2022. When there was no response after 6 weeks, I took care of it and wrote to the people who have a direct connection to the Near Foundation or the Grant team. Then when still no response after 4 weeks, I followed up again and unfortunately kept getting stalled. It wasn’t until early June that I got feedback that the Mintickt application was still under review. On June 12, almost 8 weeks after the application was received by the NEAR Foundation, Mintickt received an email with the request to make an appointment so that they can meet the team. After the meeting, the grant was lowered from 50k to 15k and told that only the MVP will be funded, which is not a problem for now. However, Mintickt then had to wait 4 weeks again and didn’t receive the payout of 3,000 for the first milestone of developing the MVP until 07/12. So in summary, Mintickt had to wait a total of 12 weeks for a $3,000 payout! I think it is clear to everyone that this is not very conducive to building the NEAR ecosystem.

The problem is that this is not an isolated case. My team and I have several similar cases and it is beyond the scope of this proposal to list them all. We have collected this data during the last 10 months in our Project Ops Sheet and I am happy to provide these KPIs to the NEAR Foundation.

Solution

The solution is a new decentralized vertical, the Operations DAO. Similar to the Marketing or Creative DAO, designed to help projects of all types get kick-start their MVP version to market without having to wait 8 or more weeks for approval.

Goal

Our main goal is to fill the gap between the Marketing DAO and the Creatives DAO and to encourage projects to launch their MVP, which would otherwise have to wait for weeks for a response from the NEAR Foundation and may even decide to switch to another blockchain.

In summary

  • Boost growth of the ecosystem

  • Increase the efficiency of the grant process for grants <25k (MVP Grant)

  • Take workload from the NEAR Foundation grant team

  • Strengthen decentralization

How do we measure success?

Per month:
→ Distribute funding to 4-10 projects building on NEAR

Each quarter:
→ Report 10 new projects on testnet
→ Report 5 Projects receiving Grants

Six months:
→ Report 20 new projects on mainnet

A year:
→ 100,000 users of all projects we supported

Team

The founding team consists of @FritzWorm, @HaiVu, and @Kemal.

Fritz is an engineer with significant experience in web3 development and building on-chain communities, he will be responsible for the developer relations, as this is one of the main pain points from teams that reached out to us. (CV)

Hai is a marketing expert with seven years of experience in brand building in all communication aspects (B2C, B2B, Corporate) for Mitsubishi, and another two years of experience in above-the-line advertising agencies focusing on the return on investment of each marketing activity. He will be responsible for analyzing and valuing the marketing concept of the projects. (CV)

Kemal is a serial entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience. He has founded companies himself in various industries and is currently building his own NFT project on the NEAR Blockchain. Kemal will be responsible for analyzing and valuing the business model and future prospects of the projects. CV

As part of the Project Ops team, which was a sub-team of the @ConciergeTeam, we have gained almost a year of experience in what matters in valueing projects. Furthermore, we now have a broad knowledge of the NEAR ecosystem and have built a strong network of developers, so we have all the tools and experience to help projects launch their MVP.

DAO & Council

We would start with 5 council members and would like to expand the number of council members to a maximum of 9 councils later on, and to promote decentralization and increase the efficiency of this DAO we would like the Councils to come from different time zones.

Criteria to be taken into account:

  • Owner/founder of a business
  • Experience in product growth, sales, and business development
  • Experience as a Council of a DAO
  • Experience with VCs or in PE

The main activities of the council members overlap with what we do in the Project Ops sub-team.

  1. Reviewing the incoming requests
  2. Analyze the business model
  3. Checking the team
  4. And now additionally: Approve/Reject the proposal

If this proposal gets approved, the next step will be to form an LLC with Otoco and make an open call for 2 more councils.

Treasury

  • $100,000 monthly grant pool to be distributed to incoming projects.
  • Funding 4-10 projects per month with a grant between 10-25k
53 Likes

This is great @Kemal! :clap: If driven and knowledgeable council members are elected this structure could help out the NEAR ecosystem immensely.

We had a very poor experience with the NEAR Grant process earlier this year as well.

Our team is very excited to participate in any discussions which help improve the current state of Near Grants!

6 Likes

Hey @NEKO, thanks for your support! Would you share your experiences and the problems you had with the NEAR grant process?

2 Likes

On the same page. It’s hilarious to see the Near grants program work.

  • Nobody follows milestones;
  • Lack of any reports on gov forum;
  • Millions of stolen money;
  • Thousands of intermediaries offer their services to help to get a grant (including NF staff);
  • 753 dApps, but half of them are not working; for example, social media apps, NFT marketplaces, etc. @marieke.flament @illia please, do research, check all apps (alive or not), compare with milestones, amounts of grants received and to whom NF issued them. It will be fascinating for you.

I propose to take over the Near Foundation grants pipeline to the community as the next grand step of decentralization and transparency.

10 Likes

This is a great initiative. I know one member here and his integrity is proven.

My questions are these:

  1. Would DAOs be able to write proposals for funding directly to Operations DAO and what kind of proposals are expected to be funded here?

  2. If 4- 10 projects receive grants between 10-25k, does that mean there will be a cap on fundings?

  3. What will the remaining 75k be used for?

Thank you.

4 Likes

Hey @BigM007, thanks so much for joining the discussion!

  1. Right, the idea is that the Operations DAO like the Marketing DAO distributes funding directly to the projects.

  2. Exactly. For now, the funding will be capped at 100,000. If more is needed and the Operations DAO is successful, then the consideration would be to increase the funds in the Treasury of the Operations DAO.

  3. There will be nothing left over. 4 x 25k = 100k or 10 x 10k = 100k. The entire 100k will be used for projects.

6 Likes

Thanks for your response.

This is really amazing. I cant wait for this initiative to come to life.

Well done guys.

4 Likes

That is a very good idea to be implemented. I’m in several proyects and i see the weeks delay to get any response. Sometimes you never get a feedback.

5 Likes

Thanks for sharing it, actually we have daily questions, feedback, and also complaints on NEAR discord - ecosystem chat & grantee sub-channel about what you have mentioned!

Grantees keep asking about the grant results, milestones report, and partnership with the related projects in the ecosystem!

From the grant team, with the big quantity of grant applications so far, that’s the reason why grant team is stuck.

From the project side, we need a control system and KPI to make sure the fund is sent to the right place, the right people and require to achieve the concrete milestones (MVP, MVCommunity, TVL…) before giving bigger grants.

Due to those barriers, we, Operations DAO, would like to become the “Layer 2 roll-up” to speed up the process and enhance quality control.

4 Likes

Can you share a recent example, please?

Milestones must be followed to receive the next batch of funding. How would you be privy to what they are? This is not a public process.

Can you share examples that quantify this?


Although I agree that, in the past, the grants team has encountered significant backlogs which has led to delays, and the processes were less than desirable, the recent reorganisation of the Foundation set out, in part, to address this.

A major concern of mine is the significant amount of checks and balances (from NF) that this would require.

If we can recall this piece of work which was going to be published by the Project Ops team prior to it being halted by NF team members. There are a few major issues with that:

  • It looks ‘official’
  • The quality of the content wasn’t up to standard
  • Some of the information in there was false (I believe it’s since been updated)

If you had the mandate to go out and pursue this type of initiative, where would the burden of ‘keeping the information correct and of high quality’ sit? What, if any, backlash would the NF encounter if this team failed to do so and/or acted inappropriately in a ‘semi-official’ capacity?

Furthermore, I’m not sure if the scale of this operation has been fully considered. How will you fill the gap regarding:

  • Legal
  • KYC
  • Compliance
  • How you ensure quality

Or will that be deferred to NF?

Is this answer just speeding up funding? I’d argue no.

The current lead time is ~ 3 weeks (correct me if I’m wrong @Oliver.Near ) which is a huge improvement from the ~ 8 weeks we encountered in the past. The Grants team is aiming to get this down even further.

Although I think the proposal is well-intentioned, I think it would make more sense for the Grants team to continue to settle into the goals of the reorganisation.

What rewards are the team (you & the others listed) requesting?

14 Likes

Hello community,

I do think this is an interesting proposal IF the ‘Verticals’ will continue to be the system of preference for delivering tokens, however this made me go back to this topic: House of Guilds: a new funding mechanism for Guilds

I believe there are issues that must be solved ‘at the source’. Sometimes adding extra layers to a specific process in the hope of solving its issues might cause the opposite effect.

As a community member, I would very much like to see ‘the maximum amount’ of clarity from NF at the fundamental levels, and it seems NF is trying to achieve that.

9 Likes

Sure David,

NearP2P the response was negative because the market condition, we submit a second grant with no response.

MusicFeast and Everyone Eats Entertainment since January of this year, waiting to sign up contract.

4 Likes

I agree with this proposal, personally I am in a development team supporting the guild of Malaysia, a project of Antonio called NEARBASE.io, and my first observation is the time to answer, my second observation is that when we finally had the technical interview, who interviewed us made some suggestions, based on this we present an approach to the suggestions that supports the form of execution of the development and we have more than a month waiting for an answer of YES they support or NO support, we are left in a status without response

3 Likes

Sounds like it was declined (the market conditions are the same)? Not sure if that would be eligible as it’s kinda DeFi, too? Maybe @Oliver.Near can chime in.

I spoke to EEE and they hadn’t submitted the grant application at that time IIRC? That was ~ a month or so ago.

Plus, it’s worth noting things have changed in the past ~ 1 month with the reorganisation for the Foundation.

When did they submit the grant form?

I’ll defer to the Grants team for these Qs as it’s more in their domain.

2 Likes

A native NEAR P2P, 100% decentralized and has not received support although Grant has been requested 2 times

1 Like

Music Feast and EEE are the same project

Yes is Defi and we were referred to CypherPunk

Then they were intro’d to @Oliver.Near by myself on July 19th.

Appreciate you raising it and thanks for the example, but in hindsight, I don’t want to fill up this thread with too much discussion of single grant applications. Happy to discuss on another thread or in DMs (to the extent that the information is discussable).

Let’s discuss the proposal :beers:

4 Likes

Sure David, rather thank you for your prompt reply.

1 Like

Hello fam :vulcan_salute:

I know from different experiences in this process from different roles that this is common. I mean, even know about projects who get the funding and didn’t build anything.

The Grant team is doing an amazing job for partnerships and funding over $50k, but when it is about building MVPs, Grants below $50k, initiatives to keep updating the TIP BOT, or just adding NEAR to existing projects like Otoco.io, we could use a specific team for it. There is a distance between the Grants team with the small initiatives and disconnection with the community.

That document was a draft, it was not final… and it kick-started the creation of the following website:

https://nearprojects.guide

Who later worked as a catalyst for the creation of a NEAR Community website from other members. This means that our team is pro-active, experienced, and is adding value not just with the creation of content but also by inspiring other NEAR members. :cowboy_hat_face: :love_you_gesture:

We expect to function similarly to Marketing DAO.
Our legal status in this early stage is Delaware Series LLC.
In addition, we plan to work with developers who got certifications from Near University.
Operations DAO is focusing on development. We can improve quality compared to the ongoing distribution schemes by distributing funding after delivery and review.

@Kemal statements are backed up by data from 69 projects where there could be answer from 4 weeks to 17 weeks.

We know the Grants team is even improving their work, and we aim to fill the gap regarding small projects.

Again, the Tip Bot is very useful for community engagement, and it could have been upgraded and grown, for example, adding the possibility of sending other NEAR tokens, not just the native one. At the same time, little funding to kick start MVPs is out of the Grants team’s scope right now.

As this is meant to be a Community vertical, we all need it for development so that we will have support for marketers, artists, and developers. So, the rewards are expected to be similar to the Councils around the Community Verticals.

5 Likes