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

Hey Everyone, this is Ollie. grants program manager for the NEAR Foundation. I will respond soon with a detailed response to the first proposal however I wanted to address some immediate points.

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The NEAR Foundation grants team has been working very closely with the EEE team and founder with a positive experience. I can not share details of the application as this is private to the founder however it has taken some extended time to put milestones together. The grants team was introduced to the EEE project on the 19th of July by @David_NEAR

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I have looked in to P2P proposals since the start of 2021 and our records show market conditions have not been mentioned in a rejection email. The rejection email has redirected the P2P projects to apply to cypherpunkguild or proximity due to being defi related.

I am happy to investigate your specific case if you would like to direct message me your project details.

There is a mention of a few defi related projects in the thread and we put a detailed handbook together (which has been live for a few months now) with a section on what projects the NEAR foundation can support and re-directing projects to alternative funding methods: NEAR Foundation Grant Program Handbook - Public.pdf - Google Drive. The website also outlines funding sources: Get Funding – NEAR Protocol

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EEE is on its way, and once connected to Grants via @David_NEAR things have been smooth.

Prior to that there were a number of changes in the ecosystem that had to be navigated, but since the we have been solid.

Much appreciation to the team!

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@Kemal
Thank you for this thoughtful concept as well as the analysis. I/we are new to the NEAR Platform and founded Rising DAO. For Context for my points below – we are Silicon Valley-based researchers and communications strategists (worked with/at Google, Netflix, AirBnB, The Insitute for The Future, The Peggy Guggenheim Foundation) with a focus on the Creative Economy (a 2.2 trillion dollar economy) – we founded the DAO out of Rising Partners (a company based in SF and Rome – site launches next month.)

Rising DAOs goals are the following:

  • Explore all facets of the Creative Economy on the NEAR Platform through research, writing, trend-tracking on a syndicated platform

  • Publish “From NEAR the Edge”, a syndicated media resource with commissioned works, writings, research, podcasts, and events

  • Drive adoption of the NEAR platform by making it the platform of choice for artists, creators and innovators worldwide

We JUST came onboard to NEAR in the past month and received our first grant (2K USD) from the Creatives DAO last week.

So, as you can see we are not a tech play per see, but, as we see it NEAR is in the process of building a new planet and creatives are figuring out how to live on it . This gives us a slightly different, but meaningful perspective and we believe our value here on the platform will become crystalized as we organize and provide content ABOUT the players on the platform innovating creatively in the coming year.

So, all this is to say that:

  1. Having a 25k Cap on funding per proposal makes great sense for us since we don’t have a huge build budget, but a REAL need for support in our growth and offering,

  2. Having a team of people (as you described) who have true INNOVATION marketing and growth experience is critical for us. We are experienced and need true partners as investors (much like we have IRL) – we really really need experienced founders in positions of decisions around grants (NEAR Foundation CERTAINLY is this, though they are, as you say, slammed and our needs might not be crucial to them at this pivotal growth moment.)

  3. Finally, I don’t actually think what we want to do matches the Marketing DAO at the moment – we need more foundational, innovation, and growth support that moves the needle in our space, which might loosely be called “Content Innovation” for NEAR.

(It does not seem the current Marketing DAO has deep experience in content innovation, cultural programming, or entertainment/media innovation and we REALLY need a team for this because content creators ARE coming to the platform).

So, please let me know how I might be of support, and if and when you will be accepting Decks and ASKS.

Best of luck, and thanks!
Sarah

@David_NEAR
@starpause
Forgive me, adding your entire team here: @FritzWorm @HaiVu

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It’s a great idea!! Go for it! :fist:t6::sunglasses::fire:

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Hello David,

I think the comment is quite “cherry-picking” toward us, only for supporting your claim.

At that time (SOL was stuck, UST losing peg), the Multichain DRAFT proposal has been prepared for recruiting projects from SOL, Terra, and had not been fine-tuned yet as it was a draft idea from the whole NEAR Concierge team to get the comment on the structure first. Then you just commented on the detail and said it’s not qualified enough, and NF ordered us to STOP because Nicky (who was at BD at that time) takes care of all of that, not because we’re not responsible for the task.

However, after that, I still got a lot of projects from SOL, and Terra onboarding NEAR but they haven’t received support until now. One example is SOLSTER, which applied for moving from SOL to NEAR on 22nd April but is still pending now. @Cameron is still in the discussion stage with them.

On the contrary, our responsibility was proved through our nearprojects.guide project which was done in the same way and got the green light to start from the BD team (@MarcusNEAR ).
Later, it becomes a backbone for the creation of NEAR Community website which can be proved by @shreyas

So it’s unfair to choose a draft project that was decided to stop and based on that, you conclude us we are irresponsible OR acted inappropriately in a ‘semi-official’ capacity.

Finally, my point is we can prepare a detailed proposal on how we can fill the below gap, but not another burden for the grant team, if you give us a chance to prove it.

Thanks.
Hai

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Hey Everyone, this is Ollie grants program manager at the NEAR Foundation.

The NEAR Foundation grants program has had a number of new improvements which I think are worth highlighting before digging deeper into the proposal outlined.

  • The NEAR Foundation inbound grants program is not the only source of funding within the NEAR ecosystem. The new website highlights alternative funding outside of the NEAR foundation with more funding routes to be added soon.
  • The NEAR Foundation grants team created a comprehensive grant handbook to dive deeper into expectations and the grants program. This includes clear grant tracks and help on detailing out solid milestones
  • When a project applies to the NEAR Foundation we have automated emails which visually show where a project is at in the process and time expectations
  • There will be improvements on visibility and transparency on the program in the future with a monthly newsletter on highlights

Diving deeper into the proposal outlined above and some key important points mentioned:

  • We acknowledge that at the beginning of the year as the program was being set up there were longer waiting times of up to 8-10 weeks. The program now has automated processes, additional team members and a structured workflow. We are currently over our desired review time currently sitting at around a 4-5 week turnaround for first review however I believe that across the board this is a very good turnaround time to receive funding for a project. We are still working on bringing this down and are making good progress to have this to around 2-3 weeks in the future.
  • I do not believe there should be any ‘quick way’ to funding. The NEAR foundation grants program has a structured review process (shown in the image below) to protect the integrity of the ecosystem, ensure high build quality and support solid building within the NEAR ecosystem
    Screenshot 2022-08-23 at 12.23.49
  • For smaller projects building to a proof of concept/ MVP we have an activation grant track to directly support this. Builders will need to illustrate developer experience and a solid project proposal to be considered for this grant
  • @Kemal I would love to dig deeper into the data you have provided as this does not match our internal systems. If the projects names are confidential please dm me with the 67 project names and I will check the status on each grant
  • @David_NEAR has raised some important concerns on the set up of the operations DAO. What would be the set up be and how do you cover the legal aspects? how do you make the voting council diverse and subject matter experts? what is the review process? whats the onboarding experience into the ecosystem? How do you manage milestone follow ups? etc
  • I had already started discussions with @FritzWorm to try and assist in this area. My biggest advice is start building a pipeline of grants. There is a referral section in the grants application form, this enables the NEAR Foundation to measure the quality of grants coming from an individuals pipeline and starts to form a relationship to explore opportunities in the future
  • It is my understanding that a few of the issues highlighted are legacy issues when the program was getting up and running. With the new changes/ improvements to the program communication is being increased, turnaround times reduced on grant applications and improved onboarding experience. For any queries on individual applications please always feel free to reach out to grants@near.foundation
  • For Mintickt project milestone review in particular. It is unfortunate that the milestone was sent to old system used for project reviews and not to the milestone review workflow. I know that this issue has now been resolved and the Mintickt milestone evidence now sent to the correct workflow and is currently being processed

A NEAR Foundation grant strategy document is currently being finalised which includes a path to decentralising grants and will be shared once completed. I appreciate @Kemal sparking this conversation as the NEAR Foundation grants program has made many improvements recently and there is always room for improvement. Happy to work with the community and feel free to email me direct at oliver@near.foundation

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@illia @marieke.flament , I want to inform you that Starpause (Astro DAO) offered some applicants “grant service.” So it’s why he is an advisor in many ecosystem projects which already received grants from NF.

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Just raising what I believe to be a valid concern. The document would have gone to the design stage two days after if it weren’t halted.

NF asked you to stop because of the quality of the work. You can check the Discord messages, it was me who told you to do that.

I never made either of those claims. Hope it didn’t come across that way! It’s a question - what if the team here were to do that? How would it be handled?

For sure, that’s a part of the goal of this thread. Please do share it.


Overall, I don’t think this proposal has enough detail about the processes, checks and balances, and aforementioned questions, for me to support atm.

Seems arbitrary. What is the thinking behind this?


FYI; I’m not attacking anyone. I think the work on the website is great, for the most part. The proposal is requesting in excess of $1.2m per year. That’s a huge amount. Hope we can see more stringent checks and balances from the wider community, too (and this is coming for Creatives and MarketingDAO, too.)

Starpause is a former NF team member and is currently employed by Pagoda AFAIK. Not sure what relevance this has?

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This question was not addressed to me, but I would like to respond anyway. In my proposal, I clearly mentioned that this is not an isolated case and that there are several such cases. Some of them are even still current!


The presentation you call “piece of work” was a DRAFT! We had to consult a hundred times with the NF to get approval for the next step, but in the end, it was still a DRAFT.


  • The presentation you refer to was for internal purposes only, so I think it’s okay if it looks “official”.
  • The quality of a DRAFT is not important, it was more about the context and the idea we wanted to convey to NF.
  • We consulted very often with NF regarding the Project Ops Guide, no one said anything about “wrong information”. If you were unhappy with my team’s work, you could have just reached out to us, instead of bringing it into this discussion, which has nothing to do with the presentation of the draft version of the Projects Guide.

We would create an LLC via Otoco as mentioned in my proposal. And for KYC there are tools for that like Seon for example.
As proof of our quality in the selection process, we can take as a reference the 69 projects that we have helped get a grant. But the quality can always be improved. When I remember the projects that the NF initially approved, there were many that lacked quality!


No, it tries to show that there is still a problem with NF grant process.


I can correct you because that is just wrong what you are saying. As I said, I am talking about data that we have collected. I can tell you right now about another NFT project that applied on July 18 and still has not heard back regarding the grant. But we shouldn’t be talking about individual cases, we should be talking about how we can improve the problems that the NF Grant team faces.


As mentioned the Operations DAO would work similarly to the Marketing DAO, therefore we thought the rewards would be similar to the councils of other community verticals.


That is why it is important that the team consists of experienced people. Our team consists of experienced marketers, developers, and founders and we would like to add at least two more experienced members to the council.

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Sincerely, I agree with this suggestion.

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It wasn’t AFAIK. It was going to be used in a presentation to a project from Terra the week after it was shared in Discord (where feedback from NF wasn’t requested). Besides, the content was more of the issue than the way it was presented (official or otherwise).

Anyhow, it’s just an example I thought was pertinent. I don’t think we need to go off track to get into the details.

See Ollie’s response:


I’m not denying there have been, and may well presently be, issues with the grants process.

I’m skeptical on whether spinning up a new fund is the answer to them, though.

I think that the basis for this is built on legacy data, too.

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Changes to the Verticals (Creatives and Marketing) are also being discussed with NF, as far as I know, so it would be wise to make sure that system is valid and will continue to operate before using it as an example for other Verticals.

Independently of anyone’s merits and the quality of anyone’s proposals, as far as I’m concerned, it’s better if community proposals have clear and intelligible groundings on the long-term NF vision.

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Excellent point. Since changes are on the horizon for those verticals, it would make more sense to have that ironed out rather than rushing to spin up another fund.

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The point of the Draft was to present an idea. If the idea gets approval, then we can focus our efforts on making it, and building that up, if not, we can avoid wasting energy on that as we have many activities to carry on supporting project leaders.

It is a goal, just as Near University had the goal of 1,000,000 developers. We also set up a goal, the thinking behind this is that we will be able to support up to 10 projects per month, meaning around 100 projects in one year, if each project user database is of 1,000 users, you get 100,000.

I believe it is crucial to make it clear that it was an intern document and draft idea because so far, the only point discrediting us as capable of running a vertical to support development.

Agree, that no rush is needed, here, we raise awareness of the problem: Lack of community support for developers and distance from the Grants Team with project leaders looking to build MVPs or to continue the growth of forgotten but important dapps as the tip bot. In addition, we show a possible solution for it.
As with every successful initiative, it should go in steps.

Already share answers to it here:

The goal of this thread is to raise awareness about the missing vertical and show a path on how to fix it.

We have community support for marketers and artists, but what about developers?

Spinning up a community fund for development is a need, there are facts shared on this thread on why, and it is also very clear and logic, that’s why so far 35 community members liked/support this proposal.

If NF wants to fix this, and find us suitable to kick start it, then we will start communications and share docs with specifics.

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Just wanna make it clear that none of my comments have been made in an effort to discredit anyone. I think the work you guys have done is admirable :heart:

This isn’t granular enough for anyone to assess it. Would love to learn more of what you have in mind for processes and wider procedures, though.

I’m of the opinion that this is a solution looking for a problem atm, in light of Ollie’s comments. Certainly in regards to the scale of this.

However, I do believe the Grants Team can do more on transparency and communication. Maybe office hours would go some way to achieving this.


Have left my 2c on this, that’s all from me for now, would love to hear from the wider ecosystem on this :100:

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I know that everyone is struggling right now. Let´s try to keep the discussion in good terms and in the direction to move forward.

It is important to understand that NEAR Foundation is going through internal changes as many of us know. This has setback most of the initiatives that we kickstarted since the start of the year. It takes time and a lot of consensus to agree on the right step forward.

Let us agree to disagree, remembering to put NEAR holders front and center. For now DAO´s are in a state of alpha-beta testing. Even successful initiatives like the NEAR Hispano education initiative are on hold, this is to give the NEAR Foundation team the space to regroup and start executing. It takes time and as a community we need to be patient, yes it has been more time than expected.

This is important to place in front of the discussion, expectations on each party.

For the Foundation

  • Transparency in the process, this is something the Grants team is working on.
  • Speed in funding allocation, the issue here is due diligence takes time if you want to do it right - KYC, team interviews, addressable market, etc.

For the ecosystem

  • It is not trivial to run a fund, which is what you are suggesting. There is a lot of compliance issues that need to be taken into consideration - taxes, team payroll, fees, etc.
  • Funding an external initiative will require a lot of due diligence, this is not just putting tokens on a DAO. The NF needs to go through a compliance process in order to allocate the funds; which to be honest might take more time.

Note: Nobody is trying to discredit anyone. We need to be open for anyone to make questions about our initiatives. Do not take it personal.

In my opinion waiting for the Grants team to be setup for success is a much faster route into what everyone of us want, more projects getting in the NEARverse.

Web3 moves in lightning speed, let us not forget that sometimes speed will put projects in a very difficult situation. So now it is the time to be patient.

Do not get me wrong I am also interested that the process would be faster and transparent. But I also do not want for NEAR Protocol to be affected by everyone of us jumping the gun and put the ecosystem in a situation that instead of moving forward will hinder its growth.

Lets keep the conversation open and do not try to read in between the lines. The Grants team is a professional group inside the NEAR Foundation and I have full on confidence that they can deliver.

Everyone makes mistakes, the important part here is that it has been acknowledge and the team is doing everything they can to make it right.

As an ecosystem our part is to question and suggest growth initiatives to the NEAR Foundation to arrive at a middle ground. Let us keep that focus and for this discussions to unite us and not create any gaps between all parties.

Stay safe everyone and looking forward to this conversation.

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Just trying to summarize what has been said without so much noise of some points, I think we all agree that it should:

  • Have more transparency on the subject of the Grants. (Not because the capacity is doubted, I think many want to know the exact details of why they are approved or not)

  • Definition of the flow with very punctual times. (Many are creating projects and do not want to wait months for a negative answer.)

  • Regarding the DAOs, we want to know if new ones can be created or approved on specific development issues, although here I recommend that they not only arm themselves with people from marketing or business experience, devs would have to be involved.

  • On the subject of near education, all of us who collaborate in one way or another are waiting for the definition of points to be able to see if we continue and with what tasks we continue.

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This conversation was required, and is great to get many questions solved on this thread.

The facts that we found:

  • NF is on a transition. Changes consume time.
  • Grants request has been growing during the last months.
  • Grants are essential for building, and mostly for scaling.

For community:

  • I celebrate this conversation, broken silence is mandatory for community growth. Lets keep it in a high level for benefit of all.
  • Give NF benefit of doubt. I know in the past was a long time for answering but the new process pretend to be smoother than the older one.

For NEAR Foundation and grants team:

  • Be more active on community and try to solve as many doubts as possible. The silence makes the community disappointed and distant. This should be improved.
  • Make the process more transparent. We just want to know who is doing what. Is more related to learn about how the process work than to know details of every grant.

I’d suggest that instead of making this a troubleshooting thread for missing grants applications, NF can give community a channel for solving doubts around that. Use this thread for making improvements on the process and give feedback for NF. The eyes of the grants team is over here.

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