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Project Catalyst Funded Proposals - Mad Scientists on the Launchpad

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If you know about Project Catalyst, you likely know mostly about the public-facing front end: The Campaigns, the proposals, the votes. In the 8 rounds of Project Catalyst to date, you may have participated by attending the weekly “Town Hall” meeting, perhaps by serving as a paid “Community Advisor” to assess proposals, or (hopefully!) by voting for the best project proposals in the Catalyst voting app.

What happens after voting is still a bit of a black box for many.

For proposals that don’t win funding, there isn’t much to say; these participants are left to consider the feedback they received and decide how or whether they will try again. But for funded proposals, the journey is just starting! This article will shed some light on the waypoints of this journey.

We at Lido Nation have been honored to earn work as funded proposers in the last three rounds of Project Catalyst. Before winning the first time, we had no idea what to expect - how does getting the money really work? Who do we report to? What is expected of us - beyond the deliverables in our proposal?

If you have considered seeking funding through Project Catalyst, this may help you prepare for what’s ahead and set realistic expectations. You may read this description and realize just how your skills and insights could be a valuable addition to the experiment. Even if you have no wish to be a proposer yourself, you are part of this community, and we are better together.

From a high level, the funded proposer experience has three parts: Onboarding, Funding & Reporting, and Project Completion

Funded Project Lifecycle

Today we will discuss the onboarding process.

Onboarding Form

Within a few days of voting results, funded proposers are asked to fill out an onboarding form. This form served three primary functions:

  1. Collect contact information for the project lead, including email, telegram, and discord handles.
  2. Confirm the Cardano wallet address for payments. Wallet addresses are submitted with proposals at the beginning of the process. Still, people often manage multiple wallets for different reasons and may have an updated wallet preference when they actually win funding.
  3. Establish a project end date. Proposals in Ideascale usually do include some notion of a timeline, but (oddly, perhaps) there is no set completion date required on proposals. However, at the time of onboarding, an end date is required.

The onboarding form has seen slight changes within the three funds we have participated in, but the overall experience has been consistent.

Proof of Life

Hypothetically, it would be possible for someone to submit a proposal on Ideascale on a whim and then wander away and forget about it. That same person could win funding, only to realize they’ve jumped in over their head and don’t actually have the time, expertise, or inclination to do the work they signed up for. Whatever the reasons may be, there is a need for funded proposers to show up at a meeting to confirm that they are real, engaged, and have what they need to deliver on their great ideas. Treasury funds are not being flung out the door without some human engagement. This purpose has been served by a large zoom call, offered at various time frames, for all funded proposers to gather and confirm their participation. It is called the “Proof of Life” meeting.

Over the course of three funds, the format of this meeting has evolved to accommodate growing cohorts of funded teams. The first time we attended, it was a bit of a circus, with around 100 attendees, each needing an individual turn to share their identity and proposal name. The next time around, things were a little more sane - we instead met in breakout rooms by Campaign to introduce ourselves. Most recently, there was one big meeting for group orientation. Individual proof-of-life meetings were then scheduled separately, organized by the teams leading each Campaign - called Challenge Teams.

Test Transactions

Funded proposers are paid in ADA. Since blockchain transactions are irreversible, it’s crucial to make sure that payment information is correct. Once proof-of-life is confirmed, test transactions in the amount of 1 ADA are sent to the wallet addresses entered in the onboarding forms. Once proposers confirm receipt of the test transaction, they are ready to go. The confirmation process is not so much a process as a party - proposers confirm receipt via email, telegram group chats, or DMs on the social platform of their choice! I would not wish to be the guy herding that group of excited cats, but somehow the job is getting done. I imagine someone will invent a better way to do it soon.

Challenge Teams

Challenge teams are a recent addition to the Project Catalyst ecosystem. The Challenge Teams are a small group of leaders designated for each Campaign. It might consist of the person(s) who proposed the Campaign challenge in the previous fund, or it may be someone else who steps up. These team leaders are meant to serve as a resources and accountability partners for funded proposers. Beyond leading proof-of-life meetings, I don’t think their responsibilities have been fully codified yet. For one funded proposal, my “Challenge Team” leader has stayed in touch via email every month, asking me to demonstrate deliverables according to my proposal roadmap, and offering help if I need it. Other Challenge Team leaders have been relatively quiet - in fact, I don’t even know who they are. It seems like the Challenge Teams are a great idea that is still in its infancy, and I expect we will see more structure and clarity introduced to this role.

Resources

Once onboarding is complete and initial disbursement of funds occurs, it’s time for proposal teams to get to work! As the work proceeds, there is still an element of team spirit, collaboration, and mutual accountability, served by many community meetings and resources. These include:

  • Bi-weekly Zoom Meetings: These optional meetings for funded proposers are a place to report back to the group with your progress, solicit feedback, and network with fellow builders.
  • Social Channels: These include a Telegram channel for funded proposer announcements, another for general group chats, and sometimes special groups for Campaign cohorts. It also includes at least one Discord channel for funded proposers - and probably more for various affinity groups.
  • Challenge Teams Office Hours: this is a relatively new introduction and part of the rollout of Challenge Teams as a more decentralized and scalable solution for group connections.

At this time, most of these resources originate and are guided by a centralized source: the Project Catalyst team at IOG. Other decentralized resources that are forming by finding gaps to fill, and adding value. This article is an example of one such effort: we saw the gap in public knowledge about the funded proposer experience and are attempting to bridge it. The great thing about Project Catalyst is that those efforts are not just tolerated but encouraged!

Conclusion

The future of Project Catalyst, and Cardano, is decentralized. That means that every voice and every idea can find its place - it’s not up to the founders and CEOs to tell us how it’s supposed to work! The experiment evolves with every iteration, and we are excited to be part of it. The community voted YES on our proposal to write more articles about Project Catalyst. Thanks for your votes, and thanks for showing up to learn! In the next installment, we will continue following the Funded Proposer journey and learn about Reporting, Funding, and Project Completion.

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