Plurality Labs: Arbitrum DAO x RnDAO Co.lab

Arbitrum DAO Co.Lab Cycle 1 (Pilot) - Impact Report

TL;DR


In Q1 2024, ArbitrumDAO and RnDAO worked together to launch a new kind of entrepreneurship program. The goal is to further Arbiturm’s positioning and network effects in the collaboration tech space (governance, operations, community, social, and contributor tooling) by supporting ventures with a higher success rate due to proper customer research and access to a strong support ecosystem of customers, partners, and collaborators.

We offered a 3-month paid fellowship ($2,000/month stipend) to 6 aspiring entrepreneurs for deep research into fundamental challenges in the collaboration space.

And we gave 50k ARB tokens and hands-on support to a selected venture to join the RnDAO+Arbitrum CollabTech product ecosystem.

The Fellowship ended on April 4th with our Co.Lab Fellowship Demo Day when our Fellows presented the results of their research with an open Q&A.

Co.Lab Fellowship Results:

  • 100+ applications
  • 6 fellows selected
  • 5 published research papers mapping a problem space (one fellow dropped due to health issues)
  • 11 published blog articles with deep research advancing their ventures
  • Recorded final presentations from the Demo Day
  • 100k+ impressions & 300+ organic reposts on X
  • 4 (potentially 5) new ventures into the Arbitrum CollabTech business cluster. See the Swarm section below for details.
  • 4 ready to advance as ventures in Arbitrum if funding was available (1 lost to Cardano due to lack of funding in Arbitrum. Other 4 continue pending funding. 1 more in pause due to health issues).

Objectives & Goals of the Co.Lab Fellowship:


The Co.Lab program was designed with an innovative, value-generating program structure offering:

  • A complete pathway for venture building
  • An expert co-creation community rather than just advice from mentors
  • Learning by doing, while collaborating with peers working in the same specialized domain
  • And a more humane and fun approach to entrepreneurship

The 3-month paid Fellowship supported entrepreneurs conducting deep research around key challenges in the collaboration tech space, with the goals of:

  • Strengthening the support network between peer entrepreneurs, experts, and community
  • Producing deep research in the collaboration space on key challenges
  • Fostering the emergence of sustainable ventures based on proper research and data

Approach:

RnDAO led the recruitment strategy and execution for this program, launching communications and outreach end of November 2023:

These efforts aimed to ensure that the program attracted the right talent and high-quality applications for collaboration tech and the Arbitrum ecosystem.

121 applications were received by late December, and 6 finalists were selected by the RnDAO team.

The criteria were grouped into 3 assessment areas:

  • Potential benefit to Arbitrum, resulting in a protocol/dApp or otherwise addressing a key challenge of the ecosystem
  • Collab Tech focus
  • Track record of applicant: ability to mobilize others, builder and entrepreneurial skills, problem-founder alignment

The assessment process included a two-staged written application and interviews, followed by deliberation from the selection committee.

Achievements and Outcomes


Through this pilot, we were able to validate our ability to:

  • attract attention: 100k+ impressions, with our venture recruitment post getting over 300 organic retweets
  • and talent: 100+ applications for 6 fellowship slots and 70+ applications for 1 venture program slot
  • and convert said talent into a nascent business cluster of CollabTech ventures (see Swarm section below)

Final Fellowship Papers & Demo Day Presentations

The Fellowship officially ended on Thursday 4th April and was celebrated at the Fellowship Demo Day at which our Fellows presented summaries of their final papers.

Read the final papers here.

We covered topics like: ​Compensation, Reputation, DAOifying IRL companies, Social web3 CRMs and Sensemaking with help of LLMs.

Watch the full Demo Day here:

Or to watch specific Fellow presentations you can choose from the links below:

  • 09:50 1 Milena | Compensation in Early Stage Teams
  • 17:43 1 Dominik | From chaos to clarity: proposal evaluations in web3 grant programs
  • 27:17 Artem | Enhanced sense-making and deliberation for governance professionals
  • 37:04 Humberto | DeFi vs the Loan Sharks, how web3 can power micro-credit
  • 45:50 Rich | Unlocking the power of off-chain data for better collaboration

Published Blog Posts

Throughout the Fellowship, the Fellows also published various articles on our blog to share the progress of their research:

Venture Pitch Day

On top of the brand positioning of Arbitrum as a welcoming hub for CollabTech, we now have a pipeline of builders with 70+ incoming applications for the Co.Lab venture program.

At the finalization of the Fellowship program, we hosted a Pitch Day to give venture applicants the chance to present their ventures.

We heard pitches from:

Full applicants Pitch Day video:

@tookey_io

Pitch recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpWUgL1c5E&t=300s

Āut Labs

@opt_aut

Pitch recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpWUgL1c5E&t=803s

Aiki Wiki

@rome_viharo

https://aikiwiki.com](https://aikiwiki.com/)

Pitch recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpWUgL1c5E&t=1408s

Cambiatus

@_cambiatus

https://www.cambiatus.comat

Pitch recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpWUgL1c5E&t=1948s

Stargazer

@stargazer_did

Pitch recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpWUgL1c5E&t=2400s

Common Ground

@CommonGround_cg

Pitch recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpWUgL1c5E&t=2870s

Cambrian Protocol

@cambrian_eth

Pitch recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpWUgL1c5E&t=3320s

Nestr

@GetNestr

Pitch recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpWUgL1c5E&t=3866s

Boardroom

@ensaktas

//www.home.boardroom.io/

Pitch recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQpWUgL1c5E&t=4518s

Participant Experience

We asked Fellows to evaluate the ROTI of each session we ran:

image


Details of each Fellow's profile and experience during the fellowship

Artem Zhiganov

I’m passionate about governance, sensemaking and democracy. I spent 10 years in creative strategy, product marketing and customer research, studied governance in DAOs and platform co-ops for my MSc thesis and was the gov lead at Protein Community (Seed Club alum). In addition to building Harmonica, I’m contributing to decision research unit at RnDAO.

What was most valuable?

The direct feedback from the mentors, and the forcing function of a clear deliverable and deadline.

Dominik Stumpp

I have not only been working in Web3 for many years, but also experience the described challenge on a daily basis, as I have worked with a variety of decentralized and remote teams. In fact, the topic of reputation first brought me into the Web3 space, as I was already looking for ways to create reliable and transparent reputation systems many years ago. Since this year, I have been working full-time in this area with TrustLevel and have already received grants from SingularityNET, for example, to investigate knowledge graphs for evaluating the reliability of information and to create a POC. This means that I am not only familiar with the topic of reputation and knowledge graphs, but this fellowship would give me additional capacity to better build this ‘thing’ in breadth and depth from the ground up.”

What was most valuable?

Mapping the space gave him a perspective he hadn’t had before.

Humberto Besso

Humberto holds 14 years of experience in IRL community building and social entrepreneurship. His business partner, with over 8 years in traditional finance and street commerce, owns a micro-credit company that can pilot the research. Humberto has been involved in web3 projects since 2017 with organizations like MetaGame, The Commons Stack, and Proof of Humanity. He has also presented peer-reviewed papers, spoken at events and on podcasts.

What was most valuable?

Writing in long form, rather than pitch decks. This provided discipline to articulate the beliefs behind the ideas.

Milena Monova

Milena brings three years of DAO experience, co-founding Aut Labs (formerly SkillWallet), which underscored collaboration hurdles within DAOs, stressing the importance of early-stage user testing and feedback. Active in hackathons, she enjoys constructing prototypes, blending technical skills with community-driven strategies. At EthIstanbul, she developed a profit-sharing network prototype and aims to conduct comprehensive research on community and collaboration dynamics related to this project.

What was most valuable?

Saw that founding could be collaborative, and it’s easier to have good discussions about direction when you have solid insights to build on.

Richard Lopez

As the sales lead at Pocket Network, Rich experienced community demands for transparency in aiding growth. He conducted user research interviews on this topic for over six months and has a good understanding of the obstacles experienced by operators in different Orgs.

What was most valuable?

He figured out how to use this information to make a decision - making business roadmaps based on what he learns, rather than just shipping features. Figuring out what to ask based on what decisions need to be made.

Richard shares his Co.Lab experience at GovHack in Denver:

(Embed video from Rich speaking at GovHack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS51eQPg-8g )

We would like to note that our 6th Fellow, Isla, faced a health problem just at the crux point in the research phase. Rather than fall behind, she decided to step back and participate in the next cycle. For reference we have included her profile below.

Isla Munro

​​Isla has been thinking about designing better venture capital for almost 10 years. She’s been with the FTW DAO team since 2021, and they’ve already created a community to launch. She joined Safe as Grants Lead in 2023 and has worked closely with the team in the Gnosis ecosystem delivering Grants and seeing many of the pain points first hand.

Swarm effects


Although we only had ARB tokens for one venture, the vision and peer support system of the CollabTech business cluster (aka the Swarm) also attracted others who applied to join even without capital support (but with support from us to pursue other grant opportunities as well as strategy, networks, talent referrals, integrations, and more.). The new ventures added to the Swarm (Arbitrum CollabTech business cluster) this cycle are:

  • Ventur3 (product) - AI tools for Web3 startup support and venture building. https://www.cofound3r.com/
  • Farstar (service) - Web3 ecosystem development & developmental venture capital. https://farstar.co/
  • Cambrian Protocol (product) - Talent contracting and matchmaking tool. https://cambrianprotocol.com/
  • CollabBerry (product. RnDAO Fellow) - On-chain rewards and compensation tool (website under construction)
  • Harmonica (product. RnDAO Fellow) - AI powered sense-making tool for decentralsied governance https://getharmoni.ca/
  • And we’re in discussion with 3 others!

These projects represent a set of builders that see significant value in the Swarm and are led by talented teams. However, their survival is dependent on finding additional sources of capital and closing early revenue, prompting us to expand and scale our program. We see a significant opportunity to support these teams and others like them moving forward.

Key Takeaways and Learnings


  • We encourage diversity through problem mapping. Prioritizing problem mapping before solution development is crucial to avoid groupthink and ensure that key challenges are adequately addressed. Initiatives should encourage builders to explore diverse problem spaces to uncover overlooked opportunities and avoid redundancy.

  • It’s hard to learn in public, and cultivating a culture of disciplined experimentation is essential for driving innovation. Emphasizing concept testing and providing support for individuals to experiment and learn in public can foster a more dynamic and effective ecosystem, particularly within the Web3 community.

  • Effective outreach and engagement efforts can attract attention and talent to collaborative technology initiatives. We were able to hit 100k+ impressions, with our venture recruitment post getting over 300 organic retweets. ​​We also received 100+ applications for 6 fellowship slots and 70+ applications for 1 venture program slot.

  • Fierce competition for limited program spots can pose challenges in talent retention. One of our Fellows is being funded by both Cardano and SingularityNET to continue their project (after expressing a desire to continue working with us, but the Co.Lab pilot lacks the funds to include him). Strategies for better managing talent, including addressing funding limitations and providing ongoing support, are necessary to retain promising individuals within the ecosystem.

  • Continuous evaluation and refinement of support systems are vital for program improvement. Insights gained from the pilot program highlight the importance of refining the support structure to better meet the needs of aspiring entrepreneurs in the collaborative technology space.

  • Emphasizing market insights and IP development through fundamental research can lead to more targeted and meaningful opportunities for ventures and direct builders who otherwise build solutions but find no customers. Programs should include modules focused on identifying promising and underserved opportunities to better equip entrepreneurs for success.

  • Flexibility in program design is necessary to accommodate learnings and changes in strategy. Rebranding initiatives, such as transitioning from a Fellowship to an Entrepreneurs in Residence program, reflects a commitment to adapting program offerings to better align with identified needs and opportunities.

  • We were able to build a promising pipeline and also had the opportunity to refine our thesis on the ideal support system and progression for a Collab Tech project. A notable insight is that a significant number of applicants were rejected not because of a lack of talent but because certain problems are oversubscribed and they lacked an edge (meanwhile many critical but less popular challenges remain unexplored).

  • With 3 additional projects joining RnDAO despite our inability to provide ARB tokens to them, we’re getting some initial validation of the Swarm concept and tangible examples of the network effects. We’re anticipating more opportunities to support ventures beyond capital allocation moving forward.

  • Our programmes attracted a broader community that had value to offer even if they were not at the right stage for our programs. Despite our efforts to continue engaging with them, the Pilot program was underresourced to support ongoing community activities. Moving forward we’ll ensure we’re prepared to sustain and nurture this broader community, increasing network effects for Arbitrum and extending the support and talent network for the ventures incubated in our programs.

Conclusion


In this first edition of the Co.Lab Fellowship, we embarked on a journey to catalyze innovation and collaboration within the Web3 ecosystem. Our objective was clear: to nurture aspiring Collab Tech entrepreneurs, empower them with resources and support, and propel them towards building impactful ventures in the collaborative technology space.

Looking ahead, we are committed to building on this foundation in future iterations. We will expand our programs, integrate market insights and IP development, and refine our support structures to better serve aspiring entrepreneurs and grow the Arbiturm community and protocol usage through a CollabTech business cluster.

In conclusion, the Co.Lab Fellowship has been a journey of exploration, learning, and growth. We are grateful for the support of the ArbitrumDAO, mentors, and participants who have contributed to its success. Together, we are laying the groundwork for a vibrant ecosystem where collaboration thrives, and impactful ventures flourish.