AGP Discussion: Fund the Mockingbird Incubator & Hub

Hello everyone!

I’ve just updated my first AGP: Fund the Mockingbird Incubator & Hub and I would very much appreciate your feedback!

Why an incubator?

I want people to build on Aragon and I’ve tried pitching this idea a couple of times, but this grant-style of compensation is not for everyone. Is particularly difficult for beginners to get started because the main sources of funding, Nest & Flock assume a certain technical level as well as a concrete plan of how will they be adding value/what issue they will be tackling.
To solve this chicken and the egg problem, this program will aim to coach makers into becoming Nest grantees, Flock members or, ideally, to turn their app into a successful DAO using App mining, Fundraising, etc.

Why a hub?

We could just use an existing co-working space (for example: FabLab, or TheGrape) to run the incubator program, but we still need to buy equipment and the memberships are not particularly cheap (considering rent prices). I think it makes much more sense to rent a space, turn it into a co-working space. The desks can be fully equipped, the servers can mine at night :smile:, the place can host Aragon meetups, etc.
I think it would be super cool to see this Hub proposal forked and various Aragon maker hubs spawned around the world where the community or remote teams can meet and work together.

Why Iasi, Romania?

Why not a loan?

I’ve also considered a loan to pursue this (instead of equity), where the collateral would not be 150% ETH and ~10% interest like we see with MakerDAO and rather my reputation within the community and a higher interest rate (e.g.: 20%) to account for the risk. (Sidenote: Perhaps this could become a service within the network. (Aragon Bank?))

In this scenario there would be much lower risk and much lower upside for Aragon, and more risk and upside for me. The problem is that is not worth the risk for me since this venture is about investing in people. If I were to take a loan it would make more sense to invest in myself (buy a house, electric car, solar panels, a farm bot, etc.)

Mentions

  • I will not be executing on these ideas very soon because we have a lot of important work to do in the SDK WG which will remain my main priority at least for the next 2-3 months, but in the meantime, if this AGP gets approved I can start recruiting people for the incubator program.
  • I’m not pursuing the incubator idea solely because “I want people to build on Aragon”, while I do think this is a good way of growing the community, it is also because several people within my network of friends have expressed interest in wanting to be part of this ecosystem and I think this is the most optimal way of facilitating that.
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Hey Daniel, how exactly do you conceive bringing web3 to Romania? What kind of IT services would you offer? What’s the purpose behind setting up as a cooperative?

Hey Javier!

Hmm, maybe not the best choice of words there, but I wanted to emphasize that there is no concrete plan on how to tackle this and rather an agile approach will be explored with a focus of doing things that are easy and/or needed.

To begin with these services could be:

  • assistance in buying a server
  • setting up and/or managing a dappnode installation
  • setting up and/or managing a staking/validator node within a crypto network (AraChain, Ethereum, FileCoin, etc.)
  • setting up and/or managing a DAO and/or apps
  • developing a dapp on Aragon

Anything an IT department in an organization would do really, the twist being the technologies used (web3 over web2).

Why a cooperative? I imagined this would grow into a big organization and thought that a cooperative where people can work autonomously, in a decentralized manner is necessary to scale.

This being said, I think a better approach would be to narrow down the focus of this organization to a hub and an incubator as you can see in the version 2 of the AGP.

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I really like the idea of seeding a small Aragon coworking lab in Romania, looks like the airport has some nice accessibility too, Vienna, Barcelona, Beauvais (Paris), Brussels, Bucharest, Cologne, London, Munich, Rome, Tel Aviv, Treviso, and will have direct to Berlin in 9 months.

I would love to see some seeds being planted strategically around the world…

Curious tho… is starting a Romania legal entity and moving money in and out of country a big hassle? Does having an Aragon Org provide any competitive advantages compared to the existing options?

I have always thought countries in Africa, the Middle East and South America would be more in need of this solution than Countries in Europe… but I know almost nothing about Romania.

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I love this idea, I see this tying up alot of thoughts and ideas from across the ecosystem of late. Specifically, the conclutions of the Nest strategy report, Aragon Academy, and community outreach.

Specifically for Nest, an incubator programme would significantly increase our grants ROI and quality of our deal flow. It would also increase high-value contributors within the Aragon ecosystem as a whole.

One of the highlights of AB’s withdrawn Flock proposal was the Aragon Academy. All in all, I think this could be really high leverage for the ecosystem.

I couldn’t agree more

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This is more about what makes sense for Aragon, the idea was to have this little experiment, measure its success and then create a fork-able AGP so that the community can start creating these “Maker Hubs” where it makes sense the most, e.g.: Berlin, Zug, etc. wherever a community member (that can embark on this journey) is located. In my case this is Iasi, although I’d love to see one in Copenhagen too which is kind of like my second home.

The intention behind this wasn’t so much about creating these Hubs in developing countries, although that makes sense too because it will be a cost-effective way of attracting talent to the ecosystem.

Curious tho… is starting a Romania legal entity and moving money in and out of country a big hassle?

I have no idea, but I think this is a very important problem to pursuit. I think DAOs having a legal entity is a very important use case. Perhaps collaborating with a jurisdiction like Switzerland or Estonia will be enough. For example if a company in Romania can be owned by a Zug-based company then we don’t need to integrate with every single jurisdiction, I assume.
I’d love to hear from A1 and AA which I understand have a legal entity, to see how they tackled this issue and come up with a more general purpose solution.

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@danielconstantin thanks a lot for starting the conversation on this topic.

+1 for an Uruguayan hub :uruguay: :raised_hands:

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Think this is a really cool idea, but it seems like a lot for a specific location. One of the main goals of the Aragon community is to make it so that anyone anywhere can contribute. This is one of the reasons that instead of Aracon we’re going to focus on lots of meetups all over the world.

As I just posted in the Aragon Outreach thread, maybe it would make more sense to first have a meetup, then a workshop, and then if there’s overwhelming demand explore an incubator?

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co-working spaces rents seem like an unnecessary cost + all the equipment cost. everyone already has a computer, let’s leverage this better
aragon dev teams work in distributed fashion and this works well

Really think the progressive approach makes sense. Would be awesome to see a meetup take off first and I would be happy to support the initiative as it grows. @danielconstantin do you think it could make sense?

I do not agree with this. As the crypto space evolves and attracts more diversity and talent I wouldn’t discard the possibility of having local Aragon hubs. Not everybody likes to work remotely. In cheap localities like Lasi, the upside of being able to onboard people and have them work side by side could easily offset the (cheap) rent. Besides that, off-sites for distributed teams tend to have a significant costs. If hubs reduce that, it is savings for us and a win for the planet!

Also the IT services provided could eventually educate people about how to run their own Aragon infrastructure, making Aragon more sustainable and decentralized on the longer term.

So while part of the magic of Aragon comes from the great distribution of early contributors, I would remain open about the future. Of course, these hubs should find a path to sustainability and become autonomous asap. And i think that’s the intention behind this proposal :slight_smile:

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We already have these costs, and we are doing it in a non-sustainable way.

For example A1 has been granted:

  • $40k for equipment in 2018
  • $50k for equipment in 2019
  • $55k for office expenses in 2019
  • $130k for office furniture and renovation costs in 2019

Autark has been grated:

  • $10k for miscellaneous expenses including (Equipment, SaaS software/hosting, co-working space memberships, contingency) in 2019
  • $25k for equipment and furniture in 2019
  • $15k for coworking memberships.

Aragon Black has been grated:

  • $15k for equipment in 2019

This makes up for a total of $235k paid to A1, $50k paid to Autark and $15k paid to Aragon Black in 2019 alone.

Is this an unnecessary? No. While most teams work in distributed fashion and that works well, they do have huge budgets for off-sites which they find very productive.

Would you mind sharing your personal experiences on working remote vs on-site vs a hybrid approach, @nrtx ?

At least from my perspective I can say that working from home is great, but at the same time, gathering occasionally on the same location can prove very productive and crucial to a good mental health.

Saying that “everyone already has a computer” is a bit of an elitist assumption IMO. Not a lot of people can afford paying 1500-2000 USD for a decent workstation when that covers more than 5 months of rent, depending on their location.
If I felt comfortable mentoring a team or a person using entry-level equipment then I wouldn’t need this investment to begin with, I could just bootstrap.

Please, let’s not forget that the value proposition, which in its current format, grants ANT holders 50% of its profits. If we keep in mind that the Flock program grants teams an average of $300k per year for this type of expenses, investing $30k into a co-working space DAO seems like a very reasonable experiment considering the up-side. If this experiment is a success we could create these Hubs at whatever location our Flock teams need, e.g.: Zug, Berlin, etc., free them of this resource management burden, and replace them with sustainable, open-to-all DAOs.

if there’s overwhelming demand explore an incubator?

As I’ve said, several people already expressed interest in such program within my circle of friends.

maybe it would make more sense to first have a meetup, then a workshop

I don’t see why these have to be mutually exclusive. I see meetups as being effective for certain people that don’t have jobs and/or can live without a source of income for a period of time. I believe is safe to assume that most people (probably more than 80%) cannot afford quitting their jobs to learn & build on Aragon or to not get a job/paid internship right after finishing their studies. Being able to meet with people locally and discuss about Aragon is not a solid incentive to build on Aragon.

It is safe to assume that the Incubator program will also be available for remote applications, that being said, at this stage of the experiment being able to work side-by-side with people in a controlled environment increases its chances of success.

It is safe to assume that the Hub will aim to become a sustainable continuous organization using the fundraising app. This proposal is about participating in its pre-fundraising giving AA one token and myself one token to prove the concept and to make an appealing proposal for the second round of funding. If this proposal is not approve this does not directly mean that Aragon, through the Association cannot participate in future fundraising rounds.

I guess the question comes down to whether you believe that Aragon should invest in some DAOs that it helps create, as a way to becoming sustainable, or it should simply wait and become sustainable through its Court service.

The other risk, of course, is trusting me with this money, to which I can only suggest to do your own due diligence and check my transparency report, forum profile, github activity and definitely my bag.

To summarize:

  • On 21st of October 2017 had my first contribution
  • On 13th of January 2018 I bought my first ANTs
  • In September 2018 I started being an active contributor focusing on dev tooling
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Do you have experience mentoring developers or running an incubator?

This would likely make ANT a security. That’s not a dice I’d like to roll.

Cool. Maybe create a CFDAO grant for a hackathon then and let us know how it goes.

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have no personal experience. I imagine there could be so much room for off site budget optimization. I wasn’t aware A teams have these costs already. personally, I would prefer working from home but I guess that’s everyone’s personal preference. I just tend to be sensitive to infrastructure costs when I see that there’s more sustainable alternatives. occasionally gathering together can too be organized in many creative ways with little infrastructure costs

but I guess I might agree that experimenting with local hubs should be explored