Growth Guild Funding Proposal - 2023

Description/Summary:

The Growth Guild of the Aragon Association requests $1,998,984.55 from March 1, 2023 to February 29, 2024 to continue the exclusive safeguarding, access and permissions management, full service support, amplification, and growth of the Aragon Project brand, platforms, channels, and external relationships within the new Aragon DAO. Our team covers the full range of ecosystem and growth services, including branding, ecosystem, communications, marketing, business development, partnerships, events, community, and public policy. All of these verticals are synergistic and play an integral role in the current and future success of the Aragon Project. As a well-known brand and leading DAO infrastructure provider in web3, Aragon needs a dedicated professional team serving the products, initiatives, and guilds in its ecosystem. In addition, the upcoming launch of Aragon’s new generation of products reinforces the need for our team to uphold its momentum and propel these new products into the world for maximum effect.

Objective:

The objective of the Growth Guild is to protect, strengthen, and grow the value of the Aragon Ecosystem and brand. We align, consolidate, and direct the Aragon Project on shared narrative, strategy, tech and product developments, and growth. We do this by articulating Aragon’s mission and value proposition; reaching and converting the largest defined audience; building a well-connected ecosystem through incentive mechanisms and relationship building; protecting, positioning and amplifying the Aragon brand; and promoting product usage while relaying user research and industry sentiment and feedback back to the product teams. All of these objectives increase the value of the project and its ecosystem.

Our long-term goals as a team include:

  1. Make Aragon the heart of the on-chain governance ecosystem.
  2. Restore Aragon’s original reputation and authority as a trusted leader in creating on-chain governance technology.
  3. Be the best educational resource for DAO builders and developers, reducing barriers they have to launch, and building the bridge for the next wave of DAOs to make sustainable and impactful contributions to society.
  4. Power the largest and highest-number of active DAOs on the entire Aragon stack.
  5. Expand the use-case of on-chain organizations throughout the world, enabling the building of new organizations we can’t yet imagine today.

Proposed OKRs for January 1, 2023 - March 31, 2023 (Season 1):

Our OKRs are focused on building the brand, comms, and ecosystem foundations we need to be ready for the App and new aragonOS (name to be announced) mainnet launch. Our objectives are focused on optimising the growth funnel, building events and educational programs, establishing trust, refreshing the brand and narrative, and transitioning effectively into a DAO with minimal disruptions on our ability to ship and create impact.

Details:

The Aragon brand has been a mainstay in the web3 industry since 2017 and has been a shining example of ingenuity - creating tools for organizations to experiment with governance at the speed of software. Although there have been difficult times in its existence, as with many organizations in a fast moving space, the brand has never been as strong since its inception as it is today. This is something our team has worked on tirelessly. Since the decision to launch a new aragonOS and front-end (Aragon App), the Growth team has reorganized and consolidated all the verticals (mentioned in the description above) into one team for maximum coordination (an industry-wide problem) and impact. What was once a mix of disjointed and bloated teams consisting of 17+ contributors, including the creation of growth & community guilds within the experimental AN DAO, is now a lean and focused team of 8 core contributors. Not only has this reduced cost and increased cohesion and impact on organization-wide strategies, it has simultaneously reduced noise, risk, and brand dilution.

The current E&G Team was revitalized and restructured over the past 8 months and is beginning to pick up velocity, something the team lead is actively striving to maintain through the transition. Below are some victories and successes during the last few months:

  • Aragon is still the #1 place for DAO Builders and developers to launch (233 active DAOs launched in Q3), total TVL on Aragon contracts, $6billion +
  • Aragon is the most visible DAO infra player across the web, both in social media and in search engines (104,100 Twitter followers, SEO wins: Page 1 for over 20 key DAO related queries, including “What is a DAO”)
  • The launch of the DAO Experts (68+ referrals and hundreds of inquiries) and How to Guides (over 20,000 reads, some articles at 5min+ average read time which is multiple times higher than the global standard) have supported many DAOs in launching and excelling beyond what they could do alone.
  • The Aragon brand is globally recognized and doors are still open across the industry after extensive relationship repair in the ecosystem after twice restructuring the organization since its inception.
  • Aragon is having active conversations with world-renowned organizations including Reddit, FC Barcelona, The All Blacks Rugby Team, and The Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation. In web3, Aragon has open conversations with a vast majority of the top DAOs and projects such as Lido, ApeCoin DAO, DAOStar One, zksync, and more.
  • Over 1,500 builders have signed up for the launch of the new app and protocol.
  • Previous OKR completion rate: 15 of 18 completed successfully (1 of which was missed due to a dependency and 1 pushed into Q1 for more impact).

Brand, Communications, & Policy

Aragon has an opportunity to use its leadership, authority, and positioning to reshape and repair the definition of DAOs. DAOs are in the midst of an identity crisis, with the first wave of DAO builders faltering due to a limited understanding and application of the revolutionary technology that is on-chain, smart-contract, permission management systems.

Web3 technology is difficult to understand and even more difficult to apply to real world use cases. Through Aragon’s reputation and history in pioneering DAO technology, we have the power to restore not only Aragon’s original focus on technology, but the industry’s understanding and imagination of its infinite potential use cases and impact. We are uniquely positioned on the cusp of a blue ocean narrative opportunity in what is still a nascent and rapidly evolving industry.

As we focus on the technology that will power the organizations of the future, it’s important to center the rightful heroes of this journey: DAO builders and developers. They are the ones who will take lines of code and turn them into new forms of organizations, businesses, and nations we can’t yet imagine today. By re-framing the brand narrative around the hero’s journey —DAO builders and developers—using the well-established SB7 model we can build towards a powerful narrative that inspires action and conversion in our marketing and BD activities.

Launching our new website early in Q1 will prominently feature our new generation of technology and focus on giving our target audiences everything they need to succeed. By connecting our tech-centered DAO narrative with our products and resources in a new, easy-to-navigate interface, we are setting ourselves up to capitalize and convert on the traffic generated via our growth initiatives mentioned below. The brand refresh across our new website and products will increase visual cohesion at a time where presenting an aligned and united product experience is absolutely necessary.

The communications needs of Aragon are not only external, but also internal with the core teams moving into a DAO. The internal/external communications hybrid to keep everyone in our transitioning organization is The Eagle - Aragon’s weekly newsletter. We will build on its current format and implement robust journalistic standards to bring neutral visibility to milestones, developments, and discussions in the ecosystem. This newsletter will serve to not only keep the Aragon DAO guilds up to date amongst each other, but also to build in the open and maintain transparent lines of communications with ANT Holders and the broader web3 ecosystem.

Narrative is one of the most powerful tools we have to position Aragon’s technology in an increasingly uncertain political and regulatory environment. By forecasting and participating in industry alliances, we can strategically direct Aragon’s narrative on a path that inoculates it from future blockers in high risk regulatory areas. Aragon’s technology has the potential to revolutionize the world as we know it, so it’s important to strategically position and amplify its social good as various actors seek to suppress revolutionary technology to retain their power and control.

Ecosystem & Community

The E&G guild will coordinate with other relevant stakeholders to write and publish an Ecosystem Incentives Strategy. The strategy will outline how the Aragon DAO can leverage its treasury to incentivize external teams and projects to sustainably contribute towards the development and distribution of DAOs and the new aragonOS. Following Aragon’s Strategy to Become a Governance Hyperstructure (SBGH), the initial focus will be on integrating market-validated DAO tools, including both vertical-specific and universal DAO interfaces.

The strategy will cover multiple deployment mechanisms (used stand-alone or in combination), including but not limited to:

  • Grants: upfront and retroactive funding mechanisms.
  • Investments: venture-style funding.
  • Token swaps: when partnering with projects with a liquid governance token.

The strategy will complement SBGH. It will help in both creating and evaluating funding proposals for specific deployment mechanisms and structured incentive programs. Establishing incentive programs will decrease the administrative overhead for actors seeking funding and keep the governance of the Aragon DAO lean and simple.

Through the inception of the experimental AN DAO and pre-dating this team’s strategy, the Aragon community was designed around a system of “levels”, in which “community” members were onboarded based on completing paid tasks. This created a community that joined the AN DAO to be paid, and thus created misalignment and apathy. These problems were not solely felt by Aragon and are a common pain point in DAOs built during the most recent bull market. Much work has already been done, but, our team will continue rectifying this pain point in the new DAO. We envision this community aligning around common goals and technology, rather than being paid for their participation. This will be a huge refresh and positive outcome for the Aragon Project.

Moving forward with a new strategy, the Aragon community will be designed to support three groups: developers, DAO builders, and ANT holders. This will build a community aligned around the most important concepts: our products and technology. Our focus will be to create a symbiotic relationship, onboarding interested developers and DAO builders, then supporting them to build the most impactful and sustainable DAOs they can imagine, creating a win-win situation.

We will also reinforce the moderation of community platforms, making Aragon’s community spaces easier to navigate and safer for constructive participation.

Growth, Developer Relations, & BD Funnel

The focus of the marketing and business development team has been on the top and middle-of-funnel. We’re focusing on awareness, interest, consideration, and brand positioning until the new products are ready. This strategy will adjust as the products come to market, upon which the team will add specific focus on conversion and retention.

The current strategy includes further establishing our presence in the ecosystem through search engine optimization (SEO), increasing click-through-rate (CTR), and expanding reach on social media using the narrative and branding points mentioned above. We’ve built an education and support program which we plan to expand extensively, which has two benefits: it leads our target market into successfully launching a DAO and gives them the tools they need to sustainably manage their DAO and take it from 1 to 100. Education-as-marketing makes Aragon a top of mind reference point for the industry. It positions us to be the DAO builder’s perpetual guide in a space that continuously shifts and evolves.

The first step in our education-as-marketing efforts was to build the bedrock of our content strategy: How To Guides. These guides are meant to be evergreen, highly adaptable, and repurposed in different media, products, programs and experiences. The next evolution of How To Guides is to apply them to verticals inside and outside of the web3 industry—inspiring DAO builders and providing forkable roadmaps to apply the technology in concrete and exciting ways. We’ve identified that education is one of the most important mechanisms to reaching web3 mass adoption, so we’re building the strongest and most accessible brand in the DAO ecosystem. This education and support program has allowed for over 10 official partnerships to be solidified with DAO experts who work on-the-ground helping DAOs succeed, again leading prospects back into the Aragon funnel, and there are more on the way! It also has led to our most recent partnership with the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation where we are designing a DAO curriculum for their nation-wide Web3 Education Program, which could onboard millions of users.

The E&G team will be working very closely with the the Aragon Developer Relations team, who will be housed within a separate proposal. They will be the conduit between the product and growth squads and will also be the link between the developer community and our team.

The team has also spent a considerable amount of time rebuilding and making new relationships with industry leaders as there is only one contributor left from the original Aragon team (a proud member of E&G, hello Adri!). All of these relationships needed to be reignited. We have been doing this primarily through direct outreach and major conference and event attendance (one of the most important trust building opportunities in web3). Since this new team has joined, important relationships have been rekindled with ecosystem giants such as Lido, Decentraland, API3, Gnosis, Polygon, and zksync (to name a few).

There are over 3000 contacts in the Aragon Association E&G Team’s CRM (client resource manager). The team has a list of the most important protocols and DAOs which it hopes to build and maintain relationships with. Relationship building cannot be underestimated in a space with severe trust problems and extremely low retention of contributors. Finally, we hope to greatly increase our event and hackathon presence (starting with ETH Denver & the 2nd iteration of the DAO Global Hackathon) to combine and fulfill all of our above goals both in filling and moving prospects through our funnel to launch their DAOs or build plug-ins for the hyperstructure.

Team (alphabetical order):

Adria Garcia - Adri has been a part of Aragon since day one and for the last five years has created, developed, and evolved the project’s branding and visual identity into one of the strongest and most recognizable brands in web3. His role has evolved from designing the first genesis logotype of Aragon to include many branding successes, including expanding the brand consistently across platforms, defining the first product design system, and collaborating in all of Aragon’s major events and campaigns. Adri has also contributed to the brand design at Nation3 and Firm.

Anthony Leutenegger - Anthony has worked for both Vocdoni (AL) and Aragon Association (AA) for 1.5 years. He is the current Head of Business Development & Partnerships at Aragon and leads the Growth Guild. He was previously the Associate Director of Advancement at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, traveling and working with clients in over 80 countries. He has served as the org representative on two boards, both of which he led the board member selection process. He has experience in BD, corporate partnerships, stakeholder relations, and marketing. He graduated from the University of Waterloo, but definitely wasn’t in Vitalik’s class.

Ivan Fartunov (80%) - Ivan has been a key contributor to Aragon for over 18 months, working on a wide range of strategy and growth initiatives. In 2018 and 2019, he created the institutional-facing business of a leading CeFi lender from the ground up. Beyond blockchain, Ivan has experience in venture building and strategic capital allocation in Europe and the Middle East, covering sectors such as renewable energy, manufacturing, public infrastructure, fintech, and telecoms.

Jessica Smith - Jessica has been the Head of Communications & Policy since April 2022. She was previously a Public Policy Associate at Meta, focusing on developing unique policy programs and campaigns in a key test market. Before pivoting to tech, she was a Trademark Lawyer at an international law firm and a Procedural Officer in the Parliament of Canada. She has a degree in Conflict Studies and a Juris Doctor, and experience in tech policy, public relations, and law.

Lia Savillo - Lia has been the Content Strategist at Aragon since April 2022. She is a marketing and media professional with experience in both publishing and advertising. Previously, she worked at VICE as a Journalist, wherein her scope included news coverage on Web3, and was instrumental in growing the news brand across the APAC region. Before that she was a Senior Campaigns Manager at the biggest national publication in the Philippines, creating and growing their online presence to 10M followers in less than a year. She also stewarded major regional award-winning marketing campaigns with brands like Adidas, Mcdonald’s, and Coca Cola.

Ryan MacDowell - Ryan is the newest member of the team, joining 1 month ago, and is an event, marketing, and media professional with over a decade of experience and a passion for web3 and blockchain gaming. He has consulted for web3 industry leaders since 2018 and most recently served as CMO for Ethermon, the largest blockchain gaming district in Decentraland. He is also a co-founder and leader of the Fair Play Collective DAO, providing support and resources for blockchain gaming founders as well as gamers. Before his focus on web3, Ryan was instrumental in communications and operations at institutions like MIT and McGill University, and was the founder and director of a successful video production company.

Samantha Marin - Sam has been the content writer/editor at Aragon since April 2022. She studied English and Writing at Columbia University in New York, where she learned how to craft a narrative and tell any story. She worked at a U.S. Senator’s office, a New York literary agency, and a small tech startup before getting into web3 by joining BanklessDAO as a Talent Scout. At bDAO, she built the Writers Guild onboarding process, ran content strategy, and wrote and edited for projects across the DAO. Now, other than being part of the growth team at Aragon she also writes about DAOs in her newsletter, which is part of the Quorum metalabel.

Shawn Cubbedge - Shawn has contributed to the Aragon Network DAO as the Community Lead and a Cohort 1 Ambassador since its inception just over a year ago. He has 6 years of project management experience running teams ranging from 10 to 50 people. He’s been the bedrock of the ANDAO community, delivering and supporting on multiple proposals from Onboarding Research to Community Experience. Shawn always has the community and its health at the top of his mind and has been instrumental in leading the shift towards the new community strategy.

Funding Breakdown:

The E&G guild values being lean and efficient. It’s committed to setting strong expectations for success and holding team members accountable for their work. When team members are held accountable we can best open the door for supporting the team with fair salaries, excellent working conditions, related professional development, and the support required to ensure each team member has everything they need to meet their goals. We are organized and well coordinated and have created our shared rituals, which we use as a foundation for success. The team continues to operate under budget, any budget not used will be returned to the Aragon DAO.

Budget:

Vertical Expenses i.e. marketing, branding, events, policy & advocacy, BD $414,000.00
Team Expenses $183,920.00
Total Other Opex $1,800.00
Third Party Providers $50,000.00
Total Salaries $819,610.00
Performance Bonuses 12% (max) $98,353.20
Open Positions $200,000.00
5% Buffer $88,384.16
Total Season 2 $464,016.84
Total Season 3 $464,016.84
Total Season 4 $464,016.84
Total Season 1 $464,016.84
Total Yearly Budget $1,856,067.36
*7.7% other opex $142,917.19
Total proposal value $1,998,984.55

*Please note that the 7.7% other opex will be reimbursed to the DAO at EOY. Thus the actual budget for expenditures is *$1,856,067.36.

Savings:

ANDAO Deprecated Teams Amount/year
ANDAO Growth Team (9 core members) $165,000
ANDAO Community Guild (8 core members) $453,000
Videographer (we will take over videography) $90,726
Total Savings: $708,726

Risks & Dependencies:

There are several risks and dependencies that will affect the team’s ability to reach its goals and provide maximum value to the Aragon DAO. These have been taken into consideration from previous experiences and the team is always prepared to pivot to provide high impact.

Risks and dependencies include:

  • Product Timing & Reliability: The team’s ability to reach its growth metrics are heavily dependent on the App and Core squads ability to ship the new products. In the past this has been a major pain point, but the team has previously adjusted to focus on top-of-funnel foundational work including launching support and educational programs. Furthermore, an exploit of the new products could result in a shift for the team to focus on damage control rather than growth.
  • Bear Market: The bear market is having a devastating impact on retention and new participant entry into the industry. This is having a large impact on growth statistics. As the influx of capital is coming to a halt and web3 organizations are going bankrupt, it will be more difficult to onboard DAOs and orgs to build on the protocol due to the decrease in available capital and resources. This said, the reduction in noise and fanfare creates opportunities for Aragon to focus on core web3 stakeholders and audiences.
  • Industry Sentiment: The current industry sentiment towards DAOs in particular has been observed as relatively negative. The conflation of DAO communities inability to coordinate effectively with DAOs as a tool for on-chain governance has created a sticky and negative connotation of DAOs being inefficient and ineffective. Dozens of recent meetings (including with web3 industry leading organizations) have provided some validation that organizations once looking to become a DAO are reconsidering either entirely, or in an approach through launching a multi-sig (SAFE). Furthermore, the industry as a whole seems to misconstrue what a DAO actually is. All of these problems Aragon are actively working to rectify as mentioned above.
  • DAO Transition: The current E&G team has played a critical role in the creation and communication of the new Aragon DAO. It has also spent significant energy managing the risk from the old experimental AN DAO. These tasks & distractions have taken up a significant amount of energy, time, and resources from this team over the past year. Keeping a united and aligned front through intense organizational changes is challenging, but important. Furthermore, legal and policy constraints from and during the creation of the Aragon DAO could also increase the risk of stopping us from reaching our goals.
  • Social Media: The current volatility and unknown direction of Twitter, one of the central hubs for the web3 industry, poses a risk for reaching certain OKR’s listed above and Aragon’s reach to its currently defined target markets.
18 Likes

Great proposal! Still need to read it more thoroughly Read it, my general sentiment is that it makes sense and enables Aragon to seize the opportunity of pushing DAO forward when the space needs them the most in 2023.

Only one thing: E&G sounds very corporate. Acronyms are usually not the best for outsiders to understand. What about dropping the G? Just Ecosystem. Ecosystems tend to grow per se, as there’s a natural incentive towards evolution.

8 Likes

Thanks for the initial feedback Luis! I do agree we have the opportunity to push DAOs forward exactly when the industry needs DAOs the most. Our goal is to be as substantive and impactful as possible.

Appreciate the feedback about E&G. I’ll chat with the team about it. Have a great weekend!

3 Likes

Hi Luis,

In order to remove the acronym, but also avoid confusion between the Aragon “ecosystem” and an “ecosystem team” we will adjust the name to the Growth Guild. In the simplest and most un-romantic way our goals are often focused around growing the project, growing our users, growing the usage of DAOs across the world, growing the Aragon ecosystem and adding as much value as possible.

Thanks for the recommendation! I have made the changes.

3 Likes

Thanks for the comprehensive proposal @Anthony.Leuts, template for other proposals going forwards.

Some of the work has been exceptional, and thank you for continuing to push the Aragon Brand, The Eagle has been a real highlight for me and is the only source of information that you need to stay up to date.

Few questions:

The separation of the community levels is a welcome step. Are you essentially including anyone who does not fit into the first two categories as ANT Holders, and if so, will we be thinking about gating specific channels or commenting to just ANT holders?

For the events, will we be targeting all of the tier 1 events going forwards once the product has been released and will we announce an event schedule that we will be attending so that builders will be able to come to an event knowing in Aragon will be there or not?

In the case of a feature delay which can happen, what would the focus be on growing the database of potential users or would the focus be on the Hackathons and brand to attract developers to the Aragon ecosystem?

When will the roughly when will next iteration of the DAO global Hackathon start, is it around the product launch?

2 Likes

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the feedback and questions! Here are some answers:

  1. Re: community - our belief is that individuals are only in our community if they are one of the 3: DAO Builders, Developers (using our tools, building on them, etc.) or ANT holders. Of course all 3 can overlap, you can have a developer building a custom DAO who holds ANT and thus their user journey would be different. We are considering gating certain channels and/or leading certain community members to different channels to get what they need!

  2. We will not necessarily be targeting all of the tier 1 events. We will target events that best fit our strategy including other parameters including the type of event, cost, geographic location, attendance demographics, etc. In general tier 1 events meet many of these requirements but they are also the most difficult to attain a sponsorship and are the most expensive. We will be at ETHDenver as a major sponsor and will adjust from there. It’s difficult to announce an event schedule far in advance. For example, DevConnect is usually in April and there is no word on if it’s happening this year or the dates.

  3. We will have a healthy balance of product marketing and DAO related marketing (including education) and thus we will always have a wide breadth of initiatives and OKR’s that encompass both of these. We do always take into consideration “call to actions” for everything we do, whether it’s recruitment, ecosystem growth, conversion, etc. and thus are flexible.

  4. The next DAO Global Hackathon (not public yet) will be after ETHDenver and before Devconnect (or the dates it were from last year), thus after the product launch. It will be 1 month long starting early to mid March. We are still in the quiet phase of acquiring sponsors at this point.

Hope this helps! Thanks!

4 Likes