Builders Programs

I’d like to open a topic to discuss everything about Builders Programs and Grant Programs that provide specific support for projects building on parachains. These programs can have a very important role in developing ecosystems and driving adoption.

There are many different programs created in the ecosystem so far, mostly providing some form of funding, but often have technical, marketing or business development support as well.

The Substrate Builders Program is also actively supporting the development of such programs through the Builders for Builders initiative.

Some well known programs in the ecosystem are the Acala Ecosystem Program, the MoonBuilders program for Moonbeam/Moonriver and the SpaceLabs for Astar/Shiden.

Curious to hear what the community thinks about such programs. Please share your thoughts, ideas and any experience you think could be interesting or helpful for others!

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An interesting DID startup inquired recently about Litentry’s DID Startup Program.
These programs are great. So many projects would greatly benefit from entering the ecosystem via one of this application focused programs. It would also be interesting to see all these programs get more spotlight together. This should help drive a narrative for teams from other ecosystems where they might get interested to experiment their applications on parachains that are optimised for their usecases. They could choose which parachain would be best suited for their needs and pursue that path directly.

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Quite a few established projects have small grants programmes already, including SubQuery. We’ve granted a few hundred thousand dollars worth of grants already since the programme started just under a year ago.

I suspect that there is a lot of duplication across the ecosystem here, including duplication of effort managing and promoting these programmes. Additionally there seems to be situations where people will apply for slight variations of the same proposals from multiple grants programmes at the same time.

I think we can do better in communicating in the ecosystem around these programmes, mostly around Discoverability:

If i’m a new entrant that wants to build in web3. I search:

These other ecosystems better advertise how easy it is to get started by:

  • Provide an official page on their main website: “Grants · Polkadot Wiki” seems a bit cheap
  • Clearly explaining the scope of the grants, e.g. “Anyone can apply for a grant from the Solana Foundation. That includes individuals, independent teams, governments, nonprofits, companies, universities, and academics. Here is the list of initiatives we are currently looking to fund. However, these are only exemplary and we welcome all ideas that fall under the broader scope of the Foundation’s mission.
  • Showing the categories that are up for funding
  • Showing the scale of the grants, e.g. “Up to $250 million”
  • Explaining the different options people have - what they are, who are they for, what is the best place to apply for your project, e.g. "Proximity is Aimed at projects looking to build decentralized finance (DeFi) applications. Aurora: Aimed a projects looking to build on our EVM.
  • Listing out alternative programmes not specifically related to grants - e.g. our amazing Substrate Builders Programme

I have other ideas about combining efforts in managing these programmes and potentially allowing smaller grants programmes to get funding from the treasury to scale what might be a successful but limited grants programme - but those are discussions for another day

Thanks @james.bayly for the context, quite interesting! I do agree with several of the points that you outlined there, in particular how do we make it easier for builders where to go and how in a more public way.

However, one thing that strikes to me is that Grants should not only be a program by which we aid builders with funds, but also a place where we can help them build. I we can do this quite smartly with smaller teams (thinking about using substrate.stackexchange with smart tagging, a simple one week call with all the builders per program, etc).

In this sense, it becomes imperative to have each team host their own program, as they can offer different pieces of technology given their unique offering. For example, I do have teams that apply to the SBP that want to build a Solidity Smart Contract on Moonbeam, and maybe the ask me how to actually use their XCM functionality; the answer is simple: I don’t know :person_shrugging: (nor I think I necessarily should to the point of being able to help builders tbh). This team will be way better served by Moonbeam than by Parity.

Finally, to address one of your points that I like :).

I see this, I understand it, and I think that if all the information is public and easily searchable of who got what, where and on what stage they are in, then we can reduce this a bit. However, I believe, it will happen and we won’t be able to stop this 100%.

Summing up my thoughts, I would say that:

  • Grants/Builders Programms should be about funding but also about helping builders buidl.
  • We should find a way of making it easier for builders to discover what is is available, how to apply to it and what it entails, for the entire ecosystem. Let’s hope this thread gets full of existing programs or programs-to-be.
  • We could also make flashier, more beautiful things to showcase this.
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Thanks for bringing this up. Regarding better visibility of the Web3 Foundation Grants Program (especially for non-devs, for example, VCs that can highly benefit from the complete transparency of our grants program: GitHub - w3f/Grants-Program: Web3 Foundation Grants Program), we are currently working on a nicer website on top of the GitHub version, see GitHub - w3f/grants-test-repository (no design so far only tests) and talking to teams like https://www.submittable.com/.

The other topic is increasing the visibility of the funding/grant programs, etc. in our ecosystem as a whole. We are in early discussions with https://www.radius.space/ which tries to archive this across different ecosystems. But it would actually be nice to have this for our ecosystem specifically. Also, a tool to easily and transparently co-fund projects together with different parachains would be nice, which radius tries to integrate. I would be happy to have a call or working group with different grant programs in our ecosystem and see how we can improve the funding process as an ecosystem and not necessarily as an individual grant program.

@santi i certainly agree with you that Grants should not only be a programme to help with funding, it’s also critical to provide our knowledge/connections/experience and offer a helping hand to each new team. Substrate Builders Programme leads the way here

In the example that you gave where teams applied to the SBP for a smart contract on Moonbeam, you’re value add here is pointing them in the right direction and connecting them to the right people. As a result, I believe it becomes imperative that each team clearly communicate the existence, purpose, requirements, and process of each their respective programme so we can all know where we should point and connect new entrants.

This is the summary of my feedback, improving the discoverability of various grants and programmes in this vibrant ecosystem. This thread isn’t the best place. I’d prefer to see a community maintained page on the public Polkadot website - it’s got to be official and the first result on Google. Is this possible?

Aamzing @james.bayly, I completely agree. Having a place where all of this is visible and we can provide input, seems like something fairly easy and impactful to do.

I would think of a simple website attached to a public repo where teams can add the information for their own projects and keep it updated. Details should be what you included, however I would maybe keep it a bit more high level and then refer to a proper website for the team with more information. WDYT?

@santi @Daniel_CB Are there any thoughts on creating an aggregated page with all of the ecosystems “builders” programs?

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I’m sure we would all be happy to help here, we just need something that looks offical (e.g. on an official Polkadot domain) and a set of guidelines for the information and format that you need

Hey folks,

I’ve been following the comments on this post as our team has conducted research on building a grants aggregator for the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems(our treasury proposal is currently up for discussion).

On that note, I’ve taken this conversation into account, so I’ll quickly sum up the outlined problems:

  1. Treasuries / foundations(eg. Polkadot Treasury) are burning funds as there are not enough projects to support.

  2. Grants information and guidelines within the ecosystems are scattered and therefore difficult to find (there are only 2 places where we have a somewhat overview of these; Polkadot/Kusama documentation and Web3 Foundation Github).

  3. It is difficult to publicly track (grant) funding for different stages of project development. This has previously resulted in conflicts within the community.

  4. There isn’t a unified public record to privately / publicly manage and display a grant recipient’s quality and outcome of delivery (scattered documentation).

  5. With GOV2 incoming, further research is required on tracking proposals and deliverables in order to determine the appropriate UX.

We can split the grants and builders programs into separate categories, so that teams can opt for both or either from relevant entities within different parts of their development.

Below are the grant types and the tooling used for applications (see analysis here):

  • Treasuries/Governance (Treasury, bounty, tip) - on chain/PA/SS/PJS
  • “Normal” Grants (eg. Web3 Foundation) - usually Github
  • Builders programs - Github/Docs/Forms

We can aggregate these and guide teams with a questionnaire to the programs which fit their needs.

Solution

1. A dapp which contains all grants from the ecosystems.

  • Index data from treasuries in the ecosystem by building custom APIs(Subsquids) for tracking proposals
  • Integrate Github in the front end for tracking and submitting non-treasury grants
  • Building and maintaining light clients for quick data retrievals, security and low loading times
  • Enable log in with multiple DID services, Github and Wallets
  1. Minting of non-transferable NFTs as “certificates” for completed milestones. Each token would contain information on what was executed and how it was evaluated.
  • Ordum will be built on Phala to leverege the chains privacy capabilities and Phat smart contracts
  • Create a connection between DID (foundation)–> Phala Smart Contract–> Non-transferable NFT–>DID (recipient)
  • Design a custom type of RMRK non-transferable NFT, stored on Crust, containing reports from the foundations on milestone delivery
  1. Delivery of milestones, grant applications and funding are displayed on a team’s profile for transparency.
  • Front end displaying funding amounts and certificates within a roadmap
  1. Issuing surveys and analyzing / feedback data for the purpose of aggregating and managing treasury grants in the most optimal way.
  • Design the optimal UX through collaboration with other teams in the ecosystem(interviews, surveys)

A member of the community, Anaelle, pointed out how there are plenty proposals in events, media, translations which are copy/paste. On this note, there is an interest from Ordum to incorporate machine learning within the dapp to scan these and label them(in an ethical manner, of course). However, this will require more human resources and finances being invested in the project(would like to hear your thoughts on the matter and how you feel about such a solution).

Additionally, if you are interested in working with us on this project as a grant issuer or recipient, we would love to speak to you and identify the pain points in each user journey so we can build a dapp with great UX that goes beyond a grant aggregator and becomes a tool for transparent funding; which drives community decision making based on data.

We want to make a useful product which is based on the problems and needs of:

  • Parachains
  • Parity/Web3
  • Ecosystem projects + dapps
  • New applicants
  • Token holders / Community

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and I hope that we can find an optimal solution together as a community. :smiley:

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