What Bootstrapping a DAO Looks Like
Shedding light on what the bootstrapping, or “excubating” process of MetricsDAO has looked like so far, how it’s working, and how specific challenges could cause it to fail.
MetricsDAO launched in 2021 to operationalize, automate and scale the creation of on-chain analytics for crypto projects. In the past three months we’ve seen an unaffiliated group of people from all over the world start to organize around this mission, and grow to nearly 1,500 contributors. Projects such as Harmony, OlympusDAO, and Uniswap have already approved grants to tap into the DAO’s community for the analytics they need.
Getting here this quickly took more than a vision and a Discord. Actually growing, organizing, and enabling the MetricsDAO community to drive outcomes could not have happened this quickly without Flipside Crypto’s support, via a process we call “excubation”.
In this article we aim to shed light on what the bootstrapping, or “excubating” process has looked like so far, how it’s working, and how specific challenges could cause it to fail. We don’t claim to have all of the answers — in fact we’re still experimenting with the right structures and incentives to move MetricsDAO towards further decentralization and automation.
If you have questions, comments, or ideas after reading this, please message us in Discord! We’d love to discuss.
When the parts are worth more than the sum.
Flipside Crypto’s mission is to help blockchain projects reach their full potential. At the core of every product is a robust data analytics platform that labels and curates blockchain data. Around it are many other moving pieces focused on bounties, governance, marketing, education, international growth, and scaling and automation. Together, these parts allow Flipside to run community enabled analytics that drive user growth and retention for partner projects.
Flipside already produces outputs by working directly with its community of analysts. This creates a “porous” organization, in which community talent and internal resources blend together to drive analytical outcomes.
But what if we made the organization even more “porous”? By open sourcing more than just code bases, spaces are created that empower more diverse lines of thinking. Individuals become more than participants in the system — they are given the power to become contributors who shape the system and its partnerships for themselves and others.
This free-flowing model is what MetricsDAO is all about.
Instead of incubating a team to start building a project, Flipside excubated a prototype that needed a team. Part of this process involved intellectual property: a 6 step process that would turn community-sourced questions into actionable challenges that DAO participants could subsequently solve. The framework came in part from Flipside’s experience with launching bounties, but is by no means in its final form. It is meant to provide enough incentive and structure to stimulate learning and innovation from a decentralized group of people.
Excubating MetricsDAO also meant providing talent. Five Flipside team members are devoting significant time to MetricsDAO, enabling them to provide energy and operational support while community members on-ramp to become valued contributors and Core team members.
Last but not least, Flipside provided capital. The startup contributed 100,000 USDC to the MetricsDAO treasury to go towards more self-funded experiments and to align incentives as needed.
Where Excubation Works
Excubating a DAO means providing some leadership, capital and structure that together can organize a larger decentralized network of people around a common goal.
The MetricsDAO community has already self-organized into working groups, or “pods”, each with a leader and a specific goal. It’s fascinating to see some of these pods form entirely without the leadership of Flipside, bringing in new ideas and people to drive better outcomes. Excubation works by allowing decentralization to happen from the bottom-up. It provides sufficient structure and resources for the organization to grow while still having some missing pieces at launch.
As experiments validate hypotheses, processes can be automated which means there’s less need for human touch, and less vulnerability to human error. A more resilient system starts to form, which allows for further decentralization.
This reinforcing loop creates space for more equity holders to come in and impact direction, provide diverse thoughts and drive innovation all while building a more trustless system.
How Excubation Can Fail
There are clear risks with excubating a process. For one, you may struggle to source the proper contributors. DAO contributors are usually drawn to a mission which makes them passionate and driven, but they’re also not yet being compensated for their work. As a result, it may be slower to attract talent and/or contributors may not be as available as you’d expect a traditional employee to be.
Additionally, while excubation gives full-time employees wide latitude to invest their time and energy in a project, some employees are expected to wear two hats. The biggest risk with excubating a DAO, then, is realizing that you’ve pushed people and capital to their limits and growth is stagnating.
MetricsDAO has a long way to go before we can truly call it decentralized and autonomous, but the way Flipside has been bootstrapping the DAO — by providing structure that allows it to grow but not being restrictive or controlling in that growth — is clearly resonating with people. The fact that MetricsDAO is open-sourcing more than just repositories and actually giving the community a say in how its operating process should be structured, means that anyone can come in and really have an impact.
We believe that on its own MetricsDAO can grow to become something more special than what the analytics process would look like in house at a traditional org.
We believe that a community-owned and run organization can blossom into something spectacular.
Join our community and help make this excubation process a success!