The Nest program has been up and running for 7 months already. It's mature enough to make a high level analysis of the program so far and talk a bit about its future.
Nest is the grants program run by the Aragon Association (formerly the Aragon Foundation). The process is public and transparent. The Aragon One team was the only team managing it and deciding who and what gets funded up until now. Currently, the Aragon DAC, the new Aragon team, is also participating in the application process. The idea is that all the different Aragon teams will have a part to play in this grants program.
So how many proposals and requests for funding have we received it so far? Up until the end of Q3:
Proposals are independent from requests for funding. A proposal can be approved and opened but still have no team working on it. Once a team has decided it wants to work on a specific proposal and that proposal is approved, we move to the next stage: the request for funding. In the proposal stage of the application process we validate the idea. In the request for funding stage, we validate the team, the roadmap and milestones. You can find all about the application process here.
The scope of work of the grants must fall between the range of $50,000 to $150,000. The teams requesting funding are the ones that have to provide us with the exact amount they think they will need. We check that the amount requested is not something disproportionate. Every team is different but we try to apply the same conditions to every applicant.
All the work that falls below the Nest funding range, but that is valuable, is funded via the Aragon bounty program. The bounty program can be an entry point of a team or individual to the Aragon community. We love to see prior dedication and commitment to the Aragon and/or Ethereum community.
The total amount of the grants approved so far is $1,345,800.
The average size of funding for grants is $112,150.
This doesn’t mean that we have given that complete amount to projects yet. We have paid approximately $527,800 so far. We disburse the payouts according to milestones and deliverables. More on this in the accountability section.
The funding has two parts: the ETH part and the ANT part. The ETH part is for the operations of the team. Teams are free to allocate their funds as they think is best. But we're requiring a budget allocation from the teams in order to better understand the reasoning behind the requested budgets. The ANT part is a reward for the teams that successfully finish their project. Teams can use the reward as they prefer. They can keep it and use it to participate in the governance of the Aragon Network, for example.
The program focuses on funding teams that are working on basic developer tooling and infrastructure as well as key Aragon applications. This focus may change as the project and technology evolve. The fundamental work of the Aragon project is done by the Aragon teams. However some of the Nest teams could be working on things that are fundamental to the project, but can’t be done by any of the current Aragon teams due to limited bandwidth. There is lot’s of work to do in Aragon and we need help.
The Nest program doesn’t fund monetizable projects. Nest is not a VC fund. The program focuses on teams that are building open source tools that are public goods.
Currently we have 12 teams working on development tooling, infrastructure, Aragon applications and other items. Other items include teams working on policy and legal matters such as DAOs and their interaction with the physical world.
Teams are formed by full-time and part-time members and contributors. We are very open to how teams organize. We would prefer to have full-time members in the teams and we might start making this a requirement, at least for some percentage of the team and on a case by case basis. Focus is one thing missing in the crypto community right now.
The team is as important as the idea. If the idea is great but we think the team might not be able to deliver on that idea, we won’t move forward with the application. Yet, it is totally possible that in the future we have pseudonymous teams. Currently, If we don’t know the teams we look very closely to what they have done, if there is not much information, we ask for a proof of concept to make sure the team will be able to deliver.
It’s possible that some members leave the team or new members join during the duration of the grant. As long as the teams communicate the changes and make sure that they will be able to stay on track we have no problem with it. Teams are made of humans so flexibility is important.
After the project is done, teams have the possibility to continue working with Aragon under the Nest program by applying for another grant. There is also the possibility to join Aragon as an independent team. In the coming months we are launching a program for teams to apply to work for Aragon as one of the several independent teams that will work for the Project/Network. Nest can be the first step for teams to introduce themselves to the Aragon community and build a reputation so the chances of being accepted as an independent team increase.
One of the requirements of the program is to have milestones and deliverables. We don’t disburse the grant at once. The total amount of the grant is divided in different payouts according to the the milestones. We disburse payouts once we have reviewed the progress, and the deliverables of the relevant milestone are met.
Teams must provide the Aragon community with progress reports at least once every quarter. The reports are public and posted in the Aragon Project blog. If a team doesn’t deliver and meet the set milestones we simply stop the funding and support. We try to be flexible in terms of hard dates. The Nest teams are working on difficult things and challenges are the norm. But, as long as we see that the teams are responsive, are working hard and keep us informed, we have no problem on moving a specific date.
The program is funded by the Aragon Association. It doesn’t have a fixed budget but this may change in the future. This is something we want to work on together with the Aragon community. It is one of the decisions where we will start taking the community sentiment into account.
The application process is public and transparent. You can see all the relevant information and instructions in the Nest GitHub repository. Anybody can apply, comment and give their opinion on the submitted Proposals and Requests For Funding. Anybody can see the status of an application at any given time.
The decision process takes about 1 month from when the Request For Funding is submitted. Decisions are made by people from the Aragon teams involved in the review process. Funding decisions must always represent the best interests of the project and the community.
All the decisions always have an owner. That owner is currently myself. The responsibility of the owner is to make sure that a decision is made while taking into account all the inputs from the people participating in the review process. We don’t have a team fully dedicated to Nest so sometimes we can’t be as fast as we would like to be.
As of the next quarter we want to start having members of the Aragon community collaborating with the program. We need people with different sets of skills: product management, communications and technical skills. We would like to have something similar to office hours for the Nest teams.
If you are interested in collaborating, please let us know. Send us a message in the Aragon Chat.
We want to start involving the community more in the program. As you can see in this proposal, we will start with some easy ways for the community to have a voice in some topics such as a yearly budget for Nest and a group of delegates to run the program for a year.
Nest will become a DAO with pre-determined milestones and payouts, and a basic governance process.
With tools such as Pando, That Planning Suite, Wetonomy and Apiary, it may be possible that grants programs to support open source projects building public tooling and infrastructure are not needed anymore. We are totally committed to making this possibility a reality.