Setting the bases
Whether you’re starting from zero or evolving from an existing project, there are foundations to set first.
1.1 Forming your initial community - Many successful DAOs start by bringing the community together to align on the future direction from the very beginning. This could take the form of a hackathon or a series of workshops. The point is to begin working together, getting to know each other, and figuring out who is in your community. This forms a group of people with a sense of ownership, and you won’t have the whole weight on your shoulders. Remember the old quote: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
1.2 Think deeply about membership - as the founding team of your DAO, you won’t be able to observe every member to make sure they’re doing work that aligns with your initial vision. So, it’s critical that you trust your fellow DAO members to make reasonable decisions and act in service of the DAO without a manager constantly telling them what to do. Defining who can become a member and what that process looks like is an important step to take while launching your DAO.
A few questions to consider:
- How will you screen potential new members? Is it a free-for-all, a more deliberate hiring process with interviews, or something in between?
- Is there a difference between token-holders and members?
1.3 Setting your mission, vision, and values - DAOs are purpose-led organizations. When you lack a single figurehead of a company, it’s even more critical to have a simple, clear purpose that guides the actions of your organization.
Many times, the mission of the DAO will define how your governance process should be set up. For example, is your DAO a small group of friends looking to collect cool NFTs? Then a wallet allowlist governance process may be best. Is your DAO large in mission and scope? A token may help bring people together. The purpose of your DAO will inform the design—not the other way around.
1.4 Define your DAO’s coordination operating system - Every organization has a different way of operating, so you’ll need to define this for your DAO. How do people work together? What kinds of working groups will they be, and how do they coordinate? Do you use Agile methods, or something else? If you don’t define your coordination operating system, you’ll get stuck trying to solve coordination problems rather than making progress on your goals.
1.5 Start building - A pattern of successful product DAOs is that they start by BUILDING their product first—not building their DAO! By starting out with what you build, you focus on the end (what you’re building), rather than the means to the end (your DAO). If you’re creating a social DAO, building the community would be the important thing to focus on here.