by Rahul Nandakumar
We aren’t publishing this at midnight because we’ve been busy updating the website for the last few hours… it was all part of the plan!
Thank you for your patience as we’ve been working tirelessly for the last three months in relative stealth, testing and revising our thesis on onboarding the next wave of students and alums to web3. The last few months have been incredibly impactful for the team both personally and professionally, and have truly cemented our faith in web3. We’re excited to be sharing our report on Season 0 as well as our intentions for Season 1 of Scarlet DAO.
Season 0: A Retrospective
Scarlet DAO started off 2022 with a tweet.
It got a lot of traction. We were incredibly psyched.
Our intentions from the start were to onboard the Rutgers community to web3. We knew that the Rutgers community could benefit massively from being involved with web3 early. We drew inspiration from our favorite projects in web3, notably FWB and Rabbithole, as well as our own experiences with the problems students faced to develop basic initiatives for our community.
Education. Engagement. Experimentation.
Our community would support upskilling, community building, and development in web3 through our network of founders and alums, as well as other DAOs and startups in web3. We’d also experiment with aligning incentives for students, alums, and professors on campus, as well as host socials for our community to foster camaraderie.
We had some simple ideas for initiatives, such as hosting events, creating an investment club, and becoming an A16z delegate, but as we will explain later on, we weren’t able to act on all of them. Nonetheless, I still believe that these values are central to the ethos of Scarlet DAO as we progress quicker in the next Season.
Partnerships & Initiatives
We focused a lot of our attention in the early days on finding partners. This had mixed results.
We were incredibly grateful to receive partnerships from Rutgers-alum founded startups and firms in web3. Early on, we received an astounding $220k in Delphi Digital licenses from Anil Lulla, as well as support from the team at Mem Protocol. We were also graciously given early access to Syndicate, although we didn’t have a use-case for it and it was too expensive at the time for us to start an investment club.
However, pursuing partnerships with Harmony, A16z, and Seed Club were less fruitful.
Later on, we decided to focus more attention our internal initiatives and that’s when the ball truly started rolling uphill. Our collaboration with Blockchain at Princeton resulted in a wonderful event, inviting James Pastan of Arpeggi Labs to speak to a crowd of Rutgers and Princeton students about his experience with Web3, founding a Web3 startup, as well as the nascent industry and value proposition of Music NFTs.
Attending ETH Denver was another incredibly valuable experience for Scarlet. The team met with some incredible people, got amazing feedback and were able to tap into the latest ideas in web3. It was this experience that led us to working with 101.xyz to develop a curriculum based on “Greenpilled” —Kevin Owocki’s book— for Scarlet DAO and Blockchain at Princeton.
Finally, we’ve had a tremendous amount of support directly and indirectly from a great number of people and projects. Notable are Jason Levin, Dropout DAO, Rutgers Blockchain Hub, Kiernan Geoghegan, Jihad Esmail, Aydan Celik, Kevin Owocki, Shawn Cheng, and Josh Cornelius. Additional shout-out to Cabin DAO, FWB, Rabbithole, City DAO, Krause House, Seed Club, and many others for inspiring our work.
We left the first two months of work for unbounded ideation, market research, and play. Our intention was to test the field, see what existed, what didn’t, what needs we could meet, and where we could innovate. Luckily, our team had experience working in product so we had some great development on this front.
In March we connected with Dropout DAO. Ami Yoshimura and Nancy Zhao are incredibly talented and highly underrated friends of ours, and they shared many of the same ideas we had about universities and DAOs. We were both in love with the concept of a decentralized university, and we wanted to build that out together—burning the rope from both sides.
We ended up developing some KPIs to track our progress. In one month we had to:
- Develop a community of 20 students (✅ 109 responses on our mailing list)
- Host two IRL events (✅ Hosted one with 35 students with Blockchain at Princeton and one with 8 attendees at Rutgers, sponsored by Desk Coworking)
- Develop a bounty board for Scarlet DAO members (✅ Completed with Clarity)
This was a great experience and we plan on working with Dropout DAO more frequently and perhaps integrate our projects more in the future.
Obstacles & Learnings
Our main learning from Season 0 is the importance of the founding team. For our first batch of stewards we optimized for skill and depth of knowledge in crypto above all else. Our founding stewards were incredibly gifted and talented experts in web3, DeFi, and development, and they would have been able contribute immense value—if they had the time.
It became clear after some time that we might see greater success if we onboarded contributors who weren’t as deep into crypto but were willing to learn.
I developed a framework of qualitatively measuring Skill, Commitment, and Trust to value potential founding contributors to Scarlet DAO and that has worked way better than measuring Skill only.
As the saying goes, you are what you measure. And now, we are ready.
Season 1: Starting Strong
Mission & Vision
Scarlet DAO is building city DAOs around college campuses across the United States. We’re developing our proof-of-concept at Rutgers—New Brunswick in New Jersey (45 mins from NYC).
It became clear after initial research that college campuses had their problems.
An insightful conversation with Shawn Cheng made it very clear. Students needed jobs, and left campuses after 4 years. A locally-based DAO on a college campus wouldn’t be able to foster community very effectively or for very long.
So we pivoted. Instead of focusing solely on students, we decided to opt to anchor ourselves to the local communities often forgotten by universities and their affiliates. Further thinking led to greater conviction.
Many universities, including Rutgers, already had blockchain clubs, but they had historically defined themselves as professional networks that catered to students’ interests. What if their efforts went instead towards educating local businesspeople, politicians, and tech talent about the utility of web3? What could a city do with the power of web3? Dialogue about networks and blockchain citadels, DAOs as cities, and existing initiatives such as PactDAO, CabinDAO, ETH Denver, and FWB Cities shaped our optimism.
We just needed to convey this properly. We needed a new story to tell. Not everyone would be excited to hear about the speculative utility of crypto.
We need a new narrative for web3.
I’ve been fascinated with ReFi, platform cooperatives, tokenizing climate, and quadratic funding. We’re all still intersted in learning more—DM us on Twitter if you’ve heard of or are working on something and we’d love to hear about it.
Not everything has changed though. Speculation is still valuable (especially for broke college students), learn-to-earn on a college campus would likely spark a radical shift in students’ minds, and aligning incentives and/or providing tokenized democratic governance to students, alums, and professors at a university would destroy the university-industrial complex. The mission is still to experiment on projects with the potential to change everything we know about networks, community, education, and credentialing.
It’s clear that DAOs are just getting started. DAOs need people. We have the community DAOs need. People who are trustworthy, skilled, and commited.
We want to build a community of DAO contributors, blockchain developers, and who live and work together. This vision could not of course happen without the immense support of Desk, a local co-working space in New Brunswick that has sponsored our DAO and lets us host events. We are more than grateful for their support.
But this also means the development of a number of initiatives:
Scarlet Biweekly: Starting March 25th, we’ve started hosting a biweekly web3 meetup at Desk to discuss new topics in web3. Highly inspired by Kernel juntos and Crypto Culture Society discussions, every meeting starts with a series of opening questions, followed by a presentation and then a discussion regarding the topics discussed. Going forward, it would be incredible to partner with projects like PactDAO, Blockchain Education Network, Chapter One, Developer DAO, or individual founders, BAYC holders, or others with insights to share on hosting a casual in-person meetup in New Brunswick to talk web3 and its implications. If you’re based in New York City, Philadelphia, or anywhere nearby, shoot us a DM and we’d love to have you join us!
Curriculum: We’ve been developing a curriculum for web3 with the folks at Blockchain at Princeton and 101.xyz. This will be a narrative curriculum, using fable-like storytelling and a children’s book-like written aesthetic to teach blockchain concepts. Follow Tiger and Knight on their adventure! Once readers complete their section, the 101 platform will enable them to complete a quiz and upon successful completion, readers can redeem a non-transferrable NFT. We’re very excited about using 101 and want to see how they can enable high-fidelity credentialing in a meaningful way with this series of work.
Investment Club: It would be amazing to pool together members’ funds and invest together in projects. This was a concept we played with in S0 but we simply lacked the numbers to pursue it properly. With our Biweeklies occurring more often, we believe we might have the capacity to open a club on Syndicate later this quarter.
Mochi: I met the Mochi team in ETH Denver and fell in love with their project. As someone always trying to find a way to onboard people into web3 with simplicity, Mochi struck me as a way to keep members engaged with our community. An integration to Discord or another platform would be incredibly cool to have this quarter.
Resources Dashboard: It’s obvious that the resources for nearly all things web3 are out there. But ironically, they’re still not reaching the end-user. We want to aggregate and funnel this information to our members of students and web3-interested alums, city-dwellers, techies, and businesspeople. Perhaps we’ll add a personalizable element?
Local Conversations: Our shift to developing city DAOs means that we need to start integrating with the city of New Brusnwick in a meaningful way. This requires outreach to local business and political leaders to understand their perspectives and educate them about the values of web3.
So… what now?
Well for us, it’s a matter of really doing it. We’re optimistic, but pragmatic people and we think we’ve set reasonable goals for us to accomplish this month.
But we can’t do it alone.
Please, if you’re interested in bringing our work to your city by starting a chapter or think you can contribute time, talent, capital, or other resources, our ETH address is 0x562a149dA0F18E698E281CA222Eb5635C0aD0Bd6 and our Twitter is https://twitter.com/scarlet_dao. If you’d like to collaborate, DM us or @gigarahul or @ishikamukerji on Twitter.