Ben Royce - Grant Reviewer Application

1.) Preferred Display Name and Age (If you do not want to enter your age, enter that you are above 21 years of age, which is the minimum)

Name: Ben Royce

Age: 52

Social Media Handles

Twitter: @accretionist - https://twitter.com/accretionist

Discourse: Ben_Royce - https://govern.iota.org/u/Ben_Royce/summary

Reddit: none

Linkedin: broyce - https://www.linkedin.com/in/broyce/

Discord: Ben Royce#0599

Telegram: none

Youtube: @BenRoyce - https://youtube.com/@BenRoyce

2.) What motivates you to apply for this position?

I am an active community member passionate about IOTA and have been following since 2017. I have also followed governance and community treasury developments since inception keenly and am excited at the prospects for it to fertilize the ecosystem of developers and companies who are also excited about IOTA and Shimmer’s tech. Why not throw my hat in the ring to apply my experience and knowledge to review projects embarking on the next step on this exciting journey into the web3 and crypto future?

3.) What is your educational and professional background?

  • Bachelor of Science, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University

  • Master of Arts, Media Ecology (now Media, Culture, and Communication), New York University. Thesis advisor: Neil Postman

Web3/Crypto Background

  • cofounded Society2, decentralized social media on IOTA

Professional Background

  • Osler Health: Programmer Analyst
  • Credit Suisse First Boston: Assistant Vice President
  • Corporate Insight: Lead Programmer
  • AMC Health: Project Manager
  • various ongoing contractor positions, programmer

4.) What experience do you have relevant to this position (grant reviewer, Project manager, etc.)? Please describe

I oversaw teams in my various positions, domestically and abroad (Dnipro Ukraine and Chennai India), consisting of daily stand up meetings and ongoing planning and review.

5.) Are you a software developer? If yes, please provide info on your skills and proof of the projects you already have built/worked on (Github, languages, certificates, etc.)

6.) Do you have affiliations that may cause a conflict of interest when reviewing applications? The community would like to know particularly if reviewers are involved with projects as a creator, on the board, or employed. Please list any projects or applications you have affiliations to.

*Note: This will in no way prevent you from being elected to the position. It is the opposite. We seek experienced reviewers that are specialists in different industries. The reviewers with affiliations will not be able to review grants within their category; however, they will be great resources and act as subject matter experts.

Yes I have affiliations and involvement with the following projects: Society2, Soonlabs, The Evvrything, Decensored 2.0, Shimmer INU, Soonlabs, Soonalink.

7.) Are you willing to sign a legally binding service provider contract and reveal and verify your identity through a KYC process with the legal entity of the Treasury Committee?

Note: KYC is required for this position. If you are unwilling to KYC and sign a service provider contract, you will not be accepted to the Shimmer Community Treasury.

Yes - I am willing to KYC and sign a service provider contract with the Shimmer Community Treasury.

8.) Can you commit 10 hours weekly on average to work as a grant reviewer for the Shimmer community over the next 12 months?

Yes - I am willing and able to commit 10 hrs a week to the Shimmer Community Treasury.

9.) If you are voted in the top 2 reviewers, you may have the option to join the Growth Committee and work with the TEA representatives. In this case, you may be required to work hours over the required 10 hrs per week. Are you able to commit to this if required?

Yes - I am willing and able to commit to the Growth Committee and the Shimmer Community Treasury if required.

10.) Are you willing to sign a service provider contract, including an NDA with the Tangle Ecosystem Association, and respect the Non-Disclosure Agreement if selected as a member of the Growth Committee? Breaking the Non-Disclosure Agreement may bring consequences financially and or legally.

Yes - I am willing to sign a service provider contract and Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). I absolutely will respect all binding effects within such agreement contracts.

11.) Provide any web links or supporting documentation you would like the community to see when assessing you for the Shimmer Community Treasury Grant Reviewer position.

Enter text and web link below.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/iota-powers-new-decentralized-social-media-project

Constant Twitter presence since 2017. Latest example: https://twitter.com/accretionist/status/1590453105082056704

12.) What is your long-term vision of the Shimmer Community Treasury? How do you see the Community Treasury affecting the Shimmer & IOTA ecosystem, and what does the Shimmer & IOTA Ecosystem look to you in three years?

One word: integrity.

Having monitored the discussions surrounding the genesis and development of the guidelines for the treasury over many months, it is clear that the amount of care and diligence exerted is a rock hard foundation for serious, impactful, and effective growth generation. Especially with recent cryptocurrency news on everyone’s mind, this is the most important thing. We must inspire confidence and we shall. We will show the wider cryptocurrency community that IOTA and Shimmer are places of sober and wise development paths to the cryptocurrency and web3 future.

In 3 years I hope to be toasting the successes of many projects and inundated with proposals for many more, content to play this small role in shepherding them to fruition. In it for the tech. WAGMI.

Do you support my application as Grant Reviewer?
  • Yes

0 voters

3 Likes

I have one question:
To make it easier for the community to understand what potential conflicts of interest a reviewer may have, and as not everyone may be familiar with the platform you have stated here, could you shortly describe what Soonlabs, The Evvrything, Decensored 2.0, Shimmer Inu, and SoonaLink is and in which sector it operates or plans to operate in the future?

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I can answer in three groupings.

Group one:
Society2 (and its flagship product Rhei): social media, the project I cofounded focused on decentralized socials via NFTs.
The Evvrything: social media, it will be a curator and consolidator of social media feeds with a sleek interface.
Decensored 2.0: this project is currently focused on instantiating various protocols in the IOTA ecosystem for social media.

This group of three projects works together.

Group two:
Soonlabs: stands on its own. All sorts of initiatives, but for me specifically, it is as a social media effort as a community developer in the project. Soonlabs stands as its own group, it’s the mothership, the juggernaut project of IOTA.

Anyone getting into IOTA: familiarize yourself with Soonlab’s Soonaverse. It’s a DAO generator and NFT marketplace and so much more. Many directions of future development.

Group three:
Shimmer INU: a token project.
Soonalink: a KYC and DID effort.

Group three is simply non-social media related projects I am involved with in the IOTA ecosystem.

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Update on my application:

The Soonalink project is dead. All project participants are aware.

In actuality, it was already dead, and part of me was thinking to not even to disclose Soonalink. However, I thought it would be worse to not disclose, because then it looks like I’m not forthcoming, so I erred on the side oversharing for full transparency. However, it was an overcommitment I don’t have the time for and my main focus is on social and grant reviewing, if you will have me.

There are plenty of good KYC/ DID projects in the IOTA/ Shimmer ecosystem so that’s fine, and my intention is to integrate them. Please follow those projects, but Soonalink is departed. RIP.

2 Likes

I asked our Grant reviewer candidates if they would agree to take part in this challenge on 19 November with this message sent out to everyone:

Hey, I want to challenge all potential Committee members with a little task.

I want to present you with a grant application and give you one week to come up with an opinion about this application based on the information provided to you. Please put anything that comes to your mind in your response to this message, and if possible, come up with an initial opinion if you would support funding this Proposal.

You may want to use the evaluation matrix developed for the Treasury committee: Shimmer Community Treasury Grant Committee - Version 2

The Proposal is a copy of an original proposal submitted to another Ecosystem Grant program.

I have chosen two types of applications, one that is a bit more developer oriented for the reviewers with experience in software projects and one that is more community/event focussed for the others.

Every Proposal is presented in 3 different versions. I have changed some parameters in every version, so your competitors may be presented with the same Proposal with some small but important changes to the original version.

I hope you agree to this little challenge. It may be interesting for the community to see how different candidates approach this task and to which conclusions they come regarding the grant proposal.

I will DM every candidate with the same text you got here and send them their challenge privately. I hope we can keep this private until the challenge is finished in one week.

Next Sunday, at 11 am CET, I will post the information about the challenge in reply to your application post and will include the response you sent me via DM in this post.

This will, in my opinion, be the fairest process to give everyone the same conditions without revealing a challenge that a competitor has to solve or making answers public that others could consider in their own approach to the problem. So everything will stay with me, and I am the only one who knows who gets which challenge and who replies what until the reveal.

I try to make sure that applicants who are part of the same project do not get the same grant challenge, so they cannot support each other.

Please reply within 24 hours if you agree to this challenge, and I will send you the Proposal.

Thanks again for offering your skills to the community. I hope you find this a fair approach to give the community some better insights.

This is the publication of @Ben_Royce ‘s participation in the Grant reviewers’ Test challenge. More details about the challenge can be found in this post

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Ben Royce Grant Review

Proposal : Crypto APIs Shimmer Spending Proposal 3 (Unchanged Version 60.000 USD)

  • Proposal: Crypto APIs, Shimmer APIs.

  • Opinion: Decline. Not enough bang for our buck.

  • Reason: Not Shimmer-specific enough, too general, worryingly excludes evaluation of how Shimmer figures into their more advanced goals.

  • Caveat: willing to approve at a lower amount requested.

Evaluation of grants has a central bifurcation: projects originating within the IOTA/ Shimmer ecosystem where intention and commitment is not in doubt, but capability to execute is in question. And projects originating outside with established track record of capability, but questionable intention and commitment.

For Crypto APIs’ grant request, the metrics for evaluating capability to execute is straightforward. It is an established crypto utility, and thus it is not complicated to see if they meet their stated goals. However, the sticking point is “bang for the buck”: is it worth Shimmer Community Treasury funds, what does the Shimmer ecosystem get for their funding? Would their current success give Shimmer a boost? Does Shimmer funding go towards overall development of their product without any specific benefit to Shimmer?

The team outlines their approach to building solutions with Shimmer, and their solutions might be useful for other projects in the Shimmer ecosystem, and projects outside the Shimmer ecosystem can take notice. Especially exciting is the section:

“Among our customers are PayPal, Rakuten, Ledger, Nexo, CoinSwitch, and Chainlink. On an institutional level, we have been trusted by the University of Cambridge, UCLA, NYU, and Stanford University. We have already received grants from several blockchain communities to provide our tools to their ecosystems, incl. Stellar, NEAR, Zilliqa, and others.”

But the simplicity also means it’s just a “copypaste” of their current efforts focused on other chains. With more complicated projects with vague complex goals, cynical moneygrab concerns are harder to mollify, but with a basic utility like Crypto APIs, the straightforward integration makes the evaluation much simpler. We want Shimmer to play with other chains, but there is no discussion here about how that is achieved. It would have been in their capability and would have been nice to see, Shimmer is simply a plus one to their existing product.

Their Blockexplorer.one product details a (centralized) integration of Shimmer data, which provides a benefit, but has no path towards future growth benefit if it’s just “scrape network activity and display it in a silo.” That is not a problem per se, but suggests an intention behind the grant application which does not inspire confidence that the grant money is well spent. The following sentence is suspect:

“Furthermore, we will build other products for Shimmer as well. However, these will be financed solely by Crypto APIs and are out of the scope of the grant agreement.”

Hand waving towards generalized goals which only suggest Shimmer, with no details, is deflating. Ideally there would have been specific detailed discussions about future goals with Shimmer in mind.

They do detail those non-Shimmer-specific goals in Annex B- worryingly, centralized. Centralized is not an automatic red flag, and for their product I understand why their implementation is as it is, but we would want our funding to go towards projects truly in line with the guiding ethos of cryptocurrency, nevermind only Shimmer, or projects that while centralized, outline a path towards decentralization.

Not everything is so high-minded, and basic utilities matter. Therefore, I concede $60k is not a lot of money and may be worth the gamble, primarily for the exposure. Although looking at how the money is spent in Annex C: it seems too much, for the integration of Shimmer, as they are only tweaking an existing product.

I would then argue the crux of the matter is how much is Blockexplorer.one used? How much exposure is Shimmer getting? Getting in on a major project used by many other projects is worthwhile, but if it is not used that much, maybe not. In that regard, an analysis of its status versus competitors within its sector in regards to monthly visits reveals a middling project, not too obscure, not too popular, so this analysis in inconclusive (but there is an increase in traffic, so that suggest perhaps it is worthwhile to approve the grant): https://www.similarweb.com/website/blockexplorer.one/#overview

I would provide feedback that they may resubmit after a period with more concrete plans as to how Shimmer would be integrated and is beneficial for their more advanced goals. Or, alternatively: we may approve if they come in with a lower requested amount. This feels like a Tier 2 level funding project to me, but they are requesting Tier 3 level funding.

Looking over their project leads and their past efforts, they are very capable. But what is in doubt is their commitment to Shimmer and how beneficial is their application is to the Shimmer ecosystem. And it is doubtful this is an open source project (with our current guidelines, they would only get half of what they requested, with a promise to open source for the remaining half, but this may never come).

A final criticism would be their proposal is too vague and not “exciting” in terms of funding truly eye popping web3 projects. But again there is something to be said for nuts and bolts projects that every ecosystem needs. Although the level of need here can be doubted as there is plenty overlap with existing solutions. A focus on higher-minded problemsets and solutions would be beneficial to their application (to any grant), but this sort of feedback is probably outside of the scope of our review.

Scoring Qualities:

  1. Relevance to the Shimmer/IOTA Ecosystem: 1 point (The project treats Shimmer as one of many chains and doesn’t seem loyal to the Shimmer/IOTA network.)

  2. Plan and Funding Model: 3 points (The team has somewhat clear, realistic expectations on their milestones and how the funding will move the team closer to these goals. They somewhat follow the expectations of the grant system.)

  3. Execution: 4 points (Several critical steps have already been taken toward their project goals. This could be seen in the form of a significant MVP, high traction, etc.)

  4. Verifiability and Quality of the Team: 4 points (Team is doxxed, and we can easily verify backgrounds. The team is also high quality and seems capable, trustworthy, and ready to take action on the project.)

  5. Overall Quality & Originality of the Idea: 0 points (The project/idea is a copycat or extremely weak.)

1 Like