DigitalSoul.x - 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: DigitalSoul.x [Rob]

Age: 45

Social Media Handles

Twitter: @DigitalSoulx -

Discourse: DigitalSoul.x -

Reddit: infrequent user

Linkedin: infrequent user

Discord: DigitalSoul.x#7472

Telegram: n/a

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

It’s funny how life evolves. In thinking about my current career path, I sometimes wonder how I got here. I’ve been at the same company for 17 years now and I have to admit that I’ve lost my passion. It’s comfortable, easy and it pays pretty well, but it’s unsatisfying and I know that I could have much more impact if my career was aligned with my interests.

The activities that I choose to pursue in my free time are the activities that truly spark my interest and ingenuity, and my free time is dominated by IOTA and Web3. When I’m not working my day job, I’m developing the ICCD, writing an article for the Daily Degen (now TangleVerse Times!), or visiting one of the many IOTA-related Discord servers that I belong to. The opportunity to further contribute and promote the IOTA / Shimmer ecosystem is very attractive. If I could increase my Web3 earnings I could quit my day job and really focus on promoting the ecosystem.

3.) What is your educational and professional background?

Educational Background

Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign, graduated January 2004

Web3/Crypto Background

I have been interested in IOTA since late 2018. Originally, I was just a passive investor. Then, I joined the IOTA Discord in Aug 2019 and lurked around for awhile. I spun up my own IOTA node and later a GoShimmer Node. I still maintain the IOTA node today. I joined the X-Teams at the end of the first year and primarily contributed to the Simply X-Team as a non-developer. I’ve been a Firefly tester over several iterations and tested explorer upgrades as well.

I soaked up all of the education that the IF could provide through the IOTA DAO Pioneers and used that knowledge to help write the Idea-A-Thon applications for the ICCD and WAGMI DAOs, both of which were awarded funding. While the current status of the WAGMI DAO is in a bit of flux, the ICCD is flourishing as the go-to resource for creative talent in the IOTA ecosystem. My position is that of Financial and Legal Coordinator. I initiate all of the multi-sig transactions, onboard and educate new members on how to use MetaMask to accept payments on other chains, and generate all financial reports for the DAO. This requires a great amount of trust, and I do not take that responsibility lightly. On the Legal side, I investigated many different potential legal structures for the ICCD and recommended the Marshall Islands LLC option through MIDAO. I am responsible for updating our legal documents to offer liability protection to new members as well. I also offered my own name as the only person required to KYC to get the LLC up and running. Being located in the US, this decision definitely took courage and confidence, which I will bring with me to the committee.

I co-founded the DailyDegen newsletter and authored many original articles for the IOTA community (links near the end of this application).

I was an active member of the bridge committee – a small group of dedicated IOTA community members attempting to develop a framework that would allow for faster allocation of the IOTA treasury funds. Although that endeavor did not turn out as expected, the groundwork we laid was a great resource to the Shimmer governance committee, which I also frequently attended. Although I only spoke up when I felt I could really add value, I gained a deep understanding of the requirements and goals of the committee.

Professional Background

Professionally, I am a small business owner in Maryland, USA. As mentioned above, I have been at the same company for 17 years and ran it through the challenges of COVID-19. My company has two distinct revenue streams: 1) we manufacture and sell scintillators for scanning electron microscopes and 2) we manufacture a line of instruments used to test tensile adhesion strength.

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

First of all, I have never been employed as a grant reviewer. As previously mentioned, my formal education is in Engineering Physics. This not only shows that I can understand complex topics, but that I am a very proficient problem solver. In many cases, I would have to draw on past experience in other related disciplines to solve a given problem. This experience has served me very well throughout my life, and I look forward to being able to use it to benefit the IOTA / Shimmer ecosystem as well.

Also, as a small business owner, you must wear many different hats. There is so much to juggle to make a company successful – human resources issues, sales, marketing, supply chain issues, time management, customer service, etc. This project management experience will also serve me well as a grant reviewer. I think I will have a unique perspective in assessing a team’s ability to deliver what they are promising. I will be able to draw on personal experience to offer suggestions to teams that may be struggling in some area.

My experience as a founding member of two IOTA ecosystem DAOs will be a boon to the community. I have a proven track record of integrity and I am well-known in the community. I have extensive experience with multi-sig wallets, both in setting up new safes and in initiating transactions for others to review / sign. I have offered monthly reports outlining all of our income and expenditures in easy-to-read format. These are skills that will be needed to keep the community up-to-date on the progress of projects and the treasury itself.

I authored an article to help the community DYOR on NFT projects, and, in conjunction with the WAGMI DAO, developed a system for evaluating new IOTA projects for potential investment. While there is a different set of criteria for evaluating Shimmer grant requests, the critical thinking needed to develop the WAGMI DAO framework will provide a different frame of reference for considering these requests.

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.)

No, I am not a software developer. In my professional career I did develop an extensive piece of software single-handedly, but it was using LABView – a graphical, object-oriented software suite. I only mention this because although I may not be familiar with the syntax of a particular language, I do understand the basics of data sets, recursion, logic, etc. I do have a GitHub account, but I only use it to offer feature requests for the Soonaverse at the moment.

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.

I currently have 3 IOTA ecosystem affiliations worth mentioning: 1) Paid Financial and Legal Coordinator for the IOTA Content Creator DAO (ICCD), 2) volunteer (unpaid) Ape Committee member of IOTApes, and 3) occasionally paid core team member of WAGMI DAO (under reorganization).

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.

DYOR on NFTs article:
ZK Rollups for Smooth Brains article:
Shimmer Intro:
Multi-Chain article:

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?

Ideally, the Shimmer Community Treasury will be a resource for the community for many years. There is a delicate balance to be stuck here: while we want to get funding into the hands of capable teams with projects that will have a great impact on the ecosystem, we don’t want to burn through the entire treasury in a few years. I would love to see the treasury position itself so that we can earn yield on the coins. If done properly, the treasury could sustain itself for many, many years while still supporting ecosystem projects.

I expect the treasury to have a massive impact on the ecosystem! It will be up to us to decide which projects have the potential to promote adoption, and to support them as best we can. I’d like to see some hack-a-thons supported, to bring in new devs. More exchange listings would definitely help as well – there are so few exchanges that support IOTA / Shimmer in the US, and the liquidity is poor. These are just a few ways that the treasury could be used to push the ecosystem to the next level by bringing in new use cases and awareness.

A few years down the road, the ShimmerEVM will have been proven and ported to the IOTA mainnet. This will virtually eliminate the need for bridges, and the multi-chain capabilities will bring in users of other chains. The flexibility offered by the IOTA Smart Contract Framework will make it easy for devs to port their projects or develop new ones in their language of choice. I envision an ecosystem similar to Binance Smart Chain, with funding available for new ventures / partners, cheap transaction fees on the smart contract chains, and a valuation to match!

Do you support my application as Grant Reviewer?
  • Yes

0 voters

1 Like

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 IOTA Content Creator DAO, IOTApes and WAGMI DAO is and in which sector it operates or plans to operate in the future?

Sure, I can add some detail here.

IOTA Content Creator DAO (ICCD): The ICCD is currently the flagship IOTA Community DAO. We were the first DAO to have an official legal charter - a non-profit LLC founded on the Marshall Islands. We aim to provide a platform where creators of all kinds in the ecosystem (writers, artists, musicians, developers, etc) can connect with third party projects teams. We also also offer services to business start-ups in the space.

As mentioned, I am the Financial and Legal Coordinator. I set up multi-sig wallets for new businesses partnering with us, initiate all outgoing tx for the ICCD, organize, onboard and educate new members into the use of MetaMask and multi-sig wallets and offer timely reporting for our different accounts to offer transparency to the community. I also interface with our contacts in the Marshall Islands to update our member list and to offer reports as necessary to complete our annual governmental filings.

On another note, I also co-founded the DailyDegen (now Tangleverse Times) newsletter, which sprung out as a side project of the ICCD. I have written many articles for the publication, as mentioned. I am also an occasional editor and have assisted in the interviews of community members.

IOTApes Ape Committee Member: The ApeDAO is a multi-pronged project with a core proposition akin to a decentralized investment club. Holders of the Ape NFTs are members of the DAO, with each Ape NFT presenting one vote in the DAO decision-making process. Focus of the DAO is the emerging IOTA ecosystem but may evolve as the DAO matures and builds scale.

The ambition of the founder and initial circle of contributors is to position the DAO as a valued and trusted entity contributing to the success of the IOTA ecosystem, with a mission to generate profits but also to provide education and establish trust within the community. The value proposition of the ApeDAO is centered around the following three value streams:

  • ApeInvest: ApeInvest will look to deploy our Treasury to capitalize on opportunities in DeFi, ICOs and NFTs
  • Apeducation: Leveraging partnerships and our own expertise, we will provide education and analytics to the broader ecosystem; adding value and positioning the ApeDAO as a go-to place for serious value-add
  • Apevisory: We will work with other projects to help shape tokenomics and facilitate the successful execution of fundraising. In addition, we will explore fee-based models to issue our assessment of projects to provide a reference point for informed investment decisions

The Ape Committee is entrusted with multi-signature access to the hot wallet of the Ape Treasury. The mandate of the committee is centered on the operation of the Apeinvest business, with focus on:

  • Identification and screening of investment opportunities and proposals prior to these being put forward to a vote
  • Investment decision-making and execution within the authority delegated to the committee by Apeholder vote
  • Develop and propose risk and performance metrics that will be used to track performance and enable the Elder Apes to provide effective oversight

WAGMI DAO: This DAO was originally intended to be an investment DAO and was initially funded by grants awarded by the IOTA Idea-A-Thon. We hoped to collaborate as a DAO to evaluate IOTA ecosystem projects for collective investment. However, there was too much uncertainty related to legal and regulatory issues for us to proceed. We are currently exploring alternative modes of organization to achieve our original mandate without the identified risks.


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 @DigitalSoul.x ‘s participation in the Grant reviewers’ Test challenge. More details about the challenge can be found in this post

easya x Shimmer - Hackathon Proposal (Example)
Grant Review by DigitalSoul.x
20 November, 2022

The first item I noticed about this example proposal was the requested funding - $135,000. This is quite a substantial amount of money, so extreme care must be taken in considering approval. I have the advantage of having been present at most of the Shimmer Community Treasury Grant calls in the IOTA Discord, so I am familiar with the framework.
At the time of evaluating this proposal, the market cap of Shimmer is ~$70,500,000. This means that a grant can only be given out at low tier values. Since the amount requested is over $100K, it is considered a tier 4 request and will be reviewed by the entire committee with the final decision made by Shimmer token holders in Firefly. Even so, I will offer my personal opinion that I would share with the committee in this situation.
In examining the proposal a little more, I see that it is pretty detailed in it’s description. However, it is still missing some of the key information needed by any project requesting funds through the community treasury. This doesn’t mean that I would automatically deny the proposal; I would reach out to the applicant to let them know that some required information was missing and ask them to provide this information before we could proceed. Here is summary of the missing information:
•Applicant Name (Full legal name): ‘Phil Kwok’ provided, is this full legal name?
•Binance Chain USDT address as long as Shimmer has no native USDT Stable Coin: No wallet payment address provided.
•Number of Team Members
•Details per member (write about every Team member. Education and work experience, link to relevant portfolios)
•Legal Status (No status, individual, incorporated)
•Country of the establishment (if legally established)
•Will you publish the source code of your project under an open-source license (under MIT, GNU or Apache 2.0 license)?
•Has the Team / the Project previously received funding from another grant-giving program? If yes, please provide details.
•Has the Team / the Project currently applied at other grant-giving programs? If yes, please provide details.
•Telegram Handle: (All Team members)
•Discord Handle: (All Team members)
•Other social media accounts operated by the team or the team members.
Assuming that the team can provide the details requested above, we can then proceed with evaluating the specifics of the proposal.
Proposal Scoring
Relevance to the Shimmer/IOTA Ecosystem: As a Shimmer hackathon, this project is highly relevant to the ecosystem. On a personal note, I believe that hackathons are one of the best ways to onboard new devs to Shimmer, and this will have a tremendous impact on future growth. 4 out of 4 points.
Plan and Funding Model: While the plan seems solid, I have to admit that I do not have experience in hackathon budgeting. However, I don’t need to know everything as long as I can find good resources online. This is one of my strong points. I found the following link: The Hackathon Budget | by Ishaan Gulrajani | Hackers and Hacking | Medium This well-received Medium article from an established hackathon organizer at MIT offered me a good baseline for comparison. One item to note: the article was written in 2014, so the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt and consideration for the recent high inflationary environment.
In the article, the author contends that a 500 person hackathon could cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Since the proposal aims to onboard 200 student devs, the total cost is on the high side but not completely unreasonable if the team can justify the costs. This article referred to a US-based hackathon, so the costs will be similar for the proposed UK-based hackathon. Without going into too much detail here (more is available at the link provided), the author of the article claimed that $35K was initially spent on food for 500 participants. However, this was not enough and an additional $10K was eventually needed. So, the $12K for the 200 participants of this easya proposal will likely not be enough. The prizes for the MIT hackathon were lower than I expected - $10K in cash, $2K for trophies. The prize pool for the easya proposal is set at $25K, over twice that of the MIT hackathon. The author of the MIT article notes that you shouldn’t go overboard with prizes because this detracts from the spirit of the event. I can imagine that large prize pools will attract a lot of interest, but perhaps it’s not the right kind of interest. This part of the proposal is deserving of some criticism, in my opinion.
The budget for venue and equipment can vary quite a bit depending on location and size of the hackathon, but since both the article and proposal allocate $20K to venue, this is reasonable.
Regarding promotion and promotional items, the MIT article spent $5K on Facebook ads and $10K on other promotional items (nametags, lanyards, flyers, banners, a MailChimp account, web hosting, photographers, two-way radios and headsets, stickers, etc) for a total of $15K. The easya proposal allocates a total of $25K to promotion ($15K to Marketing/PR [pre/post event] and $10K to post-event promotion). I would ask for more information about why so much was requested for post-event promotion when the $15K portion of the budget includes post-event promotion. If the $10K is only for the feature reel video, this seems a little high. I can understand allocating a little more to pre-event promotion, because you must let qualified devs know about the event to attract the best talent.
One item that is included in the easya proposal that wasn’t mentioned in the MIT hackaton article is funding for the instructors of the hackathon. Since nothing was in the budget for the MIT proposal, I can only assume that the instructors were unpaid. However, I believe that great instructors are key to a successful hackathon, and this is not an area to skimp on. The proposal has one budget for instructors and logistics staff whereas the logistics staff was paid in the $20K facilities budget in the MIT hackathon. If we assume $24K of the $28K staffing budget for the easya proposal goes to the 8 instructors, this equates to $3K per instructor for the weekend. I think this is reasonable for the quality of instructors a hackathon like this aims
to utilize.
Another item to note is that the milestones are not clearly defined. The project aims to procure a total of $135K, however, they have only mentioned the following grant dispersement milestones: $50K at the start of planning and $40K at the end of the hackathon. This leaves $45K that has not been requested via specific milestones. How would we know when to allocate this funding? More detail is required here.
So, my primary criticisms of the proposal are the prize pool and the lack of detail regarding payment milestones. A very large prize pool will certainly lead to many applicants, but a smaller prize pool may attract more dedicated devs. I would suggest that some of the prize pool budget be allocated to food. Also, an emergency fund of ~5% for contingencies should be considered. Lastly, more clarity in milestones and when specific payments would be made is required. I would score this category at 3 out of 4 points.
Execution: While this project has a detailed proposal in terms of funding requirements, it is still in the planning phase with much work to be done. Items like a hackathon website, promotional materials, staffing choices, venue, etc will take significant work. Since most of the actual planning isn’t slated to be done until May, there is plenty of time. Their timeline seems reasonable, and since a hackathon is a bit of a different project in terms of execution, the pre planning is especially important and I like the level of detail they have provided so far. 4 out of 4 points.
Verifiability and Quality of the Team: As I already mentioned, much information is missing about the team. The founder’s name and company is provided, but not much else. I would have reached out to the submitter to ask for more information about the team before even attempting to score the proposal in its entirety, but taken as-is I can only score them with 2 out of 4 points here.
Overall Quality & Originality of the Idea: While hackathons are not necessarily unique or original, I would expect to fund several hackathons through the community treasury because they are such a great way of onboarding new devs to the ecosystem. This is one of the best ways to grow, in my opinion. So, based on quality and type of project I would score this a 4 out of 4 points.
Possible Extra Scoring Points:
• Token supply available to be offered back to community? NO. No additional points can be awarded here.
Now, note that for a tier 4 proposal, a minimum of 17 out of 20 points are required. Based on my analysis above, I calculate a total of 17 out of 20 points! This means that I would recommend this project to the community for Shimmer Firefly vote. The score for this project would be even higher if the project was willing to share some more information about the team before proceeding through the scoring process.