Null / Rafael Brochado - Program Lead Application

:large_blue_diamond: 1.) Preferred Display Name and Age

Display Name: Null / Rafael Brochado
Age: 30

image

:large_blue_diamond: 2.) Social Media Handles

Twitter: @rafaeldjpb - https://twitter.com/rafaeldjpb
Discord: Null#1163

:large_blue_diamond: 3.) What motivates you to apply for this position?

I fell in love with IOTA’s vision of a feeless L1 and joined the community in mid-2017. Later, after it became clear to us all that the original dev plan wasn’t ever gonna work, I felt compelled to join the IOTA X-Teams and try to contribute in any way that I could.

Since then, I’ve been looking for opportunities to further support the community. It’s been tough figuring out where my skillset may drive the greatest impact, but now, after reading through the Program Lead skills wishlist, I was surprised to see so much overlap with the skills that I have. So, having finally found a clear role in the community that I felt I could excel at, I decided to apply.

:star: Long-time community advocate for transparency & decentralization
:star: Worked with IF members to drastically improve our Discord, enable GH Discussions across all of our repos, improve Firefly, improve the Wiki, communicate ideas, and other small things

:large_blue_diamond: 4.) What is your educational and professional background?

Educational Background:

:mortar_board: M.S. in Interactive Entertainment, 2018
University of Central Florida

:star: World’s top Game Design program as consistently ranked by the Princeton Review
:star: Awarded Fulbright Scholarship ($25,000) & FIEA Director Fellowship ($22,186)
:star: Led a 16-person multidisciplinary team from whiteboard to Steam in a record-breaking 7 months
:star: Led the pursuit of VR research which received over $1.3 million in awards

:mortar_board: B.S. in Game Design - Summa Cum Laude, 2015
Polytechnic Institute of Bragança & Kajaani University of Applied Sciences

:star: First-gen student
:star: Graduated as top student; awarded the “golden diploma” for it
:star: Perfect grade on practical training (internship at CoolGames, in Amsterdam)
:star: Brokered a new exchange partnership with one of Finland’s top universities, which has since then allowed dozens of students to travel there for year-long study exchanges (myself included)

Web3/Crypto Background:

:building_construction: Supporter, Investor (2012 – Today)

I started learning about Bitcoin by reading posts on bitcointalk.org around 2012 or thereabouts. Since then I’ve tried to keep up with the latest innovations & schools of thought in the DLT space. I enjoy reading through academic papers, participating in constructive discussions, and generally thinking about DLT adoption. If you’ve been in the IOTA community for a while, you may have seen some of the discussions I started in our Discord from time to time.

Professional Background:

:building_construction: Founder, CEO, Developer (2018 – 2022, 4+ years)
Not Suspicious – VR Research & Development Studio

:star: Received over $1.3 million in awards from the NSF, Meta, HP, and others, for innovative R&D
:star: Repeatedly featured at the Kennedy Center, at the invitation of the US Department of Education
:star: Responsible for product design & roadmap, development, business, community management, recruitment, etc

:building_construction: Co-Founder, Administrator, Developer (2010 – 2017, 7 years)
Wartale – Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game

:star: Grew player base to 100K+ registered users, ~3K unique daily active
:star: Free-to-play model with in-game transactions; very profitable; consistent growth year-over-year
:star: Responsible for product design & roadmap, business, community management, recruitment, etc
:star: Dev team peaked at ~8 people, plus another ~15 global mods, regional mods, Game Masters, etc

:building_construction: Co-Founder, Administrator, Developer (2008 – 2011, 3 years)
Mundo RPG Maker – Game Dev Community & Magazine

:star: Mentored indie game devs, equipped them with the tools and resources for success
:star: Grew the community to 100K+ registered users, ~3K unique daily active
:star: Number of staff peaked at ~25 people, featuring global mods, regional mods, content creators, etc

:mag: Grant Reviewer (2021 – 2022)
SBIR grant program by the National Science Foundation (NSF)

:star: Invited by the NSF to review Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant proposals in the areas of Learning & Cognition Tech and Human-Computer Interaction

:man_teacher: Guest Lecturer (2019 – 2022, yearly)
FIEA Ventures – Business Incubator at the University of Central Florida

:star: Helping grad students pursue indie game dev, secure grant funding, work with Publishers, etc

:briefcase: VR/AR Coordinator (2019 – 2020, 1 year)
University of Central Florida

:star: Supported grant-funded VR/AR research
:star: Mentored grad students on VR/AR development and consulted with them on their VR/AR projects
:star: Produced internal reports to keep faculty informed of relevant VR/AR developments

:briefcase: Technical Game Designer (2016 – 2017, 1 year)
LisbonWorks – Film & Games Studio

:star: Worked with unconventional middleware and resource constrained set-top boxes to bring games and apps to millions of TV customers (working with AT&T, Telefónica, Altice, VimpelCom, etc)
:star: Designed and prototyped a white-label games portal to be deployed on partner TV networks
:star: Worked on 5 existing live games/apps; designed and prototyped 7 new ones, 3 of which shipped

:briefcase: Intern Game Designer (2015, 6 months)
CoolGames – Casual Games Studio

:star: Always involved in the production and pre-production of multiple games at the same time, working on known IPs such as Tetris, Pac-Man and Snoopy (Peanuts)
:star: Shipped 8 casual and social games for desktop browser and mobile devices

:large_blue_diamond: 5.) What experience do you have that is relevant to this position?

:white_check_mark: XP as Grant Reviewer & Grant Awardee (2017 – 2022)

I have experience reviewing grant proposals for the National Science Foundation SBIR program, as well as with writing and pursuing grants, as the recipient of over $1.3 million in awards (see above)

:white_check_mark: XP as Builder, Leader & Manager (2006 – Today)

Experience with software design & development, shipping products, scaling businesses, growing ecosystems, managing large multidisciplinary teams, and more (see above)

:white_check_mark: XP as Mentor & Ecosystem Developer (2008 – Today)

Experience with mentoring grad students at UCF’s FIEA Ventures business incubator every year since 2019, as well as equipping indie game devs with tools for success since 2008 (see above)

:white_check_mark: Expertise in Game Development (2006 – Today)

Web3 games appear to be a popular type of project proposal for Treasury DAOs, so my vast experience in game development will be critical in helping us identify & prevent misallocating funds towards proposals which aren’t feasible. I have experience with many of the public game engines (Unity, Unreal, Game Maker, Phaser, etc), as well as a few proprietary ones (e.g. see Wartale above)

:large_blue_diamond: 6.) In your opinion, which of the skills you obtain are the most important and valuable for this Grant Committee Lead position? If possible, provide proof of how and where you obtained those skills.

All of the skills and professional experience I listed above will significantly contribute to my ability to execute in this new role. The gamedev tech stack is incredibly complex, which has given me a lot of insight, and managing large multidisciplinary teams & communities has equipped me with good communication skills, sharp emotional intelligence and the ability to work in public, despite the pressures that come with it (trolls, etc).

:large_blue_diamond: 7.) 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.)

Yes (see above). I have developed games & apps for VR, AR, mobile (iOS & Android), PC, consoles and browsers. I’ve worked with C#, C++, JavaScript, HTML5 and more.

:large_blue_diamond: 8.) Are you willing to reveal and verify your identity through a KYC process? Will you also sign a binding contract as a full-time team member with the legal entity of the Shimmer Community Treasury Committee?

Yes to both.

:large_blue_diamond: 9.) Can you commit to focusing the next 12 months solely on the Shimmer Community Treasury as Program Lead and be available 40 hrs a week, if not a bit more? As the Program Lead, you will not be able to work other side jobs or support other Dapp projects regularly. If acting against this, the committee will seek a replacement at that time.

Yes. I am passionate about our vision and I have full confidence in the tech the IF has built, so it’ll be my pleasure to wake up every day knowing it is my job to support the growth of our ecosystem. I’ll sink however much time is necessary - after all, I too am a stakeholder in the network and I want it to succeed. I have no plans to engage in other projects. When I commit to a project, I obsess over it.

:large_blue_diamond: 10.) As the Program Lead, you most likely will support the Shimmer Community Treasuries’ interest in the Growth Committee. This may require more time above and beyond the 40 hrs (paid hourly, of course). Are you willing to commit to this?

Yes.

:large_blue_diamond: 11.) As a member of the Shimmer Growth committee, are you willing to sign a service provider contract with the Tangle Ecosystem Association and respect the included Non-Disclosure Agreement? Breaking the contract or Non-Disclosure Agreement may bring consequences financially and or legally.

Yes.

:large_blue_diamond: 12.) Provide any web links or supporting documentation you would like the community to see when assessing you for the Shimmer Community Treasury Lead position.

N/A – links have been embedded in the answers above, when relevant.

:large_blue_diamond: 13.) Do you have affiliations with any Crypto projects? The community would like to know particularly if you are involved with projects as a creator, on the board, or employed. Please list any projects or applications you have affiliations to.

No.

:large_blue_diamond: 14.) 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?

My vision for the Treasury is one that evolves every day to adapt to the needs and circumstances of our ecosystem, as expressed by the community in governance calls and forum discussions. Treasuries play a central role at the heart of every other DLT ecosystem, and ours will be no different, so it is important that we treasure it. I’m interested in exploring ideas for how we can potentially create a virtuous cycle that would feed new funds back into the Treasury over time (so we can keep supporting new projects indefinitely), but at the same time I am also acutely aware of our need to move fast in equipping community developers with the resources they need for success. So my vision is for that of a hands-on, nimble approach. We’ll move fast when we need to, and slow down when we don’t. I’ll enforce the utmost rigor, professionalism, accountability and transparency, making it my personal mission to maximize our collective odds of success. We’ll make sure that rejected grant applicants get guidance and mentoring through constructive, actionable feedback, so they can better position themselves and apply again in the future. Working in tandem with the community and the Treasury team, I’ll continuously re-assess our areas of interest, strategic goals and growth metrics.

If managed carefully, the Community Treasury will transform our ecosystem. For hints on what that kind of success could look like, it’s best to look at other DLT ecosystems and their respective Treasury DAOs as examples. Given the level of talent I’ve seen in our community, there’s no doubt in my mind that we can not only match the success we’ve seen elsewhere, but surpass it.

Do you support my application as Grant Committee Lead?
  • Yes

0 voters

2 Likes

I am impressed by your presentation. You are the first one who managed to transform the template into something which is actually easy to read. Maybe a small thing to mention here, but at the same time clear communication is of course an important task for the lead.

In general it looks good, I would just have one question for you: Of course you did write you can spend 40 hours a week on this, but you also seem to have plenty of other things going on. Are you planning to do it side by side, or to reduce the number of hours you spend on other tasks?

(@moderators, it would be nice if we could actually have an open discussion with applicants, to get to know them better and get useful information).

4 Likes

Hello,

in particulary I would be interested in your last job role.

  • What is the reason you are not working for ‘Not Suspicious’ anymore / in which month did you part ways?
  • What were the main achievements? (e.g. products, business figures)
  • How did you manage the $1.3m fund / what are your key take aways to make the best use of it?

Generally I am interested in:

  • What is the most important argument for you funding a project, how do you measure it?
  • What do you think are the biggest obstacles in funding and measuring progress?
2 Likes

We absolutely agree as moderators and thus have the reply comment section just for this reason. Please note statements such as: “This applicant sucks”, will be deleted as is not adding or supporting a positive community discussion.

Saying that, any good questions that pertain to the position and to the applicant is gladly accepted in both Reviewer and Program Lead threads. Please feel free to initiate such discussions, this is exactly what we envisioned. A location for community members to apply, as well as, a location where community members can discuss, vet the applicants, and provide constructive comments.

Regards,
DeepSea

Great question, thank you for asking that. These days I have all the free time in the world – I’ve already transitioned out of other responsibilities I had, and currently am only associated with my previous ventures in the capacity of an advisor/consultant.

For the last few months I’ve actually been enjoying a long-overdue break, while learning more about my areas of interest (including DLT & IOTA) and thinking about what I wanna do next. So I was very excited to see this opportunity pop up when it did. Perfect timing!

Thanks for the compliments on the presentation!

Short answer: there’s a lot of bureaucracy that goes into keeping me employed (it requires getting a special permission from the US government). I’m originally from Europe, but the company emerged from work I was doing while living in the US on a temp visa (the company is legally based in Florida). When COVID hit, my plans to extend my stay in the US were thrown out the window, as immigration services came to a halt. Plus, I started worrying about my family back in Portugal, who all became unemployed, so when my visa expired, I chose family & left the US. Problem: because Not Suspicious is primarily funded by the US government, there’s strict rules with regards to where the grant-funded work has to be done. So with me being in Europe, it makes it impossible to cover my salary, unless a) we get a special waiver, which they did grant me, but only for a few months, or b) the company raises $ from a Publisher, for example (which is impossible atm). Anyway, long-story-short: ever since leaving the US, I worked unpaid for quite some time to scale the team up while mentoring them in everything they needed to know, in preparation for the day when I may shift my full focus elsewhere, which is essentially what I’m trying to do now. The new CEO (John) is flying to me next week for a few days so we can touch base & discuss their next steps, which is something we might do once or twice a year.

Sometime around August or so is when I officially passed the baton to John and Rahul. I also gave them both a significant chunk of my equity, to maximize their incentives.

Research & development is ongoing, but you can get a quick summary of the work NS is engaged in by looking at the slide deck for Tablecraft, which is the product being researched in classrooms (by UCF and WestEd) and intended for commercialization. Success is not guaranteed yet.

To be clear, spending is ongoing. Only about 50% of that has been spent thus far. Every cent goes into payroll, benefits, software licenses, equipment and other essential business costs. Key takeaway: slow down spending when the vision gets murky; accelerate spending when there’s a clear vision to execute on.

I’ll think about these questions and answer them when I get another chance (tomorrow, probably).

Thanks for the great questions, please feel free to keep them coming!

2 Likes

Coming back here to address these 2 other questions I didn’t get a chance to address earlier.

It varies a little depending on our strategic goals and areas of interest at the given time, but generally speaking, myself and other reviewers I’ve worked with will primarily look at:

  • What is the intellectual merit of the proposed project?
  • What are the broader impacts of the proposed project?
  • What is the commercial potential of the proposed project?

The intellectual merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge. In other words, is the project innovative?

The broader impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society (or, the ecosystem) and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal/ecosystem outcomes. In other words, how practically useful / necessary is the proposed project? Can it realistically be deployed at scale to solve a problem or provide a useful service?

The commercial potential criterion encompasses the potential to generate revenue.

The process is far more detailed than that, but these 3 are the main things we look at. At the NSF, this is measured by averaging out the reviews of multiple grant reviewers, then having the Program Lead make a final decision on it, for which they are held accountable.

Hmm not sure I fully understand the question, so I’ll try to answer my interpretation of it.

Measuring the progress of funded applicants is fairly straightforward, and is usually accomplished via mandatory milestone reports that grantees have to submit every X months, monthly call check-ins with the team, and so on.

When I look at progress, I’m not looking at the micro-scale (e.g. code commits on GitHub), but rather the macro developments – e.g. is the project closer to generating revenues? Does the project have users, and is that number snowballing up? Etc. These are the closest things we have to objective metrics we can look at to evaluate whether the project is meeting our strategic goals.

Thanks for the great questions! If you have more, feel free to shoot!

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

Rafael Brochado Grant Reviews

Proposal 1: Shimmer - Hackathon Proposal 3 (underfunded Version Budget 55.000 instead of 90.000 USD)

Proposal summary:

  • EasyA is a free learning app with 13 user reviews on the Apple App Store
  • Requesting $55,000 to host a 2-day-long Shimmer hackathon for students in London
  • Tier 3 proposal, requiring a score minimum of 15 :star: for approval

Missing nice-to-haves:

  • :x: Letters of support or testimonials from partners/venues
  • :x: Paying customers
  • :x: Engaged community
  • :x: Links backing up claims

Personal recommendation: :x: Rejection (eligible for re-submission after 30 days)

I have not seen evidence that this team is capable of exceptional execution.

Reasoning:

  • :triangular_flag_on_post: No examples of previous success stories. The website proudly displays $597K given away, but doesn’t make an effort to show what actually emerged out of all those hackathons that the team has allegedly put together. E.g. How many of the past hackathon projects went on to become products?
  • :triangular_flag_on_post: Claims can’t be verified. EasyA claims to have been featured on “Apple App of the Day”, WSJ, and more, but none of that could be verified on their website and they didn’t bother submitting links.
  • :-1: No moat, no USPs.
  • :-1: It’s a one-off, in-person 2-day event in London, i.e. barely impactful in the grand scheme of things. There are better ways to drive impact with $55K.
  • :-1: EasyA has no traction on the iOS store, no presence on the Google Play Store, no traffic on Youtube videos, i.e. no engaged community.
  • :triangular_flag_on_post: Pitch starts off with “EasyA has one of the UK’s most popular student communities, with a vibrant and highly-engaged student base of over 500,000 students”, but then the app has 13 user reviews and no active users.

Note: The bullet list above is ordered randomly, not with respect to importance.

Total score: 6 :star:

Score breakdown (see rubric):

  • :star: Relevance to the Shimmer/IOTA Ecosystem → The project treats Shimmer as one of many chains and doesn’t seem loyal to the Shimmer/IOTA network.
  • :star: Plan and Funding Model → The team has a semblance of expectations for their milestones, but they are unrealistic.
  • :star: Execution → Initial steps taken are poorly executed or sloppy. If there are socials (Twitter, Discord, etc.), their following looks inorganic (fake).
  • :star::star: Verifiability and Quality of the Team → The team is somewhat doxxed, but it may be difficult to verify background information.
  • :star: Overall Quality & Originality of the Idea → The project would have little impact on our ecosystem or the Web3/crypto ecosystem as a whole.

Proposal 2: Crypto APIs Shimmer Spending Proposal 2 (Overpriced priced Version 90.000 USD instead of 60.000 USD)

Proposal summary:

  • Crypto APIs is seeking to integrate Shimmer in their B2B blockchain development suite
  • Requesting $90,000 to develop and deploy 3 specific software solutions:
    • An open-source, blockchain-agnostic private key management SDK
    • A pool of shared public Shimmer nodes
    • A block explorer
  • Tier 3 proposal, requiring a score minimum of 15 :star: for approval

Missing nice-to-haves:

  • :x: Letters of support from devs/businesses interested in using this service for Shimmer
  • :x: ROI projections - how much growth can we expect from this $90K investment?
  • :x: A clear value proposition
  • :x: Links backing up claims

Personal recommendation: :x: Rejection (eligible for re-submission after 30 days)

I am not convinced that the proposed solutions would lead to a significant influx of new Shimmer developers, nor does it seem like existing developers would need this service right now.

Reasoning:

  • :point_right: We already have an open-source, blockchain-agnostic solution for secret management – Stronghold. It’s unclear how the proposed SDK would differ from this.
  • :point_right: More public nodes is a nice-to-have, not a strategic priority for the community right now. We already have access to existing public nodes which are sufficient for dev purposes today.
  • :point_right: We already have an explorer, which we’d rather improve, as opposed to funding a brand new solution.
  • :triangular_flag_on_post: Claims can’t be verified. Pitch includes “Among our customers are PayPal, (…). On an institutional level, we have been trusted by the University of Cambridge, UCLA, NYU, and Stanford University” but none of that could be verified on their website and they didn’t bother submitting links.

Note: The bullet list above is ordered randomly, not with respect to importance.

Total score: 7 :star:

Score breakdown (see rubric):

  • :star: Relevance to the Shimmer/IOTA Ecosystem → The project treats Shimmer as one of many chains and doesn’t seem loyal to the Shimmer/IOTA network.
  • :star: Plan and Funding Model → The team has a semblance of expectations for their milestones, but they are unrealistic.
  • :star::star: Execution → Initial critical steps have been taken (interesting website, socials, etc.), and it seems like a decent project, but extremely early.
  • :star::star: Verifiability and Quality of the Team → The team is somewhat doxxed, but it may be difficult to verify background information.
  • :star: Overall Quality & Originality of the Idea → The project would have little impact on our ecosystem or the Web3/crypto ecosystem as a whole.