Earlier this year Metalabel was one of twenty projects in the fourth cohort of Seed Club, an eight-week accelerator program for token-based communities. The process proved to be meaningful from a number of perspectives. Here’s the good, the realistic, and the key takeaways from the experience.

The Good

1. Being in an accelerator really does accelerate your knowledge and decision making. The first few weeks especially were borderline overwhelming with details on how the technical, governance, and economic aspects of blockchains function. The immersion worked. Just a few weeks in we much better understood the space and our own project.

2. The program was four meetings a week (which was a lot) split between guest speakers and facilitated conversations among cohort projects. The off-the-record guest speaker conversations were consistent highlights (more on them in a moment). Especially memorable guest speakers: Kirsten Stone, Kei Kreutler, Reuben Bramanathan, Flex from Krause House, Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst, Aaron Wright, and Cherie Hu, each of whom shared ideas and learnings that were important to hear.

3. Seed Club itself is a community owned, peer-to-peer network where the accelerator participants are codetermined by the community of projects, alumni, team, mentors, and contributors. This model is part of what creates a strong pride of association and a sense of mutual accountability among the participants. We felt like we were a part of something and we were proud to be.

The realistic

4. While the public face of web3 is viral Twitter threads about how DAOs are going to remake the world (without providing any evidence or experience to back them up), there was none of this within the private spaces of Seed Club. Speakers were open and honest about the challenges of building in the space, and frequently reminded the audience that each project’s experience was different, that every project is experimenting with the tools they have available to them, and to not be afraid to pursue your own path. For crypto-realists like the people in our team (many of us entered the program on the fence about where we stood in regards to web3), participating in honest conversations that acknowledged the opportunities and limitations of crypto was infinitely more productive for building trust and comfort than empty-calorie chest-thumping.

5. Decentralization was often brought up as an ideal to aspire to, but speakers frequently underlined that reality falls short of the dream. One project noted that just 10% community participation in a vote is a good turnout. Centralized decision-making remains important for defining a project, getting it off the ground, and building and shipping work. Another comment from a session: “One of the tricks of the crypto world: it’s more profitable to start something new than contribute to something that exists.”

6. Another challenging observation from a session: “Paradox: the easier a token is to model, the worse it does in the space. The harder it is to model, the better it performs. The tokens that make hard to assess promises tend to be the ones that perform.” This is a dynamic that seemingly rewards bad and delusional actors and penalizes responsible ones.

Our takeaways

7. Some stand out quotes from sessions shared in our Discord during the cohort:

  • “Growing a community starts with establishing strong patterns and connections between a small group of people.”
  • “The community IS the value.”
  • “Asking someone to contribute is a big ask. Ask for something small – read the about page, create a profile. Asking them to contribute immediately is like asking someone to marry you on the first date.”
  • “Don’t build or use monolithic products: make things composable and use composable parts yourself.”
  • “Don’t start with a token: launch an NFT first, then once you have a strong community launch a token.”
  • “Holders have a scarcity mindset, wanting to keep tokens limited to juice the value. A team will want to issue more tokens to expand the community and ecosystem. Token-holder incentives are not always aligned with the good of the project.”

8. What do we take away from this overall? 

  • Cohort-based models are great. It felt good knowing you were part of a larger group. There was a feeling of safety in numbers. And for the six of us in Metalabel, it was helpful to be able to not just work together, but to learn together. We got to experience each other in a different light.
  • Private spaces are more valuable than public ones. Being in a place where you could have constructively critical conversations and ask hard or potentially dumb questions without fear of getting mocked or scoffed at was incredibly valuable. All of the best moments were made possible because of the trust and openness these Dark Forest spaces provided.
  • Making close bonds online is hard. We were excited to meet other teams in our cohort and were happy to find many people and projects with whom we connected with and were impressed by. But everyone was so focused on keeping up and doing the work of their actual projects, we didn’t get to get to know everyone as much as we wanted. Fortunately ETH Denver happened during the cohort and a bunch of the teams were able to get together IRL. But making deep ties with a lot of people at once wasn’t easy.
  • Seed Club’s curation, trust, and vibes made it special. For a space like Web3 that can be overwhelming and bewildering, it was wonderful to be guided by people who knew what they were talking about. Seed Club founder Jess Sloss was accessible, valuable, interesting, and interested. Nicole d’Avis is an exceptional interviewer and host who was great at bringing people into the room and creating generous space. All of us in the cohort put a lot of trust into their insights, the people they brought in, and the expertise of the wider Seed Club team (which was also great). The energy and values Seed Club gave off were a lot of what made the experience so meaningful.
  • We would do it again. The price wasn’t cheap – four meetings a week for eight weeks, plus a portion of the eventual token supply each project will create – but in the end we think it was worth it. We were thrown into the deep end while also receiving access to lifeguards, swim instructors, and lots of exciting ideas on what to do next. We’re grateful to be alumni in the community, and will happily contribute however we can to helping future Seed Club cohorts have a similar experience.