This proposal establishes an internal independent working group within VitaDAO. It describes the Group’s purpose, goals, and rationale for its activities. This proposal does not seek the creation of new salaried positions in addition to the ones the DAO is already hiring for.
- When we talk about token utility, we mean the utility value of the token to the DAO members, e.g. qualifying for partner discounts, access to services, etc. It does not refer to the monetary value of the token. It also does not purport to change the token to a “utility token” from a governance token. That’s not only impossible without a community vote, it would be irrational to do so.
- When talking about accelerating research assets, we are not talking about profits. We are emphasizing that sustainability of the treasury must be reached without depending purely on donations and strategic investors.
Relevance to the 2023 Strategic Plan and Seasonal Governance Goals
This proposal aims to directly address major aspects of the following goals from the VitaDAO 2023 Strategic Plan:
- Increase Token Utility Value
- Liquify Research Assets
This proposal also directly addresses the Seasonal Governance goal 0.3 - Accelerate Research Assets.
This document proposes a concrete strategy to achieve these goals by founding the Commercialization Squad, an independent working group within VitaDAO. The goals of the group are specific and measurable, making tracking achievements possible.
Achievement of the Squad’s goals also indirectly positively affects increasing community size as well as increasing brand awareness, which are key goals in the 2023 Strategic Plan as well.
Background: How VitaDAO Operates
VitaDAO funds researchers, research labs, early-stage startups, and projects in the longevity space. Projects are sourced, sometimes incubated, and significant efforts are put into evaluation. Usually, such vetted longevity research projects will request funds from VitaDAO, and members will vote to grant or raise those funds in exchange for ownership in part of the resulting IP or other assets, or in some cases equity.
To increase the value of its treasury, VitaDAO’s original plan mentions licensing or selling the DAO’s IP or data to industry stakeholders, such as pharmaceutical or biotech companies, and allows the possibility of bringing these assets to market itself, provided enough liquidity and governance sophistication exists.
The $VITA token is a central component of the VitaDAO ecosystem. $VITA tokens grant rights to participate in decision-making within the DAO. The token grants no ownership of IP to the token holder. Instead, it grants full governance rights. As a governance token, its economy has not been optimized to lead to its increase in value. Rather, $VITA follows the sustainability loop principle: in theory, as R&D projects receive funds and begin producing data, VitaDAO’s IP value grows with positive research results, and the proceeds flow back to the treasury. The value of this principle applied by the DAO, however, needs to be recognized by the market.
The value and utility of $VITA is important for another reason in addition to its role in governance. Until VitaDAO is able to achieve a significant exit, i.e. by selling the equity or licensing the IP acquired by funding a project, it may have to rely on raising funding by selling $VITA. Given the projects funded by VitaDAO so far are very early stage, it’s safe to assume a significant exit may be years away.
There are currently limited strategies in place to increase the treasury’s value. The current tokenomics strategy excludes investment speculation with community funds to minimize risk. In order to achieve its goals, VitaDAO currently relies heavily on community and Strategic Member funding.
VitaDAO’s community has gained significant experience in the last two years of pursuing its mission, and the need has arisen to design more sophisticated management instruments for several elements of its operations, including the role of $VITA in the larger longevity ecosystem as well as the pre- and post-funding relationship with projects VitaDAO funds.
Learnings and needs
The list below focuses on commercial, financial, and market-oriented learnings from the VitaDAO community in the last two years. It’s non-exhaustive.
1. Financial sustainability
a. IP-NFTs are not yet as broadly accepted nor established in the biotech and longevity funding space as, for example, royalty or equity agreements. There is a clear utility for academic collaborations. Significant effort and time investment in the popularization of IP-NFTs may be needed in order to reach VitaDAO’s goals, should they continue to keep the concept of IP-NFTs at its center.
b. As expected for biotech projects, return on investments may need years to be realized. VitaDAO’s financing strategy may not be able to depend purely on Strategic Members and community financing for an extended period of time, given market instability and the need to prove (i.e. show success metrics) the community can achieve financial ROI and become a self-sustainable organization.
c. Many of the founders VitaDAO meets and decides to finance are running very early-stage projects or startups. They may not have formed the founding team, may be specialized scientists with little business/funding experience, and thus may need hands-on assistance in many of the aspects that increase the chances of raising financing rounds.
d. Some aspects of project sourcing, evaluation, and financing need to be strengthened. There is currently a vacancy for a venture associate and other positions within the dealflow area, but more formal positions may be needed.
e. The current tokenomics strategy is risk-averse and in line with the DAO’s values. However, it has been recognized that the potential for $VITA lies beyond purely being used for the DAO’s governance purposes. Popularization of $VITA may affect the DAO’s treasury directly by increasing membership, trading activity, etc. Any token uses beyond governance, however, need to be reviewed and approved by the Legal squad.
2. Popularization of VitaDAO, $VITA, IP-NFTs
a. VitaDAO is becoming a more important and recognizable player in the longevity space with each financed project.
b. There is a yet unexploited potential for $VITA to play a role in the space, such as becoming “in-game currency” for longevity-related apps, products, and systems. While preserving the risk-averse tokenomics approach and having in mind the original governance design of the token, a stronger role of $VITA in the space may enable VitaDAO to offer membership benefits to its community, popularize the DAO and IP-NFTs, and accelerate the achievement of its goals.
The Vita Commercialization Squad
A small group of dedicated, experienced people can address all of the needs listed above. This Squad acts as an independent pod or working group within the DAO, ensuring agility, focus, and accountability.
It functions based on a yearly Plan it submits to the Stewards; the community then votes to approve it. The Plan is designed to clearly describe the Squad’s objectives, activities, and most importantly, how the achievement of the objectives will be measured as well as how the Squad generates value and revenues for VitaDAO (see below section on Outcome-Based rewards). The plan details the Squad’s budget and planned expenses.
The Squad is an internal service provider to the DAO’s working groups, within the constraints of its Plan.
Given the fact the Squad’s work is financed by the DAO, ensuring accountability is of utmost importance. The Squad prepares reports and presents its work to the community as necessary, and at the very least bi-yearly. Achievement of the Squad’s metrics established in the Plan directly affects the Squad member’s compensation. The Stewards oversee the achievement of the Squad’s objectives and hold the Squad members accountable.
**1. Goals of the Squad**
Increase the likelihood of commercial success for the projects VitaDAO finances according to pre-agreed metrics and goals
Assist project teams pre- and post-financing with administrative, fundraising, operational and strategic planning needs; in some cases serving as fractional CEO, CFO, COO, or advisor, and creating a Venture Studio-like environment as needed
Generate value and revenues for VitaDAO (see below section on Outcome-Based rewards)
Establish projects’ needs for scientific assistance (e.g. SIR) and source candidates from within VitaDAO and the broad community
Active promotion of the DAO with TTOs and projects in line with the relevant policies (which are subject to change), as updated
Detailed design and active implementation of the DTT concept as prioritized by the DAO
Establish $VITA as the “longevity token” through aggressive business development with companies and projects in the sector, especially focusing on its use as “in-game currency” for relevant apps and systems, with a detailed sales plan with measurable metrics
Design and proposal of other uses of $VITA to increase benefits to its holders and VitaDAO and its members; coordinates such activities with the Coordination WG and specifically those members working on tokenomics
The Squad is led by the Builder. The Builder is an entrepreneur-in-residence with a startup mentality and approach to work. The Builder understands VitaDAO is a relatively early-stage startup, and that his/her job description includes wearing multiple hats as necessary. The Builder proposes the Squad’s yearly plan, hires group members, and is responsible for the achievement of the Goals of the Squad.
The Builder may fully or partially perform the EIR role (job description as currently published here) and can be hired from the currently advertised positions. In addition, the Builder:
Serves as the first point of contact representing VitaDAO for projects post-financing, unless deemed otherwise by the Stewards
Builds relationships with researchers, operators in the aging & longevity space as VitaDAO’s representative
Takes on the CEO/CFO/COO mantle at portfolio companies as needed and speaks about the company products and research with founder-level knowledge
Designs and proposes uses of $VITA to increase benefits to the VitaDAO community; serves as a business developer with companies in the field
The Builder may hire for other positions, as described in the Squad’s yearly plan and within the community-approved budget.
Community members may act as a broader support team for the Squad as projects necessitate.
The Squad must generate tangible, measurable value for VitaDAO. Whether these are in the form of successful integration of $VITA by companies in the longevity field, or in the form of equity, data, or IP in any form in exchange for the assistance provided to projects the DAO finances, creating revenues is at the heart of the Squad’s mission.
The Squad’s members’ are rewarded subject to the VitaDAO compensation policy (VDP 72 as of this time). The parts especially relevant to the Squad are the Compensation Framework (Part II) and Appendix D (Tech and Product Contributor Compensation).
In some cases where this is possible and legally permissible, and with the permission of the company/project legal representative, the DAO may offer a fraction of equity, data or IP as supplementary compensation to the Squad’s members involved in a company-building project.
Project Lead: Eli Mo
The Squad’s yearly budget is proposed in their Plan, and reviewed every six months based on the achievement of the Squad’s metrics, except in the first year when it is reviewed every four months. Should either the reviewers or the Builder propose the altering of the Squad’s budget after the review or at any point, a community vote is launched.
The Squad uses the budget for service provider fees, travel as needed, and itemizes all expenses in its reports. The Builder may approve any expenses not foreseen in the Plan below $5000 total only if any budget line is not altered by more than 20% or the budget by 2% total. Any expenses not foreseen in the Plan that do not fit within this formula need to be approved by the community.
First instance of the Squad (March-July 2023)
The first instance of the Squad will be a 4-month trial for the Builder position only, to be extended for an additional year if goals are met. The person applying to be the prospective Builder will propose a workplan for these 4 months within the scope of the Squad’s goals, and work closely with the Stewards to develop a detailed yearly plan.
No budget for the Squad is requested for this first trial period, i.e. the seasonal governance budget will be used as stated in the Goals.
- This proposal establishes the Commercialization Squad, whose goals are to increase the $VITA token utility value and commercialize VitaDAO’s assets
- The Squad assists projects/companies pre- and post-financing with administrative, fundraising, operational and strategic planning needs
- The Squad’s work is accountable, measurable and presented to the community
- Approval of a trial period of 4 months is requested from the community; hiring the team lead (Builder) from the currently open positions
- No budget is requested for the trial period
- Squad members are compensated as per the DAO compensation policy
- Revisions Requested (Detail in Comments)