[SEP #X] Modular DAO Generator & Innovation Aggregator, ecosystem grant proposal

Abstract

Excelsior Labs’ Modular DAO Generator & Innovation Aggregator is a platform that allows users to create and customise their own decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) using pre-made, modularised smart contract technologies. The platform is designed to be user-friendly, allowing users of any technical proficiency level to construct custom DAO architectures by simply dragging and dropping the desired modules into place.

This approach offers enhanced functionality and customisability compared to traditional no-code methods for creating DAOs. Furthermore, the platform will be built on top of Gnosis Safe, making it the only available multi-signature wallet on the platform. The goal of the platform is to lower the barrier to entry for creating DAOs and improve the quality and functionality of the average DAO.

Proposal details - we found the previous grant proposal format helpful in structuring our thoughts and it seems to be easier for others to understand, so will use that here also…

Why did you decide to build it

While working as a Product Manager at an institutional custodian, I was impressed by the quality of smart contract innovations in the DAO space. However, I was surprised to see that these innovations were not being adopted by the wider DAO ecosystem. This inequality between the cutting-edge DAOs and the “average” or “every day” DAOs was growing, despite the fact that all of these innovations were open source and unlicensed.

Upon further analysis, I discovered that the teams founding DAOs were often not aware of these innovations or their importance. Even if they did know about them, their lack of technical proficiency often prevented them from incorporating these innovations into their own architectures. Furthermore, the one-click DAO generators that were responsible for creating most of the new DAOs were not keeping pace with the rest of the ecosystem and did not support these smart contract innovations for users, making them inaccessible to most.

It became clear to me that there was a need for a project dedicated to addressing this issue, specifically a Modular DAO Generator/Innovation Aggregator. The process of innovation aggregation would involve the following steps:

  1. Identify the core innovations from all corners of the ecosystem
  2. Review and rank the innovations based on their quality and potential impact
    1. Extract the relevant smart contracts from these projects and modularise them
    2. Modularisation is the process of rewriting the smart contracts to include our interoperability standards, which will be created in collaboration with industry leaders such as DAOStar to ensure seamless interoperability.
  3. Audit the modules for any smart contract vulnerabilities and run simulations to check for game theory vulnerabilities that could arise from certain modular combinations
  4. Submit the modules to the platform for use by our community and users

Overall, this project aims to improve the accessibility and adoption of cutting-edge smart contract innovations in the DAO ecosystem by aggregating, modularizing, and auditing these innovations for use by DAO creators.

How long will it take

We want to have deployed our private Beta to the Ethereum mainnet by end of Q2 2023 and the public MVP will be live by the end of Q3 2023

How much funding are you requesting

To achieve such an ambitious project in the timeline mentioned above we need resources, a lot of them. Specifically, we need very talented smart contract engineers, who cost a lot of money. We think a grant worth $50,000 will be a very helpful contribution to our journey and would be grateful to receive it. In exchange for this, we will be modularising Safe and making it the only multi-sig on the platform for the foreseeable future!

Your Proposal

Project description

Outline a detailed description of your project, why you chose to build this project, the overall goal and future outlook of your project and why we should fund you.

At Excelsior Labs, we offer a truly revolutionary platform with our Modular DAO Generator & Innovation Aggregator. This platform allows users to easily create and customize their own decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) using the best pre-made, modularized smart contract technologies from around the ecosystem.

Our team has carefully curated and “modularized” these technologies, embedding our own technical standards into the source code to ensure that all the modules on our platform can communicate and interoperate seamlessly. We have every confidence that this approach will usher in a new era of decentralized governance and management for organizations, communities, and even entire societies.

Key points:

  • Our modularization process allows users to easily create custom DAO architectures by dragging and dropping modules
  • This approach offers significantly greater functionality, customization, and optimization compared to traditional no-code methods
  • Our platform aims to make it easy for users of any technical proficiency to create and manage DAOs, similar to how WordPress democratized website creation and management
  • Our approach will not only lower the barrier to entry for creating DAOs but also greatly enhance the quality and functionality of the average DAO
  • If successful, the positive impacts on the ecosystem would be hard to comprehend, especially in the long term (3+ years)

Features

How do you plan to implement your project, which tools and framework will you use? Optional: Architecture, Mockups, etc.

Initially, we plan to host our platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS), which provides a reliable and scalable infrastructure for web applications. After we’ve achieved sufficient traction, we plan to move our platform to InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a decentralized network for storing and sharing files.

For the underlying smart contract code, we plan to use Solidity to leverage the full EVM ecosystem innovation and momentum. We will use the Hardhat toolkit to assist with the development and testing of our smart contracts and automate the deployment process.

On the front end, we plan to use Next.js, a popular JavaScript framework for building web applications. We will also use Ether.js, a library for interacting with the Ethereum blockchain, to sign transactions, send transactions, and query the blockchain state.

Finally, we plan to use Gnosis-Safe to manage the treasury tokens for our platform. By using Gnosis-Safe, we can ensure that all transactions are properly signed and authorised, providing an additional layer of security for our users.

Overall, our technical approach is designed to provide a scalable, flexible, and secure platform for creating and customising DAOs. By leveraging the power of Solidity, Next.js, Ether.js, and Gnosis-Safe, we can provide our users with a powerful and user-friendly platform for building their own decentralised organisations.

The architecture of the Modular DAO Generator & Innovation Aggregator platform consists of the following three layers:

  • Membership Layer: This layer contains the token factory, which is responsible for creating and issuing tokens to members of the DAO. It also contains a membership registry, which holds all the details of the members of the DAO, such as their token balances and any roles or privileges they may have.
  • Voting Layer: This layer is where the proposal creation and voting process takes place. It includes a proposal registry, where all the open proposals are stored and can be accessed by members. It also includes the voting contract, which manages the voting process and determines the vote’s outcome based on the DAO’s rules.
  • Treasury Layer: This layer is responsible for managing the funds of the DAO. It consists of a multi-signature wallet, which is used to authorize any withdrawals from the treasury. It also includes a treasury management contract, which is responsible for tracking the balance of the DAO’s funds and ensuring that they are used in accordance with the rules set by the DAO.

The platform’s modular design allows users to easily add, remove, or customize the different components of each layer to fit the specific needs and requirements of their DAO. The platform also includes technical standards embedded in the source code to ensure that all the modules on the platform can communicate and interoperate seamlessly.

Team description

Who are your team members, what is your background and what you built before.

Anthony Broderick, CEO - Previously Web3 Product Manager at Parfin, the biggest institutional digital asset custodian in LATAM. Prior to this was a Senior Investment Analyst at Crypto Briefing on their SIMETRI team, alongside Andre Cronje. Author of “Is Bitcoin Money?” available on Amazon.com.

Aswin Raj Chandrasekaran, CTO - Experienced in complex modular architectures within the Automotive Industry as a Senior Software Engineer. Independently investigated security vulnerabilities in Decentralised Finance (DeFi) smart contracts throughout 2021-22. Recently finished his Masters in Advanced Computer Science from the University of York.

Timeline, Milestones and Deliverables

Detailed description of your timeline milestones and the corresponding payouts

Phase I Alpha -

We are pleased to announce that we have already begun the internal Alpha development phase. Our objectives for this phase include:

  • Deeply understanding the latest innovations in smart contract technology
  • Using this understanding to define our interoperability standards
  • Building a functioning (but not yet secure) prototype using these standards
  • Demonstrating the prototype to advisors, investors, and select early-stage clients
  • Gathering feedback to inform our Beta development

Deliverables What features will be implemented

The modules we have selected are

  • Token Factory
    • Fungible (ERC-20)
    • Non-Fungible (ERC-721)
  • Voting Mechanism
    • 1 token, 1 vote
    • Quadratic
  • Voting Forum
    • Snapshot
  • Treasury Management
    • Gnosis Safe Dashboard
    • Protocol Owned Liquidity/Bonding
  • Multi-sig Wallet
    • Gnosis Safe

Time and Price Estimate How long will it take and what is the estimated price

Timeline: 4-6 weeks

Cost: negligible due to no external hires; we can cover these ourselves

Phase II (Private) Beta -

In the Beta phase, we are excited to introduce a wider range of modules that have been carefully engineered and tested to ensure their security. These modules have been built using our state-of-the-art smart contract standards, developed in collaboration with industry leader DAOStar.

This private Beta phase will allow us to gather valuable feedback from our clients and iterate quickly on any necessary improvements, all in preparation for our highly anticipated public MVP launch.

Deliverables What features will be implemented

The modules we have selected so far are

  • Token Factory
    • Fungible (ERC-20)
    • Non-Fungible (ERC-721)
  • Voting Mechanism
    • 1 token, 1 vote
    • Quadratic
    • Quadratic with Sybil resistance (with dID integration)
    • 1 person, 1 vote (with dID integration)
    • Reputation voting
    • Delegation/Liquid Democracy
  • Voting Forum
    • Snapshot
    • Snapshot X (if released)
  • Treasury Management
    • Gnosis Safe Dashboard
    • Protocol Owned Liquidity/Bonding
    • Price Discovery Auction
  • Organisational Templates
    • sub-DAOs
    • Working Groups
  • Multi-sig Wallet
    • Gnosis Safe

Time and Price Estimate How long will it take and what is the estimated price

Timeline: end of Q2 2023

Costs:

  • Human resources required with estimated salaries
    • 1 x product manager
      • $50,000 pa (Anthony)
    • 1 x designer
      • $80,000 pa
    • 1 x full-stack engineer
      • $50,000 pa (Aswin)
    • 2 x smart contract engineers
      • $100,00 pa per person
    • 1 x part-time researcher
      • $40,000 pa
    • 1 x community manager
      • $40,000 pa
    • $230,000 for the 6-month delivery timeline

Other costs include legal, accounting, operating costs, marketing, talent scouts/head hunters and more. We’ve been advised that we should have at least $30,000 on hand to cover these costs for the delivery timeline.

Phase III MVP Launch -

Our MVP launch or ‘big release’, will include a full suite of modules that have been rigorously tested and audited to ensure their functionality and security.

This launch-ready product marks the beginning of a new chapter for Excelsior Labs, as we continue to push the boundaries of smart contract technology and build a backlog of cutting-edge features and modules to add to the platform in the coming months and years.

  • Token Factory
    • Fungible (ERC-20)
    • Non-Fungible (ERC-721)
  • Voting Mechanism
    • 1 token, 1 vote
    • Quadratic
    • Quadratic with Sybil resistance (with dID integration)
    • 1 person, 1 vote (with dID integration)
    • Reputation voting
    • Delegation/Liquid Democracy
    • Conviction Voting
  • Voting Forum
    • Snapshot
    • Snapshot X (if released)
  • Treasury Management
    • Gnosis Safe Dashboard
    • Protocol Owned Liquidity/Bonding
    • Price Discovery Auction
  • Organisational Templates
    • sub-DAOs
    • Working Groups
  • Multi-sig Wallet
    • Gnosis Safe
  • Automation Technologies
    • Treasury
    • Code Updates
  • Multi-chain Architectures

Time and Price Estimate How long will it take and what is the estimated price

Timeline: end of Q3 2023

Costs:

  • Human resources required with estimated salaries
    • Human resources required with estimated salaries
      • 1 x product manager
        • $50,000 pa (Anthony)
      • 1 x designer
        • $80,000 pa
      • 2 x full-stack engineer
        • $50,000 pa (Aswin)
        • $80,000
      • 3 x smart contract engineers
        • $100,00 pa per person
      • 1 x part-time researcher
        • $40,000 pa
      • 2 x community manager
        • $40,000 pa
      • $170,000 for the 3-month delivery timeline

Other costs include legal, accounting, operating costs, marketing, talent scouts/head hunters and more. We’ve been advised that we should have at least $25,000 on hand to cover these costs for the delivery timeline.

Others

Anything else you want to share with us

Outside of building revolutionary tech startups, we enjoy long walks on the beach and playing with dogs :slightly_smiling_face:

Open Questions

N/A

Copyright

Copyright and related rights waived via CC0

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for the proposal.

You mentioned standards a bunch of times during the proposal, but never mentioned any of the specific standards that you would be utilizing. Could you be a little more explicit here?

I’d highly recommend exploring Zodiac as the standard you use for modular DAO accounts. (I’m obviously pretty biased on this specific standard though)

You also mentioned wanting to be an “Innovation Aggregator”, wherein you essentially see what cool stuff others have built and then re-implement it within your own system. I see two potential issues with this:

  1. Rather than re-implementing ideas, I think it would be much more beneficial for us as an ecosystem to encourage others to build their tooling to be compatible with existing standards. We should be encouraging a unix-like composability so that we can re-use existing components. This is especially important for security-critical components that have already been battle-tested. Which leads me to my second point.
  2. You have some pretty aggressive timelines to build out a very complex and security critical system. One of the reasons that there is reasonably slow uptake on innovation in DAO tooling is precisely because it is security critical. I honestly don’t think it is possible to build the kind of system you are describing in the kind of timeline you are proposing and to be confident that it is safe for organisations securing significant assets. At least, not if you’re re-implementing security-critical parts of the stack.

What I’d really like to see out of a platform like what you’re proposing is:

  1. An interface that can express the limitless potential configurations that an organisation might have in a way that is easily consumable by non-technical users: the relationships between whatever accounts (safes) and modules constitute the organisation on-chain, how decisions are made, what pending actions there are in the system and how what changes they would affect if they are successful, what actions have already taken place, who holds influence in the system, etc, and in a way that acknowledges that some/most of the interactions with the DAO probably happen in other disparate interfaces.
  2. The ability to configure and instantiate a DAO that conforms to Zodiac standards, using a bunch of existing modules.
  3. The ability to bring a zodiac compatible safe that was not instantiated in your application and still get the same kind of rich expression of its configuration, along with the ability to interact with and modify it through whatever control mechanisms it has in place (multisig, DAO frameworks, etc)
  4. Modules implementing functionality that does not yet exist in a form compatible with Zodiac, and such a way that they can be composed with other modules and also used outside of your system.

One last thing I wanted to share is that Usul is probably a good foundation for the system you’ve described. It implements much of the desired functionality already, along with already being a Zodiac module.

3 Likes

Dear Auryn,

Thank you for your response. We appreciate the insights you have shared regarding the potential adoption of industry standards and the development of innovative products within the ecosystem.

As a platform, Excelsior Labs aims to facilitate the adoption of these innovations rather than compete with product development. To this end, we have engaged with DAOStar, a consortium of leading DAO organizations including Gnosis, Aragon, and Open Zeplin, to establish global standards for the industry through the establishment of a smart contract standards working group. We believe that by collaborating with these leading organizations, we can not only drive the adoption of these standards but also encourage newly launched products to incorporate them, enabling them to be easily repurposed on platforms like Excelsior Labs.

In regards to the suggestion of a Zodiac-compatible safe that was not instantiated in our application, we will certainly consider this possibility and explore it further with our CTO in the New Year.

Regarding the integration of modules implementing functionality that does not yet exist in a form compatible with Zodiac, we believe that Excelsior Labs can play a valuable role in bringing together seemingly separate smart contract innovations into a cohesive architecture. As we plan to utilize Safe as the sole multi-sig on our platform for the foreseeable future, all modules will be Safe compatible and able to be repurposed within the Safe ecosystem if desired.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any further questions or concerns.

Sincerely, Anthony

Is there more information available about the team and the company?

Website, Twitter? I checked linkedin but couldn’t find enough

1 Like

Hello, sure no problem. Here is a link to our company registration EXCELSIOR LABS LTD overview - Find and update company information - GOV.UK. Also, here is our company Twitter page, which we are currently quiet on, but will become more active in the coming weeks https://twitter.com/excelsior_labs. We will also be launching the LinkedIn page next week, as it is when our incubator (Entrepreneur First) comes to an end.

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Thank you for the insight friend! I appreciate it

I’ll take some time to look further :smile:

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