Celo Camp 2024 Grant: The MiniPay Launchpad and Startup Pathway Program [FINAL]

Author: Upright

Aligned Public Goods Bucket: Celo Project Incubation

Funding request: $325,000 cUSD and 100,000 CELO

Summary

Celo Camp has been an accelerator for founders building in our ecosystem since 2019. As we direct the focus of Celo’s flagship accelerator towards MiniPay, Upright asks the Celo Community to support our work by allocating $325,000 cUSD and 100,000 CELO to enable Cohort 9 (Q1 2024). This proposal will cover the next batch of Celo Camp (6 month) along with continued development and operation of our self-guided program, Startup Pathway.

Over the last 4 years, Upright has shipped 8 cohorts, serving memorable teams such as impactMarket, Moola Market, Halofi, Talent Protocol, Kotanipay, Flow Carbon, Fonbnk, Figment, Paychant, Umoja, Masa Finance, Symmetric, Plastiks, Resource Network, Eldorado and CarbonPath. Our alumni have collectively raised more than $200 million dollars and have processed more than $1.5bn in on-chain transactions. We would like to support founders for years to come: welcoming them, serving them, and wiring them into the very heart of Celo.

On November 15th, 2023 Upright and the Celo Foundation launched the inaugural MiniPay Launchpad (batch 8) in which the program’s curriculum and go-to-market were adapted to focus on Africa and MiniPay, while leveraging our existing alumni network and partners in the region. We have onboarded 17 teams from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and 20 mentors from notable VCs and companies (some of whom are proudly Celo Camp alumni themselves). In addition, we created a dedicated virtual space where mentors, VCs and MiniPay founders can connect and grow together. On December 19th, 2023 we concluded the cohort with the program’s Demo Day in which some of our top graduates showcased their projects. The winners of the MiniPay Launchpad were announced here.

The Opportunity

With the launch of MiniPay and its exposure to Opera’s +100M users, Celo builders gain exclusive access to users across Africa through the Discover page (an “appstore”-like experience). We see the launch of Opera MiniPay as a pivotal moment where users in Africa can experience a truly seamless onboarding experience into Web3.

Given these exciting developments, and as evident from our latest batch we believe 2024 will see an unprecedented influx of founders from the region. The goal of this proposal is to ensure Celo Camp is ready to support these builders.

The MiniPay Launchpad

Our flagship acceleration program is comprised of 3 main stages:

Planning: In this stage we tailor the program’s curriculum to the go-to-market, set up the program’s campaign and messaging, onboard mentors and partners, implement learnings from previous batches and soft launch the application phase.

Phase duration: 1 month.

Application phase (pre-camp): Where we onboard an average of 300 teams, host live events, conduct dozens of 1:1 meetings and group pitch sessions. Applications are open to teams from around the world who want to go to market in Africa (with a focus towards Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa). In this stage our focus is on outreach and curation to ensure the most suitable and talented teams are onboarded to the program.

Phase duration: 2 months.

MiniPay Launchpad: An 8-week virtual accelerator and mentorship program where teams receive guidance on how to build for MiniPay, as well as business and technology advice designed to help build and grow their startups.

Accelerator Benefits and Perks:

  • Virtual: Join the program remotely and meet founders from across the world.
  • Mentorship: One-on-one guidance from industry experts at leading organizations, such as EchoVC, Opera, MetaMask, a16z, NFX, Flori Ventures, Prime DAO, and many more.
  • Workshops and events: Access to workshops, networking events, pitch and mindfulness sessions led by experts, mentors, investors, and partners.
  • Technological support and integration: One-on-one meetings with Celo engineers.
  • Celo Camp partner support: Access to products and services from camp partners including AWS, Twilio, SendGrid, Hubspot, Tatum, Hacken, and more.
  • Networking: Opportunities to connect with like-minded creators and entrepreneurs in the Celo community.
  • Funding: A fast track to Celo grants and exposure to investors.
  • Impact: Contribute to Celo’s mission of creating the conditions for prosperity — for everyone.

We onboard an average of: 17-30 teams, 20-30 mentors, 15-20 speakers and partners for each batch.

Phase duration: 2 months.

Launchpad Wrap Up: Includes selection of winning teams, due diligence and distribution of prizes, feedback collection and reporting, connecting teams with VC’s and other initiatives as well as curation and promotion of founder stories and videos.

Phase duration: 1 month.

Program KPIs

KPIs we will measure and report to the community at the end of each batch (twice a year):

  • Total # applicants per batch.

  • Total # graduates who have successfully integrated with MiniPay/Celo including project pitch and live demo.

  • Net promoter score (NPS) greater than 60 - we want to ensure our MiniPay builders have a great experience and turn into leaders in the Celo ecosystem and promoters of the program.

KPIs collected and reported to the community within 6 month following each batch:

  • Total funds raised by alumni.
  • Total Celo on-chain transactions by alumni.
  • Total on-chain active addresses by alumni.
  • Total active alumni open source repos.

*As some of this information is not publicly available the measurement of these KPIs is based on a bi-yearly alumni survey.

Startup Pathway

A self-guided educational program for founders and builders in the Celo ecosystem. Through our newly designed 6-week program, founders get access to learning resources, structured curriculum and accountability through our dedicated LMS (learning management system), which features fully audible content, networking opportunities, Celo rewards, and community support.

The Upright team have developed two tracks for the program:

The Entrepreneurial Track
Designed for entrepreneurs entering the Celo ecosystem. The program covers all the major entrepreneurial milestones and includes topics such as User Research, UX, Building and Integrating to Celo and The Art of the Pitch.

Try it now!

The Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKP) Track
An A to Z class on this remarkable technology. ZKPs have immense potential to revolutionize the web3 space by addressing the critical need for privacy, security and scale. As research and development in this field continues, ZKPs are likely to find even more groundbreaking applications in the future.

This, one of its kind course, is tailored for the Celo ecosystem. It covers:

  • Introduction to ZKPs.
  • ZKPs for product managers: How to incorporate ZKPs into your own project, including the study of example use cases. The goal of this module is to give the learner an “intuition” for where ZKPs might be applicable.
  • Introduction to Plumo.
  • Walkthrough of developing an open the treasure chest game which demonstrates using Plumo to verify NFT ownership.
  • Walkthrough of developing a simple ZKP Sudoku game and deploying a circuit to the Celo network.

The ZKP track will be published on Feb 01, 2023, stay tuned.

The Startup Pathway program has become an integral part of the Celo Camp journey and a way for us to make the content we create available to anyone who wishes to build on Celo. The program also allows us to develop new resources for Celo Camp’s curriculum with the feedback of the border Celo community.

SP Notable alumni:
RedStone, Clixpesa, Flywallet, Vault3, Bingtellar, Bulla.network.

*Flywallet, Vault3, Bingtellar and Clixpesa graduated from both SP and Celo Camp.

The Upright team will operate, refine the existing tracks based on the feedback we get from learners and create a new dedicated track for MiniPay.

Program KPIs

Success Metrics

The success metrics we believe to be appropriate for the upcoming cohort are:

Celo Camp batch 9

  • At least 150 applicants.
  • Between 15-30 teams will be selected for camp.
  • 80% of Celo Camp graduates will demonstrate their integration with MiniPay and/or Celo.
  • Net promoter score (NPS) greater than 60.

Startup Pathway

  • 100 signups.
  • 15-30 participants.
  • Releasing a new MiniPay track.

10-20 open source Git repo submissions from Celo Camp and Startup Pathway.

The success metrics will be collected and made public at the end of the cohort.

*These success metrics are how we envision a successful batch and what we believe to be achievable based on our past results. Having said that this specific program is fairly new and achieving these KPIs is not fully under our control and may vary based on market conditions, go-to market and the actual start date of the event among other factors. Our team as always will do its best to maximize these KPIs.

Overall Allocation

Upright is requesting a total of $325,000 cUSD and 100,000 CELO be authorized for the budget of H1 2024 (6-month grant) for both programs, deployed in the beginning of Q1 2024.

The receiving address is 0xf3D173c38E4Ee44Afcf65692D5E02D350F0f2CE2

Cost Estimates Salaries and overheads
Cost Category Details Monthly cost
Operations and staff $55,270 USD
2 Program managers Celo Camp (operation / facilitator)
1 Technical Program Manager Celo Camp
1 Program manager Startup Pathway (operation / facilitator)
Marketing costs Social / Newsletters / Outreach $6k USD
Infra and tools I.T / Platforms cost $1.3k USD
Awards for participants Prizes for Celo Camp and Startup Pathway winners $4.2k USD
Travel and expenses None

We’d love to hear from you

Let us make the next year of the Celo community memorable. We are open for feedback and happy to discuss the proposal with the community stakeholders in detail. In addition, our team will dedicate the following weeks to collaborate with initiatives such as the Celo Governance Guidelines and Public Goods Funding Strategy H1 2024 to make sure the scope of the proposal best serves the broader Celo ecosystem.

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We just approved over 5million to Minipay- even with most of the community being against it, and here we are now asked to approve ANOTHER 300k for Minipay…… Jesus :man_facepalming:t5:

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Hi, @upright; thanks for the concise proposal and continuous efforts to accelerate Celo projects!

I was impressed by the latest Celo Camp and see a lot of value in it running again!

This proposal seems in line with the Celo Project Incubation category of the proposed Public Goods Budget for H1. One small comment is that the proposed cap is 325k cUSD, which your proposal is about ~$5k over.

@Bigga reacting on your comment, I think it’s important to understand that this is a seperate proposal from Minipay, as it focusses on running Celo Camp. Allgining Celo Camp with Minipay seems like a no-brainer, given the traction Minipay has been gaining. Instead of seeing it as an “additional commitment,” I think it’s logical to want to ensure the success of MiniPay, given the partnership and resources committed.

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Thanks for your feedback Bigga. To clarify, Celo Camp is an independent initiative. It is an incubation program focused on founders and developers in the Celo ecosystem which runs twice a year. When planning H1 of 2024 and after consulting with numerous builders in the ecosystem we came to the conclusion that Minipay in the African region is where our next cohort can have the most impact for the community. Based on the positive feedback we got from the MiniPay team and the demand for the previous batch we believe the program will be highly synergetic with the Minipay initiative and that focusing efforts in this case is a good strategy. As for the governance process, as this is the first time our team is posting a proposal, we are learning the process and following the work that @LuukDAO and his team are conducting. As mentioned in the proposal we plan to closely follow the guidelines that will come out of this work to make sure our proposal best serves the community.

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Thanks for pointing that out @LuukDAO we updated the budget accordingly.

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I can see Bingtellar somewhere “Smiles”. The impact of Celo Camp has been truly transformative for us — a real game changer! Excited about building more within the entire Celo ecosystem and supporting Celo Camp in every way we can. :blush::rocket:

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This is a no-brainer; Celo Camp was really a game changer for a lot of startups, just like ours at IntoTheVerse Inc..

Aligning the initiative with Minipay will fuel growth, open new use cases through innovation, and provide aspiring founders with the required network.

Kudos to @upright Ventures team!

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We at Clixpesa owe our progress to the Upright team. We joined the Startup Pathway program right after doing the Build with Celo Hackathon, and this program helped us structure what was just hackathon project into the foundations of what Clixpesa is becoming now. With the opportunity to learn and build along side wonderful teams and learning from those in the ecosystem we cannot emphasis enough how this has helped us stay focused on the problem we are solving.

We later joined Celo Camp batch 7 where we were exposed to very good resources on how to build right for our target market. Not to mention the mentorship sessions that we had the opportunity to have. The mentors we met here have chosen to walk the journey with us and help us get closer to our vision. At Celo camp batch 8, we hoped onto the MiniPay launch pad, and this helped us distill our product more to fit users on Opera mini and hopefully after a successful integration to Minipay our products will help more users in sub-saharan Africa.

As a founder from a small town in Kenya, the opportunities afforded to us in the Celo ecosystem through such programs are hard to come by here. Your support to this program goes along way in uplifting founders in a way you can not measure.

Special thanks to @upright and keep up the good work of supporting budding founders like us.

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Great initiative! This is essential for driving the adoption of CELO and MiniPay. The Upright team is proactive in its mission to assist teams and founders in integrating with CELO and launching sustainable products and businesses. Participating in the first Launchpad was incredibly impactful as it allowed us to rethink our product flow and go-to-market strategy. Well done to the Upright team for their support and bringing everything together.
@upright @Alon @Matt_CeloCamp"

Regards Abiola from Shiga Digital

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As part of the first Minipay launchpad cohort, I must commend the Upright team for an amazing job.

The camp was highly instrumental in helping us navigate CELO and Minipay ecosystem as well as firsthand insights into building for the African market, and getting our product more refined. Kudos to @upright team for a great impact in few weeks. We couldn’t have made such progress without the program.

Nnamdi from Lockie

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Thanks @upright for sharing this proposal and offering a glimpse into the ambitious plans for Celo Camp 2024. Having been involved with Celo Camp and having contributed to the development of the Startup Pathway, I can personally attest to the remarkable work the team has undertaken in nurturing projects within the Celo ecosystem.

In the spirit of collaboration and open public discussion, and as the Celo community advances with the Celo Public Goods budget, which aims to unite the efforts of various ecosystem-related projects, I’d like to share some insights into this proposal.

1. Diversifying Support Programs:

The Celo Public Good budget for supporting projects currently stands at $300k + 100k CELO. Upright is requesting the entire budget. I firmly believe that a thriving Celo ecosystem should embrace multiple active programs dedicated to supporting project growth. Programs like Celo Incuba by Celo LatAm DAO, Mentors Collective, or others can significantly contribute to ecosystem diversity and resilience.

Supporting points for diversification:

  • While Celo Camp has played a pivotal role in supporting the leading projects within the Celo ecosystem, it’s essential to acknowledge that it rejects approximately 500 projects annually. This suggests that while leading projects in Celo are often Celo Camp alumni, other promising projects find it challenging to find legitimacy without program participation.
  • Currently, the Celo Camp alumni survival rate within the Celo ecosystem stands at around 26%. Out of the 161 alumni, only 42 mention Celo on their websites, while 59 don’t even have a website and probably no longer exist. These statistics underscore the need for more avenues to engage projects actively and sustainably within the ecosystem.

2. Budget Optimization:

  • Staff Costs: The proposed budget allocates $55,270/month for operations and staff, suggesting a relatively high average salary of approximately $14,000/month per person. Revisiting these costs could lead to more efficient resource allocation.

  • Budget Duration: The proposal requests a budget for a 6-month period, yet the outlined plan appears to cover only 5 months. Aligning the budget with the actual timeline is essential for transparency.

  • Planning Phase: Given that this will be the 2nd “MiniPay Launchpad” batch and the 9th batch of Celo Camp, both with substantial mentor resources already onboarded, it raises questions about the necessity of a full month for the planning phase.

  • Marketing: The proposal allocates $6,000 per month for marketing, with a likely need for most of the marketing activities only during the 2-month application phase. Streamlining the marketing budget to reflect the actual needs during different phases could optimize expenses.

3. Ensuring Sustainability:

  • Equity Participation: Considering that this will be the 9th batch of the program sponsored by the Celo ecosystem, it might be prudent for Celo Camp to explore alternative sustainability models, such as requesting equity from participating projects or developing more self-sustaining mechanisms. This will also create the needed motivation to continue support projects after they finish the program.

  • Participating Teams: Understanding the reasons behind the last program including only 17 projects, compared to the usual 30, could provide valuable insights into optimizing program participation and impact.

  • Specific KPIs: While the proposal mentions general KPIs (e.g., total # applicants, total # graduates), it would greatly enhance transparency and evaluation if specific, measurable KPIs were included to clarify the program’s success metrics.

Honest Disclosure

I want to emphasize that my intent is not to diminish the value or achievements of Celo Camp in any way. I genuinely applaud the program's continued success in fostering Celo projects. At Mentors Collective, we view ourselves as collaborators, seeking to complement the efforts of Celo Camp and other esteemed Celo communities. My insights are shared with a sincere commitment to enhancing the overall health and strength of our ecosystem.

Thanks for your feedback Elad, we’ll try to address all of your discussion points in this post.

Celo Camp budget and diversification: The success of builders in our ecosystem has always been and will be a team effort. It starts first and foremost with the founders themselves, supported by hackathons, events, the Celo Foundation, programs like Prezenti, VCs like Flori Ventures, Kolektivo, Regional DAOs, Climate Collective and many other great initiatives. All these organizations and programs contribute to the success of founders in the Celo ecosystem and the Web3 space as a whole by offering diversified avenues for founders to grow. Our team is always making an effort to collaborate with other initiatives, make our list of graduates public, share each cohort’s stats, hosting public demo days and actively connecting founders with other initiatives and opportunities in the ecosystem.

This proposal was mapped based on numerous discussions with ecosystem contributors, including @LuukDAO. Our proposed budget and scope was significantly reduced in order to make room for other initiatives in the workings, as well as help keep the ecosystem budget nimble before the L2 transition.

To your point “the Celo Public Good budget for supporting projects currently stands at $300k + 100k CELO. Upright is requesting the entire budget,” it’s important to clarify that based on the “Celo Public Goods” budget, there are multiple funding buckets earmarked for initiatives (i.e., Regional DAOs; Celo Grants; Requests for Proposals; etc.) designed to support projects in the ecosystem. Our proposal requests 325k cUSD and 100k CELO (under the “Celo Project Incubation” category) out of the total budget of 1.45M cUSD and 600k CELO. Our proposed budget represents the minimum budget that we believe is necessary to achieve a successful cohort of Celo Camp.

In addition, as previously mentioned, our proposal includes the operation of the Startup Pathway program which offers free online learnings, accountability and mingling opportunities for founders who didn’t make it to the ongoing camp cohort or prefer a self-paced program. The program also allows us to stay connected with these founders and extend the support we provide.

Survivability: General survival rate of startups is low. A figure that is often cited is that 90% of startups fail. This is why accelerator programs are so important as they can increase the survival rate of startups up to 50% (in their first 5 years) in some of the world’s top accelerators. These statistics put the numbers you presented in perspective and while checking the figures, we found that out of 190 alumni → 145 are w/ a website (76% of alumni) and 57 of these “mention Celo” (30% of alumni), which are well within these figures.

Another factor to keep in mind is that the cohort size has great effect on survival rate metrics (when measured in percentage out of the total graduates) and while our curation process puts a high weight on sustainability there is an importance to balance that out to make sure the cohorts are inclusive, diversified and provide opportunity for a wide variety of ideas and cultures. This is one of the reasons our cohort size is presented as a range of 15-30 teams. We recently took the approach of adjusting the batch size based on a review of the cohort applicants and the addressable market while balancing these factors. In addition, our curation voting process always includes at least one outside organization to make sure we bring a variety of opinions to the discussion.

KPIs: The success metrics that we believe to be appropriate for the upcoming cohort are:

Celo Camp batch 9

  • At least 150 applicants.
  • Between 15-30 teams will be selected for camp.
  • 80% of Celo Camp graduates will demonstrate their integration with MiniPay and/or Celo.
  • Net promoter score (NPS) greater than 60.

Startup Pathway

  • 100 signups
  • 15-30 participants
  • Releasing a new MiniPay track.

10-20 open source Git repo submissions from Celo Camp and Startup Pathway.

The KPIs will be collected and made public at the end of the cohort.

*These success metrics are how we envision a successful batch and what we believe to be achievable based on our past results. Having said that this specific program is fairly new and achieving these KPIs is not fully under our control and may vary based on market conditions, go-to market and the actual start date of the event among other factors. Our team as always will do its best to maximize these KPIs.

Staff Costs: The “operations and staff section” in the budget does not only represent the staff salaries but also includes the overhead and operation costs required for the staff to complete its goals.

Budget Duration: Thanks for pointing that out. The 6th month is dedicated for wrapping up camp and Startup Pathway which includes selection of winning teams, due diligence and distribution of prizes, feedback collection and reporting, connecting teams with VC’s and other initiatives as well as curation and promotion of founder stories and videos.

Planning Phase: As mentioned in the proposal, in this stage we make updates to the program’s curriculum, update the Startup Pathways materials, set up the program’s campaign and messaging, onboard new mentors and partners, implement learnings from previous batches and soft launch the application phase.

Marketing: Our program’s marketing efforts doesn’t end at the application phase but continues throughout camp (Demo Day, Founder stories, winners announcement, Startup Pathway etc.).

Ensuring Sustainability - equity participation: Good point, our team has been actively exploring the possibility of transitioning camp into a fund model which can secure a long term sustainability model, we think this transition is realistically possible by H2 2024 / H1 2025.

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Hi @upright, I’m happy to update you on the upcoming Celo Public Goods timeline.

Applying for Celo Public Goods Funding
We’ve just published a thread with more information here and created a Public Goods Funding Wiki to provide more guidelines.

Given this proposal has been up on the Forum for multiple weeks, I invite you to incorporate final feedback and move the proposal to the [FINAL] stage for it to be ready to submit this coming Friday, once the Celo Public Goods Snapshot space becomes active.

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Thanks @LuukDAO we’ve incorporated the final feedback and added [Final] to the title.

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Hi everyone! Matt Kenny (Celo Camp Program Manager) here.

Wanted to let you all know the proposal is now live for voting on Snapshot [click here to vote]!

Celo Camp == Quality Products

Aligning this cohort with Minipay will fuel growth for the overall Celo community while also innovating ways to cater to the folks that are still unbanked.
Just a little feedback to consider: if the number of startups in any cohort is reduced, it will give each one of them a chance to get better and more personalized mentoring sessions and feedback loops.

Anyway, I support this initiative, and kudos to the @upright Ventures team!

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