Flori Labs - proposal and request for feedback

Hi everyone,

My name is Maria Alegre and this is my first post. I’m a former founder and I’ve been working on Celo since February. I started by prototyping Kaala.app inside Mozilla with Benoit Nolens (built on Celo), and later joined the ecosystem by starting Flori and building a team to invest in great founders building on & with Celo. Since then, we have partnered with over 70 companies and are seeding a founder community that we believe will be a great force to drive the ecosystem forward and enable prosperity for all. We are only getting started.

We, the Flori team, in partnership with several other members of the ecosystem who have contributed to this proposal and will contribute to its execution, would like to propose for the Community fund to fund Flori Labs.

Objective:

To fund Celo-related projects that can’t be funded with a VC model. To experiment on Celo, and grow and support builder teams working and building on it.

Proposal Overview

The VC model provides clarity and efficiency.

  • It is funded with an average of 2% yearly fees of the funds managed over 10 years - which need to be used to deploy capital and maximize returns.
  • And it’s rewarded with 20% carry of the return.

But sometimes we have ideas for projects that don’t fit the typical VC model.

We would like to create some space for the Flori team to experiment in supporting projects and builders in Celo in a way that would be less restrictive & more creative . This could lead to learnings from research and product & company development and enable for different spinoffs.

We’ll be requesting 1M CELO from the Community Fund and here are 5 examples of prototypes we would like to run:

  1. Flori Farm
  2. Flori Grants
  3. Flori Prosper
  4. Flori NFT
  5. Flori Gaming Studio

1. Flori Farm - learning by doing & inspiring others + supporting our token launches

(Estimate $500K - $1M - 100K-200K CELO)

Liquidity providing for tokens launched by Flori portfolio companies (ube, moola, kresko, mobius, symmetric, dahlia & more to come).

We are doing this on a small scale right now (with $50K) - to build internal expertise as we explore the path to do it at scale. Flori Farm would be the v2 since the project we are incubating doesn’t fit the VC model.

When it reaches the right size and expertise, this project would be self-sufficient (we would pay costs with its returns) and profitable. We would use the profits to fund other Flori Labs initiatives and potentially, return some of the funds to the Treasury.

Side benefits:

We can also see how running a farm in the open and in the ecosystems makes us much smarter in defining the projects that need to be created, funded and supported to have a healthier and more complete ecosystem.

In a future iteration of this proposal, we could also see how Flori Prosper (below) might take some of the learnings from Flori Farm and share them openly to inspire more Flori Founders to run their Farms with a percentage of their treasury.

2. Flori Grants - funding great founders where VC does not make sense.

(Estimate $500K - $1M - 100K-200K CELO)

At Flori, we spend all day meeting builders who are exploring or excited to build on Celo. Sometimes we would love to partner with the founders but we can’t at the time because they are either:

a) too early, in exploration. Not yet ready for incorporating a legal entity and/or fundraising.

b) projects not designed to be the fast growing companies that would attract VC funding (so we would not be setting them up for success by funding them with it)

Sometimes these founders might convert into VC-fundable projects. Other times, they might just be great founders and mission we want to support and be a part of - independently of the financial multiples their projects might result in.

Right now, we send these projects to other funding sources in the ecosystem. We will continue doing that AND we think it might be also interesting to have a way to support these builders directly from Flori leveraging our existing infrastructure of mentors, ops, community etc. to continue growing the decentralization of our ecosystem and be able to move faster.

3. Flori Prosper - Building community and non-technical onboarding.

(Estimate $500K - 100K CELO)

In partnership with Vanessa and Adriana - we would like to fund one or more Prosper retreats for founders. We have a strong intuition that a lot of the strength of this community came from these early in-person retreats and experiences. We weren’t at the first Prosper but we wish we were - and the strength of the experience was still palpable in several of the community materials that came out from there and that have helped us and many learn about what makes this community unique.

We also think there is opportunity for a community dedicated person working closely with Flori to help create prosper-like experiences among Flori founders & help them expand that in their networks.

We also want to invest in expanding the onboarding experience for non-technical founders who are considering building on Celo. We have great technical documentation but believe the experience for a product and/or business person to learn about Celo could be improved and we want to work on it. We already are, but we want to 10x-it.

This is not a replacement but an expansion of the amazing work the Foundation, eco leads and devrel are doing and we envision that we would do it in partnership with them - with a strong focus on supporting early and future founders.

4. Flori NFT - building community and learning by doing

(Estimate $500K - $1M - 100K-200K CELO)

Part of Flori’s role in the ecosystem is to introduce it’s founders and other Celo community members to the most trendy technologies and use cases in the cypro world - We’ll create NFTs for the Flori founders, advisors and investors and will learn and experiment with them.

Derived from the known Crypto punks created by https://www.larvalabs.com, we will create NFT avatars based on the images of endangered animals and plants, and distributed between existing community members & future ones, the goals are

  1. Creating a digital identity to Celo community that’s aligned with it’s core values
  2. Educate the community about the use case of NFT as a community badge

5. Flori Gaming Studio - learning by doing and inspiring others

(Estimate $1M-$2M - 200K-400K CELO)

We’ll partner with a gaming company to build a play-to-earn game that’s actually fun. We’ll learn and inspire others. This will seed a future Flori Games fund.

We’ll also give five 200K grants to inspire gaming companies to build crypto labs on Celo.

In a previous life, I, Maria, was in the mobile gaming industry for 12 years building games at Tapulous, and Disney Mobile and building Chartboost which got acquired by Zynga. Gaming has big potential to help onboard millions of people to crypto and to be an experimental & creative playground. We want to explore seeding a gaming incubator.

All of the above are not new ideas. We are already doing a version of all of them. But there is so much to do - and with Flori labs, we want to be an active part of growing the community and would like to be able to expand our team and initiatives to do that faster and bigger.

Budget

We are requesting 1M CELO (est. $5M) from the Community Fund.

Structure

In the medium term, we would explore running Flori Labs as a DAO.

To get started however, we are designing the most efficient and easy to prototype structure to run it as a partnership of the co-founders inside or in parallel to Flori Management. Open to feedback here.

Ask

We are posting this in the forum to ask for feedback and other ideas and mature the proposal with your questions and suggestions. We are also looking to grow the team if anyone in the community would like to join as advisor or to help execute.

Thanks

Thanks to Vanessa Slavich, Jackie Bona, Adriana Cerundolo, Tomer Bariach, Peter Downs, Calico Kittencat and Patrick Baron for your feedback and for reviewing drafts of this proposal.

The Flori Team right now is Tomer Bariach, Roni Gur, Calico Kittencat, Mollie Fehlig, Barb Izzo, Kyle Kelly and myself plus a great network of Visiting Partners and Advisors. And, as mentioned above, Flori Labs is hiring.

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Awesome Maria!

Looking forward to all the big things that can be done!

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Great proposal Maria. Love it!

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This is awesome, Maria. Love what particularly what Flori Gaming Studio and Flori Farm could evolve into - excited to contribute to this.

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Hey @maria

How would you imagine the ecosystem flow for something like Flori Grants in relation to the Climate Collective? What would be the best way to forward ReFi projects your way for funding?

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Great ideas! In the spirit of supporting initiatives that don’t fit the traditional VC model, I think you could further incorporate some of the 5 features of money:

  1. UBI tied to market creation system
  2. Demurrage - institute a small charge for holding money
  3. Natural-capital backed currencies
  4. Ecology of money - local, regional, national currencies
  5. Earn money into existence
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There are currently many concerns within the Celo ecosystem and outside among crypto native users that Celo is a VC heavy chain.

While I like the initiatives and the intention of the project, I think this proposal causes a conflict of interest. It feels like we are now giving community funds, i.e., more Celo allocation to yet another VC organization.

As a community member, I am opposed to this. I will be voting against this.

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You wrote fund Flori Labs, which sounds like funding for the operations of Flori Labs and would probably turn people off, but it sounds more like You’re looking to setup what is essentially Community Fund v3 (v2 being the Treasury).

It sounds like the pitch is that sense Flori already meets with founders there an efficiency to having the same people look at both. and have options for how to structure funding.

One by One

1.FARM – Would this be a similar in structure to how the foundation is doing Defi4People?
2. GRANTS – kinds already wrote my thoughts above, Im i can see the benefit. but there are already so many grant sources on celo will it really make a difference? will it distract or confuse?
3.PROSPER I think the ProsperDao should just ask for funds directly
4. NFT – sounds fun why not.
5. GAMING – yeah im not sure if funding flori operations (expanding team) is the best use of on chain funds. Also if its seeding a VC gaming fund then I would call for their to be a direct RIO in funds returned to the community fund address like any other LP.

Glad to see this proposal.

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We have been a large part of the Celo ecosystem since their earliest days. Don’t waste words. We strongly oppose this proposal.

TLDR: If this proposal passes with a whale vote in favor and the small Celo owners don’t accept it, we will leave this ecosystem. We only mention 10% - concern of our privacy concerns and ostracism from the authorities located in Celo

What We See Now in Celo - People are mission-driven but don’t understand crypto / Web3 ethics. Some don’t even try. We talked to Maria once and talked to many founders. Each of them told me the same thing. They are not well competency.

Some of the new founders even got confused. Asking the founders to fork projects Willy Nilly’s. when founders wanted to create something new, asking to fork instead cause “Celo needs tokens” by asking the founders to add tokens to projects when it didn’t make sense, etc., they even funded Ian of Ube who just wanted to bring tokens for 30 project tokens and pump them out. When he left Celo, ppl in Celo power publicly complimented him instead of raising the issues. They let Ube and many projects to have tokens no lockups. Or 6 month lock up. Say mission oriented actions show opposite. Or just incompetent.

The current joke is “Talk to Flori and you’ll get $200,000”

Then no. This is contrary to the ethos of Celo. Enough.

How can we create large decentralized projects in Celo when the main watchdog, which is the pre-seed funding organization, doesn’t understand how crypto works. Now we want to give them $ 5 million in community funds? No. No. No

TLDR: If this proposal passes with a whale vote in favor and the small Celo owners don’t accept it, we will leave this ecosystem. We only mention 10% due to our privacy concerns and ostracism from the authorities located in Celo

There are many like us within cLabs, foundation, and celo builders who are of this opinion. However they don’t want to say it. Afraid of repercussions of going against a VC

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It is a great proposal, and I am looking forward to seeing that happening. All prototypes make a lot of sense and will surely help the ecosystem evolve in a proper way.

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Hey Maria, great proposal indeed! :pray:

I’d love if you’d create a Flori Talent which basically means creating a fund to invest directly on Talent who’s building and joining the Celo ecosystem, we could create a Season on Talent Protocol just targeting this type of talent (and we already have founders from Celo Camp who launched their token too)! This could also be a nice complement to the Flori Grant you’ve mentiond :slight_smile:

Let’s do this :fire:

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I have serious qualms with this proposal, and will vote against it if proposed formally.

Most saliently, the objective of the proposal is “to fund Celo-related projects that can’t be funded with a VC model”, but the projects and activities selected appear to be profit-seeking private companies and exclusive activities such as a retreat for Flori founders. The main reason I can understand from this post is that they are incompatible with VC funding is primarily because they are too early stage or speculative. Furthermore, there is no commitment that if these private ventures do succeed, that they will share profits or any other benefit with the Celo community or advance the mission of fostering prosperity for all.

We, as the Celo community, established and continue to bolster the Community Fund to advance the public infrastructure and mission of the Celo network. Transferring a sizable portion of the funds allocated by the Celo ecosystem to a private investing firm without a clear intent to advance the Celo mission seems incompatible with our intent as a community.

Flori Labs is a vital part of our community, but I do not personally see this proposal as a mission aligned structure to advance our shared goals.

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Thank you Maria for sharing this proposal. I appreciate the desire to support local builders and community. The clear benefit I see is that this proposal allows us to discuss the elephant in the room that is VC involvement in the Celo Ecosystem. As well as the intentions and guardrails of this community fund.

Re: #3 - Flori Prosper - Apologies if this went over my head, but why wouldn’t this be funded by Flori? The inaugural prosper retreat (for all Celo builders) was funded completely by Celo foundation/cLabs and ticket sales. As have our community roles (of which I’m one) - paid as an employee of cLabs/Foundation. If the benefit is for Flori founders, shouldn’t these programs be paid for by Flori directly? Also, noting here that ProsperDAO already has its own shared multisig.

Re: #2 - Grants - If the issue is that the traditional VC model doesn’t support worthy founders & projects, why not have this be an opportunity for Flori to create a different model that centers experimental community efforts instead of financial security & gain? Those are the type of institutions, I believe, that are needed for our economic system to truly change - giving without demanding an expected return, giving from sufficiency, and trusting in the enoughness of the whole system. A leap from our current model, to be sure. But I thought that was the whole point of Celo.

Which brings me to several questions for the community - what should be the role of this VC model within the ecosystem? What are we comfortable with? What does true “success” of the Celo ecosystem look like? A network of VC-backed startups? Or something else? And how do we center marginalized voices and grass-roots community efforts through our abundance - and specifically - this community fund? Looking forward to continuing the conversation.

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Appreciate the space to add feedback here.

This is above all rooted in care. Care for people that I hold dear and deeply respect, care for the Celo network and as a project, and care in the form of community.

Many within both the Celo and wider Web3 ecosystem will know that I entertain “strong opinions, loosely held” on the topic of the culture of venture capital in crypto.

Celo is already highly over-indexed on “VC” — from status-quo culture, to mental models, to funding mechanisms, to network ownership concentration, to overall protocol development. And it is hindering hard work by caring people especially related to trying to elevate the profile of Celo more widely in a crypto context.

Like folks have similarly mentioned, these are community funds. If there seem to be “things of interest to fund” but that apparently “can’t be funded with a VC model”, then for me this would seem like an ideal invitation to take a hard look at the model. That is exactly what’s part of the whole spirit of crypto — evolving the model. Certainly there’s ample opportunity to do just that right now for Flori itself, namely: to improve and “10x” fundamental factors like
a) the gender + racial diversity of portfolio founding teams, as well as
b) integrating justice-informed methods of valuing + evaluating their relative success, that is
c) keen on centering people + projects based on lenses that go beyond simply financial multiples.

Related to #3, if this is something that people truly wanted to support, then the 5-member ProsperDAO Celo multisig is active and has been created for months to direct funding.

There is much more that this proposal touches on and brings up for me, but in the interest of clarity I will pause here for now.

So as someone who is part of the Celo community, I too oppose this proposal. How should this conversation be facilitated and where should it be placed moving forward?

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Hi folks! I’d like to congratulate Maria on submitting this proposal on behalf of Flori.

Wanted to share some thoughts that might point out many of the concerns brought up in the comment sections by folks.

As it stands, this proposal is beneficial to Flori Founders

Now, you can make an argument that Flori Founders are part of the Celo community, however, I haven’t interacted much with many of the Founders nor seen them within the larger diverse Celo community.

The other concern I have is that this proposal lacks a multisig at all, and makes no indication on whether that will be added and if it will include non-Celo participants to increase decentralization.

Now, to comment on the particular proposals:

  1. Flori Farm - Why can’t Flori use the DeFi 4 The People program that has $100 million committed to improve liquidity on Celo. Also, this Farm seems to be profiting Flori Labs initiatives specifically and makes a potential promise that some of the profits would go back to the on-chain community fund. I’d like to see a more concrete promise of this if it is to be a clear benefit to the entire Celo Community.

  2. Flori Grants - My main concern here is that it’s not differentiated enough compared to existing grant programs on Celo that exist. It even admits to sending would-be founders to other grant programs and would like to also support them directly. More clear differentiation would be desired to understand why this proposal stands out.

  3. Flori Prosper - I don’t see how a Flori-Founder specific ProsperDAO event is a useful allocation of the community funds. ProsperDAO is its own DAO, the community can fund ProsperDAO directly. ProsperDAO can choose to partner with Flori on Flori Founder Prosper events, that can come directly from Flori funding those initiatives directly. If Flori wants to support ProsperDAO for community-wide events that are inclusive rather than exclusive, that seems like a better approach for this proposal.

  4. Flori NFTs - I love NFTs! I’d like to see this section be beneficial to the larger Celo community and not just focused on Flori Founders.

  5. Flori Gaming Studio - I think this is a great avenue to explore for sure! I am curious why a gaming studio would be seeded by community fund when VCs like a16z have invested in YYG and Axie is highly popular. What are the challenges that don’t allow Flori to raise a separate fund just for a gaming studio? The gaming industry is huge and combining it with Play-to-Earn mechanisms is a new avenue that crypto VCs are all looking to support.

On this point: “In the medium term, we would explore running Flori Labs as a DAO.” I’d like to see a lot more concrete structure prior to this being submitted as a proposal. Ideally, if this is truly going to be a Decentralized Autonomous Organization, then it needs folks on the multisig from outside of Flori and outside of Celo so that there’s more accountability.

One final thought on this is I would like more transparency on why Flori Labs can’t raise funds outside of the community fund for those amazing Flori-specific projects. We have seen how successful Polychain Labs has been. I understand the argument that those proposals don’t fit the existing VC model, however, I’d like to point out that many crypto-VCs don’t fit the existing VC model as it currently exists. Paradigm Fund is a Research-driven company that invests in startups as well. Polychain Labs does a lot of cutting-edge activities like operating validators and participating in on-chain governance that the traditional VC model isn’t applicable for.

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Greetings everyone!

A core issue for Celo is that the community fund is being deployed slowly, so we should welcome proposals, especially those that think big and help us make some big bets. So, congrats @maria .

I’m still reflecting on the remarks above, but my current takeaways are:

1. A Need for Focus and Differentiation

  • I like thinking big at 1M Celo, but five priorities seem too much, and some seem to overlap with other initiatives (e.g. DeFi4ThePeople, Prosper).
  • I recommend focusing on one unique initiative. For example, an NFT or a gaming initiative seems like a focused choice. I am sure there are many other good choices and it is critical that the area of focus be a passion for the multisigners.

2. An Outsider Dominated Multisig
Building on @Yaz , I think a multisig that has a supermajority (e.g. 66%+) of non-Celo insiders (clabs team or genesis Celo holders) would be a good addition.

Lastly, a reminder that dissent is welcome but dissent coupled with concrete alternative proposals for the community is even better.

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Great proposal. Imo it’s crucial to deploy a large part of our community funds as early and effective as possible, and for that community members willing to do that with energy, mission alignment and motivation are important. And part of the motivation will for sure be financially. As Flori seems to have experience and infrastructure, a part of the funds would be well deployed there imo. At least as long as the allocated community funds are not invested in an equity style model which only benefits Flori, but given out as grants.

At the same time I don’t understand too much about VCs and web3 ethics myself and would like to see most of the issues above sorted out or clarified.

From an impact maximization point of view the ideal community fund should in my opinion look like a fund with many diversified small bets: Not much to loose, but massive impact possible. An allocation to Flori would further diversify and extend the bets of the community fund. And as long as funds don’t low and the community doesn’t have to choose between initiatives, making many bets as long as they are in alignment with the Celo mission would maximize the chances of impact and development of the community.

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Hi everyone, it’s a pleasure to meet you all. I’m Tomer, Co-founder of Flori Ventures.

Happy to be part of the Celo community. As a long-time crypto/social impact entrepreneur, it feels good to find a “home” aligned around the vision finally.

Thank you for taking the time and addressing some of the feedback/questions that we got both here and privately. Maria and I would also like to host an AMA over zoom on Wednesday, December 1st at 8:30 am (sign up here: Meeting Registration - Zoom).

Flori Labs vs. Flori Ventures

The VC entity we run is called Flori Ventures, and we want to start a different entity that will use our skills and time to see how we can support the Celo ecosystem in other ways besides investing in companies.

Farm

No, we are not looking to provide more liquidity rewards like DeFi 4 the people but address a different problem.

Looking at the APYs today & talking to our founders (above 75 companies building on Celo so far) on the different liquidity protocols, we understand there’s a lack of awareness and knowledge to where and how people can farm in Celo, what are the risks etc. - the goal is to create a “Celo Farm Show” with videos, articles and more describing exactly how why and where did we stake the money - covering as many products as possible.

This is a venture we won’t be earning any money from, the earnings from staking the $1M will be used to hire someone to manage the Farm and communications. Once not needed we are happy to circulate the $1M back to the community fund.

We are also happy to pass this idea to someone else within the ecosystem - but we believe that it’s important, and we are happy to share our time and knowledge on the subject.

Flori Grants

I know it sounds the same, but there are benefits to having Flori doing it.

  1. It’s a matter of efficiency - we are working full time meeting people, and sometimes meet really awesome valued aligned projects - that just doesn’t fit the VC model. (I would love to have a full discussion about the VC model in another time…)
  2. Becoming part of our program - as Maria explained Flori is more than just somewhere you come to ask for money, we are building programs, connections, spending a lot of time building the founders and the companies we invest in - we would love to bring over these projects under our umbrella
  3. Some great projects need an extra push to prioritize researching and building on Celo. Grants are a useful tool here to bring great projects and founders to our Flori and ultimately wider Celo community.

Prosper DAO

Flori Founders are building on Celo, they are part of the Celo community and we are building onboarding for them (and us!) to Celo. We will need non-Flori founders to also participate in Prosper to help with that onboarding and we will continue iterating with all previous Prosper participants and the wider community to find the right formula for this in-person retreat.

NFT

The main feedback we got is to expand it to the larger celo community, we agree with the feedback and would love to include the bigger community.

Flori Gaming Studio

The place where founders build is a matter of default - while in some sectors Celo has managed to become a default (like real life use cases for the developing world) in gaming other blockchains has become the default and are investing tens/hundreds of millions into creating gaming communities on their blockchain. This money will help us create initial weight and signal to the indie gaming community to build on Celo.

To: @Missingcelo

I hear your feedback, and I want to hear the 100% -, that’s my telegram @tomerba please reach out - I promise you everything in the meeting will stay a 100% between us, and only help flori and celo grow!

let’s build some bridges :slight_smile:

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Hey everyone, the AMA is happening in 20 minutes: Meeting Registration - Zoom

Hi there, the feedback I have given Flori is to go through the governance process with a CGP and a governance call. Having an AMA without enough heads up and without coordinating with CGP process isn’t how Celo governance process works currently.

This just feels like Flori ignoring an existing process set in place for everyone to use with Celo’s governance.

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