Unlocking the Power of Off-Chain Data for Better Collaboration

Written by
Rich Cuellar-Lopez
Published on
April 3, 2024

What is the TL;DR?

  • Web2 and web3 both have a problem of not being able to successfully do the Three Big Cs: Collaborate, Coordinate, and (attract) Contributions.
  • For web3 projects, the problem is more urgent and they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars per year to improve their collaboration to remain competitive in their industry.
  • This turns into a visceral and daily problem for people who work in this space.
    • We’ve personified each of the people involved as the Core Team (Alice), the Community (Bob), and web3 Leadership (Carol). We explore their incentives, workflows and detail each of their pain points.
  • Ourmada has spent time talking to different players in the web3 space to understand the problem at a deep level and target the root cause
    • From this user research, we found the solution lies in unlocking the power of off-chain data.
    • We also found that context is crucial for engaging with this off-chain data, and recommend that creating a web3 Social CRM is a game changer for web3 projects.

What problem is this solving?

Zooming out, includes technological constraints, navigating market trends, and understanding user behavior. However, when we zoom in and focus on what’s keeping web3 projects from growing, there are some common themes. We call them the Three Big Cs, and they define what web3 projects experience as:

  • Collaboration being filled with friction
  • Coordinating the efforts of thousands of people requires too much manual work
  • Contributions from community members are increasingly difficult to attract

To understand why the Big Three Cs kept coming up in conversations, and why there is a divide between what we call the Core Team and the Community, we did user research to break the problem into smaller parts.

Why is this a problem?

In the web3 world, data is publicly available via the blockchain. This is true when it comes to technical data points like transaction details, wallet addresses, software program code, etc. However, this is not true when it comes to non-technical data like project runway, user metrics, strategic partnership prospects, distribution channel results, etc. All of this data is off-chain.

In our user research, we spoke to people who invest their financial assets, dedicate their personal time, and contribute to growing web3 projects. They understand that the technical data is de facto transparent and they leverage it regularly. The same people also focus on off-chain data and use it as part of their criteria to determine whether they should continue contributing.

In the web2 world, there is no expectation that a company would share this off-chain data with its customers. Chinese Firewalls separate a company’s data from the rest of the world. Governments regulate these data policies that keep employees from sharing key bits of information with outsiders. Companies own the product, data, and usually all the value they generate. With this arrangement, why would a customer want to help a web2 company?

Returning again to the web3 world, the model is flipped. We interviewed users who had the experience of:

  • An investor who has financial equity in a project by holding their token
  • An external developer who regularly contributes to other project’s code bases
  • A customer who lends their marketing expertise and increases their social media clout at the same time

Why do people contribute like this in web3?

A recurring theme from users is that the value generated is shared. Every day, investors get the upside from token appreciation. Developers can actually build their own products and business by using other projects as Lego blocks. Customers can monetize their social media presence by tapping into different project audiences. As the web3 project does well, these contributors do well too.

So access to data for contributors shouldn't be a problem in web3, correct?

Unfortunately, no. Access to data is still a problem for contributors. web3 Projects keeps non-technical data private while allowing everyone to publicly access technical data. Core Teams are burdened with ad-hoc reports to create transparency updates. Community Members get turned off by the lack of signal in public information. Data Firewalls remain.

We listened to the reasons why Core Teams don’t let everyone see all the off-chain data. Common responses included:

  • Core Teams don’t want to share sensitive data that can potentially reveal their secret sauce, or reveal alpha
  • Community Members will get overwhelmed with too much information and struggle to make sense of it
  • Exposing more data about our project adds additional costs, draws unwanted attention to individual’s work, or tips off our competition with business intelligence

These are legitimate concerns and so the Data Firewalls remain in place as a safeguard. Core Teams own the sales pipelines. They control the comms around strategic partnerships. They spend time creating Transparency Reports, but then house the project data in internal systems. The end result is that Web3 projects have the same scaling problems as web2 companies even though they have interested investors, developers, and customers who are incentivized to grow the project.

Each of these responses can be addressed with purposeful design of web3 workflows and software tools.

Who is impacted by this problem?

3 types of people are at the heart of the problem. We’ve introduced different personas to illustrate:

The main characters in new forms of collaboration
The main characters in new forms of collaboration

Understanding the motivations of Alice, Bob and Carol is critical to understanding the problem. Under ideal conditions, they could all work harmoniously and ship a better product. However, the reality is that they have different constraints even though they are all motivated to work with each other. Alice is limited by bandwidth, Bob lacks context, and Carol is focused on showing results to external audiences.

When Alice, Bob, and Carol are not on the same page, the web3 project suffers. The problem is not merely that they should get along. The real cost of not addressing the Three Big Cs is that the web3 project doesn’t grow at pace with its competitors and will not survive. Best practices like having a data firewall may protect web2 companies from misuse, but the same best practices can actually hold back web3 projects that have to scale, innovate, and grow at a different speed than their web2 counterparts.

Where is the urgency in solving this?

The lifeblood of any web3 project is the ability to coordinate pull requests (PRs) in public repositories, making tools like GitHub and documentation sites indispensable. The pulse of a project is its ability to collaborate with builders around the world, making tools like Telegram and Discord table stakes for any reputable project. The competitive advantage lies in the ability to get talented builders to contribute. This is why ecosystems urgently spend hundreds of millions of dollars to incentivize the best teams to build with them.1 2 3

For technical parts of web3 development, addressing these Big Three Cs is mission-critical. If there is a problem with a project’s code base, the software product will suffer immediately. As a result, there is no shortage of solutions for public code bases and products (GitHub, Datadog, Atlassian, Splunk, GitLab, etc). This is why DevTools and Infrastructure companies are historically the first investments made by venture capital.

The current sense of urgency is focused on investing in the non-technical parts of web3 projects. Big investments have been made into decentralizing social media (migrating from X to new alternatives), onboarding new communities (partnering with web2 brands to introduce NFT experiences), and combating fraud (new points systems aimed at fighting airdrop farmers).

Web3 projects are scaling operations, but facing growing pains internally. The need to leverage the current tools for off-chain work (Slack, Discord, Airtable, Salesforce, Notion, etc) is urgent, and not being able to work in public can be a constraint on growth.

The inability to deliver the Three Big C’s hurts user growth (revenue), limits the scope of marketing campaigns (brand), and lowers the chances of strategic partnerships (distribution channels). The inability to streamline workflows also produces daily pain points for each of the members involved who want to improve the situation. As described to us in our user research interviews:

  • Alice (Core Team) is burdened by Bob (Community Member). She can’t be bothered by coordinating with him.
  • Bob is consequently boxed out by Alice. He can’t get fair access to collaborate with her and the project.
  • Carol (Founder) can’t scale product growth and lead the project because Alice and Bob can’t cooperate. She can’t get the right contributions from both of them, and the project as a whole becomes jeopardized.

We’ve been working on creating Ourmada, a web3 social CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) to improve the workflows for Alice, Bob, and Carol. We are building a software tool that aligns incentives, supercharges your GTM (Go To Market plan) with better distribution, and ultimately scales up your web3 project efforts quickly. The project benefits are more strong, more rapid, and innovative growth channels.

We’ve also been focused on a socially engaging tool that is integrated into existing workflows and doesn’t make you adopt a new software tool. The personal benefits are removing the friction from sharing, curating, and leveraging data with others.

The end game is to turn this visceral pain point into a growth hack solution:

Identifying web3 Project's pain point and path forward
Identifying web3 Project's pain point and path forward

Ourmada is focused on Alice solving the problem of coordinating, collaborating and contributing. We’ve crafted a problem statement from their perspective.

Problem Statement

  • I am a web3 project employee
  • trying to survive in a competitive environment and grow my project
  • but coordinating, collaborating, and fostering contributions add friction to my work
  • because it takes too much time with my current workflows/software tools/system
  • which makes me feel constrained

This problem statement could just as easily be created for Bob or Carol. The crux of the problem is the same: there is a firewall that prevents projects from growing as much as they can. Off-chain data that can be useful for everyone is privately held and a point of contention among the stakeholders. This pain is most viscerally felt by Core Team members like Alice who becomes the choke point in the project’s success.

How big is this market?

The total size of this market is massive when you consider what business CRMs represent in the current world. By conservative estimates, the global CRM market is in ten figures of revenue per year. As Ourmada learns lessons from web3 and evolves the product to address the Three Cs in the web2 space, a top-down analysis of the Total Addressable Market is as follows:


A more likely market for Ourmada is web3 companies, projects, and DAOs. Given our expertise in a distinct problem for web3 projects, we view this as a current niche market that is rapidly increasing in size. By just taking DAOs as potential customers, using a bottoms-up analysis, there are hundreds of millions of dollars being spent annually on growth. Keep in mind this is a nascent industry and you can see why this is a ripe market. The Serviceable Addressable Market is as follows:

DRM - Market Research Stats
DRM - Market Research Stats

Ourmada’s strategy is focused on solving this problem for web3. However, Ourmada’s mission is to redefine growth and help all organizations reach their full potential by leveraging collaboration. We maintain this mission applies to web2, web3 and whatever web4 evolves to be.

Who is most impacted by this space?

By zooming out, there are actually more characters than Alice, Bob and Carol. There is a whole ecosystem of decision-makers, end users, and organizations that can benefit from the Big Three Cs. We suggest exploring the topic in greater detail with this article.

In mapping the space, we illustrated the following map:

Making sense of User Research feedback in a map
Making sense of User Research feedback on a map

While synthesizing insights from the map, we noticed a couple of takeaways:

  • Web2 and 3 have similar problems. There is a world in which web2 companies would want to engage with their community in a similar way as web3 companies.
    • The data firewall is stronger in web2 but there is still a desire to leverage communities.
    • The Wisdom of the Crowds is a recurring discussion point when it comes to accessing customers, community and stakeholders.
  • Easy Use > More Features. Advanced functionality could unlock all types of possibilities, but new users initially want a smooth onboarding experience.
    • For new users, being able to keep using existing integrations would lower the hurdle for them to try Collaboration tech.
    • By utilizing APIs from other products, there is a network effect that injects Ourmada and collaboration practices into regular workflows.
  • Transparency is important but not that important. Transparency is often table stakes for most web3 projects but nothing more. Seldom do projects get better results because they are more transparent.
    • However, social engagement with their customers, community and investors gives them the extra boost
      • this engagement helps them proactively craft the narrative
      • helps them keep active contributors and retain users
      • gives them a reason why investors will stick around and market for them
      • a lack of engaging content, discussion and tools can be headwinds for their product while a vibrant community contributing in many ways are tailwind

The map helps reprioritize what Collab Tech should be focused on. Ultimately, these 3 themes aren’t vertices that are inherently in opposition. They can be situated in a sort of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Establishing Web3 Orgs Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Establishing Web3 Orgs Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

It’s important to be reminded that Transparency is part of the foundation of web3 but isn’t enough by itself. Exposing data for exposure's sake is not only a weak product but probably just adds noise to the conversation. This can be the case for both on and off-chain data. All the interviewees expressed some sense of being overwhelmed by information in any web3 project they joined.

Collaboration and the context for information are really how web3 projects level up. This is really what web3 participants want in a product experience. They want to be able to understand a web3 project so they can start using it. Once a product establishes a foundation of data being shared, it is up to the builders to make sure that the users have a fun and easy way to engage with that data. For Alice, Bob, and Carol, a social software tool that engages new users helps them start to grow the project and understand the value of collaboration.

The final boss to conquer is Network Effects. Creating anything in web3 should ideally be compatible with other products and ubiquitous in the ecosystem (think Circle with USDC, or Ethereum with EVM, etc). That is why modularity, open source, and portability were requests that regularly came up from interviewees. However, building in a robust way that taps into Network Effects is definitely easier said than done. For Alice, Bob, and Carol, the holy grail is a growth tool that is interoperable, if not a replacement for all their other tools.

Why hasn't it been solved yet?

Access to on-chain data has been a boon for all types of business and crypto users who can  track, stake, and trade their assets (both financial and non-financial) in permissionless ways not possible before blockchains. Problems are being solved in innovative ways and data is the foundation.

So why hasn’t it been solved for web3 operations and off-chain data? Specifically for the operations that power real-world growth? It is not for a lack of trying. Attempts to crowdsource growth are present in the ecosystems come in a couple of different flavors:

  • Onboarding quests that gamify user engagement
  • Marketing contests that proliferate users-created memes or artifacts
  • Bounty programs that compensate individuals for ad-hoc requests

These elements of leveraging Community Members to help Web3 projects may be part of the solution. They put up fantastic numbers and is very easy for anyone to contribute to the project.

However, the larger critique of these solutions is that they are easily gamed and often targeted at vanity metrics. They don’t require the same domain knowledge that Bob has already developed from being a long-time Community Member and actually require additional work from Alice to coordinate. Versions of these programs may find their way into more robust solutions that Ourmada is building. For example, bounty programs with participants having access to contextual off-chain data is a very promising feature. However, these solutions fall short at present and don’t scale up operations work in a meaningful or sustainable way.

Yet, there are signs of promising undertakings. One example is MakerDAO using a decentralized committee to sign up Société Générale to use their product. The French bank was approached and onboarded to MakerDAO from Community Members who leveraged the larger ecosystem resources to close a deal of a $30mn credit facility. The deal remained active for a couple of years but has since been shuttered. This was a controversial but ultimately successful example of decentralizing operations. To their credit, Core Team members have outlined the pros/cons of this structure in presentations like this one.

At the onset of the User Research interviews, we posited that there would be a need for behavior change. However, we’ve seen solutions that have illustrated how Core Teams and Community Members are already behaving in a collaborative way. We observe that the problem is not solved because of information asymmetries, coordination incentives and longer-term designs for growth programs.

These insights led us to start work on Ourmada with a focus on leveraging off-chain data and contextualizing it so web3 can have a better CRM to collaborate with.

What will success look like?

Ourmada is focused on a social CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) that leans into the advantages of web3 technology and culture. More than just a conventional CRM, it is a repository for off-chain data that opens up new ways to collaborate at scale. Success starts by solving crypto pain points around collaborating with large groups of knowledgeable people worldwide, and then expanding it to be a universal solution for all types of organizations (both web2 and web3).

For starters, we are testing a couple of different characteristics that look different than your common CRM and solve Alice, Bob, and Carol’s specific problems when they try to coordinate.

Some of them are broad features with the following benefits:

Characteristics of a new form of web3 collaboration
Characteristics of a new form of web3 collaboration

As we test this product experience, we will be looking for user behavior and observing how coordination, collaboration and contributions track. As we tackle the barriers that users face now (bringing down dated parts of the Data Firewall, aligning incentives for Core Team and Community Members, providing audiences with more signal than noise, etc), Ourmada users will show us what success looks like.

How will this change the world?

Ourmada is building for a future where small teams of remarkable people can coordinate with thousands of aligned community members around the world. Where sharing workflows makes more economic sense. Where data flourishes within a web3 project in an open, interactive, and digestible format for the whole community to leverage. When we realize that data hidden behind closed doors for only a handful of people to see is not very productive, we can see why a shift towards working in public makes sense as a new default.

We’ll know we are starting to change the world when:

  • web2 companies start to model themselves after web3 projects and realize that it is better for business
  • companies rethink their relationship with customers and collaborate with them to grow new products
  • companies generate value in ways that weren’t part of the web2 business model

Ourmada is shipping software for this journey and navigating us towards a new way of doing business.

Bibliography & resources

See Rich's presentation at our Co.Lab Fellowship Demo Day on April 4th here