Find answers to commonly asked questions about the ArbitrumDAO Co.Lab Program.

What is Collaboration Tech?

Collab Tech is the combined space of organizational management, community, DAO, and other collaboration tooling for the future of work. A market poised to reach $380bn by 2030 and transform how we address global challenges.

Our research shows that the future of work is not corporations or solopreneurs. The future will be built by swarms and fluid teams. However, tools like Gmail, Slack, Microsoft Office, and SAP trap us in walled gardens and hold us back. What should the future of collaboration look like?

For inspiration, check our latest presentation on the future of organizations or our events series with collaboration thought leaders.

Why is ArbitrumDAO funding Collaboration Tech?

Investing in Collaboration Technology offers Arbitrum DAO a way to build inherent resilience into its ecosystem by focusing on team governance and coordination—often the weak points of blockchain projects. With this anti-fragile foundation, Arbitrum projects can navigate an ever-changing landscape more effectively.

From a wider lens, entering this domain is not just about solving social issues like employee disengagement, valued at a loss of $8 trillion globally, but also seizing an economic opportunity in a market set to reach $380 billion by 2030 and develop capabilities to address the meta crisis.

Arbitrum's funding of Collaboration Technology will act as a flywheel that attracts a pro-social user base and enhances operational performance across sectors, exponentially increasing the utility and value of its infrastructure services.

What’s the difference between the Fellowship and the Venture Building Program?

The Fellowship is aimed at idea-stage entrepreneurs: you have a problem you’re interested in, an idea of who the target user might be, and one or a few ideas about how to solve it. The Fellowship will help you go from there to having a robust understanding of users, having validated the problem, deeply understanding that space, and developing a network excited to follow you and support you on your journey toward product-market fit. The Fellowship aims to help you identify real use cases instead of hype, and address root causes instead of symptoms.
The Venture Building program is the next stage. If you have already done robust research, you can apply directly to the Venture Building program, but in most cases, we recommend doing the fellowship first. In the Venture Building Program, we’ll help you assemble the team, set up a solid process for prototyping, testing, and validating, help you connect with potential customers, get feedback, find funding, and advance the venture to the point where you have good traction with an MVP (minimum viable product). You’ll also become part of the RnDAO product ecosystem, collaborate with other ventures in RnDAO, and leverage all the insights, networks, and resources from our collab tech ecosystem.

Who should apply to the Fellowship?

The Collab Tech Builders Fellowship is aimed at (aspiring) entrepreneurs looking to build blockchain-enabled applications that solve challenges of human collaboration.

Both technical and non-technical applicants are welcome. However, familiarity with Web3 and blockchain fundamentals is a plus, as well as experience with collaboration challenges and previous entrepreneurial experience.

You can apply as a solo founder or as part of a team. The key is that you can commit to the program and quickly make decisions.

We welcome those passionate about the topic but not yet married to a solution. Many ventures fail because founders get enamored with an idea before they understand the problem and build products that no one wants. We look for those who want to fall in love with a problem, dive deep to understand it, and this way, find a solution that can find product market fit and transform human collaboration.

If you already know what challenge you want to research, you can apply directly, or even better, join one of our Problem Statement workshops to refine your problem definition and meet some of our experts.

If you don’t know what challenge to work on, look at Open Problems in DAOs for inspiration, check out our latest inspirational presentation or our series with collaboration thought leaders, and join the RnDAO community to discuss with us.

- Do I need a co-founder to apply? No, solo founders are most welcome, although having a solid team never hurts. Only one fellowship per team can be awarded.
- What stage of Web3 startups should consider applying? Idea-stage. You can have one or multiple ideas or even have created a prototype, but be ready to go back to basics and dive deep into the problem and user research to build a strong foundation for your venture.
- Can accelerator-backed founders already apply for the Fellowship? Yes, just keep in mind the above.
- Can I apply if I’ve already raised investment? Yes, but make sure to disclose it in your application.

Who should apply to the Venture Building program?

The Venture Building program is aimed at ventures that have already completed their initial user research phase. Those with a prototype or MVP or who have run a pilot are welcome to apply—equally, those with robust research and needing funds to develop their prototype.

Only ventures in Collab Tech will be accepted.

- Do I need a co-founder to apply? No, solo founders are most welcome, although having a solid team never hurts. Only one fellowship per team can be awarded.
- Can accelerator-backed founders already apply for the Fellowship? Yes, just keep in mind the above.
- Can I apply if I’ve already raised investment? Yes, but make sure to disclose it in your application.

What are the commitments and activities for Fellows?

Fellows must dedicate a bare minimum of 20 hours per week for the duration of the Fellowship but are ideally able to commit full-time, thus increasing their chances of developing a successful venture. The Fellowship activities will be primarily scheduled during afternoons (UTC), so please ensure you can be available during those hours.

Fellows will be mentored to advance a series of research activities (user research, market research, desk research). These activities aim to provide Fellows with a deep understanding of the problem.

Additionally, Fellows are expected to participate in a series of networking and community building activities, as well as document their research and disseminate it (via the RnDAO blog, Fellowships DemoDay live presentations, RnDAO’s community events and chat platforms, and other outlets). These activities will enable Fellows to position themselves as an authority on the topic and build a supportive community to advance their venture.

What’s the application process like for Fellowship?

We aim to get to know you and understand whether this fits all parties well. The Fellowship is envisioned as the start of a relationship spanning years, so we want to ensure this feels right.

To apply, submit your interest by filling out the form on this page. You’ll then be emailed the full application submission form. Make sure to complete it and engage with us in the RnDAO community (join our Discord) and through the scheduled events so we get to know you. If you have any doubts or recommendations, please message us in Discord.

What are the key dates for the Fellowship?
  • November 27th: Applications open.
  • November 28th to December 10th: multiple events and engagement with the community.
  • December 13th: Application deadline, end of the day anywhere in the world. You can still apply after this deadline but will only be considered after the first batch of applications has been processed.
  • Week of 11th: calls with pre-selected fellows and further engagement in RnDAO channels.
  • Week of December the 18th: Fellows confirmed via email.
  • January 8th: Fellowship starts.
  • April 7th: End of Fellowship.
What’s the application process like for the Venture Building program?

Start by filling out the interest form below, join our Discord, and introduce yourself. After that, you can ask any questions in the #colab-community channel, and once you’re ready, you can ask Rezvan from our team to schedule a presentation for you to share with the RnDAO community.
During presentations, we like to see where you’re at with the venture. Don’t treat this as a pitch but more like sharing a mentor or advisor what’s working, what’s not working, where you’re at and where you want to go. We’ll then give you feedback and ideas, and this way, you start to get a taste of what’s like to be part of the RnDAO community.
After the presentation, you can make a proposal for your venture to be officially added to the RnDAO alliance. We’ll share the instructions for how to make the proposal after the presentation. Our criteria revolve primarily around the Arbitrum strategic priorities, solving a meaningful collaboration challenge, and venture viability.

Where do the Fellowship and Venture Building program take place?

RnDAO is entirely remote, so you must have a reliable internet connection.
We primarily operate in America and EMEA time zones. As such, having the afternoons (UTC) available is essential for online meetings and workshops.
Fellows may get the (optional) opportunity to present alongside Arbitrum at ETH Denver 2024 and other conferences. Travel expenses are not currently covered, but you will receive support and mentorship to apply for additional grants to cover these costs.

What's a good problem for the Fellowship?

If you’re a tinkerer/builder, you likely have an idea of a solution you’d like to build. We invite you to take a step back and, instead of falling in love with the solution, fall in love with the problem. The process of the fellowship will give you a deeper understanding of the problem, a community of potential customers to give you feedback and iterate faster, and ultimately save you time and money, accelerating your success.

A good problem space is one you’d love to dive deep into, something that fascinates you. The problem space should have a high chance of leading to a practical solution (this fellowship won’t support purely theoretical or conceptual research, we aim to promote the development of impactful solutions). Most importantly, it should be a problem of human collaboration (we aim to develop protocols and applications, this fellowship does not aim to fund infrastructure).

Too technical example, lacking clarity on the collaboration aspect:
- Applications of ZK tech in data management

Slightly too broad problem spaces (lacking a clear user group):
- Getting alignment across a large group of people
- How to create accountability without top-down bureaucracy
- Allocating rewards between contributors in a team

More appropriate examples:
- Allocating rewards between contributors in a bootstrapped startup team as it matures and then raises investment
- Relationship management (and CRMs) for fluid teams and data privacy

What are the terms of the Co.Lab Fellowship?

Our hope is that through the fellowship, you can start a thriving collaboration tech venture and become part of RnDAO’s composable product ecosystem. To achieve this goal, the Fellowship has been designed so Fellows receive a monthly stipend as a grant, pending completion of agreed milestones. Additionally, RnDAO reserves preferential rights to invest in ventures (co)founded by the Fellows in connection with the problem researched and started or fundraising over the 12 months after completion of the Fellowship.

The research produced during the Fellowship remains the property of each Fellow and will be disseminated publicly, with attribution, via the RnDAO platforms (blog, DemoDay presentations, and other events). The same way Fellows benefit by the research of other community members, Fellows grant RnDAO a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, and distribute the research for the benefit of community members.

The above terms are meant to be indicative only, the full terms are defined in the FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMME TERMS AND CONDITIONS (currently undergoing legal review and to be made available to applicants for review and singing before commencement of the Fellowship)

What happens after the fellowship?

We’re creating a full pipeline to develop and scale ventures, starting with the Venture Building program, where ventures can apply to receive ARB 50,000 and extensive support and co-creation with the RnDAO community. We’ve also cultivated a network of aligned investors and partners to accelerate and provide additional funding and support for ventures.

Our hope is that you grow to become a key part of the RnDAO composable product ecosystem, and together we advance a vision that’s too big unless we tackle it together:
- Through collaboration, composability, and modularity;
- Compound expertise, customer networks, capital, and talent;
- Resulting in economies of scope, scale, and personalization;
- Thus become the leading collaboration tech ecosystem in the world;
- And fulfilling our mission to empower humane collaboration.

You can read more about our vision here.

And if the jargon doesn’t mean much, just ask us, happy to unpack :)

What are the commitments and activities for the Venture Building program?

To qualify for the 50k Arb grant, we’re expecting you to be fully committed to your venture or able to become so once you receive the funding.
Once in the program, we won’t run training and workshops at fixed times - no conveyor belts, no one-size-fits-all. Instead, we’ll meet weekly with you to identify the most impactful thing that needs to happen to advance your venture, and then we’ll help you execute.
We also aim to eliminate all distractions and side tasks, from legal documents to defining your team governance processes or anything outside your core business. We’ll support you with templates and processes refined and iterated across ventures so you can entirely focus on the core of your business. You have the autonomy to choose when to depart from the standards. And if your solution is better, we’ll incorporate it into other ventures, advancing the whole product ecosystem.
Compared to accelerator or incubator programs where you give a portion of your company in exchange for some mentorship, with the RnDAO Venture Building program you’ll also become a co-owner of the RnDAO ecosystem. Cross-ownership enables us to align incentives across all ventures and achieve a level of collaboration, modularity, and composability that lone ventures can only dream of, thus compounding access to customers, talent, and capital. Each venture goes faster and further; as an ecosystem, we reinvent human collaboration.

How does the Arbitrum ecosystem benefit?

The Arbitrum Co.lab advances community development and governance optimization for the Arbitrum DAO through a novel and rigorous approach to innovation and ecosystem development.

Token incentives (Airdrops and direct grants) have often been used to attract developers, hoping this will lead to a fast increase in the gravitational pull of the ecosystem. It is well known, however, that these mechanisms are prone to abuse and, unfortunately, many projects fail or migrate elsewhere after receiving grants. Our research shows the above outcomes mimic lessons learned in web2 innovation programs, where the provision of capital alone leads to sub-par outcomes compared to programs with a blend of mentorship, direct support, and peer community.

Thus, The RnDAO approach seeks to improve pure token incentives by providing significant support to grantees toward developing a sustainable venture. We have identified customer focus and operations as critical areas accelerating venture development and improving outcomes.

Focusing on venture success provides a sustainable approach to growing the Arbitrum community. Protocols and ventures that achieve market success can continue to pay salaries, hire others, develop useful technology others want to integrate with and provide inspirational case studies that motivate and attract other entrepreneurs and developers. A flywheel of innovation, venture success, and ecosystem growth can thus be created.

We also know from our research that innovation programs compete for the best talent (key success factor), and the likes of Y-Combinator have established reputations and network effects that are hard to beat. A strategy that has proven successful in attracting top talent in the face of these established incumbents is specialization - by focusing on a specific niche, expertise can be compounded, support tailored, and a focused community developed. The Arbitrum Co.lab leverages 2 years of community building by RnDAO focused on organization design, the future of work, innovation management, and human collaboration.

Overlap between ventures in a niche can lead to competition, but co-ownership transforms this dynamic into collaboration. Over the last two years, we have validated that collaboration offers very significant advantages: ventures in our community share market insights, proactively develop integrations, and introduce each other to high-value customers, talent, and investors. Thus increasing venture success rates and accelerating growth through a compounding mechanism of network effects.

The Arbitrum Co.lab provides a powerful approach to compounding the growth of Arbitrum, thanks to thriving ventures that sustain and grow developer activity and inspire others to join, resulting in many applications that use the Arbitrum infrastructure and sustainably create value for the ecosystem. In turn, this creates network effects that serve to retain ventures and developers in Arbitrum thanks to growing interoperability across App created by the ventures.

Additionally, the focus on collaboration tech naturally yields research insights and technologies that improve DAO governance and operations, addressing this critical area of success for blockchain ecosystems and further advancing the capabilities of all projects in the Arbitrum ecosystem.