Fund11 & AdaPulse

A Process of Renewal

Project Catalyst is a community-driven funding mechanism built to address the evolving challenges that Cardano faces. As of March 13th, 2024, roughly $40M of the $71M allocated to winning proposals has been distributed (in ADA), with more payouts coming in the near-term. Project Catalyst Fund11 recently completed with positive community sentiment after a process that incorporated some well-liked changes. 

Three of the funding categories in Fund11 were focused on providing support to projects developing ‘Cardano Use Cases’ – this was broken down to the levels of Concept, Solution, and Product. Other categories covered the challenges of improving Cardano education and adoption worldwide via both technical and non-technical means. There was also a category dedicated to Project Catalyst system improvements

The co-founder of LidoNation, Darlington Kofa, was kind enough to do an interview about his thoughts on the newest iteration of Project Catalyst; if you’re not familiar with LidoNation, I encourage you to dive into the ocean of interesting data that the website provides. It’s an amazing Project Catalyst resource that I can’t recommend highly enough.

Project Catalyst proposal overview by LidoNation.

When I asked Darlington about the noteworthy updates to the rules instituted in this funding round, he said, “Whatever games people were playing before Fund11, the entire game got changed.” This starts with a limit on the number of proposals that someone could submit to five total; a rule change meant to reduce the crunch on reviewers while also filtering out low-quality submissions. Starting in Fund11, projects receiving ADA funding from Fund7 or before had to complete their final reports before submitting a proposal in Fund11.

Another change that was put in place required previously funded lead proposers or co-proposers to have written at least three monthly reports in the six months before Fund11 in order to be able to submit a new proposal. Darlington said, “Before this change, companies were putting their names on proposals just to help it get passed. Well, now if you put your name on it, you’re accountable to make sure that thing gets over the finish line, otherwise you can’t submit any new proposals.” In many ways, this takes the pressure of tracking this information off of the Community and puts more responsibility on the funded projects to deliver what they promise. Darlington added, “The community is still doing lots of work, like the milestone reviews and things like that, but it’s more balanced now because if you intend to remain in the Project Catalyst ecosystem, you have that history to answer for.”

The most popular change established for Fund11 was also the simplest: no more down-voting within Project Catalyst. Many Cardano Community Members will remember the turmoil surrounding the practice of being able to vote for proposals while also voting against others. When I asked Darlington what the biggest negative consequence of down-voting was, he said, “I think the biggest thing was morale. This time around, I didn’t see as much anger caused by the voting results… If you didn’t get funded, it felt less personal. In Fund10, when people didn’t get funded, the very next thing they checked was the down-votes. That’s where a lot of the anger came from. A lot of that anger ended up being directed at Project Catalyst itself.” 

Until you get a bunch of sensitive, thoughtful, passionate human beings in the mix, there are certain tools that are impossible to test. The down-voting mechanism and its ripple effects through the Community seems to be a perfect example of how the human element creates unexpected results when the rubber meets the road.

A Spirit of Rebirth

Hundreds of teams celebrated when the voting results for Fund11 were announced, and AdaPulse was one of them! This great news couldn’t have come at a better time, as there has been lots of change and uncertainty behind the scenes at AdaPulse recently. First and foremost, the founders decided to move on to new adventures in late 2023. The project had a chance to live on, but only with new leadership. Eventually the vacuum was filled by two AdaPulse contributors who are passionate about pushing power to the edges: Dickson Mwendia and Josh from ATM Stake Pool. This new leadership duo has high hopes for the project. I was lucky enough to do brief interviews with both of them for this article.

Dickson Mwendia is a software engineer and writer based out of Nairobi, Kenya. In early 2021, he was among the first contributors to join the AdaPulse team. He has been contributing regularly to the website ever since. Dickson told me that he’s a family man with a career outside of Cardano, but his passion for a better future with blockchain keeps him driven to contribute to the AdaPulse mission. After starting as a freelance writer, he’s now serving as the Chief Editor for the website and hopes to propel AdaPulse forward and make it the true heartbeat for Cardano-related news. 

Josh from ATM Stake Pool has taken on the challenge being the CEO of AdaPulse, although he readily admits, “Thank God that Dickson submitted a [Project Catalyst Fund11] proposal, otherwise [AdaPulse] would have nothing… If Dickson had disappeared it wouldn’t have happened at all.” Josh has been making great Cardano-focused videos under the AdaPulse banner, covering topics of all shapes and sizes. I asked him what his vision is for the future of AdaPulse, and he mentioned several ideas including tokenizing the news, increasing the interaction between writers and readers, restructuring the pay for writers, as well as improving turnaround time on articles. In the end, Josh echoed Dickson’s sentiments, saying, “Ultimately, I want to make AdaPulse THE go to source for anything Cardano.”

A black man and a white man, both wearing casual clothes, shaking hands with a background
Pictured: Dickson Mwendia and Josh from ATM Stake Pool.

I will speak for myself and say that it’s been a great honor to contribute articles to AdaPulse and I hope to be able to continue to do so for a long time. Project Catalyst and AdaPulse’s interwoven stories, remind me of the limitless possibilities within the Cardano ecosystem.

Regardless of the outcomes, the iterative process can be difficult to sustain. Over time we can become disillusioned by the constant barrage of changes and develop a desire for consistency, even if that means accepting perpetual disappointment; its less emotionally taxing than the rollercoaster that comes with not knowing what’s next. Despite this, I hope that Project Catalyst’s evolution and growth will inspire (and fund) impactful Cardano projects for many more years to come.

When I asked Darlington what he would say to Cardano Community members who grew frustrated with Project Catalyst and became disengaged, he responded, “If you are someone who’s been in the Project Catalyst ecosystem, who was feeling soured and decided to ignore Fund11, you will be pleasantly surprised, and you should try it again. A lot of the changes specifically targeted the things that people had the most issues with, including how Project Catalyst is run and how it works.” 

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