After The Show It’s The After Party: An SC04 Retrospective
steph alinsug
Seed Club
April 4th, 2022

We’ve closed out SC04. Normally we would already be gearing up for another round of Accelerator applications, but we’re arriving at this moment in need of a collective breath.

Four Accelerator cycles, 55 projects, all in 16 short months. Damn.

Rather than rushing into a redux of SC04 with minor tweaks, this time we’re trying something completely different: we’re going to hold ourselves accountable to tensions that emerged from the SC04 selection process, and attempt to integrate those learnings into SC05. In order to do this meaningfully, we will open applications for SC05 in Q3.

In the meantime, we’re taking a beat to reflect on what we’ve learned from running four incredibly wild cohorts of the Accelerator. This primarily looks like acknowledging the many things that we still don’t know, and observing a handful of patterns that emerged over this last year and a half.

We split this retrospective into three sections:

  1. What we’ve learned about great Accelerator projects,
  2. Burning questions guiding our overhaul of the selection process, and
  3. A few things we’re chewing on as we prepare for SC05 in Q3.

First, The Projects

We don’t know the singular ingredient that makes a project successful, but we do have an evolving theory of qualifiers that we believe are foundational to a great Accelerator project. Through all 55 Accelerator projects, these five elements continually emerge as components of the most robust member-owned communities:

  • Leadership matters. Two leaders are greater than one, and an ideal leadership team has aligned values and divergent, complimentary skills. (Think: vision + execution.)
  • Call to Adventuuuuuure! Having a clear, concise, and compelling call to adventure is the best way for a project to fly its freak flag and beckon community members with its bat-call. It also allows us to grasp the depth and scope of a team’s vision in an instant, and to gauge how well the project team understands where they’re going, and why they’re going there.
  • You need a network. Know your people, and connect with key constituents and movers/shakers in the space. Progress will be slow without it. Even though some projects enter prior to community-market fit, the ideal time to join the Accelerator is after you establish your network and have a season or two under your belt. Key feedback from early-stage project teams is that they wished they’d been counseled to attend the Accelerator at a later point of development. This could look like 25 to 50 community members, a minimum-viable-Discord or -Telegram, or other experimentations with community-market fit.
  • Vibes. We know this is a scissor label, but it’s hard to deny that every great project has vibes. We look for playfulness, imagination and delight, comfort with uncertainty, an interest in other projects and giving back, an understanding of and curiosity in web3, a readiness to lfTg, an eagerness to gsd, and a belief that we all are, indeed, gmi.
  • The business model. The perfect compliment to vibes, and often equally as challenging to define within web3. A business model demonstrates that the creation of on-chain value is a fundamental component of the project. Although revenue mechanisms will likely remain emergent as the community grows, an initial roadmap is major.

Next, The Selection Process

We’re exploring the possibility of overhauling our intake, curation, and selection processes. That looks like finding answers to some key questions:

  • How can we interact 1:1 with more projects, more deeply? The Seed Club selection team got the best sense of vibes and fit through direct connection with project teams.
  • How can we adjust information asymmetry, and equip more people with more information? Through 1:1 connections or access to all parts of all applications, our core reviewers naturally had access to more and/or different information than what general $CLUB holders received.
  • How can we increase collaboration without increasing time? Past mechanisms to include the community were cumbersome, and yet community input remains a top priority.
  • How can we find more alignment between our evaluation rubric and Seed Club’s values? The team found that using the same rubric and tool to evaluate projects was useful, however they weren’t sure if the rubric was a wholly accurate reflection of Seed Club values. The rubric wasn’t perfect, but it did give us an opportunity to beta-test an evolving evaluation framework.
  • How can we design for greater diversity? We need to be connecting with and bringing in more diverse projects and teams, and ensuring we are equipped to support their needs.

Finally, The Accelerator

Our hope is that the Accelerator is only the beginning of our relationship with projects. This necessitates that we onboard projects that align with our team’s capacity and current wisdom. Although our understanding of what’s possible within the Accelerator evolves with each cohort, we’re gaining clarity on which projects we’re best suited to cultivate.

Here are a few things we’re chewing on as we consider the structure of SC05 and future cohorts:

  • Web3 fluency is a fast moving target. The web3 galaxy brain expands with logarithmic velocity. Similarly, project teams have deeper fluency with each Accelerator cohort. Even though we’re no longer puzzling over fundamental mechanics like the process of minting tokens, DAO tooling remains rough. It’s likely that tactical workshops will maintain a high demand, while we advance to investigating questions like how to best to select an L2.
  • How to DAO. The nuances of operating a DAO are complex, and often challenging to articulate. We recommend project teams develop their DAO knowledge by contributing to other web3 communities, including Seed Club or Accelerator alums. Project teams have a more holistic understanding of “how to DAO” after they’ve spent meaningful time in at least one other DAO before instigating their community vision.
  • Balancing theory and practice. The Accelerator team has far more quality content than we could ever fit within a weekly session. To that end, we strive to balance theory, practice, and reflective downtime so that project teams are ready to apply their learning through building once they finish the Accelerator. We’re also working to adapt the fireside chats into standalone resources that alums can reference when they arrive at those relevant challenges and questions.
  • Relationships take time. Access to Seed Club’s robust network of Collaborators is one of the biggest value adds for Accelerator projects. However, we’re learning that project teams may not be fully available to meaningfully engage with Collaborators during the Accelerator - they’re (rightfully) focused on connecting with other project teams, absorbing information, and integrating learnings. Project teams seem to have more bandwidth and a deeper understanding of their needs when they’re farther along in their Accelerator journeys. We’re reconsidering when to loop in Collaborators - either later in the Accelerator, or post-Accelerator to support early-stage alums.
  • IRL is gmi. We cannot overstate the impact of meeting IRL. We witnessed connections expand exponentially after much of SC03 connected at NFT.NYC, and when SC04 teams met at ETHDenver. With that, we’re prioritizing tagalong gatherings at industry events, and coordinating at least one Seed Club mixer for each cohort.
  • After the show it’s the after party. After six short weeks and the culminating Demo Day, the Accelerator is over…and this is when the hard work of building begins. This is the time when most project teams will launch their token, deploy governance proposals, onboard contributors, and explore treasury diversifications or liquidity strategies. This advanced work requires advanced support - we’re spinning up a Continuity Working Group whose focus will be just that.

These questions only scratch the surface on our learnings, but we hope they demonstrate our desire to plant SC05 in the most fertile soil.

TL;DR: we’re stoked to welcome the next cohort of web3 builders through a more thoughtful, transparent, and effective process, and to guide those projects through even greater Accelerator programming.

We’ll be actively recruiting $CLUB members interested in contributing to various stages of the SC05 curation and selection process. Be on the lookout for more information on how to get involved. We’ll post updates to Discord, Twitter, and via our forthcoming newsletter.

We also invite you - our valued community - to support the Accelerator by surfacing projects and communities that might not be on our radar. Slide into the Seed Club Discord, introduce yourself, and participate in the great conversations. We’ve met many of our strongest projects this way, and one of the ways they emerged their strength was from learning within the Seed Club community before entering the Accelerator. We’d love for founders and teams to join our community or others in our network; it’s an opportunity to see our values at work, and consider whether we’re a fit.

Web3 needs more great projects, and great projects start with great people. We can’t wait to meet the next many hundreds in our future cohorts.


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