Hangout Recap: Impact DAOs: Building Communities for good

Julia PepperHangout RecapJun 8, 2022

🎧 Access the Hangout podcast recording here.

Alec and Tyler are the co-contributors of Mochi, an Ethereum-based tool for team-building, growth, and coordination. Alec is an engineer, musician, and relationship-builder who has been building Mochi for a little over a year, first as a full-stack engineer, and now in a role leading partnerships. He is also involved with the Cohere network and was a founding member of BeetsDAO, an organization focused on music and counterculture. Tyler is a designer, DJ, and schemer who co-founded Mochi in 2018 and led the company’s product and brand design efforts.

Mochi is a Discord-based tool that improves DAO coordination through gamification. A team-based goal setting game built on Ethereum, Mochi allows individual contributors to set personal goals and report on progress towards them. Over the course of 8 week journeys, players submit progress reports about their individual goals every weekday in exchange for a tokenized “pearl of wisdom,” and are assigned to randomized teams of 2 - 4 accountability buddies. Mochi’s goal is to help teams build stickier pods that help them check in, plan, and reflect with each other, resulting in closer collaboration in the digital realm. The company recently graduated from Seed Club, an accelerator for promising DAOs and DAO-tooling projects.

Growing community in conjunction with product

Mochi conceptualizes itself as a framework for interacting with other people instead of a tool, leaning more towards defining itself as a protocol. Community came before full product development. The project started in the nooks and crannies of the Consensus office in 2017, when there was some loss of direction among staff and contributors about what they were building towards and how they could find personal and collective success during the murkiness of the downturn. Mochi was a game that the eventual co-founder, Player0, began playing with the employees there to improve morale. They would stake Ether against what they wanted to do, set a goal, and then for two months at a time, report back on the progress they were making on that goal. Because they started from a player-centric perspective, the community allowed for emergent growth among people who showed up to meetings every day to talk about what they were passionate about. For a while, Mochi was a social club above all else: the community had been playing the game and using the tools for years, and the product’s increased traction in recent months after its Seed Club debut is intertwined with this growing community.

Increasing the stakes on community accountability

Mochi’s game design goes beyond individual check-ins based on how much Ether players stake against their goals. The whole team rises and falls together. Increasing the amount of Ether staked increases the amount of rewards a player gets, but if a member of their team fails to check in, then they can still lose Ether. This incentive mechanism makes the bond between teammates stickier. The implications of this increase when imagining its implementation within a DAO. For example, if a player who was a member of the Forefront community was staking their Forefront against their goals and the goals of their team, they are putting some of their equity on the line and could lose it if they don’t show up to their community and goals. This creates a framework for people to grow their stake in the communities where they’re showing up, and a powerful disincentive mechanism to prevent disengagement. The “journey” framework also creates a more compelling digital identity verification mechanism, where a contributor moving between DAOs can point to the journeys they’ve completed, the goals they’ve outlined, and the reflections from the check-ins they’ve done in their contribution history in order to begin building trust with a new community– it serves as a signal that they value contribution.

Designing for flexibility to allow room for creative work

Tyler described how in the early beginnings of Mochi’s community, when asked to self-actualize the work they wanted to do, many people tended to define tasks which demanded more creative power, straying away from administrative tasks. Mochi ended up being an outlet for people whose creativity was not being used to its full potential in other areas of their lives. While many interfaces in the current design paradigm are prescriptive, pushing users towards a certain action or goal, when designing tools for decentralized work, allowing for more user choice and flexibility was essential, since all workers are generally taking on a lot more creative labor and decision-making. This flexibility is what allows for emergence on top of the protocol or platform. Mochi’s thesis is that the future of work will be more playful and self-directed: most of the goals community members are working towards on Mochi are not those that would be traditionally considered work-related. Most people in the community come as they are, eschewing the anonymity traditionally associated with decentralized work due to the personal nature of the goals they are working toward, resulting in a welcoming community of both web3 and non-web3 natives. Many have begun exploring web3 through Mochi’s game and community, but this new technology is a benefit, not the focus, of the project: at the end of the day, it’s about flexible collaboration and building fulfilling relationships.

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