Since Fund2, Catalyst is on my personal short list of important projects I want to spend time on. It has some very interesting projects arising from it and, let’s face it, also a fair amount of junk to wade through.
One of my initial concerns was that some people would game the system and obtain funds that wouldn’t really benefit anyone but themselves. So I tried to prevent that by writing critical comments to some such proposals.
This, I realized later, was not a good use of my time because it creates negative attention and time spent on subjectively poor proposals cannot be spent on the ones that actually deserve it.
As a result, I changed my mission to quickly weed out the proposals I don’t want to spend time on in order to identify the ones I do care about.
So the question became: How to say no? It turns out that the list of my personal criteria is short. Other people will certainly have different criteria but I’m sharing mine anyway.
Proposals I tend to ignore and why
“We need a platform for xyz” - No, we probably don’t. If people do xyz already, chances are that there exists platform support for it that works well enough. If nobody does xyz then there is no need for a platform. In either case, re-creating someting from scratch does not solve any problem.
“We need to decentralise something” - Most probably decentralisation is not a goal in itself and doesn’t solve any real problem.
“We need to centralise something (create a hub, marketplace, one-stop shop etc for something)” - No, we don’t. You probably just have a business model that relies on you being some kind of middleman.
Unclear problem statement. In case it is impossible to make out a clear problem statement, I assume that the proposed project has no purpose.
Unclear deliverable. In some cases it remains a mystery what the scope of the project is. I ignore these too.
“I have a hammer and I see the world is full of nails” - In other words you have a solution to sell and are trying to make up a problem for it.
“We need a video / podcast / some other content. Please fund my equipment.” - You probably are doing it anyway, so why would we fund it?
No skin in the game. If your project is very ambitious but you don’t take any risk and seek 100% funding, I’m out. Go find a venture capital firm.
Socialise cost, privatise profit. No, because I believe projects funded by the public should also give back something to the public. If development is funded the result should be open sourced, for example.
Haven’t I seen you before? Trying again after failing to get approval is no disgrace. However, there probably is a good reason the proposal failed before.
Proposal is irrelevant for the challenge. This shows a lack of respekt and consideration.
I admit that after applying these filters, only few proposals remain. Some challenges barely have one proposal I would vote yes on and that’s ok. These are the ones I wanted to find in the first place.