Funded mentorships

Title: Funded mentorships

Authors: Alejandro Santander

Date: 02/12/2022


Sum up this proposal in a few bullet points or sentences

Reduce friction in the formation of mentorships by providing an allowance to validated mentors, after the presentation of a document specifying how the allowance is to be used, and how the mentorship plans to contribute funds back to the DAO.


Why are you making this proposal?

What problem or opportunity does this proposal target?

What are the driving factors behind why you think this is a good idea?

Mentorships that pay the mentee for the hours they spend, either learning or building, offer them a form of security that catalyses their transition from web2 to web3. Mentees feel more secure to leave their web2 jobs sooner when they receive remuneration in this limbo phase where they still haven’t been hired neither temporarily, nor permanently by the targeted web3 protocol.

Usually, when a successful mentorship is approaching its end, the mentee is already making contributions to the target protocol, and the protocol already understands the value that the mentee can add to it, so at that point they are ready to offer the mentee a temporary employment agreement with the intention of turning into a permanent one after some trial period.

Trying to secure preliminary funding for the mentee before such agreements between the protocol and the mentee prove to be a very tedious process, since the mentor needs to promise value with no assurances. Additionally, the funds involved in this preliminary funding are small enough that it’s really not worth the protocol’s time nor legal complications.

This is a huge point of friction that is keeping new mentorships from opening. If the EthernautDAO could remove this point of friction altogether, mentorships should begin opening at a higher rate.


How does this project help the DAO achieve it´s mission and with it´s values?

The EthernautDAO can reduce this point friction easily by providing validated mentors an allowance, per mentorship, that the mentor can use to compensate the mentees’ work during training.

As soon as the target protocol is ready to sign an employment agreement with the mentee, the EthernautDAO can withdraw this allowance.

Mentors are invited to request rewards from the targeted protocol upon the signing of such agreements, with a percentage going to the EthernautDAO in a way that restores the funds it initially provided.

All this would be in accordance with the EthernautDAO’s principle of minimal intervention, as it would simply be reducing friction for the formation of new mentorships, allowing mentors to discuss funds with targeted protocols, only after they have added value to them.


Explain the project in detail. You’re expected to have done your homework and the more exact numbers and implementation details, the more likely the proposal will be approved. Include team details, including any positions that have yet to be filled.

You can get creative with the formatting of this section. For example, feel free to break it up into multiple specifications, include a project plan, or explain how the project will achieve its objectives in some other way.

Funding committee

This is a governing group designated by the council that will oversee all matters related to funded mentorships. It may be a sub-group of the council and will be in charge of validating mentors and mentorships that require funding, keep track of funding operations, keep accountability records, etc.

Mentorship sub-treasury

This is a second multisig, controlled by the funding committee, to which mentors are given allowances during funded mentorships. The idea of having a second, isolated treasury is to increase security, and contain expenses per period.

This treasury is itself funded by the main treasury, and the funding committee must ask the council for funding per period.

Mentor profiles

Mentors that intend to be granted allowances will need to set up a profile in the forum. Here, they can present any information that may be required by the funding committee for their acceptance in funded mentorships.

Funded mentorship applications

Before a mentorship starts, mentors need to present all the details of the mentorship to the funding committee for allowance approval, including:

  • Target protocol and role

  • Mentee details

  • Expected duration of the mentorship

  • Hourly compensation for the mentee

  • Expected number of hours to be remunerated

  • Expected rewards from the target protocol upon signing of a temporary contract of employment

  • Expected rewards, vested or otherwise, from the target protocol until the signing of a permanent contract of employment

  • Reward ratio for the EthernautDAO and the mentor

Potential pilot

To illustrate how this process could flow, I’d like to use a real scenario in which I’m in right now as an example.

An emerging protocol called Grateful is looking for consultancy advice from me, as well as help from the EthernautDAO to form a technical team. As part of my counselling, I am helping them raise capital. They will strike a deal with a decentralised group of investors via the Aelin protocol, but they also want to strike a deal with the EthernautDAO for the initial bootstrapping of their team.

Note: Grateful is basically a protocol that allows users to stream micro-donations to people whose online content they feel grateful to. All donations originate from DeFi yields aggregated by the protocol.

My negotiations with Grateful with regards to forming this team will materialise in a deal that I will present to the EthernautDAO, representing a number of $GRATEFUL tokens at different stages, vested, etc, with a fee to the mentor or mentors involved in the process via one or more mentorships.

I would have to apply to the EthernautDAO as an official mentor, then present this deal, and then be given an allowance to cover mentee compensation expenses.

As the mentorship transpires, I should be spending part of such allowance. Upon reaching success milestones, I should be able to secure funds from the new protocol into the EthernautDAO’s treasury, hopefully not only restoring the initial funds, but contributing to the growth of the treasury overall.


Include details about funding requirements. You must include a detailed breakdown that explains how the funds will be allocated. Funding will not be approved for proposals without a funding breakdown. This is where the team can request rewards for their expected contributions to the project, including any work done to scope the project and create the proposal.

This section only needs to be completed for projects that are requesting funding

The EthernautDAO should try this out in a contained manner initially.

The mentorship treasury should be set up with a small amount of funds intended to cover a small amount of mentorships in a reasonably short time period.

A maximum budget per mentorship and mentee should also be stipulated.

All movement of funds should be carefully accounted for and exposed to the community with absolute transparency.


If the project will use the Ethernaut DAO brand outside the DAO, explain in detail how the brand will be used and add a “Ethernaut Brand” tag to the project.

We should encourage protocols working with the EthernautDAO to be very explicit about collaboration or even partnership with the EthernautDAO whenever deals are stricken.


How will the project’s success be measured?

This proposal should cause an increase in the number of mentorships opened. This should be measured and validated.

It should also produce an outflow and an inflow of funds that should all be carefully measured and accounted for in order to determine the feasibility of opening up this process at a larger scale in the future.


Immediate action items, should this proposal be accepted

  • Create a mentor section in the forum
  • Create a funded mentorship section in the forum
  • Designate a funding committee
  • Set up a mentorship treasury with a small amount of funds
  • Choose initial mentor/s for trial run
  • Choose initial mentorship/s for trial run
  • Present and approve mentorship proposals
  • Provide allowance to mentorships
  • Keep track of all finances during these mentorships

Response to mentorships

Thank you, Ale, for writing this down, it has been a long time coming, and was personally really curious how you envisioned the “paid mentorship” program to work. I can now see the direction you want this to take.

There is a lot to unpack in this very complicated proposal and I’ll try to address them from the top-down, posing my questions as I progress.

What are Paid Mentorships

First, let me start by re-iterating your proposal to make sure I have a good understanding, please correct me if I am misrepresenting it.

We will be subsidizing the training of w2 developers to help them onboard on w3.

This will, most likely (?), happen through the requirements and specifications of existing protocols (DAOs) with the end goal of having the trainees (mentees) get onboarded and hired by those protocols.

We will be paying both the mentors and the mentees.

So, as per your example, a protocol that needs engineers will designate a mentor, who will then be responsible for submitting a proposal to the Ethernaut DAO (EDAO) for a paid mentorship.

The EDAO, through the “Funding Committee” (FC), will then study this proposal and approve it or require amendments till it can be approved.

Once approved, the EDAO FC will lookout for the right candidates, and monitor the mentorship so it’s accountable and it adheres to our standards.

High-Level Commentary

At the highest level, we are a dream come true for all the protocols, as we handle sourcing and training talent on their behalf while securing payment for both the Mentee and the Mentor.

At this point, I’d like to set the terminology straight as we’ve been abusing and stretching the term “mentor” and “mentorship”. I will refer to those terms as “trainer”, “trainee” and “training”, which is what they essentially are. The goal of this post is not to discover the English vocabulary, but for me, this is clear-cut.

There are many issues and questions that need to be addressed for this proposal to have flesh and bones, I’ll try to take the first stub at it:

1. Why are we Subsidizing Protocols?

It’s clear to me that we are providing a very valuable service to the protocols, we find them talent.

In addition to that, protocols will have to dedicate a trainer for training and hiring talent. This trainer will be an “employee” of the protocol, who gets paid. What is the point of us paying that person?

If there is one resource that all protocols have in abundance, that is funds.

Why do we believe the solution to their hiring problem is more funds?

You are making a valid point that paying the trainee “offers them a form of security that catalyzes their transition from web2 to web3”.

I understand that and can see the truth in this.

Yet, why do we believe that protocols are beyond help in understanding that issue and having them produce their own “on-the-job-training” programs where they pay w2 developers to become w3 ones? Aren’t all past trainings done via our forums indicating that protocols have the capacity and can understand this?

2. Why Aren’t We Benefiting From This Service?

This is the flip question of #1, and is a proposal I have submitted for review: Proposal: Require reimbursement in kind for all "mentorships"

If we are to provide this very valuable service to the protocols (source and train talent), why aren’t we benefiting from that transaction and instead, it is us who are paying the protocols?

This is incomprehensible to me. Not only are we posing as a recruiting agency, but we also double as a training organization. And instead of getting rewarded for those services, we pay all the expenses, including the cost of the trainer, who is a protocol employee anyway.

3. What Is It That We Offer Other Than Money?

Allow me to reiterate the process for a training to start:

  1. Protocol Trainers will have to submit their proposal and “present any information that may be required by the funding committee for their acceptance”.
    1. I will assume that what the committee will require is a curriculum, a schedule, milestones, all hiring-related information (pay, role, etc), and other credentials needed by the trainer.
  2. Once they get the “go-ahead” from the committee, they can post their training post on our forums to attract candidates.
  3. This training post must include all information enumerated in the proposal (target protocol and role, trainer details, etc).
  4. Trainer will select a candidate to start working with.

So, it is the responsibility of the trainer, and in effect, the protocol’s, to deliver a curriculum, milestones, a schedule, and all the bullet points mentioned in the approval process by the funding committee.

What is it that we are actually offering?

Do we really believe we’ll show the protocols “how it’s done” and effectively claim that we know their business (operations) better than they do?

4. Where Will We Source The Talent?

For reasons anyone can assume, we’ve dried out the influx of new talent and most importantly retaining that talent within our discord server.

How do we plan on addressing the fact that the emperor has no clothes? Where is our talent, how are we going to attract it, and most importantly, how are we going to retain it?

I understand this is a bit off topic to the proposal, but since the proposal requires the existence of talent to work, I feel like it is a relevant question.

5. How Many Trainings Do we Expect to Produce On a Yearly Basis?

In the most positive scenario, where everything works as envisioned and expected, how many trainings do we expect to produce on a yearly basis?

My view is that such a high friction, high involvement, dozens of moving parts operation, cannot produce hundreds of trainings on a yearly basis. They most likely are measured in dozens, at best.

So the next question becomes:

6. Who Are We Doing This For?

Who is the main beneficiary of this action?

Is it the trainee? All “12” of them on a yearly basis? Or is it the protocols?

7. What is The Yearly Budget of This Proposal?

Even if we entertain that this is a viable proposal, what is our estimation in terms of budget?

I guess we’d have to first do some assumptions on the average cost of training… Let’s say that training would cost us on average $30k (3 months, $20k to the trainer, $10k to the trainee - these are numbers on the lowest end, most likely they’ll need to be double that).

That is, without counting the remuneration of the committee, which will have to be remunerated as they are handling money and will be required to spend great resources on it, add another $120k for each committee member.

For 12 trainings per year, I count the budget as roughly:

  • 12 * 30 = $360,000
  • 5 * 120 = $600,000
  • Total: ~$1mm to have a rounded number.

Do correct me if I am off, but I feel like that’s a good ballpark number.

Do we believe this kind of money is gonna be best spent in subsidizing trainings and onboarding talent for the benefit of protocols?

8. Where Will We Find The Funds?

That’s the crux of the debate we’ve been having on the council the past few months. Suppose all of the above stands, and we do need $1mm to operate the training program:

Where do we find those funds?

I am afraid this question has been answered before it was posed.

However, if this question was indeed genuinely posed, my first response would be “the protocols”.

It’s the protocols that hold billions of USD in treasury and who are looking for ways to disperse them.

Who is better positioned other than us, within the protocols, to pitch, convince, and be trusted with this volume of grants by protocols?

9. What Is Our Research?

This is a bold undertaking. A venture nonetheless.

What are we basing all of our assumptions on? Have we talked with the protocols? Have we talked with the trainees? Have we suggested this format/model to protocols to see how they react to it? Are they interested? In other words: Has any customer development happened towards that venture we are about to undertake?

Past “mentorships” were basically “on-the-job training recruitment operations”. Yes, they worked, and they worked without us paying any party. Of course the “on-the-job” training model works and nothing more needs to be done other than connect talent to protocols. There never was or is a doubt for that.

When we did ask the trainers and the trainees in a controlled, structured way ( Ethernaut Survey 2021 Conculded ) the results were pretty telling.

Yes, every trainee would love to get paid and get trained, that much has been established and any protocol that leveraged that understanding has managed to find talent in a highly-competitive market.

But no, that wasn’t the only thing the trainees hoped to get help on from EDAO. Getting on-the-job training, is the “end-goal”. Getting there requires some encouragement and guidance, that’s where I believe the EDAO’s role is and where we should be focusing. The gist of that research is the kind of guidance the trainees expect the most:

  • 1 on 1 code pairings.
  • Small group (up to ~4) sessions.
  • Code reviews of their work.
  • Online help on discord.

And the Trainers survey showed a strong match to those needs. Those are the actions they want and can afford to offer, pro-bono, to the community.

Our job is to facilitate that.

1 Like

Hey @thanpolas. Yes, these are all very valid points. I think we need to discuss them in the next council call, and if needed, (and supported) scratch this proposal and replace it with one with more details. I do lean on the side of action vs excessive planning. I.e. in the Bazar vs The Catedral distinction, I’m in the Bazar.

Let me quickly respond to your questions tho, and we can further discuss them in the council call.

1. Why are we Subsidizing Protocols?

Some protocols may be forming and need a team to raise credibility and raise funds. Established protocols often cannot spare the resources to generate a short term contract for training. The mentor vouches for a mentee (sorry, I prefer the established terminology for now), and the DAO manages that intermediary contract. We’re not subsidizing protocols, we’re removing friction.

2. Why Aren’t We Benefiting From This Service?

Perhaps I explained it wrong, but the idea is that the mentor makes a deal with the protocol that benefits both the mentor and the DAO. The DAO does not pay the mentor, the protocol does. E.g. I open a mentorship for a position at KWENTA. KWENTA promises 10000 tokens to the DAO and 1000 tokens to the mentor on milestone 1, and 200000 tokens for the DAO and 5000 tokens to the mentor on milestone 2. The DAO only offers the mentor a budget of 3000 DAI for the mentorship, which needs to be accounted for.

3. What Is It That We Offer Other Than Money?

The process you elaborate on is just one of the possibilities. We should be pretty loose on that. E.g. a mentor may first open the mentorship without specifying financial details and THEN discuss the necessities of the mentee. A mentee may not require funds. Another may require a certain amount that may vary depending on where they are, etc. In the case of mentees that require this financial help, we offer them (1) contacts with protocol and people that mentors may know, (2) focused knowledge on a space that is very lacking in documentation, training content, etc.

4. Where Will We Source The Talent?

I think that talent is all over the place. It’s just drifted away from our server for lack of activity. If we do more, and prove that we can help more, I believe more mentors and more mentees will come. Specially if we align incentives for mentors.

5. How Many Trainings Do we Expect to Produce On a Yearly Basis?

Yeah I agree. To be honest I don’'t intend to focus on scale, but rather something moderate, more personalized, and that helps the community. I don’t know how many, I just want to create a pattern that has a positive feedback loop. This doesn’t mean that the DAO cannot also have other initiatives that do focus on larger scales.

6. Who Are We Doing This For?

I think that we’re doing this for (1) mentees that are lost and don’t know where to start approaching this crazy, undocumented web3 world, and (2) protocols that aren’t being able to grow or form teams because web3 talent is too difficult to attain right now. Most protocols are still trying to hire Solidity devs with +5 years of experience (which is nonsensical). We’re trying to convince the Ethereum community to stop doing this and look at the huge amount of web2 talent knocking at our door.

7. What is The Yearly Budget of This Proposal?

Yes, this needs to be discussed and specified better. My initial thought is that we (1) need to make another proposal to start paying certain roles within the organization, (2) cap a budget for paid mentorships per month, etc. All this with guaranteeing a minimal runway of e.g. 6 months.

8. Where Will We Find The Funds?

I think that if we generate a positive feedback loop, we will attract activity and hence more donations. The NFT project is our current channel for donations. We just received one from Optipunks for example (<3).

9. What Is Our Research?

None! Since I started this it is all based on a hunch and personal observations. This is where we differ most I think. I tend to just do, iterate, and fail if necessary to prove a point. Happy to dig deeper on some data if the council asks.