Fundraising in a Community First World
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October 27th, 2021

What if instead of founders pitching investors, investors pitched to communities?

Started just over a year ago, Friends With Benefits is a self-organized and internet native community that is collectively building the ultimate cultural membership.

Today, we’re excited to announce a $10M raise led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Pace Capital, Kindred Ventures, Spark Ventures, and Li Jin.

These funds purchased tokens from the FWB DAO treasury - setting precedence for how future community owned platforms can build along side venture capital support.

Here’s how we did it, why did it, and how your community can too.

Raise In Public

In Web2, founders pitch investors— often at misalignment with their users and community. In Web3, communities own and drive the product, introducing a new dynamic where an empowered community has the choice to accept outside investment if it aligns with its strategic goals.

This is what it looked like in practice.

Early Interest and Conversations

As FWB gained traction through a series of successful product launches, the community received inbound interest from investors who were drawn to the autonomy and collective culture of the group.

Initial conversations gauged value and vision alignment, as well as ballpark investment scope.

Community Discourse

Once mutual interest was established, FWB hosted a community Town Hall to gauge the entire community’s perspective and open the floor for discussion on:

  • What role could venture capital play in our community?
  • What do we want to build and how do we get there?
  • Do we share the same values and desired goals?
  • What is our shared belief on growth vs. quality?

We set up a Temporary Investment Committee comprised of community members to evolve the discourse through an advisory group of investors, legal consultants, and community stakeholders— all tasked with providing honest input and summarizing major points to be shared with the community at large through our public Governance channels.

Community Relations

As momentum escalated after the initial Town Hall, investors were eager to propose how they might participate in different community initiatives.

From joining Product Team discussions and vision-mapping sessions to hosting a physical event in NYC, the prospective investors demonstrated their interest in aligning with the community in a tangible way.

Roadmap

Our Team Leads presented a multi year vision, roadmap, and strategy alongside proposed use of funds and initial terms with actionable ways for anyone to get involved. This FWB Town Hall boasted the highest attendance in the community’s history, with a peak of 300 members present.

For reference, you can view the roadmap and audio recording of the Town Hall here.

Investor Q&A

Leading representatives from each participating firm came to talk directly with the community at the following Town Hall, giving the chance for community members to ask prospective investors about their values, web3 contributions, and investment goals.

Not only did this discussion help humanize each of the firms but it also demonstrated a long term alignment in values and a mutual desire to create a new world together, one where members of a platform are empowered, not taken advantage of.

For many community members, this was their first time interfacing with well-known investors who commonly only interface publicly on Twitter. Creating a safe space for the community to ask honest questions and receive meaningful feedback built trust and showed that investors were here for more than profit-oriented motives.

Imagine if the first thousand users of Facebook had a chance to sit down with the platform’s investors 15 years ago to align on values and future vision.

Screenshot from the FWB investor Town Hall
Screenshot from the FWB investor Town Hall

Governance Proposal

Proposed structures, details, and framing were shared with the community in the form of an open working draft. All FWB community members had the chance to edit, suggest, and comment on what would become the official fundraising proposal shared with Investors.

Vote

The governance proposal went live on Snapshot, offering a special POAP NFT to those who voted from No Pattern.

The vote received the most activity of any community vote to date, with 522 unique members representing 18% of all $FWB token holders. For reference, the average voter turnout across most DeFi protocols is roughly 1%.

Token Swap

Once the proposal passed, the FWB team set up legal structures to oversee the token swap. Investors signed token purchase agreements, and custody solutions (e.g. Fireblocks and Gnosis Safe) were established with each respective firm.

In aggregate, the entire process took roughly two months.

The Next Chapter

As we continue to navigate uncharted territory, we’re excited to pioneer the model by which decentralized communities scale and collaborate with outside investment.

This treasury raise demonstrates that social DAOs like FWB are entering a new phase of maturity and growth preceding social clubs of the past.

We welcome the next wave of community members into the fold, celebrate the members who have grown with us thus far, and look forward to building a brighter future together.

We can’t do this alone. If you’re interested in contributing to the FWB DAO, please head to our Community Jobs Board to view roles we are looking to fill, and as always you can learn more about us at fwb.help.

Don’t see a role? Reach out to us at contribute@fwb.help and say hello.

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