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Building a Sports DAO: 4 Lessons From LinksDAO

·5 min read

To say the momentum was electric would be an understatement. Just two weeks from conceiving the idea, we would sell 9,090 membership non-fungible tokens (NFT) at a total gross revenue of more than $10 million and build a community of more than 40,000 across all social channels. Collectively, we all have the same goals of building the world’s greatest modern golf and leisure club, buying one of the best golf courses in the world and fundamentally changing the game by making it more fun, democratic, inclusive and accessible.

Jim Daily is founder and CEO of LinksDAO, former advertising executive, co-founder of Teads and obsessive golfer. This op-ed is part of CoinDesk's "Sports Week."

The LinksDAO project shows the speed and scale of Web3 technologies and applications and the power of people organizing behind common goals. I have learned a lot since starting this project with my friend Mike Dudas (co-founder of 6th Man Ventures and The Block) and our incredible family of founding members. I hope to share a few of these learnings with you all today.

Before we get started …

So we are all on the same page, I am going to simply define decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) as communities that are focused on common goals, with each member having aligned incentives and receiving governance rights that are recorded on-chain. They come in many shapes including exchanges (Uniswap), investment (Flamingo)and sports (LinksDAO, WAGMI United), and utilize the collective intelligence and productivity of a large group to achieve their aim.

Now that we have that out of the way, a bit of what I learned in the first seven months of LinksDAO.

Read more: For the Fans: How DAOs Could Change Sports

Community is everything

To have a successful project, you must keep this as your central philosophy. If you stay true to your mission and tap into the power of your community, your project will move quickly.

Our community at LinksDAO is self-organized into various PODs that tackle a number of subjects such as: engineering, marketing, partnerships, wen course, design and architects, events and so on. These PODs produce incredible things and drive the direction of the project (i.e., our engineering POD created proshop.linksdao.io, one of the first token-gated e-commerce sites on the internet).

In Web2, things are built by a group of employees, hired for specific jobs. In Web3, goals are achieved by 1,000s of builders that can choose their level of involvement and are compensated accordingly. This is an extremely powerful evolution of the work and productivity model and one that all DAO-based projects should consider.

Deliver, deliver, deliver

Huge ideas are exciting (“We are going to buy an NFL team!”) but delivering value for members sets the great projects apart from the pack and keeps everyone excited and engaged. The LinksDAO membership already receives major discounts, access and benefits from the likes of Callaway (ELI), Top Golf, 5i, Holderness & Bourne, William Murray, Ship Sticks, DraftKings and plenty more partners just for being part of the community. These benefits have made the LinksDAO membership more valuable than any digital golf subscription in existence and the project is only seven months old. Find your focus, build community and excitement, organize and deliver VALUE. Also, make sure that you know how your project is going to thrive past its formation. If you’re going to form a ski club DAO and buy a ski mountain, you better know how you’ll make money and keep it open for many years to come.

Transparency and over-communication

If you are in Web3 and your project is community-based, you are going to be doing most of your building wide out in the open. For the core team of any project, this can be daunting and difficult at times but you need to embrace it. Make sure that your core team is being transparent about what is being built, what is going well, what has been challenging and what the community can do to help the project move forward. Then over-communicate!

A perception of many DAO-based projects is that most folks in the community are online, in Discord and engaged every day. The reality is that everyone in the community has different levels of engagement. If there is a big vote, large piece of news or major development in your project, you will need to mention it more than 10 times across Discord, Twitter, Instagram, Podiums, Spaces, newsletters and carrier pigeons before most of your community sees it. Great moderators and mod bots really help on this point.

Doxxed founders and community meet-ups

If you want to create a meaningful project in this space, dox yourself. In my opinion, trust is key and trust can’t be anonymous. For the community, anonymity can be an attractive element of Web3 but plenty of your members will be thrilled to get together in person. We have already seen 1,000s of LinksDAO members coming together for big events in New York City and Austin, Texas, rounds of golf across the globe and self-organized regional meetups. The power of building real-world bonds within an amazing like-minded community is pretty extraordinary and helps any project keep its community really engaged.

Lastly, remember that (almost) no one has done this before. You are in a brand new space, creating brand new things with a group of future-minded folks. It’s wildly exciting but will be littered with speed bumps along the way.

There is no playbook for success. You are creating the playbook for your project and the projects that come after yours. Make sure that you remind yourself and your community of this along the way and you’ll have a lot more fun with a lot less FUD.