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How to Write the Perfect Developer Grant Application

DFINITY
DFINITY
Jun 8 · 4 min read

Tips and guidance to help you apply for a grant to build dapps, tooling, and infrastructure on the Internet Computer.

On May 25, the DFINITY Foundation announced the launch of a CHF 200 million program to support the Internet Computer Developer Ecosystem, helping to finance the building of dapps, tooling, and infrastructure on the Internet Computer blockchain. One component of the program is the DFINITY Developer Grant Program, which provides non-dilutive funding to entrepreneurs and developer teams building on the Internet Computer.

Many of the teams behind early dapps and tools on the Internet Computer were grant recipients, including DSCVR — the world’s first fully blockchain-based social media platform.

Within two weeks of launching, the program has already received over 130 high-quality proposals, and a dedicated committee is currently reviewing all of the community’s submissions and collaborating with development teams around the world to grow the Internet Computer developer ecosystem.

Below are some tips to help developers craft the perfect grant application. (For a step-by-step guide on submitting your grant application, please see our support article.)

Tip #1: Do Your Research

The blockchain industry is a tremendously innovative and collaborative space. This field is a great source of inspiration, and it can be a great jumping off point for deciding what you want to build. The Internet Computer is the world’s first blockchain fast enough to run dapps at scale, so the sky’s the limit. Some resources for finding inspiration include Awesome DFINITY as well as the DFINITY Examples repo.

Tip #2: Test Out the Internet Computer

Are you new to blockchain development? Have you explored what the Internet Computer is capable of? Before submitting an application, it is highly recommended that you explore the Internet Computer documentation and try installing Dfx, deploying your first canister, and completing various tutorials. Bonus points if you commit your work to public GitHub repositories so that you can show off your activity to the entire ecosystem.

Testing out the Internet Computer will give you a clearer understanding of how you would go about building your project.

Tip #3: Scope Your Project

There are two surefire ways to find your proposal at the bottom of the review pile. The first is not scoping your project enough, and the second is having way too much scope.

Let’s start with the first problem — not scoping your project enough.

Have you ever reviewed a resume where the applicant does not describe what they did at a previous job? It leaves you wondering, “What is this person capable of doing? How did they accomplish their previous goals?” An under-scoped grant proposal is very similar. It leaves the reviewers unable to envision how the proposal will actually be implemented. This is a great place to explain details such as:

  • How do you envision the canister smart contract architecture of your proposal to work?
  • What are your public interfaces?
  • Are you building a back end AND a front end? One or the other? If both, how will they interact?
  • And so on…

While an under-scoped grant proposal leaves much to be desired about an application, the complete opposite is also true.

Going back to our resume example, have you ever reviewed a resume that is 12 pages long, where every single detail of a person’s career and their personal hobbies are described? Such resumes miss the point of presenting a succinct and concise summary of essential details.

Similarly, a grant application that has a roadmap spanning 1–4 years is most likely over-scoped. While the applicants may have grand ambitions, the grant committee needs to allocate funding based on the likelihood of successful delivery of the defined scope within a reasonable timeframe.

Finding the sweet spot of scope is a mixture of art and science, but some suggestions are:

  • Target what you can reasonably accomplish in 10–14 weeks. Having stretch goals is OK, but projects that will require multiple years should be chunked into much smaller deliverables.
  • Focus on a minimum viable product. Define the smallest thing that an end user can reasonably find useful; scope that out and estimate a timeline for it. If it is under the recommended 10–14 week budget, then scope out the next version of the product and add it to the milestones.
  • Get feedback from peers. It’s often surprising how receiving feedback from a trusted colleague can illuminate ways to improve on a design. Before submitting, ask a friend or colleague what they think of your proposal.

Tip #4: Figure Out a Price Point

The Developer Grant Program is currently giving out grants in three categories:

  • $5,000
  • $25,000
  • $100,000

As you might expect, the level of scrutiny and rigor for reviewing grant applications goes up with each price point. A small dev team wishing to try a unique experiment on the Internet Computer will most likely have a better chance of receiving a $5,000 grant than they would if they were to apply for a $100,000 grant.

If you have followed tip #3 and scoped your grant appropriately, then ideally the grant amount required to realize the vision will become clearer. If your project has broader ambitions, consider scoping a component of the grand vision into a separate grant application. There is nothing that precludes a project with big ambitions from receiving a grant for one component or module of the bigger system.

If the proposal doesn’t neatly fit into a grant after all the above has been taken into consideration, consider reaching out to our partners at Polychain Capital and their Beacon Fund.
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We hope that these tips provide some helpful guidance, and we look forward to reviewing your grant applications! Happy hacking!
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The Internet Computer Review

A DFINITY Foundation Resource