Founder & DAO Developer - Jan Tlustak
Product developer with 7 years of experience developing and marketing digital products in Web3, cryptocurrency and the experience economy.
Current work: See all Jan’s work on Worknb
Discord: Worknb Labs, username @JanTlustak#8954
This interview was conducted by Sarah Liu on 21.8.2019 to kick off an ongoing series of interviews with every joining member of WorknbDAO.
Hi Jan, what is your background?
I have a diverse background.
I’ve studied and worked in furniture design and manufacturing before I made a career in hospitality management, which I then quit to focus entirely on tech startups in 2011.
I’ve worked on hospitality and events management software and platforms first, then we’ve developed an HR performance feedback app and at one point me and Mike have also developed photo booths and chatbots used by clients all over the county.
We’ve done many projects over the years.
What role did you have in those startups?
Officially? Usually, a CEO & co-founder.
But in all honesty, I’ve always been mainly the product, marketing and biz dev guy. I love making products people fall in love with and then go out and onboard people, see the satisfaction in their eyes.
Both design and hospitality gave me excellent preparation in user experience and service design, so I care big time what we make and sell to people.
Additionally, older I get, more I care about the positive impact of what we do. If the project isn’t going to provide any real value to people or, say, isn’t on the list of global issues we need to solve, it’s harder to make me interested and get fully behind it.
Ok, what are such things? What are the pressing issues in society today?
I think the most pressing one is decentralization.
Prof. Noam Chomsky would probably say fighting climate change, Elon Musk democratization of A.I. and some Bitcoin fan a decentralized peer-to-peer electronic cash with transparent monetary policy, but I say decentralization in general because from my research centralization is at the root of all corruption and subsequently inequality, wars and any other evil I can see in the world.
I’ve seen many honest people enter politics over the years, but as long as the system of governing stays the same, it only takes about a year, and it corrupts them too.
What brought you into crypto and when?
It was late summer 2017, and I’ve heard about Bitcoin for the third time since 2011. I remember thinking “What?! I thought that thing was dead?!”.
When I got home it was Friday evening, I’ve opened up my laptop, put headphones on, and the rest is history.
I’ve “emerged back from the rabbit hole” sometime late Sunday afternoon that weekend and remember the world didn’t feel the same anymore. I was hooked on the radical idea we won’t need centralized powers for the world money to function any more.
This research post Into The Bitcoin & Blockchain Rabbit Hole 2019 (I still need to finish) and the crypto and blockchain “awakenning” boardgame "Decentralize & think like on Mars" concept is a result of it too.
Ok, so how and why did you get into DAOs?
After about 18 months of deep research and learning on everything from history of money, economics to different consensus mechanisms, I moved towards researching what makes crypto projects succeed and started feeling the itch again - I wanted to contribute somehow.
At the same time, I’ve always had a great interest in global politics, governance and company design, so when my friend Aaron made me test his first DAO design in January 2018 (made as a Bitcoin Cash multi-signature wallet!) I thought the UX was absolutely terrible but I was intrigued - could this change the world?
And then there was Andreas Antonopoulos who confirmed it for me - “decentralized governance is the next real use case for blockchains after decentralized money”, he said in one of his lectures and I agreed.
How did you arrive at the DAO Kickstarter idea?
In August 2019, on my 33rd birthday, I’ve decided to focus on researching and developing DAOs full-time. I thought, let's use a DAO and the upcoming concept of DAICO to bring to life the dozens of startup ideas we've talked about with friends over the years, but never gotten around doing them, because we would be limitted by access to talent or funding. And that’s how the Worknb DAO Kickstarter was born.
It’s not a full story, though. Initially, I’ve conceived Worknb as a “future of work” projects-oriented platform for the generation Millennials desiring flexibility at work already back in 2015. However, what I wanted back then wasn’t quite possible, because I wanted the new generation of workers be able to become stakeholders in business they work for as well and DAOs weren’t around back then.
Also, I’ve always loved the ideation, research, design and early stages of building the startup - the acceleration of it and the business development of it - not so much the operations and maintenance. I am an ENTP and that's just how I am wired.
Last, but not least, I am a big fan of Elon Musk’s “future it is worth getting excited about” and believe we need to start decentralizing now should the future majority of us would like even exist.
What do you think are the most important aspects any DAO needs to get right before launch?
Well, a DAO can start with very little, basically with just a value proposition, one founder and snowball from there.
However, if you are asking what a DAO needs to get right before it can get kickstarted, there’s more; otherwise, it is likely to fork and split.
It is my forming opinion, it’s much more effective to propose the fundamentals in some detail before launch so that people can make an informed decision if the DAO is for them before joining and thus avoid the unnecessary disengagements and splits. But even that is probably to be expected as a natural occurrence in the future world of DAOs.
Ok, so in summary, what should people include in a proposal to kickstart their DAO well?
Customer Value Proposition (CVP) shortened into an elevator pitch roadmap, team, some visuals for appeal, crypto-economics, governance and conditions for joining or funding of the DAO.
Also, the legal treatment the DAO’s “incorporation” to make them interoperable with the legacy systems may be necessary to include if we want more real-world use cases.
If we want to cross the chasm of DAO adoption, it seems to me we need to meet the legacy world halfway first, before we can go fully decentarlized. This is an active area of our research.
What are your best tools for building a DAO today?
At the moment for quick and practical setup, it is Aragon.org.
The Aragon community has done great work on positioning its aragonOS for growth. Everything is ready to build on - the smart contracts, API, UI, CLI and a supportive community.
DAOstack is also working on interesting things; particularly its holographic consensus for resilience and scalability.
Another one worth mentioning is Moloch DAO. Although I wish they have chosen a different name - one not associated with child sacrifice - the Ethereum developers community likes it for its simplicity of code and have already committed significant funds to it.
What approach is Worknb DAO working on now?
Well, me and Mike come from user experience-focused projects. So, now we are all about how we can help the DAO ecosystem to cross the chasm of user adoption.
Currently, we are working on three fronts:
Providing people with inspiration through publishing new use cases and DAOs people can join on Worknb.org.
Building a Worknb dApp - a DAO kickstarter enabling people to launch their DAO and invite friends under 5 minutes. We are building it on NEAR protocol, which is a layer 1, sharded, developer-friendly, proof-of-stake, public blockchain which users don’t need crypto first for to try it. We can even pre-charge their accounts while they are signing up with just simple username and password as they are used to. Even better, in our case, on signup, everyone gets 15 NEAR for gas fees and to invest in either the inviter’s project or any other they find listed. This dramatically improves the user experience and shortens user onboarding from, say 1-5 days (including KYC), to about 1-5 minutes, and that is what we want to be about.
We are trying to bring people who have been working in the same area of democratization of our institutions across to crypto and into DAOs. Specifically, we are now partnering up with the Institute H21 founded by Czech mathematician, entrepreneur and anti-corruption campaigner Karel Janeček, who designed a new, fair voting system called Democracy 2.1 (also known as D21) and has been testing it around the world since 2013. The results of electing candidates using both positive and negative votes in a ration of 2:1 are promising, and we believe that D21 could find fertile ground as part of the Aragon ecosystem. We are working on a proposal to implement D21 voting method as one of the Aragon apps you could then go and apply it to voting within your Aragon DAO.
What DAO use cases you believe will become possible in next, say, 12 - 18 months?
It’s hard to predict, as regulatory (non)actions are outside of our powers, but use cases like global digital startups have already been possible for several years and the DAO’s ability of interfacing with the real world and its data will only grow with introduction of working oracles, such those being worked on by ChainLink on Ethereum.
Also, the governance and liability within a DAO are still challenges to solve.
The use cases I would like to see next are projects where, for example, owners of local business, say food bistros, cafes, restaurants and hotels, can fundraise resources for a refurbishment.
They could do a DAICO and have their patrons turned into stakeholders actively contributing to the development of their business by visitng the place, spending their money, providing valuable feedback as well as recommend their friends and family to pay a visit once they start to feel ownership.
Engaging customers in HORECA businesses has historically been difficult, but now they will be able to have a stake in the business, they will also have an incentive.
You can check the first DAO proposal of this kind on Worknb Retreat "Old Mill", Czechia proposal where you can purchase one of the 6 apartments and thus finance the purchase and refurbishment of the property.
What do you think we as a DAO community could do to accelerate the widespread adoption of DAOs?
Attract more developers to this space by making the languages and tools more accessible
Working on real and inspiring use cases that will attract talent and finally
Going out and talking to users, which in our case are startups, digital agencies, corporates and lawyers.
The beauty of the DAO space is that everyone has a need to organize and if you can now do it more securely and globally without friction that is a valueable proposition that will only be gaining traction.
We just need to keep building and telling people.