I recently attended ETHcc in Paris, where I was incredibly inspired by not only the endless enthusiasm of the community for all things crypto, but also the energy and excitement so many conveyed about ShapeShift becoming a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). My first priority when I returned was passing along what I learned and experienced to the ShapeShift team.

I shared my biggest takeaways from the conference: ideas for new partnerships, the inspiration I got from Vitalik when he made the plea for us to build more on Ethereum beyond just decentralized finance, and the repeated questions from other attendees about how to turn their own organizations into a DAO. 

Yes, I was both excited and inspired, as well as moved by ShapeShift’s commitment to taking risks—namely, changing its corporate governance structure in favor of the creation of the ShapeShift DAO. 

Still, questions lingered. As we headed into many unknowns, I was contemplating: 

  • How can we successfully transition so quickly? 
  • Are we really going to let anyone join us on this journey?
  • What will happen to this project that I have spent the past five years working on?
  • What will I be doing once my formal employment with ShapeShift ends? 

I shared some of my thoughts and open questions with my mentor and boss, Jon. He reminded me that we already had all the tools we needed to be successful in this new world. I took a deep breath and, with my future vision refocused, knew then our corporate governance model was forever changed, and it fit perfectly into the world we have all been working to help build. 

It was time to dive in and see how I could make a difference.

My first step was to join in the conversation on Discord and begin scouting the forum to see what ideas the community had already put out there. Then, I spotted an opportunity—an area where we could significantly add to our platform to improve our user experience. It was time to step forward and make a proposal.

Submitting a DAO Proposal: The Steps (Spoiler: It’s Not that Hard!)

Phase 1: Finding the idea

Some people may go into it with an idea they already know they want to see realized. For me, I wanted to participate in the forward progress of ShapeShift, and so, I started looking for a project that I knew I had the skill and capability to accomplish, that was a clear and present desire of the user base, and would contribute to company growth. 

I started researching on the forums and was drawn to an idea for integrating with Osmosis (OSMO), a self-proclaimed Automated Money Maker (AMM) laboratory. This aligned with the ShapeShift values of promoting self-sovereignty of crypto assets and would result in further usage of decentralized tools via more accessible solutions. The project needed a leader—someone to craft a plan and allocate resources. It lined up perfectly with my skill set (check).

Phase 2: Learn how to submit a proposal

This resource lays out the complete process of submitting a proposal in simple language. It is not that hard! Solid, well-considered proposals are more likely to earn positive votes, so I encourage anyone considering submitting one themselves to add in details, milestones, dates, costs—anything relevant to help voters make a decision and understand the scope and impact of the project. I made the decision to include four milestones in the proposal so it would not be strictly time-bound nor an “all-or-nothing” situation for those working on the project.

Phase 3: Take the plunge, show the world

Once the proposal was completed, I submitted it to the community via boardroom, where I solicited formal feedback. This is an important part of the process—you get an opportunity to improve the proposal by identifying gaps or concerns by potential voters prior to the formal vote.

Phase 4: The formal vote

I’ve been at ShapeShift for five years; I am familiar with our processes and how to accomplish goals in our 9-to-5, centralized world. Yet, I found myself with butterflies in my stomach, reading and re-reading the proposal to make sure every ‘i’ was dotted. 

The support was incredibly positive and overwhelming. Not only did our community seem to want this feature, they saw the value of adding an additional community into the ShapeShift ecosystem. My proposal passed, and was the first ever to achieve quorum! There has already been much excitement and support from the OSMO community on this idea—they have offered to match our FOX bounty with OSMO (pending their own governance vote).

Sometimes, You Have to Just Take a Breath and Rocket Forward

Working in a DAO is new. Not to everyone, to be sure. But it is new to me, it is new to many at ShapeShift, and it is new to most people in the working world. Change is hard for most people, but sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and push forward. Submitting a proposal, working in a different environment, and adjusting to token-based governance all seem difficult, but, from my recent experience, the only really hard thing about much of this is adjusting to the fact that it’s new. 

Submitting a proposal wasn’t that difficult and, at the end of the day, the work is still work. It contributes value to ShapeShift just the same. Only in a decentralized world, there are countless people who can all find areas where we can improve, submit a proposal, and add to the innovation of our platform.