Episode 20: Today I’m speaking with Reem Chahrour, Ecosystem Manager at The Graph. If you have applied for a Graph grant, or followed the work of any grantees, then you have probably already encountered Reem. She’s an important asset to The Graph community and her work covers a variety of important initiatives.
Our conversation spans Reem’s entry into crypto and her work at The Graph Foundation, her advice for those seeking to apply for a grant (and where the foundation would like to see more submissions), the difference between the RFP and grants programs, and the soon-to-launch Graph Advocates program.
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Eventually, I would love for it to get to a point where its own machine kind of growing with each other. Like the goal here isn’t to just have myself or Pedro or Oliver decide on these brands and these initiatives, but also to get more of the community involved. It really is a testament to show so far how we really decentralized work in a way. And I think my personal vision is to see more and more of that grow.
Welcome to the GRTiQ podcast. Today I’m speaking with Reem Chahrour ecosystem manager with The Graph. If you’ve applied for grant from The Graph Foundation, or followed any of the work of grantees that you’ve probably already encountered Reem. She is an incredible asset to The Graph community. And her work covers a variety of important initiatives. Our conversation ranges from Reem’s recent unique entry into the crypto space and how she got involved at The Graph foundation for advice for those seeking to apply for grant who were in the foundations looking for more submissions, the difference between the RFP program and the grants program, and information about the soon to launch Graph Advocates initiative. Since we recorded our conversation shortly after the launch of curation and Subgraph Studio on July 8, I started by asking the Reem for experience on that important day.
Yeah, I mean, just as an FYI, I was definitely left out in the dark as much as everybody else does, until the near end of everything. We definitely knew something was coming. But we didn’t really see the product until a couple of weeks before launch, which was just, I think, again, a full circle moment because having Curators now be able to actively participate in the ecosystem and evaluate these subgraphs really does just amplify the need and the importance of having The Graph in the space. And I think with opening up curation now you’re not only bringing in your, you know, ability to read subgraphs and practice what is a good subgraph, versus what the bad one, but also your take on what’s going to do really well in the future. So you don’t really necessarily have to have subgraph development experience in order to curate, you could say, Well, you know what I think the dApp is going to do really well. So yes, the subgraph is going to be queried a lot, or it’s going to be used a lot. And that’s why I want to curate on it. There is obviously the downside is that it is a bit riskier than then delegating. But, you know, that’s what makes life fun. What sort of fun is there in life without any risk? So we wanted to make it fun for the folks that are listening and are curious about curating, but I think it’s so important that we all have it out there right now. And trust me when all of you folks are asking us Hey, what’s coming out so we don’t know anything we know as much as you do. We find out really, really till the end, because I think that’s what’s really fun is working with a team that leaves everything up for excitement, which Apple does a lot too. I used to always get those questions once the new iPhone coming out. Although you know, you could tell by calendar year they come out typically around the same time. We have no idea. We have no idea.
Reem, Can you tell us about your educational and professional background?
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a little bit of a doozy. I have been working since I want to say 16 years old. Um, I am located and based in Toronto, Canada. So you’re I’m very thankful of the amount of diversity and access to education there has been so working as 16 throughout high school I always have I think I actually have not even stopped working since then. I think the longest break I’ve taken between each job was maybe two, three weeks. But when I finished high school, I was juggling between going to university or wanting to work. So I took a year off, I went into another job where I was essentially selling cell phones. So like if you’re familiar with like an AT&T or Virgin, mobile or any of those companies similar to what we have here in Canada. I did that for a bit and that’s what really got me exposed to technology and I feel like I’ve always been passionate about technologies not really sure where I fit in there. So as I finished my year off, I decided I wanted to do something in media or marketing. So I studied Media Communications at Humber College here in Canada. I did that for about three years. And I thought I wanted to go into advertising. Now, while I was studying, and I was doing school full time, I had a really great opportunity working for a company that I think some of you might know, called Apple. It was one of my favorite places to work, not only because of the entire ethos and ecosystem that they have with their products and their tools, but one thing they really instilled with a lot of people that were onboarding into Apple is how to communicate and how to make things simple to a community that might not know so much about technology. And that always, really stood out by leading with empathy. And I love that because I think our generation were really easy to pick up on technology and be very intuitive with stuff like that. Whereas my parents at the time, you know, just learning how to pick up a phone other than their landline. How do you explain an iPad or an app to a parents or to somebody that is eons and generations away from everything that’s coming up into our hands and into our purview these days. So after working at Apple, I mean, it was a retail job, but I think I’ve learned a lot more than I could have ever learned at any sort of school or company beforehand. I finished school and I thought I wanted to go into a little bit more into what I studied. So I took a little bit of a gig into advertising. And funny enough, that was actually when I was exposed to blockchain. There was this one guy, Josh Donor. So he’s listening to this shout out to you. I remember at the time that was when Eva, and I’ve known Eva since high school. So ninth grade, her brother came over one time when we were hanging out at her place and explains Ethereum, explains blockchain. And I was a little bit blown away. Because while I was working in advertising, I realized the biggest flaw in advertising is the middleman. And I was working at an agency where we had big companies giving us budgets of millions of dollars trying to allocate where it would go towards print, social media, marketing, etc. And I would get these watchi shady reports that Yeah, you’ve reached 1 million people here with this amount of money. And I’m like, Where are you getting these numbers from? It was very unverifiable. So while I was doing my advertising job, a project called Brave. So Basic Attention Tokens is what it was associated to, is what really appealed me to it. But still, I didn’t really know where I fit. So I think from that time until now is where I really made that leap into crypto. But after that, I started to work at a company called Top Hat. There are an educational technology tool that’s really enabling students to learn more and better. And I really resonated with that. Because for someone like myself, I’m I feel like I grasp a lot of concepts that are real world very easily. But anything that comes to, I don’t know, technology, or math or science, you need that active repetition and Top Hat did a really good job at it and was really trying to think outside of the box around. How do you get students more engaged into their class? How do you apply the Learn by doing approach? And I think that’s what really helped me learn a lot more about crypto was I really got involved and immersed in the in the space. And that’s what got me from Top Hat to here.
Well, let’s talk about what compelled you to make the leap into crypto.
That’s a great question. I mean, I don’t know if it was something that was like compelling as much as I felt like it was time. I was at Top Hat for close to three years. I feel like I did everything that I could there. After everything I succeeded in I would get promoted, which is nice. I’m not here to toot my own horn. But it got to a point where Yes, I was the go to person at the organization of any questions. But I felt like I wasn’t challenged. And I was actively on the side looking for ways to get involved in crypto. Now. My background is very non-technical. I feel like I do really well with people. I do my job because I love learning and talking to new people. I love making friends. And as you can tell, I do talk a lot. But it was actually when Eva tweeted about and I can’t remember the tweet verbatim, but it was something around a university asking about curriculums or models or something about teaching about blockchain and The Graph. And I pinged Eva and I said, Hey, like, you know, working at Top Hat, I’ve worked with a handful of educators and institutions in developing curriculum, digital learning textbooks and taking a pedagogical approach of Bloom’s Taxonomy have learned by doing and really applying those concepts before moving on. So, you know, as someone that struggled with learning the technological or technical aspects of crypto, I felt like this was very detrimental to any sort of learning resource or curriculum that’s out there. So I really wanted to get involved. So when I got in touch with her, she’s like, well, you should apply for a grant. And I’m like, I don’t think I’m gonna need a grant. I’m just happy to do this because I think it’s helpful for me. It’s a great exercise to learn by doing by me learning a little bit more about The Graph as well. Especially for more of like, the protocol side. And she’s like, No, no, let’s apply for a grant. And I think what really stood out to me at that moment in time is how great of a community this is that they really do want to embrace this culture of really not just rewarding, but compensating people for their work. Although Yes, this is going to be open source, we want to make sure that you are feeling valued by providing your contributions to this ecosystem. So I said, Okay, I fight for the grant, I wasn’t really kind of sure of what’s good and valued or whatever. But I remember working through it. And Fair enough, I put together the proposal in the outline for the curriculum, and I got really good feedback from the team. And then it was around that time as well, where I was still kind of like, Okay, well, where do I fit, I still feel like working for a company or an organization like The Graph, I’m gonna have to know how to code or have to know a lot of the stuff which I don’t know, I think I did a bit of HTML in my early days, which is very different than what we’re looking at right now. And then it was only when Eva and I were on a phone call. And she was telling me that she was looking for somebody to take on calls, you know, to really be and think strategic around how we can grow the ecosystem. Did I say Okay, you know what, this is one of those moments where I’m going to think back to myself and 30-40 years and look back at this and say to myself, where were you when The Graph, you know, became The Graph? Or were you when this started to become a very important piece, an integral piece to the entire infrastructure of this feature of Web 3? And yeah, one thing, one thing after the other, I started to interview with the team, I actually interviewed more with the team than I did with Eva, because Eva and I have been each other for such a long time. But after you know, things kind of made sense. Again, it kind of goes back to that question. And I think that’s what I kept asking myself is, if I don’t take this leap, and jump in right now, I think I know enough, but learn by doing I think I’ll learn more. And I think in the last four or five, six months that I’ve been hearing even more, it’s going to be more fruitful. And I’m going to learn a lot more than where I was when I first started the foundation.
As someone who successfully made the leap from a non-crypto career into the crypto space. What advice do you have for people that are contemplating or maybe a little nervous about trying to do the same thing?
There’s a lot of places to start. I mean, one, first and foremost, if you’re someone that’s like me, extroverted, I mean, I know, there’s a lot of people that label themselves as introverted. But if you like talking to people, definitely get out there and network, you know, ask the people that have gone into this space as well, like myself, like an Eva like a Tegan, etc. How did you make that leap? And I think something that we need to bridge from, you know, the traditional quote, unquote, world to where we are now in the crypto world is, in the traditional world, I remember people reaching out to me on LinkedIn and asked me for coffee chats, virtual coffee chats, now that we’re kind of all remote, but they’re very laid back very chill, getting a bit of a background or as to how to start and then asking for that advice. And everybody’s journey is going to be different. But until you start networking, and really having those very low stakes chats, you now how about one extra person on your contact list so that if an opening opens up, where they’re working, that’s where you can reach out and say, Hey, I think I could be qualified, you know, you kind of have some rapport with me, let’s maybe see if I can apply. Another way is, I think, a lot of protocols, a lot of dApps, a lot of initiatives, a lot of ecosystems in this space, are now launching their own foundations and grants program. So, you know, that could be a really great way to exemplify your work. I always believe that, you know, for you to get a role or a title, you always want to show that you’re already doing the work. And I think that’s what really helped me in my career, either get promoted or get a job is to amplify and to exemplify that I’m already doing the work. And that really does help you get in there. So there’s also a website called cryptocurrencyjobs.co They’re really great because I actually subscribe to their newsletter before joining The Graph. Like I mentioned, I got into The Graph with the grants. But while I was kind of like out there scouting, trying to figure out where I fit in, it was really helpful to see what sort of postings there were at the moment to see where I would have potentially fit in. I think that could give you a sense of an idea as to where you could probably get your foot in the door with the space. And my last piece of advice. And I know it’s something that does, I guess require a little bit more resources for but if you do have an opportunity to go to conferences, hackathon, meetups, etc. Sure, you might not be there for any sort of contributing reason, but even being like a fly on the wall, seeing how things work or even learn. I remember early on when I first was exposed to crypto, I started to research and find any sort of crypto events that were happening in the city and would show up to them sit there learn it might actually it was thought to a point where was a bit repetitive, but I needed that and I think a lot of people need that if unless you have photographic memory are really, really bright and smart and learning and comprehending information to go out to a lot of them. You’ll sometimes even see the same type of people and I’ll guarantee you, at least half of that audience is also there for the same reason you’re there is to learn to understand the space a bit more. And you know, from there you can easily network to. So there’s lots of ways to get started. And I think my, my advice to you is, find one of those avenues or find a couple of those, and you’ll definitely get there. And when the right opportunity lands, it’ll be a lot easier than you thought in getting in.
So when you applied for that, Grant, what can you tell us about the curriculum you designed? What was it that you were trying to help people learn?
I mean, it was broken down into four pillars. So the first pillar was, you know, nothing about The Graph, very introductory, what’s the big idea? What’s the vision? What sort of problem are we trying to solve in our current society and our current state of the internet, the second one was focus more on the subgraph. So the integral piece to dApps is having that subgraph and making sure that the tech stack is aligned with that infrastructure and why it’s so important to develop a subgraph with your dApp. The third one is the Indexer. So I think that’s the one I struggled with the most. No, I mean, I really do want to give huge props and credits to all Indexers out there, I think they do a lot of really great work. And I think one part and piece that would be really important for me to understand a bit more is, what the day to day is like for an Indexer, I really like to put myself in in a participant or a person’s shoes to really identify what it is that we as the foundation or myself as well can be the voice for you in our community, or find some things that we can do to help make your lives a bit easier. And your work a bit easier. So that one was, I think, a really big learning moment for me as I was developing that. And then the last one was more around Open Data economy. So from more of like a business approach. And I think these four modules can really be used in any aspect or in any sort of professor’s purview. So we had a university called The Hague University up in the Netherlands, they could use the first one for very, like introductory, maybe an introductory to computer science, they could use the second one and maybe more of a third or fourth senior level course, or maybe something that’s postgrad. The Indexer one is well, postgrad. But the fourth one, I find very important, because I think there’s a lot of smart people out there that are either starting up their own businesses, their own startups, they’re hiring on CTOs more technical people to build, but you need to have someone with a business, mind and vision to know the importance of building on Web 3, eventually, we’re not going to see a lot of these companies really just stick with this traditional format that we have right now. And I think it’s really important for people, you know, taking entrepreneurial courses or thinking about things that they could do to disrupt any sort of space to know what sort of technology is out there in order to help them succeed.
What happened to those modules, then were they fully evolved in printed or are they on the shelf somewhere
so that they’re not sort of printed, I think if we were to say printed these days, I think not a lot of people I one big thing I learned working at Top Hat is that students don’t buy textbooks, people buy books that they really love reading, but everything right now is digital. So you really need to adopt at the time. At this moment, the Hague universities using them York University in Toronto is actually approached us and asked to use them as well. They are open source and they are not really sitting on a shelf, but they’re sitting in a dock. What we are trying to do is migrate that actually over to someplace like The Graph Academy. I think The Graph Academy does such a great job. And being that one stop shop and resource and what I love about them the most as well as how they identify, hey, if you’re a beginner, start off with these dogs, if you’re more in the intermediate side, this is maybe what you can look into. But if you’re more advanced, that’s how you can kind of filter them out as well. But I think, yeah, it’s definitely still up in the air in terms of how we can work with them. So that’s, maybe this is my open call The Graphic Acaemy to do something there?
Well, I think a lot of listeners would be curious to read that content and would benefit from somebody who has a fresh approach and a non-technical background, approaching The Graph. I’d be curious when you were creating these modules and writing this curriculum, what are one or two of the main points that just popped off the screen that you that you learned about The Graph that changed the way you see the world?
I think, really, it was more of the Open Data economy piece that got me the most excited. Like, again, I think when it comes to the coding, and I’ve even started to learn how to read subgraphs a lot more than when I first started. And I think that was very eye opening how to identify, I think this would fit really well with anybody that’s looking to curate, like how to read and evaluate a really good subgraph versus one that’s not really good. And it really does come down to the quality and the sort of filters and fields that the developer has put thought into developing the subgraph. The Open Data economy one really did, I guess, opened my eyes to the potential not only from open sourcing everything, but just how close source everything is right now. It wasn’t really up until I took on this role where we’re building processes we’re integrating tools with other tools. I realize how simple it should be, but how challenging it actually is. And had there been The Graph around maybe 10 years ago, I’m implementing and kind of weaving all of these tools together. Really the importance of open sources, just not a question anymore, it’s necessary. Education as well, I find is very closed source. And it really should be more open to the public. And that should really also be true for data, it shouldn’t be okay for a company like Google to kind of keep everything to themselves and use your data the way that they want it to, you should have more power and control around how you want your data to be used. And you should have more visibility on how it’s being used if you give him that right up.
So I’d be curious to know how the experience you had applying as a grantee informed either the process or the way you handle applications now as being an employee of The Graph Foundation?
It’s a great question. I don’t know if the process has changed as much. We did do some tweaks to the application just based on my experience applying. But what has changed a little bit is getting people to think a little bit differently around the budget that they’re asking us like, I don’t want people to be discouraged from you know, what sort of amount that they’re giving, some people are actually really shy and providing us a number. So don’t be afraid to put value to your worth, or to your work worth, if there are adjustments like this is where we have this conversation and relay that feedback to you. But if you can break down those costs, and let us know what those are all going to, I think that’s something that can be really helpful. I mean, it was also challenging for me when I first applied for the grant, to put value on the work I was producing. But I just want to say like, don’t let that discourage you, if you want to kind of leave it open and blank and don’t want throw out a number, like we’re not going to give you funding, if there’s funding to be provided. I mean, if your application actually if your if your grant gets approved, and we’re not giving out, you know, candy outs. So that’s something that I want, I really want to encourage you to think about and do that, I think the biggest learning for me, because that was I think the biggest challenge for me when I applied for mine is understanding what some what amount to put in there and feeling a bit shy in asking for any sort of as, as I applied for my grants
Well Reem, as somebody that who wrote some curriculum about what The Graph is and broke it into these really cool modules. How would you explain to a non-technical person maybe Reem, five, seven years ago, what The Graph is?
Good question. I mean, I always allude to what Tegan and Eva is always kind of put out there, which is, you know, The Graph is the Google of blockchain. Now, one thing that I think a lot of people do is, oh, so the search engine, which I’m not gonna, you know, speculate, but hey, maybe one day, but we don’t really think about how Google spits out the information that we see today. And I think one thing that I need to tell myself five years ago is stop focusing so much about how this all works. We don’t think about how we get our phones or computers connected to the internet, we don’t think about what sort of dial up or modem goes from one tower to the next focus on what really this technology and what sort of impact this technology could do. And right now with a lot of this information with blockchain being out there, the one challenge that I had at the moment, and for anybody starting out with learning about crypto, where do you start? You know, you could definitely go on Google and you could search Well, yeah, what’s the blockchain and then you read all this stuff. And it’s like lots of terms and definitions that you are now doing more research and it gets insanely overwhelming. But if there was a way for some, like a tool, or a database, like The Graph to show you some really impactful projects that are out there that are really making a difference, I think it probably would have been a lot easier for me to comprehend and filter out through. Okay, well, yeah, here’s here’s Audius that’s really revolutionising, you know, the way we listen to music and the way we listen to podcasts, Here’s Uniswap, having more control over what we are trading every day and having that open market 24/7, but that took me time to learn. And I think it takes anybody time to learn and you think from you know, now, being in the space for this amount of time that it’s simple to just explain that. But I did a bit of a lunch and learn at Top Hat before I left. And as much as I tried to break things down and paint them into analogies. I think the NFT space really has been the game changer and explaining things to people learning about crypto, because my sister is an artist. She you know, I think any artists or anybody in this space will tell you that it’s not the easiest gig. Not a lot of like full time jobs out there. But a lot of artists like to create, but their work is used and it’s out there on the internet and people recreate it, repurpose it, and the person sees nothing out of that. So I think that’s the biggest difference that I could really exemplify in terms of what sort of real world problem crypto is solving and instead of focusing on people’s smart contracts, and this and that and like yes, obviously very important to learn the fundamentals. But recognizing what sort of impact this technology can do is the biggest focus, I FEEL, and that’s what really gets people excited. That’s definitely what got me excited.
The GRTiQ podcast is made possible by a generous grant from The Graph Foundation. The Graph Grants Program provides for protocol infrastructure, pooling, subgraph, and community building efforts. Learn more at The Graph dot foundation. That’s The Graph dot foundation.
Well, then you take some interviews, you move from grantee to employee, and you take a position at The Graph Foundation, what can you tell us about your role at The Graph Foundation.
I think it’s probably a really fun and challenging role. Because the fun side is getting to learn a lot about what the space is doing. Like I think we have the eyes and ears of things that are just being developed. Which is awesome. Because you’re kind of in a place right now where you’re looking at a project and you’re like this is so cool. Or, of course this is being built, why am I thinking this, but the other challenging part of it is sometimes aligning it to The Graphs’s overall mission. And not to say that we’re not here to fund projects that are going to essentially be integral to the entire space. But we’re actually working on things with some of our partners and some of other protocols and initiatives out there to jointly fund some grants and in that respect, but what I do day to day is I look through a lot of these ideas that come through, I go through them with the team. So with Eva and Pedro, who recently joined us in May. And he’s been great, because he takes a lot on a lot of the technical sides. But what’s been really cool is just sifting through a lot of these and meeting everybody. And like I said, I think what I love doing first and foremost is meeting new people understanding their walks of life, what got them to want to apply for the grant, like why are you so motivated to apply and work for the contribute to the foundation and the ecosystem? And that’s, I think what’s been very fruitful for me. And I think GRTiQ you and I speak right now didn’t really just start from me finding you online. I mean, there’s tons of people online, but it was through the grants program that I was able to pick up this conversation with you and kind of at least be friends. Absolutely. Right.
You’ve been a huge help to me, and I know a lot of other grantees in your role there. I would be curious, then what you’ve learned about The Graph community by virtue of holding this position.
Oh, gosh, I think they’re the most they’re the smartest people out there, that’s for sure. Most persistence, and they have a ton of bricks, which I value and I respect so much. Because I think for any and you know, it was actually one thing I was a little worried about was okay, well, what if a project comes through an idea comes through, and it’s not something that makes sense. Like, it’s really challenging to provide someone feedback on something that they consider their baby. But I take this back, I want to say to when I was in school, when I was at Apple, and Apple had this great ethos of relaying feedback and a really impactful way and in a way where it’s encouraging and not discouraging. And in learning those skills, those interpersonal skills, did it really help to have this open line of feedback, but again, there was still this little worry, but so far, everybody that you know, apply for a grant and needed, you know, maybe some tweaks and improvements, they’ve been so open to hearing what directions to take them in, and they come back and reapply which That’s the goal. The goal isn’t for me to say, All right, we’re gonna pass this time. And that’s it, never hear from you. It’s, here’s the feedback, work on it. And we’re going to give you this grant once we see this in this sort of framework. And I think that’s the one thing that I’ve really enjoyed about this community is that it’s very forthcoming. They’re very open minded, and they’re very creative. And I don’t want to be a bit biased, but I love like we have the four categories. So we have our community grants, our tooling grants, our protocol improvement grants, and our dApps and subgraph grants. My favorite one has to be the community because if you think about companies like Uber, I remember transiting to work here, downtown Toronto back in the day before Uber was even around. And there were people on each corner of the street, just handing out these little boats, right Uber, do Uber do this, do that. And that’s how I see this community and getting the ecosystem to grow. Everybody has a role to play. And I think they’re so important in spreading the word out, because without them, a Web 2 developer wouldn’t know about what The Graph is, wouldn’t think, to look up how to build a subgraph what it thinks to, you know, deploy an Indexer node. And it starts from them really, and spreading the word about the real vision. And the overall vision of The Graph is how they grow our ecosystem. So they’re really our grassroots, they think they’re so important that that’s I think what I’ve learned more here more than anything is just how great of a community it is. And I think I’m downplaying this by saying that word, but there’s really no other way to describe the strength of it.
What do you wish more people knew or understood about The Graph grants program?
I wish they knew how easy it was to apply, like, sometimes it does, I just scratched my head. Because I spend my time I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn. And I, you know, LinkedIn is a place where a lot of people are talking about either promotions or new jobs that they’ve just taken on. But it’s also a majority of people looking for work, people that have ideas, and don’t really know where to start people that are supporting other people that are looking forward. And I scratch my head at this all the time. And I’m like, here’s a foundation or a resource that you can use and tap into with an idea that you have with maybe contract work that you can take on and really make a living out of this. So I wish people just knew how easy it was to apply. And I think like you don’t really know, what’s out there. What’s that saying? It’s never let the fear of striking you out, keep you from playing the game, like Do not let the fear of you potentially getting rejected or someone saying no, like that should be a way to move you forward and for a wave to elevate you. And I think the best way for anybody to move forward in their career is to just give it a shot.
What can you tell us about the volume of applications since inception of the grants program? Are you seeing enough? Do you need more? Is it growing? Is it declining?
I’m seeing applications come in every day. Sometimes, like there are some odd days where we get nothing but I don’t think I’m worried too much. I know sometimes it could be a bit deceiving that once we do announce what sort of grants that come out. It’s like, Oh, you just have this amount really, when it’s like No, we’ve literally went through hundreds of interviews, or we’ve gotten other sort of ideas and minds to come into this. And again, back to the point of, you know, just because we passed on one doesn’t mean that we’re not really encouraging them to reapply with the feedback that we’ve given them to come back to us. They do come back. But there’s a couple of wave one grants that we passed on, but are now wave two grantees, there’s going to be a ton more in the future that are going to look like that as well. And I think that’s something to maybe, I guess, answer your question in terms of volume. I don’t think we’ve ever had to worry about that. But with the launch of our RFP initiative, I think that’s been very important, because we’ve had a lot and I’m on discord a lot. I mean, yes, there’s hundreds of channels, and I try my best, you know, I would with the amount of time that I have, but I do read people’s comments all day, I don’t respond to them all the time. The RFP idea really came from the community, we had a couple of users through discord and Twitter saying, hey, I want to get involved. But I’m not an idea machine, I really don’t know where to get started. Alright, well, we actually have a ton here. So let’s compile all of these ideas. We chatted internally, we chatted with partners, we chatted with the community and other stakeholders and top contributors, even you know, just reading through comments on Twitter. And we narrowed it down to some ideas. And this is always evolving and growing. So just because you might see an idea there that might not fit within your skill set or with what you’re passionate about what you want to do, just continuously check it out. And we’re always updating, and we’re always adding more. And if you do have an idea, like feel free to bring it forth. And if you don’t have the resources, or if you need more resources, this is what we’re here for. So it’s definitely it hasn’t really been quiet, I say on our end.
So it’s the way to think about the difference between The Graph grants program and the RFP program is that if you have an idea, and you want to apply for funding, you go through The Graph grants channel, if you have a certain skill set, and you think you can address a problem that maybe the community wants to address, you go through the RFP channel.
Absolutely, that you put it perfectly and bounce ideas, outbound ideas, there’s always a role to play. So for someone like me that’s not creative and don’t take as much in terms of what can I do. And although I’m telling you promised all these million dollar questions every day, it is a little helpful to get some of these kick starts and nudges that hey, there’s something out there for you. Here’s a space to look for it and pick up something that you think might interest you.
What’s your advice for individuals listening to this podcast that finally found the encouragement from something you’ve shared to go ahead and apply for a Graph grant.
So my advice to anybody applying for grants or even an RFP? I think sometimes people downplay this question. But one of the questions we have is ‘Why you?’ and I want to really emphasize how much I sometimes look more at the human than I do at the overall project. And I really encourage anybody for whether it’s in your application or your interview phase is be as human as possible, because I can tell when it’s something that you know it, we’re getting sold on an idea. And this is an idea that like, okay, is really going to be great. But again, we want to understand why is it that you want to contribute to The Graph, it’s really easy to distinguish, you know, applicants or applications that know very little about the foundation and The Graph itself versus once they’ve done their research. And although the ones for example, they’ve done their extensive research, but haven’t really proposed an idea, I take the call, because I see the passion there. And I think that’s what’s really important is that you have something to offer because you’re a walking encyclopedia, you’re somebody that can either become an ambassador, we’ve currently launched our new, we’re calling it the Advocate Program, and our Advocates are going to be so important in the growth of foundation and the ecosystem in general, because they’re walking information, humans. They’re walking encyclopedia, so they know something like this is why I take the call, you might feel like you might not be valuable, but you definitely are valuable. So my number one piece of advice is, we love the pitches, we love the VC pitches, but try to make it make sense for the ecosystem. And really just bring yourself to the call, we don’t really need to see, you know, your business side to it all. We’re all here to be, you know, friends with each other.
Yeah. So you’ve mentioned a third initiative, and I can’t imagine how much you are working on all these different initiatives. It’s incredible the work that you and the foundation are doing
Not just me, I really want to I really want to thank as well, the rest of the team. I mean, a lot of these ideas don’t just come from myself, you know, Eva definitely has a huge role to play Pedro, Oliver, also joining us recently, he’s going to bring a lot of he’s already been bringing ideas to the table. So a lot of these are team efforts. And yeah, just want to make sure everyone here is being heard.
Yes, it’s a strong team. It’s noted all the great work that they’re doing. They’re highly visible on Discord on Twitter, and all the Town Hall type meeting. So a great, strong team that complements all the efforts that graph foundation is performing The Graph Advocates initiative. What can you tell us about that? Because I’m certain some of the listeners haven’t quite heard of that yet.
Yeah, for the Advocates Program is we’re really trying to expand our global reach. And I think the one thing that sometimes we take for granted, because we’re native English speakers, there’s other languages like making this accessible. And, again, tying this back in, maybe you’re seeing a little bit of a pattern here. But with working at a company like Apple or Top Hat their biggest, what really attracted me to them was their, their appetite for inclusivity, and making sure that things are accessible to anybody that wants access to this information. And with the advocate program, what we want to do is, if you’re an expert in curation, if you’re an expert in indexing, or if you’re somebody that wants to really spread the word about delegating, I mean, something that really sometimes I just want to say this, it really confuses me when people, you know, they have GRT but don’t know that they could delegate it, like, here’s an opportunity that your tokens can work for you without doing anything, you’re literally deciding which Indexer to support and delegate your tokens there. My brother, literally, I want to say up until a week ago, didn’t start delegating his tokens until I asked him in passing. And I asked him why. And he’s like, I’m not sure about it. And you know what that is, I think the biggest gap is that people might still have a sense of fear. And it’s natural, I think, you know, with a lot of the things that are happening in the news, etc. But when we think about that, and you know, you’re out there purchasing, I don’t know, let’s say you’re going out shopping for a new jacket, and you’re looking for a Lulu lemon jacket. Are you thinking about their stock price when you’re doing that? Or are you thinking about how much of a great quality jacket that is when you’re purchasing an iPhone, when you’re purchasing a MacBook? Are you thinking about Apple stocks? Are you investing in their technology, and I think that’s the one thing that I needed to tell my brother is, you’re just literally holding them and doing nothing with them. Like this is a place where your money could work for you. And that was his lack of information and his lack of maybe trust and the stigma out there is with just staking or delegating. But that’s where these Advocates can come in and be that example, hey, I can do it, you can do it. But what’s really exciting about this advocate program is that we’re gonna have a ton of initiatives, our Advocates are going to have chances to come to Graph day they’re going to get tons of swag. They’re going to be the voice of The Graph and he could put it on your resume. And if let’s say you’re in an in a region where The Graph isn’t really well known your events Going to be that one person, that one leader, an example. And everyone’s going to look up to you. So I encourage anyone, like I said, For the ones that have applied for grants, and the ideas weren’t really necessarily there, but evidence that you know a lot about The Graph, and you’re very well versed in the information that we have out there, like, this is where, you know, this is your calling, come to us be an advocate. There’s a lot of fun stuff there. And it’s going to be really cool, because you’ll also get an opportunity to participate with the community and share your ideas. As you’re identifying gaps, you know, that’s where you could share them with us and, you know, help us grow this ecosystem that I think is really exciting to be a part of.
What can you tell us about how to apply for the growth Advocates program?
Yeah, so we’re going to be releasing more information. At the time of this recording, I can’t say much, but hopefully, when you listen, there will probably be something out there. But we’ve already had calls on Twitter. And we’ve gotten a lot of traction after we tweeted about the Advocate Program. So you’ll you’ll definitely see a lot more coming on that initiative soon.
This is Reem Chahrour with The Graph Foundation, and I’m an ecosystem manager at The Graph. If my conversation with the GRTiQ podcast has been helpful to you, then please consider supporting future episodes by becoming a subscriber.
Visit GRTiQ.com slash podcasts for more information. That’s GRT comslash podcast. Thanks for listening.
Well, Reem,you bring up several team members that are working with you there and you’re all doing a tremendous amount of work. What can you tell us about the team working at The Graph Foundation?
There’s a really, really high bar. I mean, I think I’ve just been very, I mean, I don’t even know if I’m someone that’s qualified even to stay impressed. But I’ve just been so taken aback. And I’ve been very humbled to be a part of a team, like a high quality performing team like this, Yaniv is a visionary. I think like, I remember, he was one of my last interviews when before joining the team and hearing the passion in his voice. And I think that’s what’s really important is you don’t want just somebody that is creating a company or an ecosystem to just create it and you know, make a living out of it. When I heard his passion in my interview, that’s what really stuck with me. And that’s where I felt like I was interviewing The Graph. And I started to realize, you know, what, this isn’t just a cash grab this is really, we’re really here trying to change the way we interact with the internet and the way the world interact with the internet. And from there meeting, folks like Tegan, Marten. Marten, I think is one of the ones that needs to get talk talked about a lot more, this guy wears 1000s of hats. And I really want to thank him even for his openness of helping me grow and ramp up and really encouraged me to engage with the community. Because again, it is a little intimidating, coming from a very less technical background, to talk to people that are very, very smart. But he’s been really great, and in his communication efforts, and how he keeps the community together. But there’s definitely a really high bar in the team and everybody’s over performing and something that I really am trying to embrace here and I guess feed in is this, hey, like work life balance, we’re gonna get to that point. But you know, you guys deserve you folks deserve to take some time off and you need to recharge, you can’t expect to be working 150% all the time. But I think that’s just how much everybody’s dedicated to this. It’s funny, because like I mentioned earlier, Eva and I we met in the ninth grade. So I want to say we’re 13-14 years of a friendship that we’ve known each other. And from that, when I first met her, I always knew how smart and bright she was. And I’m not at all surprised that she’s a part of what The Graph has accomplished so far. And I think sometimes that can sound a bit intimidating. But everyone here has been a lot more welcoming than I thought everybody’s been so open to helping and educating. And everybody’s truly dedicated to the mission. And I think that’s the one thing that we look for culturally is you know, skills are easy to learn on the go, you know, technical skills as well as easy to learn as you learn like those are, you know, from my earlier comments about learn by doing and that’s really how you’re going to learn. But if you’re not culturally aligned, if you’re not visionarly aligned, then, you know, there’s no team in that. And I think that’s something we really need to give credit to this team is that they’ve really stuck to their, their North Star. And I think that’s something that is bleeding into a lot of the new folks that we’re bringing onto the team and is really great and humbling to see.
So Reem, of all The Graph grants that you’re reviewing all the time, and you’re seeing all these really cool initiatives have any piqued your interest that you’ve kept your eye on?
Yeah, I’m not gonna name any names because I just want to they’re still kind of like either an ideation phase or we’re still kind of talking through them but this donation I I am excited about because this initiative I think, is really cool. And it’s a way to help people get started in creating a decentralized wallet. And having funds in there to use this, this initiative is essentially trying to get 1 million users that don’t have any sort of crypto or any sort of experience in Decentralized Finance, to open up any sort of wallet and deposit at least $1. And this initiative is actually going to be depositing that $1 in their wallets. And I think that’s such a cool way to get people started. Because I think a lot of the hesitancy that comes into getting started in this space is the security or the fear. And although we know how secure and safe everything is, to a degree, obviously, you know, make sure you’re not sharing your seed phrases or anything like that to people. But what really excites me about these sort of projects is how much they really want to give back to the community and provide opportunities for those that may not have the opportunities. And one thing, not one thing, but a handful of things that come to mind is, you know, Venezuela when they had their economic crisis, my parents homeland and you know, culturally where I’m from, in Lebanon, on the currency there is also inflated and right now they’re actually picking up when on the news about using crypto and Bitcoin and Ethereum and other tokens to stabilize our economy. And to give you a perspective, I actually visited before the pandemic, maybe about two years now I kept losing track of time, yeah, two years and buying my $10 Mike. So I’m based in Toronto, so I speak in Canadian dollars, but my 10 Canadian dollars at the time, was worth 10,500, Lebanese Lira. And right now my $10 is worth 175,000. Lira. So you can only imagine, you know when there’s governments that are this corrupt, and really not doing the right things for their citizens. And it even got to a point when this crisis started to happen, banks started to lock up, they started to limit the amount of money that people could withdraw. We’re talking like $50 a month, which is what, how do you survive on $50 a month, when I see initiatives and projects like this, it’s just so important to get people started. And I even remember when I was there, and I was telling my family about crypto this is before I even joined the space, just a lot of distrust with it, or I guess it’s also comes from like either intimidation, our lack of understanding. But if there’s something out there that can in a risk freeway get involved. Without you know, your own personal stake in there, I think that could be very telling of what sort of impact that could do because again, that $1 for somebody in Lebanon could be worth, we’re talking, yeah, maybe 17,000 Lira, 17, something like that. But that’s a lot of money for them right now. And another one that I think is really exciting. And we were in talks with is an initiative that’s trying to close the circle and the gap of information of all right, a lot of initiatives are being funded, once it’s funded. You don’t really hear anything before. All right, what did you do with this funding? So what they’re trying to do is index a lot of this data and information and show and make the impact of the donation and the financial resources, open source for anybody to take it Yeah, this not for profit, use this funding for this. And this is what came out of it. So that one’s also really exciting. But there’s just so many ideas. And I think, again, what really drove me to a lot of this wasn’t, you know, the DeFi like, yes, it’s nice to see that going out there. And I think there’s a lot of problems to solve there. But how it trickles down. And it really makes you know, a world of a difference to economies and peoples that otherwise don’t have access to their own money or to their own rights or to see where a lot of this funding is going to and what sort of impact it’s making.
When you look at the grant proposals you’ve received, are there any gaps within the community where either the foundation wishes they were receiving more grants, for example, community based efforts, or one of the other potential efforts?
Yeah, we definitely see a lot of awesome ideas from a community perspective, which I think is great. I think that is telling that people are starting to know that you don’t really need to be technical in order to get involved. What I would love to see more of is our tooling and our protocol proposals and ideas, we are still trying to gather and maybe it’s just coming from a from a lack of us sharing kind of where the gaps are. But we are hearing a lot from like our Indexers, our subgraph developers, like where the gaps are. And that’s why we launched our RFP initiative is so that, hey, these are the ideas that we’ve identified. And this is what we can get some funding on. But I mean, if somebody is curious and applying for something, but they’re not entirely sure where to start, just have a conversation with us. I mean, we’re giving grants to people that are also even filling in one piece of the puzzle because I think what’s really great and cool about this, this foundation is that let’s say there’s like a big picture idea. Let’s say you want to build a ship, okay. You want to like we have an idea to build The ship, but you’re only experienced in developing a blueprint? Oh, well, you know what, I’m not gonna be able to finish the ship. But I know how to build a blueprint so I’m not qualified No, no, you bringing in your blueprint is why this is so important within the entire process because everything that’s being contributed to the ecosystem is open source. And the idea is, whatever you contributed is going to be picked up from where you left off and built on until we get to our end goal. So if you’re just someone that knows how to get the wood together, you know how to get the blueprint together, you know how to find the sailors, we’ll get to the ship, but we need a lot of these pieces of the puzzle in order to get to that final destination. I hope I explained that in the simplest way.
So what would you say your personal vision is for the future of The Graph Foundation,
Eventually, I would love for it to get to a point where its own machine kind of growing with each other, like the goal here isn’t to just have myself or Pedro or Oliver decide on these brands and these initiatives, but also to get more of the community involved. It really is a testament to show so far how we really decentralized work in a way. And I think my personal vision is to see more and more of that grow. And really look at the faces of other traditional companies right now where they feel like well, we need to hire someone full time, etc. In order for them to contribute when you know, the culture of work is changing, it’s evolving, I think it took a pandemic, for a lot to come to light, it really did force a lot of these companies that took traditional routes of work and forced them to change their styles with this pandemic. But I think it’s a little bit of a blessing in disguise, because now we’re seeing the culture change around how we’re, we’re funding things in order to build or for us to improve or for impact in our society to change. And I think what my personal vision is to eventually see 1000 of me, not me, me, but like me and my role and really being able to identify and close the gaps in this community and move on from when The Graph is essentially all good and great to go, then we can move on to other initiatives that could really do a lot of big picture stuff, which don’t want to say anything or speculate right now. Because I think that can open up a can of worms. But I would personally love to see a graph search engine, I think that would be really cool. That’s my vision. And that is something that I would love to see is I think once we have that pedal dissolve a lot of.
Reem, you come from a non-technical background, you’ve written a course in modules on learning about The Graph. What’s your advice for non-technical people who want to get more involved into this community?
Don’t be afraid to ask more questions. Don’t be afraid to clarify the responses. And I think that was one of my struggles. When I first learned about crypto and blockchain in general, as you know, you can only try and wrap your head around the concept of how things work in the background. But I think trying to tie it to real world scenarios. So one question that really helped me throughout my journey is can you explain that to me, and how we use this in real world right now? Or what sort of problems to solve in the real world right now. Because once you start to understand that, it makes it so much easier to understand the why behind the what, and it is intimidating, trust me, like, I’m not saying that this is an easy feat to go on. But to ask and react, the individual or the team or whatever it is to re clarify or to explain it to you again, I think that shows actually more of your drive, wanting to learn and your hunger to wanting to learn instead of just kind of taking the answer and walking away from it. Because what sort of benefit did it do to the person or the team that has answered that for you and yourself as well. So don’t be afraid to ask those questions. And if you are someone that’s coming from a less technical background, you know, recap it, try to make it connect to something that, you know, relates to us today. And from there, it’s going to be really easy for you to identify that gap. Because when I was presented Brave and Basic Attention Tokens, Bull, you said that to me, oh yeah, brave and how to have basic attention tokens. It’s really gonna solve a lot of problems. I’m like, well, how’s it going to solve our problems? And it wasn’t until Josh was like, Well, actually, right now you’re working at this agency, you know, this company’s paying you millions of dollars to get X amount of people to start purchasing their product or being exposed to their product or whatever it is. Imagine instead of having to pay the agency, by the way, which takes typically a 10 to 15% cut of that budget. Why not give that directly to the consumer, why not you as a user, go online, as you’re shopping around or as you’re being served ads, not only decide what ads are being served to you, but you also have if you do decide for an ad distribute that advertising or money is actually going directly to your pocket instead of this intermediary that would take it otherwise, and essentially take a gamble. And I guess it would resonate with you or not. And I think that’s my one piece of advice is don’t be afraid to react. It is a marathon, not a sprint. And you’ll get there. Get involved, ask your friends, if you have any friends that are really immersed in this space, don’t be afraid to ask. And there’s a lot of people out there that also are willing to educate. And I know a lot of the communities even on Twitter, so if you’re not on Twitter, definitely get on there. Creep around if you want before, you want to jump in and ask those questions. But I haven’t seen anybody turn anyone away. So if you need help, as well, I mean, feel free to ask me, I’m always here to try and simplify things as best as I can.
Reem, you’ve been so generous with your time, it’s so interesting to hear about the work you’re doing at The Graph, Foundation, the team, and different ways that listeners can participate. If listeners want to learn more about you follow your work are connected more closely with The Graph Foundation, how can they do it?
I mean, feel free to follow me on Twitter, and my Twitter handle is reemisradd. Two D’s at the end, I did it when I want to say I mean, I’ve had Twitter forever. And I don’t even want to go into the reasons why. But I haven’t changed it since. But also LinkedIn. I think there’s a lot of folks out there on LinkedIn, and they’re still trying to figure out where to fit in this space, whether it’s from a business perspective, or an individual perspective. And I think it’s really important to be active there. So feel free to follow me on LinkedIn by my full name, you can search me up. And yeah, I mean, also through The Grants Program. I mean, if you’re too shy to get on Twitter, or you know, add me as a friend or connect with me on LinkedIn, you’re always welcome to submit an application and they come to me first though, I will be the one looking at them and we can definitely connect there also discord you’ll find me around on the Discord server.
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