Founder's Arena with DeFiGirl, Co-Founder of Grantr

Girri Palaniyapan
August 1 2022

In this interview, Girri Palaniyapan speaks with DeFiGirl, co-founder of Grantr- a web3 grants aggregator.

The interview has been lightly edited for conciseness and clarity. 

Welcome! At a high level, what is Grantr?
Grantr is a website that is an index of all the grants available in Web3. There are lots of program grants out there and the list keeps expanding. We aggregate everything that we find out there.

 Venture funding has declined over the last few months because of the bear crypto market. But how is the grant ecosystem doing?  Has it also slowed down or are grants still being issued at the same pace?
I would say that due to the recent market downtrend, a lot of programs are just reevaluating the structure of their grants. But grants are still very important and integral to the development of individual ecosystems but also the broader cryptosystem in general. So yes, they're still issuing grants but a lot of them are sort of iterating and trying to figure out a new budget or a new strategy moving forward.

Sounds like things are in flux right now. Protocol teams are trying to figure what's the best way of issuing grants and what's the amount that they should allocate to grants.
Defigirl: Yeah, exactly. And I think grants in crypto are still a relatively new way to incentivize growth. In traditional industries, you don't really see that often. But because crypto is so community and ecosystem-focused, grants are very important when it comes to growing the ecosystem. So because it's a very new thing, it's sort of unprecedented what we're doing in all of the ways. So people are still figuring out what kind of people are we issuing grants to. Obviously, sometimes grants are issued and maybe the people will take the money and not really contribute as much as they said they would. So I think just more structure is being defined in the grants world right now.

 For most developers, the whole grant application process is a black box. And obviously, every grant is different. At a higher level, could you explain the process? Do you need to know someone in the grant committee to actually apply?
 A lot of times, you have to just apply. It's very simple. It's basically just an application form. Often it's actually a Google Form, so you just fill in the fields and then they will get back to you. 

Sometimes it's a little bit more complicated. You have to write up a proposal, you have to do it on a form, you have to follow up with the discussion and then you have to follow up in Discord. But that's always defined by the grant program. So you always have some sort of guidance on what you need to do in order to apply for a grant. 

And the last thing I want to say is also it really depends on the size of the grant that you're looking for. So obviously, for small grants, it's going to be a smaller application process.. But if you're asking for higher grants, you will have to go through a longer process for the grant application.

I really like the fact that you aggregated all these grants in one place; I found that very useful when I was browsing the site. How did you get the idea for Grantr?
That's a funny story. So I actually received a grant from a friend to come up with a list of all of the grants in the ecosystem. He told me there was this problem he had. He didn't know where to look for grant. So I just Googled it. I spent hours and hours Googling it and creating this list of grants and figuring out what they were offering funding for and tagging them. And it took me a really long time initially, like upwards of 10 hours. And then I was thinking, wow, if it took me this long, everyone is going to spend so much time looking for these grants, there's not one website to sort of aggregate all of this. And so that's how Grantr was created.

That makes sense. Essentially, the data is out there, but it's unstructured and just scattered all across the internet; you're pulling it all together in one place so that it's easy to query and for people to find a good match.
Yeah, exactly. To save time on researching which grants are good for you, there's also a tagging system, which I think is really helpful too. It really helps identify which programs are good for your specific funding needs.

What do you mean by that? Are you matching grants based on one’s skill sets? 
Yeah. There are so many skilled people in the industry. We have artists, community builders, event organizers, devs, and researchers. All these people deserve funding to help the ecosystem grow. 

 What was something surprising you noticed while aggregating this data about grants?
How much money do various projects want to give away as grants!

 Is there a lot of competition for these grants at the moment?
I think a lot of people just don't know where to start with grants. In terms of competition for grants, I know that the bigger protocols will get hundreds of applications per week, per month. 

Before Grantr, what were you working on?
I've been working full-time in crypto since January of 2022. Before that, I was actually a financial adviser. So it was a big shift for me. I got really interested in Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and I started just studying DeFi because it just fascinated me. I was working as a community manager for Decentralized Exchange (DEX).

And from there I just kept researching. I was doing a lot of research specifically on borrowing and lending and under-collateralized lending and how the future of that would look in DeFi, because obviously it's a big topic and I think it's really important. So that's kind of something that I'm passionate about. 

I was also going to a lot of events and hacker houses and meeting a lot of really cool and inspirational people. And I just really love getting to know the community and getting to know the industry. And that's how I met my friend who asked for some help. I was able to help him in other ways as well. I've done some research for grant as well and yeah, grants have just really, really helped me. So I want to share that with everyone. And I really think it's the best way to stimulate the growth of our shared ecosystem.

I find your choice to move away from traditional finance to DeFi, very interesting. What was the back story? What was the single moment of epiphany or series of moments that led you to drew you away from traditional finance to DeFi? 
As soon as I discovered about Bitcoin or Crypto in general, I just took a deep dive and I have never stopped learning ever since just because I was so interested.

As a financial adviser, I would go to the office, and obviously my colleagues and I, we'd talk about these financial issues. I would bring up Bitcoin once in a while and they would not even listen to me. And having done hundreds of hours of research in crypto for them to just shut it down without even knowing what it was, that was the first thing that really ticked me off. 

The next thing was that clients started asking about crypto and we were not allowed to talk about crypto. And actually, we were told to say that if they were interested in investing in crypto, they could indirectly invest in crypto through this one fund, which is basically the NASDAQ, which was ridiculous. And I was like, "Okay, this is not for me. I want to be transparent. I want to be in an industry that aligns with my values of being honest and doing what's best for the consumer." It was really a sales job. And that's what really turned me off of that.

What's next for Grantr?
That's a good question. So Luc and I are working on some new features. So, we obviously just want to make it the go-to website for grants in Web3. So we want to really keep including all of the grants up there and keep it up to date and we want to add new features. We're actually working on a guide that will help grantees figure out how to actually structure an application process in order to optimize our chances of being selected for a grant. We want to build out a more kind of full-stack website but that's still something that we haven't revealed publicly yet, so I'm not going to talk about that today. Yeah, we're definitely looking at just making it the go-to website for people looking for funding in Web3.

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