Takeaways from flying to Lisbon for Blockchain Week as a 15y/o

Aleem Rehmtulla
6 min readOct 30, 2021

After sending my very first twitter DM, I was lucky enough to be fully sponsored for Blockchain Week by Ric Burton.

Wait.. My first DM, on a free app, to someone I didn't know, led to a trip to Lisbon with no expectation in return!? Talk about opportunity cost 🤯

Huge s/o to Ric, none of this would’ve been possible without him — his determination to exposing kids in the Eth space is so admirable. Crazy to think how much one week changed my life 🙏

Throughout the week I attended conferences, hacks & events meeting some of the smartest people in blockchain. That being said I learned a ton, here are my main takeaways ⬇️

DAOs are the future of community VC

After obsessing over VitaDAO ~1 week before I got sponsored, I tried spotting their team right when I landed. Ended up at one of their parties same night with Molecule, and met as many people as I could.

What is VitaDAO?

Well first what is a DAO! A decentralized autonomous organization is a collective community to vote on decisions within smart contracts.

Think of it like a decentralized corporation based off smart contracts

VitaDAO’s utility is funding longevity projects, with the community voting how capital is allocated. With hopes to extend human lifespan by researching, financing, and commercializing longevity therapeutics, a DAO makes this process easier to democratize for all to participate.

Within just 3 months the DAO raised ~$5 million from hundreds of individuals through a Gnosis batch auction! That’s 4x their goal 🚀

Since raising capital they’ve established a relationship with The University Of Copenhagen and funded The Longevity Molecule with a $500k investment. They’re currently in pre-clinical trials testing anti-ageing drugs within fruit flies!

How-come only longevity?

I asked them the same thing — to which the answer is simple. It’s where they could devise a high-value community + the core team's value alignment.

That being said, their DAO service provider Molecule is hoping to expand, currently with PsyDAO. PsyDAO has the same concept as $VITA except applied to psychedelic research. Understanding there are so many areas that need funding I started brainstorming and am now conceptualizing MiruDAO with my friend Ahnaaf. MiruDAO will be the next-gen neuroscience funding hub for all areas of brain exploration using neurotech :)

Why this is wayy better than status quo

Well what is the current standard? A typical VC fund will take investment and allocate as their GMs see fit, without input from the masses on which startups will blow up. This isn’t a bad thing, imagine Sequoia Capital needing to run a full election for each investment!

We’re now able to consult everyone within the DAO to which projects deserve funding, and then determine with a proposal where each person votes according to their governance power.

What if you don’t want to vote? Then don’t! It's opt-in.

Where this will blow-up further

Once a project is funded an IP NFT is created, essentially a token tied to all Intellectual Property devised from the project. While this token rises in value parallel to the IP, only one entity can own it at once similar to real-world IP contracts.

VitaDAO would own the IP NFT, and owning $VITA gives a sense of ownership to it. This becomes problematic when VITA has multiple projects, and you want to own one more than another.

Solution? Fractional IP NFTs.

Now anyone can own tiny parts of this IP NFT, which is also liquid to be traded! Imagine if insulin was owned & traded by the public instead of big pharma companies 🤯

Blockchain is for problems, not solutions

When devising the first steps for MiruDAO, I had immediately proposed spinning up the DAO & corresponding smart contracts. After iterating with founders from Molecule & VitaDAO they had questioned what we’re trying to do, and why it even needs a DAO.

Problem? Neuroscience needs funding.

Why do we need a DAO?

Using a community voting system democratizes decision-making for funding any projects proposed, but at our current stage there’s no community to vote anyway. Finding a project and creating a Fractional IP NFT for it would have the same impact, funding the researchers.

This model has little barrier to entry, with no treasury or DAO infrastructure needed.

What are next steps?

In MiruDAOs case, it’s to get a project funded at all costs.

Once a relationship between the researchers and our core team is established, we as an entity can release an IP NFT to get funded. The only problem with this is community in choosing projects as we scale (except for buying the NFT)


  • Build a community throughout process
  • Get a research project funded
  • Attract a core team

Often times we leverage tech like DAOs unnecessarily, making the status quo favourable. Imagine if facebook was a DAO, sure it’d be sick but decision-making would take forever! By debloating our overhead to strictly solve the problem statement it increases efficiency of our whole mission.

Meet anyone & everyone

Maybe not a technical takeaway, but a huge realization for me! I noticed others were spending so much time at events focusing on who’s “legit” to speak with, instead of just meeting as many as possible.

There’s value in everyone, it’s up to you to find it.

By meeting such a quantity of people not only did I have fun, but also received lots of warm intros + second-hand connections.

I had exited the crypto scene back in august after shutting down BitcloutIQ, my data analytics software for a blockchain-based social media because of a toxic community. By making the assumption all of crypto was the same I shutdown so many opportunities, but I was wrong. The people I met were all super excited for the future of technology, especially in the DAO space compared to the $$ focused people on Bitclout.

What I’m most excited for

Proof Of Humanity (POH)

A decentralized, AI-resistant, and economically incentivized alternative to government ID.

Submit a video with you, your ETH address and name. Then have it reviewed by the community for verification. You’ll need people to vouch for you for acceptance. There’s a deposit of ~$150 to apply, and if rejected it’s lost — this can be crowdfunded on their platform.

(rejection would be caused by robot submission, duplicates, etc)

Use cases:

  • 1 person 1 vote DAOs
  • Universal Basic Income (UBI Token)
  • Accessible & Sovereign ID alternative

After speaking with the founder, he told me how Mexico is currently trialling POH as verification for platforms like AirBNB! Can’t wait to see where it goes next 🚀

Aragon Project

An easy open-source no-code solution to DAO creation

Aragon is building softwares for frictionless DAO creation, removing any barriers to spinning one up. While some in the space argue efficacy of their services, the team is constantly innovating and recently pushed Aragon Governance, a new creation platform.

They’re now hosting a hackathon with names like Gnosis Safe & Snapshot pursuing their mission of advancing DAO infrastructure. I’m already envisioning this to be the Wix of DAOs, with such an easy onboarding process.


A VC DAO for longevity research

This is by far my favourite — I’m even now officially contributing to their codebase 🔥

Within just months, they raised over $5 MILLION! That's 400% more than their original goal! As mentioned above they've already funded a pre-clinical trial with fruit flies alongside University Of Copenhagen. #ontheball.

Being the first to fund so quickly, all without a legal entity is sick. Vita is proof DAOs are the future, while code isn’t legally binding yet I strongly believe it’s not to far from it. This being said our current standard has many issues, with legal side of vita still being hashed out — like deciding to wrap in an LLC

Special Shoutouts ❤️

VitaDAO & Molecule team

These guys made my experience :) From late-night hacks & sushi to helping me start MiruDAO it was my favourite part of the trip 🙌

Ric Burton & Sponsors

I can’t stress how grateful I am for this!! One week has disrupted my path in the best way possible. I’m still interpreting what just happened, absolutely surreal.

They’re even now sponsoring 100+ kids to attend NFT NYC leveraging Layer3s network. Their mission to exposing us to this world is sick.

Liscon & ETHLisbon Organizers

Putting together events this big isn’t easy. From venues to coordination they were all fire 🔥

My mom <3

She really came through on this one..

I told her on Saturday @ 11pm. This is what happened Sunday:

  • Renewed my passport
  • Got a covid test
  • Booked flights
  • Figured out hotel
  • Packed everything
  • Left for Portugal

All that in one day. Thank you.

If you’re still reading — thank you :)

Connect with me here and add a comment on any confusion or disagreement! I want to make these points as solid as possible, lets build them together 🚀