The Cardano ecosystem has seen significant growth over the past year, with growing numbers of projects launched and developers building on Cardano. Knowing what's going on in the ecosystem is key to building understanding - of the successes, the pain points and how we can all contribute to its further growth. The Community & Ecosystem Team at Input Output Global, Inc. (IOG) is committed to building relationships with projects and developers in the ecosystem, so the team would want to know about as many projects building on Cardano as possible - from the very early stages right through launch and beyond.
But where are these projects found, and how are they measured? Read on...
What is a "project"?
You'll often see IOG refer to the number of projects building on Cardano - in our Essential Cardano development updates, social media posts, and our “Essential Cardano Guide to the Ecosystem” report. In this context, a project is defined as a product, service, or brand that's building something on or for Cardano - so, for example, a decentralized exchange (DEX), a digital wallet, an NFT marketplace, an NFT minting service, a project selling NFTs to fund a real-world initiative, a Cardano developer tool, or a data explorer.
Discovery and evaluation
IOG will often hear about a new project via social media, whether that's because someone directly mentions them, or they post an announcement.
After hearing about a project, IOG does some preliminary checks, including – but not limited to:
Do they have a website?
What are they building?
Does their website state they are building on Cardano?*
Do they mention Cardano on social media? How often? How recently?
Do they have a Discord server?**
What about GitHub repos?
Have they published a white paper?
Are they listed on any community sites such as Cardano Cube or Built on Cardano? Or on DApp Radar or DAppsOnCardano?
Do they respond to outreach? Contacting projects is part of the process - for example, for the soon to be published Essential Cardano Guide to the Ecosystem, IOG reached out to over 150 separate projects to verify details.
You’d think this was a given! You’d be surprised how many don’t mention it.
Members of our team join a LOT of Discord servers.
Next, IOG performs some basic checks for red flags, such as:
Is their website very vague with no team or contact information?
Do they have lots of PR but almost no social media engagement or community buzz?
What are people saying about them on social media?
Have they been reported to the Cardano Fraud Detection Bureau?
Is there a thread about them in the “Report A Scam” part of the Cardano Forum?
Some of these are obvious, some not so much. If a project appears to be a scam, or if there is little to no evidence of work actually being done, IOG will record that data separately i.e. it won't be included in our total.
In order to be counted in our data, a project would need to pass more than half of the basic checks we perform. Some of these checks carry more weight than others - for example, a website stating that a project is building on Cardano is a helpful clue, but a whitepaper gives us more confidence, and a GitHub repo where we can see the code would carry more weight again. On the red flags side, if a project presents any of the issues on our list we would usually move them out of our main dataset, unless the only issue is a lack of team or contact info.
Monitoring and updates
If these basic checks show that a project appears to be actively developing, building, or delivering their service or product on Cardano and seems to be genuine, it will be added to our data. That doesn't mean it'll be there forever - IOG regularly checks and updates the data to remove any abandoned projects, rug pulls, or even - gasp! - projects that end up building on another blockchain (there aren't many, but it happens). IOG also updates projects as new information emerges. This is a constant ongoing process!
Sometimes, there won't be enough information available to determine whether a project is building on Cardano or not. In that case, it’s not added to these numbers until IOG verifies that the project is (or claims to be) building on Cardano.
Where does this data come from?
Projects IOG has had contact with: they've attended an event, or IOG has held calls or meetings with them. These tend to be well established projects; if that relationship exists already, IOG is in a strong position to find out more about them.
Catalyst-funded projects. Not all of them - they need to meet the above definitions.
Projects IOG has discovered through research, mostly originating on social media. These are the projects about which IOG knows the least, and they're often the most exciting to discover.
What isn't a "project"?
Concepts or tasks are not projects, for example. So a Catalyst proposal to translate all of Charles' videos into another language? Super cool! But we wouldn't include that in this data. What about a plan for a project that might happen in the future, but is just an idea right now? IOG will keep track of it, but it won't be included in this data until the team identifies that work has commenced. Obviously we can't always be certain of this - unless code is open source there's always got to be a level of trust that people are doing what they say they're doing - but this comes back to the checklists and using other signals to evaluate that, on balance, a project appears to be building.
So is this all of the projects?
No! New projects appear all the time.
How can I tell you about a project?
You can submit it to the Essential Cardano list on GitHub or email email@example.com with “Guide to the Ecosystem” as the subject.
How can I get my hands on this “Essential Cardano Guide to the Ecosystem” you mention?
Sign up here to be notified when it’s published or updated, and to receive regular updates on the evolving ecosystem.
With such a rapidly growing ecosystem, it is hard to keep up. Our research cannot hope to be comprehensive, but we work hard to ensure it is accurate and useful. We remain committed to doing what we can – alongside other valuable community sites like Building on Cardano, Cardano Cube , Built On Cardano and others – to deliver useful data for the community and feed the growing appetite for all things Cardano.