The increase in initial coin offering (ICO) scams has caused an increase in distrust and skepticism in many recent campaigns. These doubts are justified, with so many seemingly legitimate projects acting as fronts for quick money-making schemes.
However, there also continues to be a huge number of genuine and trustworthy ICOs being launched. In late 2017, we successfully completed our ICO campaign, raising over $10.5 million in the process. This was the result of a lot of hard team work and careful planning.
Using this experience, we have put together the following tips for potential entrepreneurs who are looking to stand out from the crowded ICO area to generate interest and excitement around their business.
Treat your ICO like raising capital via traditional routes
Before launching an ICO, you must meet certain requirements and standards, such as the publication of a white paper. Here is ours, which attracted really good interest. However, these rules aren’t set in stone. The key here is recognizing that if you are trying to attract investment in an ICO, act as you would via more traditional means such as a private or public capital raise.
Ensure you have provided as much information as you possibly can in order to be transparent – and therefore trustworthy. It is also worth being aware that the average ICO white paper runs to around 20 pages — a stock market investment prospectus can be hundreds of pages long.
Clearly identify what problem you’re solving
If you are able to clearly present a problem in a given industry, and then demonstrate clearly how you intend to solve that problem, you will attract participants. A long list of companies claim that their innovation or solution is set to transform any given industry. You can see a lot of them in ICO calendars and schedules like this one. But the winners will be those offering the best solution and those who are first to market.
To ensure your proposed ICO is attractive to potential participants, you need to clearly demonstrate the value you are adding with your service, and by consequence, the size of the opportunity for potential contributors.
Demonstrate your value and how blockchain is the best solution
The hype for blockchain technology and the solutions it will provide are worth the hype. However, in your proposed offering it is important you explain how and why a blockchain solution is the best course of action for the problem you are trying to solve or improve, as this Coindesk article explains. Often, it is due to an existing, or developing network of participants that can really benefit from the introduction of a blockchain network and tokenization to improve the product or service. It is important to be able to explain how you are going to attract people to the network you are creating and how it can be monetized.
Have strong corporate governance
Potential contributors to your business will always research and explore the team behind your idea or company. Be sure to clearly display and demonstrate the experience you have behind you — the more you can prove that your idea has been analyzed and developed the better. On top of this, you should outline a corporate governance structure that is sound and in line with existing structures.
Prepare for a long road to secure investment
There are ways and means of advertising your ICO campaign — beyond the need for Google and social media ads, which have recently been banned. Make sure that you are using every tool at your disposal to generate exposure. Have a presence across crypto calendar websites, news websites, and other information portals, podcasts, and crypto apps.
There are agencies and advisers specializing in ICOs that can help, but choose wisely before you start using budget on additional support. Ensure your diary is full of meetings, webinars, meet-ups, conferences, etc. It is a long and hard slog to get your name out there, but it is imperative that you are everywhere. Lastly, bringing on a well-know investment entity will also determine the success or failure of your ICO, so if you have joy in persuading those in the crypto space to put their weight behind your ICO, you should make a success of it.
Transparency is key
The ease with which potential participants can access information, the token sale progress, the white paper, etc., is important. It shows that you have nothing to hide. A genuine ICO is trackable by the token sale address, whereas a fraudulent ICO will try and hide how the sale progress is growing via multiple individual contribution addresses. This not only disguises how long the live sale of the ICO has to go, but also the exact amount raised so far. If either of these factors are hard to find, it could well be a sign that something is wrong — and potential participants will look elsewhere!
Egor Gurjev is a serial entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of Playkey, a leading online cloud-based gaming platform.