With ICOs being the biggest shift in venture capitalism that the the world has arguably ever seen. There’s no doubt that the smart people are looking to launch one. But what does it take to run one?
We spend a fair bit of time at B9 Towers chatting about what is and what is not necessary, to run an ICO, so we thought it only right to put together a kinda list of things to consider.
Obviously, every start-up / business is different, this is only a starter, summon us for the main course.
What you’ll need to get started
A unique Idea (or if it’s not unique, make it better!)
Seems obvious, eh, but this is the part you need to get buttoned down before you go diving into full ICO attack mode.
Your idea is the beating heart of your project.
First, make sure your project solves a real problem. Then, explain it simply. You should be able to describe it to a non-techie person in a clear sentence or two. If you can’t, then your proposition is too convoluted. Test out your proposition to your peers, family, people in the street, your cat. Maybe not your cat, but get as much feedback as possible.
Most importantly, explain why blockchain is absolutely integral to your project. Why blockchain?
Although the point of a token sale is to raise funds for your project, you’ll need money to kick things off, so allocate a budget for the launch.
Bear in mind you will most likely need three months of marketing and social engagement during the run-up to the token sale; a website; a whitepaper; an MVP to demonstrate your project. Also, consider bounty programs – by issuing tokens to contributors and collaborators for carrying out certain tasks, is a cost effective way of promoting your project.
Think of this as your customer-facing business plan. So keep it f’ing simple! Although this will include technical blockchain stuff, try to hold back on the ‘tech speak’ – remember, you could be talking to Bill the greengrocer as well as ‘Big Cheese’ Bobby the VC investor. If there is a lot of tech to cover, then consider writing a separate technical whitepaper, or at least keep the heavy stuff to the back pages.
Having the right people on board is paramount, think of them as a football team – its no good having a team of strikers or goalkeepers, you need the breadth of the full squad.
Developers for a blockchain project are essential, of course, but you’ll also need people who have experience running businesses; project managers to keep everything in check (and on time); you’ll need creative people; marketing people; content people; money people…
Throw in a good board of advisors, too. They will add valuable credibility and insight. They also double-up as advocates – spreading the word in the right circles. Although, be sure that your advisors are actually there to advise, and not just to have their face on your site for a cut of the plunder.
If the idea is the heart of your project, the tokenomics are the veins that make the whole thing work.
This is the part where you demonstrate how tokenisation works for your project and the role of the tokens in your ecosystem. This will be bespoke to your project and can work in a number of ways. As always though, simplicity is key (remember the bit about explaining it to your cat), so optimise the structure now to avoid complication down the road.
Here are a few considerations: What protocol will you use, or are you building a new platform? What does your token do, and where does its value come from? How many tokens will you create? What value do you place on each token? Will you hold any back, and for what reason? Airdrop, anyone? Is it a utility or a security? Any seasoned ICO investor will
Appearance is everything. It’s said that it takes just two seconds for a user or customer to form a first impression. It is crucial that these two seconds count! It’s fair to say that the world of blockchain, in terms of brand at least, has been a little hit-and-miss so far. With dozens of ICOs launching every week, competition is only getting stronger. So having a consistent brand, clear and concise messaging and beautiful visuals across all channels, is essential to compete.
When the brand part is done, your website should be the first communication piece to fall into line. Your website is your face, it’s most often the first thing your ‘soon-to-be’ investors see. You will be judged on that first hit and scroll. So make it count! Your homepage should tell the story of what your project is, how it works, why it’s important, what’s happening and when (we’re looking at you roadmap). Think about your target market, does it your site communicate to them simply and effectively? Remember, most people don’t understand tech, so please, speak ‘human’.
Marketing & media
You may have the best project, brand and site on the planet, but if no one knows its there, it may as well not be. You gotta get people there. We use the term ‘marketing’ in the broadest sense, in practise it breaks out to many parts.
First, and maybe the most important thing to get nailed is your social presence. Build a community, listen to them, respond to them. They will be your greatest asset. Having advocates on the ground, helping you do your work is a powerful thing. Likewise, talk to your potential investors in person – get out there. Go to events and meet-ups. Sign up to pitches, get on panels, get famous.
Create video content, lots of it. Like it or not, people are four times more likely to watch and learn, rather than read an learn. So create interesting stuff. A good mix of ‘explainer’ animations to show how your product works, and ‘talking heads’ style vids, so people can get to know you and your project.
Do advertising. Although the big guys (facebook, twitter, google…) have restricted advertising, there are plenty of other opportunities, especially within the crypto-sphere, where lets be honest is where most of our investors are. ICO and crypto news sites are good place to start, as is reddit and other blogging platforms.
The legal stuff
It’s tricky to be legally compliant in a market with little or no regulation, however, regulation will come. And with that in mind, it’s far more beneficial to pre-empt and keep on the ‘squeaky clean’ side of the authorities. At a minimum, knowing who your customer is (KYC), and where they are is essential, likewise, follow the anti-money laundering rules (AML). Don’t promise profits – no one can promise this!
Ultimately, get a good legal team. There are a plenty out there who have crypto teams in place. Not necessarily cheap, but definitely necessary.
In summary, have a great idea, tell your cat, get some cash, make it pretty, explain what it does, build a website, tell people about it, make lots of friends, tell them about it, and get a good lawyer.
Seem straightforward enough? If you need a hand cooking up any of the above, give us a call. We’re here for you!