Initial coin offerings are seemingly all the rage for startups looking to raise money. However, they better think twice before issuing their own cryptocurrency
There are six key steps every CEO or managing director involved in the world of crypto should consider before starting in an initial coin offering (ICO).
(1) Make Plans
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans,” is a quote from Woody Allen, derived from an old Yiddish proverb “We plan, God laughs.” However, I am not sure whether God has applied this to ICOs as yet because in my mind, before you even think about an ICO, you do need to do a lot of planning.
This takes the form of quantitively researching the areas where the new business will be positioned and engaging in business and technological due diligence. I sometimes come across entrepreneurs who say they don’t even look at the competition. This is key. Learning who your competitors are and figuring out what they are doing right – and just as importantly, what they are doing wrong – will give you a huge advantage. Find the missing components and don’t do anything until they have been filled. This includes diligently looking at the timeline, the team, the MVP or finished product and of course, the budget.
(2) Convey your story
Storytelling is, in my opinion, one of the most important components of a successful ICO. You need to create a compelling story that clearly, persuasively and succinctly communicate the key values and advantages to your ICO. In your story, make sure you cover off the following questions. How is your business advancing blockchain technology and the decentralisation philosophy? Where will your code be available. For instance, will it be available at repositories such as GitHub?
And what are the key details of the underlying tech? Is your code high quality?
Other important questions include what the business model is, who the prospective clients are and how you will make money? What is the growth strategy and how exactly will you be disrupting a major market? Why and how your token will appreciate and thus benef your backers?
Who comprises the team and advisers? Is there suitable depth which encompasses the technology-business balance? How you are planning to communicate with the community and be transparent? What is the token distribution? How will your MVP/ prototype/beta/early release going to look like? When and where will it be available?
(3) Build a community
Communities play a big part in successful ICO’s. By making people feel that they have that ownership of your company and skin in the game will not only encourage them to invest more, but persuade their peers to do likewise. A strong and enthusiastic community built around a deep purpose, a meaningful technological and philosophical pursuit with financial gains is a big part of an ICO success.
Make sure that you have a strong and active community-building and outreach team who are constantly engaging with your followers. Two initiatives all community teams should instigate are bounty campaigns and air drops.
Bounty campaigns are giving tokens to the audience in exchange for some tasks such as posts, comments, sharing, helping with marketing and even translating where necessary - are great examples of building a community. If you manage to get some big influencers then that is huge, but anything and anyone could help. Air-dropping is the distribution of free tokens to key people such as investors, opinion leaders and experts in your field or sector and they, by their standing in the community, will certainly increase your followers.
(4) Pay for promotion
The saying that you have got to speculate to accumulate is relevant here. The placement of effective targeted ads in social media and in specific blockchain and ICO-related sites, communities and lists are very impactful. Additionally, invest in some paid reviews, endorsements and sponsorships and promoted links. Sending out newsletters to some targeted mailing can also be a fruitful exercise.
(5) Get out there
Conferences, PR events, dinners and seminars provide great platforms where businesses can get noticed. Pitching and articulating your messages at these events will connect you with whales and prominent blockchain community figures and get noticed.
There are a swathe of blockchain and technology conferences across the globe for you to attend. Simply research which of these are deemed the most suitable for you and your product and then make every effort to attend, exhibit or speak at them.
Many firms are now performing global roadshows and this is a sure fire hit to build up interest as you move from city to city, often continent to continent if budgets allow.
Once you drum up support, arrange meet-ups for your followers and communities. This is a positive and worthwhile exercise in public relations, particularly with a community eager to hear updates from key team members.
(6) List, list, list
Last on my list, but certainly not least, are listings themselves. You need to bring the product to the customers – your potential investors. Do this by getting listed in as many relevant places as possible. These include listings on ICO platforms but keep in mind that exchange listings' fees could add up to significant sums and a presence on announcement threads.
There are many rating and review websites out there as well so it is worth taking the time to research the most relevant for your market and making sure that you are well represented on those.
Established media platforms also have planners and calendars which are available to view, so try and get on those, as well as applicable corporate newsletters which list upcoming news.
To summarize, I have omitted obvious components such as the product itself, the people that comprise the team, a fully functional and informative website, the investor deck, the all-important white paper where investors can read up on you and of course your legal compliance have all been omitted. For me, these would be self-evident and no firm could realistically even start to think about an ICO without them.
If I could add a few tips then I would advise ICO producers to initiate a pre-sale with a portion of hard cap, make available extra tokens as conservative bonuses for early participants and time-locking bonuses to avoid coin-dumping.
By following the above steps and implementing a plan your ICO will be well placed to exceed your expectations. Rest assured, my co-founders and I will be following these steps religiously as we prepare for our own ICO this summer. Good luck.