There’s a lot of misconception regarding what an ICO is. An ICO is also referred to as a token generation event or token sale. Also, a lot of people still don’t know what types of businesses can use ICOs and what it takes to launch an ICO.
There is still a lot that’s not known about blockchain. Therefore, most people are learning about ICOs based on their own experiences when they are launching their project.
Here’s a comprehensive guide about ICOs from people who have been personally involved in handling one.
When getting started, you need to ask yourself two important questions:
- Why do you want the token?
- Are you sure that doing an ICO is the best thing you can do?
If it is not a must for your project to be built on the blockchain, then you must think through whether you should do this or not. For example, building an application over Ethereum will be a lot more expensive than building an application over AWS. You need to have a convincing reason as to why building a decentralized system is much better than building a centralized one.
If you are unsure about whether using blockchain is the best solution for you or not, then you should take your time and do due diligence before making a final decision. Learn more about Ethereum and Bitcoin. You will need to have an informed idea about what it takes to build on top of the blockchain architecture, because a decentralized system is much more different than a client-server system.
Raising money through an ICO is different from raising money through Venture Capital.
What you will be essentially selling to the public is the ability to use your platform in the future. Therefore, you will be essentially doing two things, making your company go public, while still ensuring that you have equity in the company. This means that there will be so many things that you will need to handle after the ICO. You will need to be well-organized if you want things to go smoothly.
Having a Strategy
Once you have made up your mind that this is what you would like to do, then you need to have a strategy to help you navigate through this process. The key things to think about include the coin offering, whitepaper, the design of the token, legal matters, securing your system from hackers and how to communicate to your audience. This can be done through your website, press releases and by giving interviews.
In this case, there are two important questions that you should answer.
- How much funding do you want to get and why?
- What are your main objectives for using the particular distribution method that you have chosen?
This document will provide all the information that people need to know about your project. This includes the internal workings of the system and the way the token will be used in it.
The best thing would be for the whitepaper to include all the necessary information about the token and your entire team. This includes the technical side of your product and other relevant information.
The idea is that this document should provide any contributor who is interested in your product all the essential information that they need to know so that they can make an informed decision as to whether to invest in it or not.
It takes a lot of hard work and over 200 hours to come up with a good whitepaper. This should be a team effort, and should be handled by your own in-house team instead of being outsourced to freelancers. The only thing that you may perhaps outsource is the editing process to ensure that the document is well-formatted and presented, free of grammar and spelling errors.
Once the whitepaper has been completed, it is important that you have key people in the cryptocurrency world take a look at it. Get their comments about the whitepaper. You can also give the document to some of the people that you are targeting. They will provide you with insightful feedback about the whitepaper. Use all these concepts to clean up the whitepaper before finalizing it.
You will need to hire an attorney who’s experienced in handling ICOs and setting up blockchain projects. The attorney will advise you on legal matters concerning your company.
The key question to answer is whether the token you are putting up on offer is a security or not.
You also need to know what steps you can take to minimize the chances of the token being a security.
Other legal questions to ask include:
- Will you use a SAFT?
- Will the offer be geo-fenced?
- Will a foundation be set up to manage the token?
It’s important that you seek the advice of a trained and certified lawyer for your legal issues as this document is not a legal document.
You need to bring your whole team on board, and you should be able to address any questions that will come up during the ICO. You can use multiple platforms in order to communicate effectively with all the concerned parties. You also need to ensure that all your communications are in sync and that you respond to queries in a timely manner.
Before the ICO
- Registration – Have people sign up beforehand if you are doing a registration based ICO.
- Give step-by-step directions on how people can sign up
- Release a video and blog post that gives step-by-step information on how anyone who is interested can become a participant.
- Create a video that illustrates how someone can buy your tokens. This video should be semi-professional and last for about 2-3 minutes. Have a professional do a voiceover for the video, and release it on the day of the ICO and not before.
- Keep an eye on whether anyone is trying to hack into your system
- Create written content on every step of the way
- Broadcast a live Q&A session
- Be prepared to manage the inflow of interest and people who want to know more about your product. So many questions will come up before the ICO.
Day of the ICO
- Be prepared to manage all the people and questions that will come up. Let your team know that you might need them to be on call day and night.
- Check if there are any attack vectors. Do a shutdown of Slack if there’s a need to do so
- Stress the fact that people should send in their contributions through a wallet and not an exchange since a wallet gives them more private control.
- Widely publish the tutorial videos that you created.
- Have one point of information where anyone can get the info they need to know about the product.
- Broadcast live at the end of the ICO
After the ICO
Two top questions that will come up after the ICO are:
- Where are my tokens?
- Which exchanges will list you?
Where are my tokens?
If the person bought the token through an exchange, it is quite likely that their tokens are gone. They needed to purchase the tokens through a wallet. You need to create tutorial videos on how to purchase tokens from different wallets. Make sure to post these videos up on your site. You will need to respond to these people who sent their contributions through exchanges.
Which exchanges will list you?
For you to be listed on an exchange, you will have to make a formal application, so start working on this as early as you can.
Nevertheless, there are some exchanges where you will be listed, whether you want to be listed in them or not. For instance, anyone can list tokens on Ether Delta. This is a peer to peer exchange site where tokens can be bought, sold or exchanged. People can do this without having to ask your permission to use the token.
Running the Project
Communicate on a regular basis. Now that you have a community of followers who have invested their hard-earned cash into your project, you need to update them on a regular basis. These people will have lots of questions that you need to answer in a timely manner.
Following all these steps is not a guarantee that your ICO is going to be successful. However, it gives good insight into what you and your whole team should expect during the ICO.
Raising money through an ICO is not any easier than raising money through equity. It is just different. You have to make sure that doing a token sale is the best thing for your company to do otherwise; you could be stuck with the consequences of doing this for a long period of time.
3 Ways to Market Your ICO
The ICO industry is gradually growing. According to CoinDesk, by the start of 2017, blockchain projects were able to raise $327 million through ICOs as compared to the $ 295 million that had been raised by venture investors.
However, some governments have banned ICOs. This is one more reason why you should release your ICO as soon as possible without wasting too much time.
- Announce in Popular ICO Calendars
There are a number of sites that post information about ICOs and blockchain in general. Make sure that you announce your ICO on these sites.
- Cyber Fund
- Publications in Professional Communities
Publish your announcements on social media sites and communities. Share relevant links as well.
There’s no need to spam sites all over the internet. What you should do is to post your announcements on relevant forums.
Here are some communities where you should publish:
- Dedicated Forums – Post in forums where a lot of the members are talking about ICOs. A good example of such a forum is Bitcointalk.com.
- Thematic Subreddits -Post in relevant subreddit forums. They normally have thousands of followers.
- Quora Discussions – People are already talking about ICOs and cryptocurrencies there. Chime into these discussions.
- LinkedIn Professional Groups – There are various groups on LinkedIn that focus on this topic.
- Facebook Groups – Join groups where there’s a discussion on cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
Make sure to adhere to the rules of these groups though.
- Post on Blogs and Do Native Advertising
Take advantage of online media. The best place to get started is to have your own blog where you will regularly publish news releases and information about your ICO. You can use Medium for this.
You should also consider sending out press releases to various publications. But given the fast rate at which blockchain projects are coming up, you might not get all the attention that you want. The publication might completely fail to publish the news or the publishers might publish it after the ICO is over, so don’t completely rely on this method.
Consider having a promotional budget, which you will use to promote your content. This can run into thousands of dollars. For instance, an editorial feature on a local publication about ICOs can cost as much as $15,000.
Just experiment and see what works for you. The methods discussed here are the ones which have been successfully used by companies doing ICOs. Since this is all a lot of hard work, have a 2-3 month plan on how you are going to run your launch and marketing campaigns.
You can also gain a lot by using content marketing to promote your ICO. Just make sure to get started on it on time.
Launching an ICO is no easy task, and similarly to launching a new business a lot of digital marketing strategy is needed to attract new crypto investors. The best strategy is a mix of different marketing channels from paid media to influencer marketing on some of the top cryptocurrency outlets.