What I learn while working on an ‘epic slideshow’ on Bitcoin & Blockchain
As part of my work as an analyst at Magister Advisors, a London-based Tech M&A Advisory firm, I prepare research studies. Last fall, I worked on a report named: Blockhain & Bitcoin in 2016: A Survey of Global Leaders.
Here are the 10 key things I learned:
- Research something difficult that very few have done before: It would have been much easier to research a topic already covered such as the eCommerce sector with large dataset and previous research publicly available. However, such research would not have added much value to the overall market. Practitioners, Investors, Companies and others would have looked at it and say ‘Thank you, looks good but nothing new here’. Researching a topic that is difficult and within a nascent sector will be appreciated by others as you do something time consuming and labor intensive.
- Content is king: It is very easy to do only a quantitative analysis including precedent financings, past M&A and list key investors with company logos. Although such research, helps to show that a market is ‘hot or not’, such research does not really explain the driver of the market. Interviews and in-depth analysis coupled with quantitative analysis are important in order to provide new insights. Unlike many research, our report was designed for people with already a fairly good understanding of Bitcoin / Blockchain. Therefore, we did not expect that our report would be shared outside the practitioners’ circle. However, as we had a good content with unique insights, it has reached a broader audience and been referenced in publications such as the New York Times.
- Image / Graphic is worth 10,000 words. Indeed: During my master I read many research papers which looked like the same: 100 pages of black and white text with an appendix at the end. I do believe that this kind of format is a reason why so few research papers are used outside the universities. On the other hand, investment banks and consulting agencies often use a mix of A4 format with pictures, cool graph and text. Such format looks good but is very 1998 as it not easy to read on a phone, tablet or even laptop. Moreover, there is often too much information per page forcing the reader to concentrate and create boredom very quickly. For such reason, we decided to use a slide format with one key information per slide. People understand the content in a few seconds and can later read through.
- High quality companies are always responsive and helpful: When we started doing interviews and reaching out to companies we did not expect to have such good feedback and such openness. In more than 90% of the time, people responded quickly and accepted to have a discussion. Moreover, companies have been very responsive and helpful. I do believe that there is a correlation between companies’ responsiveness and company quality. Low quality companies are overwhelmed with their internal problems and cannot handle outside requests well.
- Content is truly global: It may be something that everyone knows or assume but I was fascinated to see feedbacks from all around the world. It was truly fascinating to see that we had readers from Asia, USA, and the Middle East.
- Readers come from everywhere so do interesting companies: As mentioned before, this research really made me understand the reach of the Internet. We are experiencing a new phase in which good companies come from everywhere — Atomico said it before. The US does hold a strong position in terms of innovation but also Europe, Americas and Africa are really showing good signs of change. Very interestingly, London has been shown to be the true Fintech capital. When we visited companies, I was very interested to know why some founders would move to other cities but still keep a HQ in London. Most of them would say that having an office in London helps them for meeting and to attract talents at an early stage.
- Press articles create a Buzz but SlideShare helps to sustain effort: We have received a strong press coverage from different publications but Business Insider helped us to create a buzz around our presentation. Though, the buzz only lasted few days as the noise from the Internet is very important. On the other hand, Slideshare has been a solid platform to share and to make our report publicly available.
- US companies know how to sell themselves and dream big: Many first interviews were held over the phone. Most of the time we talked to CEOs and for more advanced companies CEO and VP of Marketing. I experienced first-hand that US companies put a strong emphasis on their image and on marketing. They have a strong equity story and want to make sure that it is well told. European companies often talk about their product in good details and about their vision but miss the overall strategy of the company and why they will be the best / next unicorn. [See Startupland from Zendesk founders]
- Coindesk does have the best data for funding in the Bitcoin / Blockchain sector: We used multiple databases for funding but I would like to salute the brilliant job that the Coindesk team have done. They have created the most precise funding database on the market which is also free of charge. Sure, new analytic tools and maybe a new layout would be better but they have nailed it. Congrats.
- Organisation is key to success: As part of the survey, we contacted 50+ companies, had 40+ phone calls, 10+ meetings and prepared a profile for each Company. Such work required a very strong organisation. One tip is to be very organized with Outlook — sub folders are your friend as well as the reminder function.