A Genuine Whitepaper
As Co-founder and COO of Let’s Bid Local, I took on the task of writing our Whitepaper. Truly, for any company or partnership moving towards an ICO, the whitepaper will quickly become all encompassing. When Rex and I sat down to discuss our idea and plan out our 3, 6 and 12-month goals, we knew that we needed a whitepaper, and we needed it quickly.
But, what exactly is a whitepaper?
It’s not quite a business plan, but certainly has some of the same concepts. It’s also not quite a research paper as you’re not testing out any type of treatment, change or solution. It’s a strange document in that it can resemble either of these though.
So, where do you start?
I have a tried and true method I implemented while writing my Thesis in University and applied it here. I started by mapping out, so to speak, what I knew the whitepaper ought to include. Bi-weekly, I applied a Check and went back and compared what we had written against our concept map. If the content fit, I left it, if it didn’t I either removed or changed it. As you work through each section, keep this in mind.
A Vision and summary of who we are. Rex and I wanted to start by introducing ourselves, our company and try to demonstrate why you should care about us. My guiding principle here is to be genuine; tell a story and try to get the reader to care. We didn’t use fluff, we used facts. The second-hand e-commerce market exists; it’s huge as growing year over year — but in our opinion, it’s broken and outdated.
Next, we wanted to present some background info on why we started coming up with our idea, Let’s Bid Local, in the first place.
We continued by discussing the problem of the current offerings, and how we plan to help. This is your market overview. Again, a concept plan is tremendously useful here. Write down the problems of today’s offerings, then, draw connecting lines between your features and the problems. Does everything have a connection? Do your features makes sense? To us, this is how we planned to get buy-in from the community. We didn’t want to take an already-existing idea and simply make it decentralized. We wanted to use Blockchain Technology to solve a problem; the speed of its transactions can allow us to keep funds in escrow, thereby removing the need for cash-in-hand transactions and promoting safer experiences.
As long time users of eBay and Kijiji, Rex and I know the pain points that exist. Safety is always a concern when meeting random people, either buying or selling. There is an endless amount of fraudulent activity going through eBay, and overall, both platforms require a lot of effort and time to use. Our feature set, including SafeMeet, Tiered Reputation and Escrow funds, directly help resolve these problems. We brainstormed solutions to problems that we’ve personally encountered.
After this, we wanted to tackle the real meat and potatoes of why we were writing a whitepaper. Ultimately, this is the reason that you plan on hosting an ICO and a discussion of what you plan on doing with funds raised from your ICO. Don’t underestimate what you’re asking for; your whitepaper is essentially a notice to the community of how your idea solves a problem and why you need funding to make it work.
I can’t stress enough to remain genuine. Speak openly about the amount of funds you expect to raise, then break down that total into buckets. Do you need to further develop a team? This is probably done in your Pre-ICO. What are your marketing requirements and how much do you expect to spend? If you need an office, do some research and confidently speak to what costs will be for an 1800 square foot location in the city you plan on operating in. Be transparent and thorough, do your research and explain your reasoning and breakdown.
Next, it’s time to get technical and do a bit of due diligence with the explanation. Inevitably, the comments or questions you receive about the whitepaper will say you were both too technical, and not technical enough, all at once. A strange little Schrödinger’s whitepaper situation.
Token Implementation & Deployment. How many tokens are going to be in the market? How often do they release? Is there a set schedule? Your participants will want to know how and when they might expect to either utilize your token, or, see ROI on their investments.
A Roadmap; this is important. It dictates your goal schedule and when you plan on implementing your go-to-market platform, wallet, feature set, etc. Be realistic based upon who you are and your progress to date.
Finally, you get to the Team section. This is where people get to see who you are and put some faces and names to the project. You’ll give a summary of who you are and your background. The key here is that you need to have a well-rounded team with expertise across many aspects; technical, business, social media, legal, etc.
Can you guess what my advice will be here? Be Genuine.
You may think it will reflect poorly if you don’t describe yourself as a decades long player in start-ups, blockchain and entrepreneurship in general — but if that’s not you, then don’t write it.
We wrote our backgrounds honestly, and all this translates into our genuine want to create a better second-hand ecommerce market. This is what is reflected in our Whitepaper. Our strengths are unique to our team; Rex worked at eBay which provided him intimate knowledge of how an ecommerce platform works, he’s also a very experienced technical engineer. I myself have spent the better part of 15 years in customer service, developing the skills to listen to a customer and understand (and solve) their root problem.
A good whitepaper won’t cover for a bad project.
Your whitepaper should be a work in progress. It’ll help identify questions you need to answer, gaps you need to fill, and hopefully, the real strong points of your team and project.
My best advice here would be to be critical and have other’s give their opinion. Share it with technical and non-technical people alike; make sure it can be understood by both. Be concise and direct with your solutions, wants, and needs. Have your developer, lawyer and social media expert all read and review it, and be open to change.
Finally, you guessed it, be genuine.