Insider Tips For Launching a Successful ICO

2018 has seen a big drop in the number of ICO’s per month: From 144 in May to only 31 in October. The reduction in token sales marks a shift to quality over quantity as the landscape matures amid regulatory pressure.

The tightening of the ICO market can be compared to the IPO market following the dotcom crash nearly 20 years ago. During the dotcom bubble many companies IPO’d early in their life cyсle, often pre-revenue and even pre-product. After the market tightened, it became the norm for companies to present several years of operating history and profits before holding an IPO. Similarly, while many crypto projects ICO’d in 2017 and early 2018 based on future vision and product specs alone, the recent market tightening marks a return to sanity as lawyers and investors now require projects to at least demonstrate working products and prove a need for the token to be ICO’d, before launching a token sale.

The current ICO landscape provides both challenges and opportunities to new projects: While it may seem harder than ever to execute a successful token sale, the tighter window will provide an opportunity for high-quality projects to stand out from the crowd.

At OST we learned a ton from our token sale last year and from our conversations with other projects who went through an ICO. For those projects requiring a token sale while meeting the criteria as mentioned above, here are our tips for launching a successful token sale.

Here are six things you should know before launching your ICO

1) The utility of your token should be proven before you start your ICO.

This means developing your software well ahead of your ICO and demonstrating the utility of the token within the software before you begin selling tokens. Additionally, every project considering a token sale should be able to answer these three utility and usability questions:

  1. Is your token required for the functioning of the underlying software you are building? Or could it be done with ETH or another token? If minting your own token is not a must for the functioning of the software, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to ICO in this market.
  2. How will different token prices impact your technology due to market volatility?
  3. How does your project propose to solve the current scalability challenges with public blockchains? If you don’t have a good answer lined up, it’s unrealistic that your DApp will gain any meaningful traction.

2) It is essential to make your code open source before the ICO and during the life of the project.

Open-sourcing your protocol demonstrates a commitment to the broader blockchain movement. A publicly accessible code will also challenge developers to replicate the demo of your token in action. Open-sourcing the code also stimulates the community to report bugs proactively and to suggest improvements for your software’s code.

3) Your project has to build community trust.

Starting from scratch, be ready to introduce the team working on your project, and be sure to share progress updates on the evolution of your technology regularly. Project founders should interact directly with the community through live AMA sessions and by participating in conversations on Telegram. Genuine involvement and active listening are essential to improve your project’s credibility continuously. While the audience for your AMA sessions may appear small in the beginning, you should still go ahead with them as it lays the foundation for a highly motivated community that will support your project throughout its development and beyond.

4) Keep sharing quality content about the project and engage with your growing community to foster visibility and to create a movement.

Thought leadership pieces written by members of your team are a great way to not only focus on your own project but also on the blockchain space in general and how you propose to contribute by elaborating on your project’s vision.

Team members voicing their professional opinions gives a sense of security to the community as it proves that your team has a holistic view of the market and its needs. This type of thought leadership content boosts the visibility of your ICO and attracts interest from new audiences.

Publishing platforms and online communities like Medium, Twitter, Reddit, and Steemit are great tools to amplify your project as they’re home to knowledgeable and highly engaging audiences — while Gitter or Github will cultivate transparency by drawing the interest (and feedback!) of technical crypto enthusiasts. A good example here is the OpenST Foundation repository.

Standard marketing practices (e.g. ICO listing websites and paid ads) are par of the course, but growing an engaging audience will provide your project with valuable insights about its supporters while drawing in more people as your community shares its enthusiasm for the project.

Furthermore, there are many alternative ways of driving interest for your project that are often overlooked. Think of YouTube clips and explainer videos or social media influencer campaigns. Don’t be alarmed by a small-sized target audience: if done right, even a small group of highly engaged enthusiasts can bring effective results in building a robust community.

5) Consistent storytelling on social media channels as you progress is an absolute must.

Be ready for many of the project details to be meticulously combed over and questioned by crypto-savvy community members. You may have limited resources for managing a community across many social media and content channels, so focus your efforts on the primary channel where most of the communication is expected to take place. You should think of social media channels as a place to directly interact with and nurture your community.

It may seem that the more social channels you use, the better — but you should always consider the size of the team managing your channels. Telegram, Twitter, BitcoinTalk, Reddit, and Slack are all good options; you just have to make sure that your information is up-to-date and consolidated across all channels. Responding timely to inquiries is a must and is key to being seen as a legitimate project.

One of the practices that worked well for the OST ICO (and helped fight off dozens of sophisticated scammers) was to have separate Telegram channels for general product updates vs. community interaction.

I recommend you maintain a repository of FAQ answers before, during and after the token sale, as most questions get repeated across all channels. You’ll also want to look into additional Telegram functionalities like bots to help fight off spam and rules and custom triggers to manage your group.

With so many things to take care of, you may want to consider outsourcing some of these tasks to agencies and freelancers. Keep in mind that outsourcing may diminish your agileness and the ability to “get things out” quickly.

This rule of thumb applies from community management to online marketing: I believe it’s best to do everything in-house.

6) Now that you spent a lot of time and money on building and nurturing your community, you cannot afford to lose their engagement and trust.

Your token sale should provide the community with the best user experience, as this can make or break your entire ICO. Choosing the right KYC/AML solution will vastly improve the overall ICO experience and the reputation of your project. Here at OST, we know from firsthand experience that a token sale is an enormous project without having to worry about complying with KYC/AML regulations. This is why we created a fast and efficient plug-and-play solution called OST KYC for our own ICO, which is now available for any company to use.

Powered by artificially intelligent text and facial recognition, OST KYC easily processes thousands of applicants per day. Its highly customizable front-end allows for seamless integration within your platform while taking care of security and compliance with local regulations like GDPR.

To sum up, launching an ICO means a lot of preparation, hard work, and continuous dedication. The points we discussed in this article are only the tip of the iceberg of all the things that need to be considered. To understand where we’re coming from I recommend you read this great recap of our ICO experience by Jason Goldberg, CEO and Co-Founder of OST:

Assuming you are looking into launching a professional ICO project and you have assessed the amount of effort required for it, now is the time to ask yourself:

Does your project need its own tradable cryptocurrency or are there ways to go around this while still pursuing your project goals?

If the honest answer is that you don’t need your own tradable token, then you may want to consider using OST KIT. With OST KIT you can easily launch your own Branded Token while leveraging OST technology designed for the needs of businesses with millions of users. This enables you to launch your own Branded Token economy without the expense, time, and regulatory issues surrounding an ICO.

Marina Antonova leads business development for OST KYC. With seven years of experience in Business Development and Partner Management in IT and Mobile Marketing industries, Marina is now helping ICO projects navigate the intricate process of conducting the KYC/AML procedure with the help of OST KYC.

About OST

OST blockchain infrastructure empowers new economies for mainstream businesses and emerging DApps. OST leads development of the OpenST Protocol, a framework for tokenizing businesses. In September 2018 OST introduced the OpenST Mosaic Protocol for running meta-blockchains to scale Ethereum applications to billions of users. OST KIT is a full-stack suite of developer tools, APIs and SDKs for managing blockchain economies. OST Partners reach more than 200 million end-users. OST has offices in Berlin, New York, Hong Kong, and Pune. OST is backed by leading institutional equity investors including Tencent, Greycroft, Vectr Ventures, 500 Startups.