Revain
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Revain

So what’s the deal with ICO advisors?

By Olga Grinina

With the news of John McAfee engaging into writing white papers, we’ll take the risk of crystal-ball reporting and say the ICO market is going in a quite alarming direction. That’s why the value of a professional advisor will be drastically increasing, which means that blockchain startups really need to be more cautious when choosing a person who is to pave the way into the project expansion.

But what’s wrong with McAfee anyways? Well, probably one should be avoiding self-proclaimed public personas with little or no knowledge of the complex blockchain technology and core business processes. An advisor’s role is directing the company in terms of economic, legal, technological, marketing and PR concerns being some kind of an evangelist of the platform. And to do so, this person’s prior achievement and overall background should resonate with your vision.

Curiously, along with ‘real’ advisors there is another type — those who would gladly agree to place their photo on your website, yet you will hardly get any piece of real advice from them. Oh yeah, they will charge a lot of money for that photo too — we’ve been there.

Which one you choose is entirely up to you, but staying ahead of the curve in blockchain means having the brightest people on board. That’s why having at least 5 advisors is absolutely crucial. The core benefit of this ‘collective approach’ is that each of them would be looking at the project from his/her own perspective — thus contributing to the assessment of the project’s viability.

Choose wisely where to search for an advisor. Personal communication and networking is the best, yet some social media channels that are more reputable than others. Don’t google, go on LinkedIn or a rating website, like ICObench.com. Potential investors will be satisfied to see a nicely looking person with an impressive CV, but top-rating on icobench is a game-changer. Success of an advisor is defined by the amount of projects and their overall score from one to five points. So if he has, say, 10 projects scored at 5, he has 50 points. This rating is changing dynamically every week. One of ICO top-advisors Brock Pierce — now residing in Puerto Rico — is advising for EOS and never takes percentage from ICO gains: he prefers to get the share of a startup. And now he is one of the richest personas in blockchain.

The next thing on the list is researching the projects that an advisor was involved in earlier — the expertise in an adjacent field comes in very handy. The popularity is not always a defining factor. A popular advisor might often be overloaded with multiple projects and won’t have a proper amount of time to dive into yours. Moreover, when the project load gets higher, it’s getting harder to distinguish between a good one and a bad one, that’s probably why some of popular advisors are risking getting involved in crappy ICOs with no real product underneath.

But what’s the gain for advisors to take part in your ICO, except for monetary perks? Curiously enough, most advisors admit that they are looking at the team and common vision and contacts other advisors that are already on board — if any. People are more important than the product you’re building.

So you’re starting a blockchain project and believe it’s going to rock. When exactly do you need to start looking for an advisor? Before the crowdsale or after — is there any strategy at all? When we here at Revain were just launching the tokensale in August, we started looking immediately targeting the people with broad expertise both on consumer market and the market of online reviews. Hence, top executives of Yelp, Amazon and the likes were literally bombarded by messages on LinkedIn. Not only them, but also all the crypto influencers too: tech CEOs, financial and marketing gurus, media people focused on blockchain. However, that mass messaging didn’t bring any valuable interaction, except for many scrappy ‘advisors’ who have nothing but hundreds of thousands of bot-followers on twitter (no names here though). Why so? Safe to say, at that time we didn’t really have any proper contacts or hangouts in the industry, and were just starting to attend major blockchain events. And this is crucial for any startup at stage zero — go there and mingle: nothing beats live communication. Ironically enough, now that the time passed and Revain is getting more exposure on the market, we are starting to get approached by some interesting personas with collaboration offers. Well, that remains to be seen. But one clear take away is that good advisors never come out of nowhere: you should work your way up to them.

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