Are you a blockchain-crypto entrepreneur thinking of launching an ICO? You may have heard that launching an ICO is easy, but don’t fall for it. Out of a total 902 ICOs in 2017, only 435 were successful, that’s just a 48% success rate! You need to know how to launch ICO successfully. Let’s dive right in!

Do you have a viable blockchain use case, and customers?

“The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. Because the purpose of a business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation.”

These are words of late management guru Peter F Drucker. Read “Growth Through Marketing and Innovation: How Peter Drucker Shaped ReadyTalk” for a detailed account of Drucker’s thoughts on this.

Start with basics. Find out whether you have a viable business idea that will sell in the market. Also, find out who your customers are. If there isn’t a valid business case for blockchain, don’t plan an ICO. Go back to the drawing board.

You need to conduct market research because the only way to know if you have a viable idea is to check in the market. Read how you can conduct through market research in “How to Do Market Research: A 5-Step Guide“.

You also need customers! You need to know who they are, where do they live, what do they do, where do they get answers to their questions, etc. For building a successful business you need to visualize your customer. Create a ‘Buyer Persona’, i.e. a fictitious customer, although based on real market data. Learn how to create one in “How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business [Free Persona Template]“.

ICO investors are increasingly scrutinizing projects, and they might consider your project a scam if you don’t have a viable business idea. Read why it’s so important in “Beginner’s Guide: How to spot ICO scams“.

Check out options for funding blockchain projects:

Did you consider all fund-raising options before zeroing in on ICO? For e.g. did you think of a venture capital (VC) raise? Decide your funding route after thinking through the options carefully.

Note that ICOs often seem appealing because they are considered easy to launch, but that may change soon. Also, consider the advantages VCs offer, for e.g.:

  • VCs are hard-nosed business people. They are experts. If you raise fund from them, they will guide and hand-hold you.
  • They have a high reputation, hence you will also receive positive media coverage.

Read how VCs compare with ICOs in “ICO vs VC: The Experience Matters“.

Build a great ICO team!

“In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with “where” but with “who.” They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

These are words of management expert Jim Collins. Read the importance he accords to a great team in “GOOD TO GREAT“.

You need a great technical team with the proven capability of building blockchain-cryptocurrency systems. They also need relevant industry experience. The team members must have eminence, for e.g. they should have published several insightful articles on the blockchain technology.

ICOs are unregulated, however, the world over the regulators are taking notice of them. You need a competent legal team that has proven ICO experience and is on top of the evolving regulatory scenario vis-a-vis ICOs.

A great ICO marketing team is a must, because they may just be the difference between a successful and lackluster ICO.

Investors first check the credentials of the ICO team as part of their preparation for investing in an ICO. Read how important they consider it, in “Beginner’s Guide: How to Participate in an ICO?“.

How to launch ICO successfully: you need a great strategy first

Your strategy consists of your most important tasks. To formulate one, you need to ask yourself questions.

To develop your product development strategy, consider the following questions:

  1. Are you building something decentralized enough to use blockchain?
  2. Do you really need a token? If you don’t, then you shouldn’t launch an ICO!
  3. Are you using too many untested technology solutions? It could increase your product development risks!

Remember when your investors read your ICO whitepaper, they will ask these questions. Read more about it in “How to check ICO whitepaper: a guide for potential investors“.

You need to strategize on how you will remain on the right side of the regulations. Consider the following questions:

  1. Are ICOs legal in your jurisdiction?
  2. Do you need to comply with ‘Know-Your-Customer’ (KYC) and ‘Anti-Money Laundering’ (AML) requirements?
  3. Are you selling security tokens or utility tokens? Regulatory requirements are stringent for security tokens, read more about it in “Security token vs utility token: A comparison“.

Decide on a governance strategy, for e.g. will the project become a democratic network organization in future, for e.g. a ‘Decentralized Autonomous Organization’ (DAO)?

A marketing strategy is a key component. You need to consider several aspects, for e.g.:

  1. How to best utilize digital marketing channels using your website, whitepaper, content etc?
  2. Which advertising channels will you use?
  3. How will you engage crypto communities?
  4. How many tokens should you airdrop?

Check out this “Beginner’s Guide: How to create a great ICO marketing strategy“.

Make demonstrable progress with your blockchain product development:

ICO investors increasingly expect to see an Alpha or Beta version of your product. If you aren’t there yet, prepare to show a working prototype. Investors would be fine if your UI isn’t the most elegant yet, but they expect to see a product.

If you don’t have even a working prototype, ensure that you have open-source code in GitHub ready for review. Investors suspect the project is a scam if the GitHub repository is empty or if the project has a closed-source code.

Read how investors treat your product and code with high importance in “Beginner’s Guide: How to spot ICO scams“.

Comply with ICO regulatory requirements:

With Ponzi schemes making their way in ICOs, regulators have started scrutinizing ICOs now. You don’t want to be subpoenaed by regulators.

Your legal team must prepare for both current and future regulations as far as they can reasonably foresee. This includes the legal status of your ICO in the jurisdiction, KYC, AML, securities regulations, and potentially much more.

You don’t want to be in the list of “Top 5 Blockchain SEC Investigations to Watch In 2018“, or similar lists!

Run a proactive ICO marketing campaign:

While product development and legal preparations are in progress, your team must get on with creating content. This includes ICO website, whitepaper, blog posts, social media posts, engaging infographics, video, podcasts etc. You must have very professional and engaging content.

Proactive ICO launch campagin
Be Proactive

Hire an ICO community manager to engage crypto communities in chat apps, social media platforms, and popular crypto forums proactively. Read why you need to staff this important role in “ICO community manager: the importance of the role in your ICO“.

Use PR and media outreach, ad campaigns, bounty campaigns, and email marketing to great effect to attract investors to your ICO. Ensure you have the right infrastructure ready. You really need to attend blockchain-crypto events and present your project to potential investors and prospects.

Remember to guide your potential investors through your website, blog, and community posts on how they can participate in your ICO. I recommend that you read “An ICO marketing checklist for your blockchain-cryptocurrency project” to prepare better.

Create ICO tokens and launch ICO token sale:

While you can create your blockchain network and crypto token from scratch, it takes longer and requires a higher budget. Alternatively, you can use the Ethereum blockchain platform to launch create your ICO tokens and start ICO token sale.

Although relatively new, NEO and EOS are two other platforms that are competing with Ethereum. You can build your tokens using any of these. Read how these new platforms compete with Ethereum in “EOS vs NEO: Which One Will Take On Ethereum (ETH) On DApps“.

There is another option for you to customize your tokens. You can use the Waves blockchain platform and design your token. Find out how you can do so, in “Beginner’s Guide: What is Waves Blockchain? Design Your Tokens!“.

Here’s wishing you a successful ICO launch!

Note: If you need to understand the concept of ICO better, consider reading “What is an ICO: An introduction to Initial Coin Offering“.