Got your head round Blockchain yet? Become an authority on cryptocurrency? One of the key technologies of 2017 is, ironically enough, also one of the most complicated. For a quick primer visit here.
Yet Blockchain could potentially disrupt so many industries, which is why so many people in the tech, and especially fintech space are obsessing over it.
It isn’t just the preserve of the geeky hard core either. The WSJ ran this article recently which pointed out how Blockchain could become the conduit for companies attracting finance thereby rendering the careers of Venture Capitalists redundant.
The WSJ said:
“Entrepreneurs seeking capital to build tech startups have long sought out elite venture capitalists on the famed Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley. Now the many startups developing applications for blockchain technology have another option: They can go online and raise millions by creating digital tokens, for use as currency on blockchain platforms, and selling them in what is known as an initial coin offering, or ICO.
It’s a way for these companies to raise lots of money without giving up decision-making power to venture capitalists or surrendering any equity to them.”
The advantages for the investor of an ICO over traditional equity sales are numerous, but the key one is that there is a post-sale value to the token – in other words a secondary market. Obviously the more successful the company the higher the demand for the tokens and the more valuable they become.
From a company perspective the money they have been able to generate has significantly exceeded the funds they might have expected to receive from other sources.
This has generated a huge rush of companies going to ICO and there have been some spectacular successes. For example, as the WSJ notes “Golem Factory GmbH is building a blockchain-based platform where people can buy and sell access to computing power. Golem raised $8.6 million in November 2016 in a sale of the tokens that will be the currency for transactions on the platform.”
The issue though for companies now raising finance via ICOs is that they are starting to have to work much harder to get momentum. When ICOs were rare they were more likely to attract the attention of the media. Not any more.
And it has to be stressed that for an ICO to be successful generating coverage is absolutely essential. Here at Clarity we have worked with companies who have been preparing for ICO, and here are a few things we have learned.
1 You need credibility – And that means media coverage long before your ICO. As is well documented there are companies who have ICOs that are, well less than legitimate, there has also been a reaction in the media to this too. So it is essential for innovative companies looking to raise money in this way to have credibility. They need to be able to point to quality media coverage. So no matter what business you are in you need to get media coverage whether that be news stories, thought leadership or interview and profiles well in advance of your ICO.
2 Don’t expect mainstream media to fawn over you just because you have an ICO – Those days are long gone. Mainstream media is becoming every more cynical about ICOs. If a company has a track record and a pedigree it is an easier sell. But to interest the likes of the financial media, and even the Fintech press, you need a good story outside of the ICO.
3 The ICO media is becoming more competitive – Sites like Coin Telegraph and Bitcoin News are also being more discerning about what they write about as there are now many ICOs. Again the credibility issue is a key factor.
4 Think about how you announce the ICO/handle any pre-sale – You only get one shot at announcing an ICO. It is amazing how many companies make the mistake of talking about it on their websites months before it is due to happen. Or stories about pre-sales leak which again can scupper interest from the media. The press, whether it is the FT or a niche Fintech newsletter, loves and respects a level playing field. In most instances it makes sense to issue a media outreach to everyone simultaneously.
5 Don’t forget social media – Sure Twitter and LinkedIn are useful places to announce an ICO, but many of the more aggressive cryptocurrency investors use other platforms – namely reddit, Slack and Telegram. It is also worth keeping an eye on Bitcointalk which is the nearest thing to an official forum that Bitcoin devotes have.
In conclusion the big story is that ICOs are in some ways no different from companies raising funds via traditional ways – through VCs, angels and of course IPOs. The key is to establish credibility, position yourself as innovators and thought leaders and convince people of our business model. Then, in theory, let the investment roll in.
Clarity works with companies looking to ICO. We do need to stress that we only work with companies that have a track record and that contact us at least three months prior to the planned ICO.
If that sounds of interest contact us via the form here.