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How to launch an ICO, detailed manual

Last year, it seemed that everyone was directing or participating in an ICO, with a total amount of funds raised throughout the year that approached $ 5 billion.

If you are reading this, it is most likely that you are considering participating in the action. While there are projects, which most likely were created by a single person in the blink of an eye and still managed to raise almost $ 200,000 in contributions, for your future project you will need a significant amount of time, as well as a dedicated team. attraction of substantial funds.

Just a small disclaimer before proceeding: organizing a successful ICO from scratch is going to be quite expensive. The launch of a campaign of this type requires approximately $ 60,000, but this number may vary depending on the plan and its objectives.

Also, the start-up of an ICO campaign takes quite some time. In most cases, the prior public participation phase, which includes all the processes prior to the first major announcement, lasts approximately between six months and one year

The post-public participation phase, which includes everything that happens between the first announcement and the actual sale of tokens, usually lasts about three months. This period is often considered long enough to attract public attention and short enough so that the public does not forget about the project.

When it comes to the team involved in the project, once again, there is no general rule regarding the number of people you will need on board. The key here would not be to hire as many people as possible, but to cover each of the areas of expertise necessary for the project to come alive. This includes developers, specialists in Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, press and marketing notes, as well as advisors, partners and initial investors

So, in the ICO country, there are no fixed rules, competition is fierce, time is an illusion and the future value of tokens is not backed by anything other than demand.

To help you navigate through this madness, here is a complete checklist designed to help you launch your own successful ICO.

1. Propose an idea, think it over and make sure your project really needs an ICO. 

If you expect your project to be successful, you have to offer a solution that the market currently needs, and this solution should be objectively better than that offered by your competitors. To achieve this, you need to have a deep knowledge of that market, know your target audience and, most importantly, know what they are willing to give you their money for.

Obviously, if your project is financed through an ICO campaign, you will have your own token. Currently there are more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies. Therefore, if your token is meant to survive this competition, let alone gain value, you will have to have a very high demand. To achieve this, you need to think of a way to integrate a cryptocurrency into your project in a useful and meaningful way, so that it becomes an essential and integral part of the product.

Do you really need a tokenization if you are selling toothpaste? If your project is going to use tokens unnecessarily, it is very likely that investors will not even consider putting their money in your project.

2.Meet your competition 

Who do you measure yourself against? One might think that it is any other project that offers similar services to yours. Well, you’re actually competing for investor money, so the answer here is very simple: you face everyone else. Yes, literally each of the ICOs that are celebrated more or less at the same time as yours.

3. Investigate the legal side of things and find out if ICOs are really legal in your country. 

ICOs are currently the most regulated aspect of cryptocurrencies that exists. This is due to the large volume of ICO that close and flee with the funds raised or are simply exposed as scams.

However, in most countries, the Initial Currency Offers are legal, regulated or subject to future regulations. So far, only China and South Korea have explicitly banned ICOs in their respective jurisdictions.

In the United States, citizens are required to disclose to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) any earned income and wealth they have abroad. In addition, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is processing ICOs that do not comply with their strict “Know Your Customer” policies. As a result, an increasing number of projects have explicitly exempted US citizens from buying their tokens.

The bottom line is that you need to learn to navigate the cryptocurrency regulations that are currently in place and pay close attention to any future changes in them. This probably does not need to be said, but even so, do not break the law. It would not hurt to hire a lawyer with experience in cryptocurrency and ICO regulations.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you are not violating any law, any suspicious activity on your part, especially in relation to the management of investments, may result in your project being labeled a scam by the cryptocurrency community. If that happens, your ICO is doomed to failure.

So, not only is it necessary to obey all the relevant laws and regulations, but it is necessary to be completely transparent in the way in which people’s money is going to be handled. The expenses, taxes, withdrawals of funds and any other financial aspect of the project really need to be thought out down to the last detail.

4. Install a token for the ICO 

Think of your project as a human being. The technical architecture is his skeleton that supports his whole body. The technology of the block chain and the token itself function as blood vessels, allowing the entire body to function fully.

First, it is necessary to have a solid distribution plan. It depends to a large extent on the requirements and plans of a particular ICO. For example, there may be many different stages of the symbolic sale, including but not limited to a private sale, pre-sale, real ICO and general sale.

Different structures work for different ICO. In 2013, a platform managed to raise $ 16,800 in Bitcoin by simply collecting donations in an anonymous wallet through a famous forum in the middle. Interestingly, after all these years, the ICO of this platform is still number one in terms of Return on Investment.

Next, you should clearly indicate exactly how the tokens are to be distributed. Decide in advance how many tokens will be issued in total, how many will be distributed among the members of your team and how many will be sold during each stage of the sale of tokens. Finally, decide on which particular scenario will issue additional tokens.

When it comes to blockchain platforms used to issue tokens for ICOs, the market is not really that competitive. According to some data, 81.7 percent of the projects use a certain famous platform, while the other 9 percent choose to develop their own custom blockchain platforms. There are, of course, other services, but even their combined market share amounts to only 3.7 percent.

The creation of the token itself is a relatively easy process. There are websites that even list the code you will need to use. However, customizing certain aspects of a crowd selling logic for your tokens can be a bit more difficult, so if you are not exactly a technology expert, consider hiring a professional to do it for you. For more detailed information, see our guide on ICO platforms.

5. Write a white paper 

A white paper is a mostly technical document that describes your entire project in every possible detail. Ideally, you should cover literally everything: market analysis, your project vision, your development strategy, architecture and objectives, information about the token and its distribution, legal issues, your available resources, a description of your team, the first investors and advisors, etc.

Of course, not all potential investors will carefully read a detailed technical description of your project. Maybe ten people read everything. But it’s those ten people that you need to satisfy with the white paper because they are able to bring some serious problems to your ICO.

Blockchain enthusiasts have a great knowledge of the technical aspects and a lot of experience, they are extremely prominent and valued people within the community. They are opinion leaders with audiences of tens of thousands of people. If you are running a large press release campaign, but your project has some obvious flaws, those people will not miss the opportunity to expose them.

6.Launch a website 

Content. People are only really interested in three things: the team, the objectives of the project and the measures taken to ensure the protection of the interests of investors.

The “team” section of the website should contain names, high-quality photos, brief biographies (specifically focused on the skills of the team members relevant to this particular project) and links to social networks. Personify the project.

Another very important section of your website is the route map. It must contain clear and realistic objectives that can be achieved and set deadlines. A roadmap with some important milestones already marked will undoubtedly give investors much more confidence in their project.

Ideally, your timeline should include fixed dates of an alpha version, a beta version, a public version and all future milestones that you deem necessary to mention. The dates should not be vague, you have to be as specific as possible. A collapse of the costs associated with each of the tasks described in the roadmap would also be a good idea.

Roadmaps can be presented in several ways. Some examples contain both the history and future plans, are usually quite informative and set specific dates in terms of quarters.

Finally, make sure that all the information related to the distribution of tokens is easily accessible for your future investors. Let them know how much of the currency of your project will be distributed among the development team and how many will actually be available to buy.

Traditionally, links to the social networks of the project are listed at the bottom of the website but, of course, there are always other options, such as placing them at the top of the website page.

Scheme. Once you have all the content ready to be published, take some time to think about the design of the website. Most current projects opt for a single-page structure. Without a doubt, it is a very convenient and easily accessible way to present all the necessary information in the exact order in which it is intended to be. However, you and only you will know the most appropriate structure for the website of your project.

Security. Now, one thing you definitely do not want your website to do is to be down at any time. Once your ICO starts, as long as you have enough interest from the community, thousands of people will come to your website at the same time. The last thing you want in this situation is that your website is blocked, so be sure to invest in a good and reliable hosting service.

Also, hacking and DDoS attacks are also a very common threat for any project that runs an ICO. There have been many cases of piracy of official websites and replacement of wallet addresses. As a result, investors unknowingly sent their money to the scammers.

Also, if you are running a large press release campaign, be sure to take all the necessary precautions to protect your project from phishing attacks. It is very common for scam artists to accompany a DDoS attack on your server with a spam attack on all possible social channels with a message saying something like `our website is temporarily down, use this link instead ‘.

Design. The design of the website should ideally reflect the nature of your project, it must be reliable, have an elegant and professional appearance, but at the same time friendly. Even a small mistake in, say, text format will revoke many investors. Definitely, consider hiring professionals to build and design the website of your project.

This is what a perfect website should include: 

  • Subscription form
  • Presentation video
  • Roadmap: what, when and how you will do it
  • Description of your ICO
  • The team: high quality photos, short biographies, links to social networks
  • Press coverage: photos with Vitalik Buterin and other prominent members of the cryptocurrency community, links to articles and publications, videos of presentations and talks.
  • Description of your product
  • Real use cases
  • Documents: terms and conditions, legal, white paper, etc.
  • Partners, advisers, first investors
  • Contact information and links to the social networks account of the project

Translate. It is also worth noting that if you are developing a truly global project, you might consider translating your website into the mother tongues of your target audience. When it comes to ICO, the most useful languages to translate all the relevant information are Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, German, French and Spanish.

Considering that it costs around $ 60,000 to create a successful ICO from scratch, you will only have to allocate a relatively small amount of money for translations. Depending on the language pair, a translation of a 25-page white paper by a professional or an agency should cost between $ 150 and $ 300.

If you decide to create a multilingual website, be sure to hire professional translators who are definitely good at your job. Even the slightest mistake will result in your project looking unprofessional and losing potential investors.

7. Press and marketing notes 

So, you’ve taken care of everything. You developed an idea, you gathered a dedicated team, you wrote a white paper, you created your token and you made sure that your ICO campaign complied with all applicable laws and regulations. Now, it’s time to promote it. Otherwise, there is no possibility of you earning money.

Therefore, be sure to allocate a substantial amount of money for marketing. The prices of paid information listings can vary drastically from around $ 400 to $ 15,000 and up to a virtually infinite number. A good community manager who will be in charge of the feeds of the social networks of your project will cost you at least $ 2,000 per month.

Also, be sure to use the paid ads to get the most out of it. That includes Google ads, ads in forums, etc. About $ 5,000 will give you a decent user base of capable investors. Finally, consider how much money (or tokens) you are willing to allocate to rewards programs, in keys that are part of your press release campaign.

As in the design of the website, the planning of a press release campaign is the point of view of a possible investor. Consider how and where your audience will learn about the project and, most importantly, how exactly it will be presented to you.

You need to be able to clearly define where your project is positioned within the current market and share your first line of communication: an F.A.Q. and your Terms and Conditions.

The entire cryptocurrency market is driven by one particular powerful force: FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. People will invest in your venture if the hype around it is so powerful that it makes them believe they will miss out on an amazing opportunity if they will not do so.

the comunication is the key 

Make sure that your team communicates constantly with investors, both before and during the ICO campaign. The more communication channels you use, the more chances there will be for your project to be a success. Think of social networks and forums.

Be part of the cryptocurrency community

  • Here are some of the ways to get involved with the cryptocurrency community:
  • Forums: The essential part of your press release campaign. In their day, most of the ICOs were held in forums related to Bitcoin. The most important one is where you really need to focus, since it is the largest and most popular of these platforms at this time, especially when it comes to new crypto ads.
  • ICO Calendars: People need to be able to trip over your campaign by accident. There are many ICO calendars that allow potential investors to track the next ICO, and you should take full advantage of these services.
  • Reddit: Pay close attention to this one. Reddit has more than 40 subreddits related only to Bitcoin, and is perhaps the most active social network when it comes to cryptocurrencies. There are also numerous subreddits dedicated to alternative currencies, as well as those that focus fully on ICOs. Also, make sure to constantly monitor the platform and use the search bar to find and track the threads of your project and your ICO. Actually, finding people’s questions and responding to them should be a big part of your marketing campaign.
  • Quora discussions: Quora is a community built around users who ask questions and get complete answers. While researching for this particular article, as well as for many others related to cryptocurrencies, I must have visited Quora at least a few hundred times. Your best strategy here would be not only to let other people discuss your project, but to answer any questions directly. As with the forums and Reddit, proactive communication will go a long way.
  • Slack & Telegram: These are the two messengers most adopted by the cryptocurrency community. And most importantly, both services allow you to set up channels, which is a very useful way to keep your audience informed about your campaign. In addition, you can also establish a chat for your potential investors to communicate and discuss the project. The more open you are about it, the more funds you are likely to attract. In addition, you can use existing channels and chats to promote your ICO.
  • Professional groups on Linkedln: Taking into account that your project’s website provides links to the LinkedIn accounts of your team members, the service becomes another extremely useful tool both for promotion and to instill confidence in your potential investors . This is where you can see how deeply ingrained your project is in the cryptocurrency community.
  • Facebook Groups: Definitely create a Facebook page for your ICO, since for many people it may be the easiest way to get to a startup. Keep in mind, however, that this platform can no longer be used as a paid promotion tool, since Facebook is banning all ads related to cryptocurrencies and ICO. However, there are still many dedicated groups, like this one, where you can promote your campaign. Also, keep in mind that Facebook is very international and you may find there many specific language groups that will also be suitable to promote your ICO.

Marketing by mail

You need to keep people informed with a weekly email. You could also remind them of the start date of your ICO one month, one week, one day or even five minutes before it starts. Although, do not force them on people and definitely do not send too many emails: nobody likes to check piles of junk mail in their inbox.

Rewards program

Today, many ICOs offer rewards programs. These programs involve financial rewards for the users’ press release activities. Essentially, this means paying people to promote your ICO in forums, maintaining threads of discussion in various services and messengers, translating and locating documents, publications in social media, blogs, etc.

Although there are many advantages to this approach, you should try not to overdo it. Experienced users will easily spot paid messages and publications, and if word gets out that your project is abusing reward programs, the community will inevitably suspect. At the end of the day, no one likes aggressive advertising and your product should be able to sell without having to resort to paid promotion within the community.

Important announcement 

In order for your campaign to be successful, you will have to publicize it through any means possible, making sure that you have reached as many people as possible in the community. But it is very important that you and your marketing team be very careful with each post, post or response.

Even if only a couple of users in any forum, subreddit or social network have any reason to suspect that your ICO is a scam, this will strongly affect the outcome of your campaign. Other potential investors will carry out exhaustive checks of your project and will find negative opinions about it. No ICO can afford to run that kind of risk, so always make sure to choose your words carefully.

Remember, there is nothing more harmful to an ICO campaign than the cryptocurrency community labeling it as a scam.

8. Launch an OIC 

Congratulations, your Initial Coins Offer is live! But how long should it last?

Taking into account the previous statistics, simple mathematical manipulations will lead us to the ideal duration of a successful ICO of 41 days. Of course, this is just an average number based on five campaigns and in no way a proportion of gold of any kind.

However, it reflects to some extent the current market situation. The deadline is long enough to generate FOMO and promote the project, which attracts more people and more investments, while it is not too long for investors to see some real results and the project to move forward.

Communication is the most important tool when it comes to having any project related to cryptocurrencies, and this is especially true during the ICO itself. The ideal is to have specialists in all aspects of your project who work 24 hours a day. Remember, this is the decisive period in the history of your project, there will be people looking for answers to your immediate questions before contributing, or simply asking for guidance on how to do it.

The most important thing is that you need to have security specialists on guard at all times since at any time, your website may be subject to attack.

What happens after an ICO

If your ICO was a success, that means that the community has complied. Now, once the campaign is over, it is up to your project to meet its objectives. Now is the time to distribute the tokens, follow your work plan and make every effort to offer the greatest possible value to the customers and the tokens’ holders.

Essentially, this is just the beginning. Your ICO was the easy part. Now that your project has raised the necessary funds, the development of the final product should begin or, preferably, continue on a much larger scale. At this point, your project not only has the funds to do what was proposed, but also a moral and financial obligation not to defraud investors.

Put your token in the exchanges 

Of course, refining your product, making your dream of being a successful entrepreneur come true and making the cryptocurrency community a better place by developing and integrating your project is great. But in the meantime, your team and your investors will expect the project to do something else: enrich everyone.

For this, your token has to be in demand, it has to be valuable and, what is more important, it has to appear in at least one cryptocurrency exchange. Different exchanges will have different requirements for tokens to be listed, but if your project offers something unique and truly valuable to the cryptocurrency community, you should have no problem getting it.

One of the largest and most well-established stock exchanges on its website is the following: “We do not have a definitive set of criteria, since each project is unique, we listen to the community and select projects that we believe are unique, innovative and that our users would be interested in trading, we also look for products that have a strong demand in the (organic) market “.

Another important exchange of cryptocurrencies. It has a team dedicated exclusively to review the requests of new tokens waiting to be listed. Most other exchanges will require that your token demonstrate its value in a similar way.

The basic attributes that any currency must have in order to be able to quote in a stock exchange:

  • Currency Name – This should be self-explanatory, it’s the same name as your project, or something very similar.
  • Currency exchange symbol – Usually a three letter ticker that will represent your token forever. The number of letters can sometimes reach up to five, without numbers allowed.
  • Description of your project and your token – You need to provide each exchange in which you are trying to enter that your token appears with a clear mission and a niche for your currency. Why would they want to include it in the list? What makes your token different from hundreds of other coins floating around?
  • Currency logo – You will need to design an elegant and memorable logo for your token. Most of the bags accept logos in PNG format with a transparent background.
  • Release date- This must be the first day of the ICO campaign.
  • Link to GitHub – Most exchanges require the source code before considering the possibility of including a currency in the list.
  • Source code reviewed by a trusted third party – Again, this should be self-explanatory.
  • Compliance Fee (in some cases) – Some exchanges, in case sufficient due diligence is necessary, may ask you to pay a compliance fee before your token appears on them.
  • In case you are not sure what type of exchange to apply, here is a list of some of the largest exchanges of cryptocurrencies in terms of trading volume:

Bitfinex
Bithumb
Bittrex
HitBTC
bitFlyer
Poloniex
GDAX
Kraken
Bitstamp
Binance

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