How to Launch an ICO? A Detailed Guide 2022

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How to Launch an ICO?

With the ICO boom, it was thought that everyone was directing one or participating in them and it is that with a total amount of funds raised throughout its existence that exceeds 27 billion dollars, everyone wants their piece from the cake.

If you are reading this, you are most likely considering launching an ICO. While there are projects like Useless Ethereum Token, which was most likely created by a single person in the blink of an eye and still managed to raise about $ 95,430 and 310,445 Ethers in contributions, for your future project you will need a fairly significant amount of time. , as well as a team dedicated to attracting funds for your campaign.

Just a little disclaimer before proceeding: organizing a successful ICO from scratch is going to demand money from you. Launching such a campaign requires approximately $ 60,000, but this number can vary depending on the project and its objectives.

For clarity: ICO vs. Venture Capital: What is best for your company?

Also, getting an ICO campaign up and running takes a long time. In most cases, the preparation phase to launch public participation, a stage that includes all the processes prior to the first big announcement, lasts approximately between six months and a year.

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

When it comes to the team involved in the project, again, there is no general rule of thumb 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 to bring the project to life. This includes developers, Blockchain and cryptocurrency specialists, press releases and marketing, as well as advisors, partners, and initial investors.

Likewise, in the country of ICOs, there are no fixed rules, competition is fierce, time is an illusion, and the future value of tokens is backed by nothing but demand and illusion.

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

1. Come up with an Idea, Think about it, and make sure your Project really needs an ICO.

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

Obviously, if your project is financed through an ICO campaign, you will have your own token. According to data from CoinMarketCap, there are currently more than 13000 cryptocurrencies. Therefore, if your token is to survive this competition, let alone gain value, it will have to be in very high demand. To achieve this, you need to think of a way to integrate the cryptocurrency that you are developing 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 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 into your project.

A good way to test your idea and get feedback would be to create a thread on the BitcoinTalk forum, tagging it [preANN] for the preannouncement.

2. Know your Competition

Who are you competing against? One might think of it like any other project that offers services similar to yours. Well, you are actually competing for investors’ money, so the answer here is very simple: you go up against everyone else. Yes, literally every one of the ICOs takes place around the same time as yours. It doesn’t matter if the rest of the ICOs on the market offer a completely different service than yours, they are in the same voracious competition.

3. Research 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 out there. This is due to the large volume of ICOs that go out of business and flee with the funds raised or simply expose themselves as scams.

However, in most countries, Initial Coin Offerings are legal, regulated, or subject to future regulations. Already countries like China, South Korea have explicitly banned ICOs in their respective jurisdictions. From the governments of Russia and India, they have launched serious threats to the ICO market and its collection methods.

To learn more about the legal issue: Is Bitcoin legal?

In the United States, citizens are required to disclose to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) any earned income and wealth they have abroad. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been prosecuting ICOs that do not comply with its strict “Know Your Customer” policies. Paragon and AirFox were the first ICOs that the SEC sanctioned for the sale of unregistered securities. The sanction was imposed even after the conclusion of the respective ICO campaigns. Because of this, an increasing number of projects have explicitly exempted US citizens from purchasing their tokens.

The bottom line is that you need to learn to navigate the crypto regulations that are currently in place and pay close attention to any future changes to them. This probably goes without saying, but still, don’t break the law. It wouldn’t hurt to hire a lawyer with experience in cryptocurrency and ICO regulations.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you are not breaking any laws, any suspicious activity on your part, especially in relation to investment management, may result in your project being labeled a scam by the crypto community. If that happens, your ICO is doomed.

Therefore, not only is it necessary to obey all relevant laws and regulations, but it is necessary to be completely transparent in how you are going to handle people’s money. Expenses, taxes, withdrawals, and any other financial aspect of the project really need to be thought through down to the last detail.

4. Create a Token for the ICO

Think of your project as a human being. Technical architecture is the skeleton that supports the entire body. Blockchain technology and the token itself function as blood vessels, allowing the entire body to function fully.

First of all, you need to have a solid distribution plan. It largely depends on the requirements and plans of a particular ICO. For example, there can be many different stages of the token sale, including, but not limited to, a private sale, the pre-sale, the ICO, and the general sale.

You know well about the subject in What is an ICO token and how does it work?

Different structures work for different ICOs. In 2013, NXT managed to raise $ 16,800 in Bitcoin simply by collecting donations in an anonymous wallet through the BitcoinTalk forum. Interestingly, after all these years, the NXT ICO is still number one in terms of ROI.

On the other hand, we have Telegram that managed to raise 1.7 billion dollars during a private pre-sale quite reserved and only raised for large investment funds.

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

When it comes to blockchain platforms used to issue tokens for ICOs, the market really isn’t that competitive. According to data from ICOWatchList, 82.46 percent of projects use the Ethereum platform, while the rest choose to develop their own custom blockchain platforms. There are of course other services like Waves, Stratis, or Hyperledger, but even their combined market share is really small compared to what Ethereum can do.

The creation of the token itself is a relatively easy process, especially when it comes to Ethereum ERC20 tokens. The Ethereum website even lists the code that you will need to use. However, customizing certain aspects to organize the sale of those tokens to the public can be a bit more difficult, so if you are not exactly tech-savvy, consider hiring a professional to do it for you.

5. Write a White Paper

A White Paper is a mostly technical document that describes your entire project in every possible detail. Ideally, it should cover literally everything: market analysis, your project vision, 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., etc., etc. Everything.

Of course, not all potential investors will carefully read a detailed technical description of your project. Maybe ten people will read it all. But it is those ten people that you need to satisfy with the White Paper because they are capable of bringing some serious problems to your ICO.

Blockchain enthusiasts have great technical knowledge and a wealth of experience, they are extremely prominent and valued individuals within the community. They are opinion leaders with audiences of tens of thousands of people. If you’re running a big press release campaign, but your project has some obvious flaws, those people won’t miss out on exposing them.

Check out our guide to making a White Paper here: What is a White Paper and how to write it?

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 that investors’ interests are protected.

One of the first things you’ll see on a successful ICO website is detailed information about the token sale structure. This block should not only present the information clearly, but it also has to contribute greatly to creating FOMO (in English Fear of Missing Out) or Fear of losing the opportunity to invest in the project.

The “team” section of the website should contain names, high-quality photos, short biographies (specifically focused on the skills of the team members relevant to this particular project), and links to social media. What is sought is to personify the project.

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

Ideally, your timeline should include fixed dates for an alpha release, a beta release, a public release, and any future milestones that you feel need to be mentioned. The dates should not be vague, you have to be as specific as possible. A crash in the costs associated with each of the tasks outlined in the Roadmap would also be a good idea.

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

Traditionally, the project’s social media links are listed at the bottom of the website. We must make sure that they are visible and that the redirecting links are correct.

  • Scheme

Once you’ve got all of your content ready to go, take some time to think about your website design. Most of the current projects opt for a single-page structure. Without a doubt, it is a very comfortable and easily accessible way of presenting all the necessary information in the exact order in which it is intended to be. However, you and only you will know the most suitable structure for your project website.

  • Security

Now one thing you definitely don’t want your website to do is go offline at some point. Once your ICO starts, as long as you have enough interest from the community, thousands of people will flock to your website at the same time. The last thing you want in this situation is for your website to crash, so make sure you invest in a good and reliable hosting service.

Furthermore, hacking and DDoS attacks are also very common threats to any project running an ICO. There have been many cases of official website hacking and wallet address substitution. As a result, investors unknowingly sent their money to scammers.

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

  • Design

The website design should ideally reflect the nature of your project, it has to be reliable, look elegant and professional, but at the same time friendly. Even a small mistake in, say, text formatting will create a bad image for potential investors. Definitely consider hiring professionals to build and design your project website.

  • Translate

It’s also worth noting that if you are developing a truly global project, you might consider translating your website into the native languages ​​of your target audience. When it comes to ICOs, the most useful languages ​​to translate all 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 professional or agency translation of a 25-page white paper 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 their job. Even the slightest mistake will result in your project looking unprofessional and losing potential investors.

This is roughly what the perfect website should include:

  1. Subscription form
  2. Presentation video
  3. Roadmap: what, when, and how you will do it
  4. Description of your ICO
  5. The team: high-quality photos, short biographies, links to social networks
  6. Press coverage: photos with Vitalik Buterin and other prominent members of the crypto community, links to articles and publications, videos of presentations and talks.
  7. Description of your product
  8. Real use cases
  9. Documents: terms and conditions, legal, White Paper, etc.
  10. Partners, advisers, first investors
  11. Contact information and links to the project’s social media account

7. Press and Marketing Notes

So, you’ve taken care of everything. You developed an idea, assembled a dedicated team, wrote a White Paper, created your token, and ensured that your ICO campaign complied with all applicable laws and regulations. Now is the time to promote it. Otherwise, there is no chance that you will earn money.

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

Also, be sure to use paid ads to get the most out of it. That includes Google Ads, Forum Ads, etc. Around $ 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 the rewards programs that you will announce through press release campaigns.

Similar to website design, planning a press release campaign is from the point of view of a potential investor. Consider how and where your audience will find out about the project and, most importantly, how exactly it will be presented to them.

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

The entire cryptocurrency market is driven by one particularly powerful force: the FOMO. People will invest in your company if the noise around them is so shocking that it leads them to believe that they will miss out on an incredible opportunity if they don’t invest.

  • Communication is the Key

Make sure your team is constantly communicating with investors, both before and during the ICO campaign. The more communication channels you use, the more likely your project will be a success. Think of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, and forums like BitcoinTalk and Reddit.

  • Be Part of the Cryptocurrency Community

Here are some of the ways to get involved with the cryptocurrency community:

  1. Forums: The essential part of your press release campaign. Back in the day, most ICOs were held on Bitcoin-related forums. BitcoinTalk is the one you really need to focus on as it is the biggest and most popular of these platforms right now, especially when it comes to new cryptocurrency announcements. Of course, you shouldn’t forget forums like Bitcoin.com, AltcoinTalks, BitcoinGarden, and many others.
  2. ICO Calendars: People need to be able to stumble upon your campaign by accident. There are many ICO calendars that allow potential investors to keep track of upcoming ICOs, and you should take full advantage of these services. Some notable examples are the calendars of ICO Listing Online, CoinTelegraph, TokenMarket, ICOBench, ICOAlert, and many, many others.
  3. Reddit: Pay close attention to this one. Reddit has more than 40 subreddits related solely to Bitcoin and is perhaps the most active social network when it comes to cryptocurrencies. There are also numerous subreddits dedicated to altcoins, as well as ones that are fully focused on ICOs, such as r / icocrypto. (Active and future ICOs ), r / ico and r / ICOanalysis. Also, make sure to constantly monitor the platform and use the search bar to find and keep track of your project and ICO threads. Actually finding people’s questions and answering them should be a big part of your marketing campaign.
  4. Discussions on Quora: Quora is a community built around users asking questions and getting complete answers. 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.
  5. Slack & Telegram: These are the two messengers most adopted by the cryptocurrency community. 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 set up 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.
  6. Professional groups on LinkedIn: Considering that your project 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 they can see how deeply rooted your project is in the crypto community. Also, there are professional groups like ICO Launch group, ICO group, and many others where you can discuss and promote the campaign.
  7. Facebook Groups: You definitely need to create a Facebook page for your ICO, as for many people it can be the easiest way to get to a startup. Keep in mind, however, that this platform can no longer be used as a paid promotional tool, as Facebook is banning all ICO- related ads. 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 many specific language groups there that will also be suitable for promoting your ICO.
  8. Email Marketing: You need to keep people informed with a weekly email. You could also remind them of your ICO start date a month, a week, a day, or even five minutes before it starts. Don’t force them on people though, and definitely don’t send too many emails – no one likes to go through loads of junk mail in their inbox.
  • Rewards Program

Today, many ICOs offer bounty programs. These programs carry financial rewards for activities that users can perform. Essentially, this means paying people to promote your ICO in forums, holding discussion threads on various services and messengers, translating and localizing documents, social media posts, blogs, etc.

Although there are many advantages to this approach, you should try not to overdo it. Experienced users will easily spot paid posts and posts, and if word spreads that your project is abusing rewards programs, the community will inevitably be suspicious. At the end of the day, nobody likes aggressive advertising and your product should be able to sell without you having to resort to paid promotion within the community.

  • Important Announcement

For your campaign to be successful, you will have to advertise it through any means possible, ensuring that you have reached as many people as possible in the community. But it is of the utmost importance that you and your marketing team are very careful with every post, or response.

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

Remember, there is nothing more damaging to an ICO campaign than the crypto community labeling it a scam.

8. Launch an ICO

Congratulations, your Initial Coin Offering is live! But how long should it last? Let’s take a look at some successful ICOs from the past:

  1. Mastercoin (now Omni Coin ) – The ICO lasted for a month, raising around $ 750,000 in Bitcoin.
  2. Stratis – The ICO lasted 36 days, raising almost $ 600,000
  3. Ethereum – Token sale lasted 42 days, raising $ 18 million
  4. NXT – The ICO ran for 51 days, raising $ 14,000
  5. Waves – The token sale lasted 49 days, raising over $ 16 million.

Considering the above 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 by no means a rule that must be adhered to.

However, it reflects to some extent the current market situation. The time frame is long enough to generate FOMO and promote the project, which attracts more people and more investment, while it is not too long for investors to see some real results and the project moves 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 defining period in the history of your project, there will be people looking for answers to their immediate questions before contributing, or simply asking for guidance on how to do it.

Most importantly, you need to have security specialists on call at all times. At any time, your website could be targeted, as was the case with the Coindash ICO on July 17, 2017. Your website was hacked on the first day of its ICO campaign, resulting in a loss of about $ 7 million in Ether.

What Happens After an ICO

If your ICO was a success, that means the community has delivered. Now, once the campaign is over, it’s up to your project to meet its goals. Now is the time to distribute the tokens, follow your roadmap and do your best to offer the highest possible value to customers and token 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 it set out to do but also a moral and financial obligation not to disappoint investors.

Put your Token on Exchanges

Of course, fine-tuning your product, making your dream of being a successful entrepreneur come true, and making the crypto 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.

To do this, your token has to be in demand, it has to be valuable, and most importantly, it has to appear on 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 crypto community, you should have no problem obtaining it.

Poloniex is one of the largest and most well-established exchanges out there, and here’s a direct quote from their website: “We don’t have a definitive set of criteria, as every project is unique. We listen to the community and select projects that we believe in. that 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 major cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, has a team dedicated exclusively to reviewing requests for new tokens waiting to be listed. Most other exchanges will require your token to prove its value in a similar way.

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

  1. Coin Name: This should be self-explanatory, it is the same name as your project, or something very similar.
  2. Currency Exchange Symbol: Usually a three-letter ticker that will represent your token forever. The number of letters can sometimes go up to five, with no numbers allowed.
  3. Description of your project and your token: You need to provide each exchange 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 on the list? What makes your token different from hundreds of other coins floating around?
  4. Coin Logo: You will need to design an elegant and memorable logo for your token. Think of the instantly recognizable orange Bitcoin logo. Most bags accept logos in PNG format with a transparent background.
  5. Launch Date: This should be the first day of the ICO campaign.
  6. Link to GitHub: Most exchanges require source code before considering listing a currency.
    Source code reviewed by a trusted third party – Again, this should be self-explanatory.
  7. Payment (in some cases): Some exchanges, in case sufficient due diligence is required, may ask you to pay a compliance fee before your token appears on them. Bittrex, for example, used to warn its users that a fee of $ 5,000 could be charged; however, it appears that this rule has since been eliminated.

In case you’re not sure which type of exchange to apply to, here is a list of some of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in terms of trading volume:

  1. Bitfinex
  2. Bithumb
  3. Bittrex
  4. HitBTC
  5. Poloniex
  6. Kraken
  7. Bitstamp
  8. Binance

It is also important to add that it is not recommended that you list your token on any exchange. Just as there are large and solid exchanges in the market, there are some portals that are known for dishonest practices (inorganic movement of operations, misappropriations of user funds, delays in withdrawals, etc.). Listing your token on these disreputable exchanges can cause problems for token holders, thus creating a bad image for the project and a negative impact on token prices.