No, this isn’t yet another article promising the path to the whitepaper (wp) that lays the golden tokens: a wp is simply one element of an orchestrated and managed set of activities, albeit a significant element. While a solid wp is critical to a successful ICO, yours can only ever be solid if it is cohesively presenting and representing a solid, sustainable business proposition with an intelligent, integrated token model… without that, well, I would suggest that maybe you aren’t yet in need of a wp.
So, who am I? (and why should you listen to me?)
Starting with full disclosure: by trade I have been providing business & technology consulting for too many years, collaborating with my clients to better position their businesses to accelerate delivery to their goals. I write, advise, critique, fine tune and orchestrate ICO whitepapers and token models, pitch decks, business plans and market propositions. I have raised money; I advise businesses seeking investment; I advise investors in the angel, VC and ICO space on their positions; and I occasionally invest.
All that to demonstrate that, over the years and across my roles I have the interesting and beneficial position of having gained the insights from roles on all sides of a typical ICO ‘square:
- the business who are planning the ICO to seek investment (financial or otherwise)
- the ICO authors, business stakeholders and advisors who seek to enable that investment
- the technology, business, implementation and delivery partners investing in a relationship
- The readers – those reviewing, typically in consideration of buying your tokens / investing.
Of course, everything written here are simply my views. They’ve been formulated by a lot of lessons learned over the years while designing, architecting and directing very large-scale enterprise projects and products– and working with dozens, of fintech, and other, start-ups, good and bad. But, in all, these are my opinions as to what matters, and why.
Traditional v. New (VC etc v. ICO)
At the recent Blockchain Summit in Frankfurt, I was sitting in on a round table at the last minute when I realised the topic up for discussion was ‘should I be looking for VC funding or doing an ICO?” I was, well, more than a little surprised at a table of experts naively asking what I would have thought was a rhetorical question.
Why rhetorical? An ICO should be considered if you have a viable business model that suits the space (in brief: problem defined; solution provided; revenue paths; intelligent token ‘connection’ to business model). Now, such a model could also go for VC funding – but a model without those basic characteristics will be suitable only for more traditional investment vehicles (VC, Angel, etc.).
the whitepaper: a pitch deck by any other name
And that is the hidden lesson in all of this: no matter how amazing, magical, precise, concise, illustrative, warm and cuddly your whitepaper might be, it only succeeds if the marketing and investor relationship / amplification / ICO execution team gets a strong token model front of the right investors, and in the right context.
The root key word above is “invest” which you might recall as the “speculative placement of resources in anticipation of making a profit”. It is important to start there because without focus on that definition, you are not positioning yourself to succeed.
The investment element – and the risks – are all that a standard investor is looking for. Yes, the crypto-world might seem to be redefining just what is a standard investor but there are still plenty of them out there, and they’re holding a lot of capital. And the sheer amount of choice, let alone the quality variances mean that they are being forced.
The whitepaper is the window to your Business Vision and how it makes money. It is how you are selling your business to investors and partners, current and future. It describes and connects your business proposition with your markets and your token model.
It is selling the concept primarily on its own merits… which happens to be the key to the mechanics and psychology of selling: the ideal position is one where we put something in front of someone, which allows them in turn to easily see and work out, for themselves, something that is worth buying. We don’t want to be in the position of trying to convince them to buy and we do that by ensuring that the wp is a cohesive connected story that enables just that and, in so doing, moves them from the role of passive reader to that of active investor, and a request for your wallet address.