Tuesday 3 July 2018


How to rate an ICO

An ICO is an Initial Coin Offering and it has been taking the crypto world by storm. It is similar to an IPO, but exclusive to the cryptoverse.
Many start-ups are usingICOs as a means to raise funds to bring their projects to life. This could be anything from hiring new team members to having a bigger budget for research and development.
When deciding whether to invest in an ICO there are many factors to take into consideration. Throughout this article, I will be delving deeper into those factors.
I will also be publishing an article in the next week, exploring why influencers rate projects differently, what they gain from it and when you can also gain.
How to rate an ICO
These are the main components you should look into when deciding whether or not to part with your hard earned money!
1. Team:
“Behind every great man is a great woman..” — a saying we have been accustomed to hearing over the years, and is full of truth!
With any idea or project, the analogy is exactly the same; it is extremely unlikely that you will have a successful project/ICO if the team behind it is not great.
Deciding if a team is great or not, is quite a subjective view, but here are a few pointers to help make it more objective:
- Does the team member have any real previous experience that is relevant to the project? I.e. if it is an ICO who’s USP is data analytics on the Blockchain, does the CTO (Chief Technical Officer) or COO (Chief Operating Officer) have experience working for a well-known company as a data analyst, or if they are building their own Blockchain, do they have enough developers?
- Does the team have a good balance?
I have seen some teams who have a plethora of experience within the corporate world and have worked for companies like IBM; Mercedes; KPMG; but they are launching their own protocol and only have one developer. The likelihood that they will be able to launch their product is highly unlikely.
The other side of the coin is that you could have a very young team, fresh out of university with lots of ideas but just not industry ready. Do you write off this ICO? Of course not!
The exuberance of youth is raw and untamed, and with the right set of advisors (guidance) they may just be the next Ethereum!
2. Idea
Great teams tend to get behind great ideas, so if you have researched the team and they are solid, rest assured, the idea will be solid as well.
In the majority of cases, we look at the idea before we look at the team. Whilst most established ICOs have a marketing team that can sell ice to an eskimo, you have to be able to wade your way through the fancy terminology (BS!) and get and understanding of what the project is actually doing. If it is doing one of the following then you could be onto something:
· Does is solve a genuine problem?
· Does it need the Blockchain?
· Will it actuallydisrupt a centralized authority?
· Is it innovative?
· What is the potential of the idea?
· Are there ICOs like this within the space already?
· If yes to the above, then: how is it different to those ICOs? Does it have improved features? Or is it just a copy & paste idea?
The more the number of yes answers you have, the more likely the project will succeed (in the short term at the very least).
3. MVP
The number of ICOs being released weekly is crazy, and there certainly isn’t enough time for you to go through each one (unless you have a very large team working with you). Therefore, another way that can help identify an ICO with good potential is if it has a minimum viable product, an MVP.
To those unfamiliar with the term, an MVP is a product with enough features to satisfy the initial investors, and provide feedback for future development.
With this in mind, it is much more likely that a team with an MVP can reach the milestones on their roadmap quicker and thus launch a fully functioning product sooner. This in turn means the native token to that platform will be in use and the price will go up based on actual demand, not hype or manipulation by whales.
It is not always the case that only projects with MVPs turn out to be profitable. Those with a solid community or established partners can also have the same desired effect {we will revisit this later in the article}.
4. Token Metrics
Whilst each of these factors has an equal importance, they are in order for a reason (there is a method to my madness); we started with the most subjective section and worked our way to the most objective section.
Being a mathematician by trade, this is the section that I personally most enjoy researching and seeing if a project is worth investing in purely through the numbers.
As with any project within this space, decentralization must also occur by having many different investors and supporters holding the majority of the tokens.
As time has progressed in this space, token metrics to the standard investor have gotten a little interesting to say the least!
With earlier projects there were only 3 main rounds: Seed round, private sale/pre-ICO and then ICO, where the bonus percentage was consistent for each round. Unfortunately this is no longer the case, with many ICOs opting to go for more complex fundraising structures to maximize funds raised and minimize bonuses given out.
There are now at least 4 different stages, and within each stage, there are bonuses depending on the amount to be invested.
This makes it extremely difficult to work out the bonus for each round of fund raising and increases the likelihood of a ‘Pump and Dump’ from early contributors as soon as the token is released to an exchange.
In general, when analyzing the token metrics these are the things to look out for:
1. What is the price of the token?
2. What percentages of tokens are being sold?
3. What is the hard cap, and is this in line with similar projects?
4. What kind of bonuses was given in the earlier rounds?
5. Are bonus tokens from earlier rounds locked up? (to avoid a pump and dump).
6. How many tokens are there for the team?
7. How long are the team’s tokens locked up for?
8. If the hard cap isn’t met, will they still split the raised capital in the same ratio?
9. Will the token have an actualuse within the platform/project?
10. Does the split of raised funds make sense, e.g. If the project is at alpha/beta testing and they claim that 30% is going to R&D then it is most likely that they have an MVP at best and will need that large amount of funds to further develop their MVP to alpha/beta stage.
If I can answer these questions and the numbers add up, then there is a good chance that I will part with my hard earned money to invest. (Given sections 1–3 are also solid).
Other factors:
1. Community
A large community doesn’t always mean an awesome investment, there are projects with over 30k members in their Telegram channel, most of whom have heard a project mentioned by an influencer and flocked to see how they can make millions without doing their due diligence.
Having said that, if a community has organically grown and hasn’t need heavy marketing; advertising or shilling from an influencer, than a large number is a good number.
Not all successful projects have a large community at ICO stage. There have been a few ICOs in stealth mode, who have relied heavily on early contributors and genuine believers in the project, instead of those looking for a quick flip.
2. Competition
With over 5 Billion USD raised in 2018 through ICOs, many people are seeing this as a ‘get rich quick’ scheme and are launching ICOs very similar to established projects whose tokens have gone up at least 100 times in value.
If a project is a copy paste or extremely similar with no distinct differences to a different/more established project, be careful!
If a project doesn’t have any serious competition, pay more attention and do your due diligence.
3. Type of Project
There are many types of projects ranging from those who want to build a Dapp on top of a Blockchain, to those wanting to build Blockchains themselves.
Think of it like this: would you rather invest in the app store itself, or one of the apps within that store? Of course the app store!
That is why it is a smarter investment to look at projects that are building an infrastructure (Blockchain, Protocol, DAO) as opposed to an app.
Also, some established Blockchains have some issues like scaling, security, etc. These would also be smart investments as they are solving a ‘now’ problem.
4. Partnerships
Projects who have genuinepartnerships with established companies/cryptocurrencies are more likely to become successful as many of the communities will adopt this project and invest in it, as they believe in the companies that have chosen to partner with a specific ICO. This could be because of hype (see below) or a specific partnership causing a breakout in the price and usage of that specific token.
5. Hype
Every now and again comes along a project, which takes the cryptoverse by storm. Main reasons are down to wide spread exposure of the project by different influencers; the project solves an actual problem and people believe that it will take them “to the moon”.
It is true that hyped projects do really well once the tokens hit the exchange and give many of the early investorsa good return, the same cannot always be said for those who invested during the crowd sale, or bought as soon the token was released onto an exchange.
Therefore, Hype is always good if you got in early, as with the bonus you will most likely make a handsome return. In addition to this, many of the influencers are like shepherds; moving the masses to believe that a specific project will shake up the space and they would be crazy not to miss out, causing the token to be over valued as soon as it’s released on the exchange as their followers have increased levels of FOMO (fear of missing out).
I hope this article has given you a better understanding of just how much time and effort is needed to analyze the true potential of an ICO, and that when you are investing your hard earned money, you need to be more careful and not go in gung ho because the people/influencers you follow on YouTube and around social media have said it’s an amazing project or given it a very high rating.
The solution is to come up with your own rating structure; it could be a percentage, a total out of 10, or just a list of pros and cons of each project. DYOR (do your own research) and invest at your own peril!
Money is there to made, but just for those who work hard and do the correct due diligence (or sometimes just damn lucky!).
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