Based on a true story
If you want to know how to launch an initial coin offering and come through it with flying colors, we have a story for you. It is a story of a creatively prepared and brilliantly launched ICO that we could take part in. Now, with the permission of its owner, Digitex, we will lift the curtain over some details of ICO and smart contract development. You can find a complete case study on our website, while here we are going to highlight the main aspects of ICO preparation and launch.
But before we go on, we would like to congratulate our amazing partner, Digitex, and its founder, Adam Todd, on the fabulous ICO campaign. It is a textbook example of what professional approach and careful preparation can achieve. We can rightfully say that the success of Adam’s ICO is the result of his expertise and attention combined with our blockchain development experience.
Let’s do some reverse engineering of the Digitex ICO to work out the best practices of a successful ICO campaign.
What is an ICO and why people do it?
ICO, or initial coin offering, is the crypto-version of IPO in the Wall Street terminology. The transparent and decentralized blockchain technology opened broad opportunities for startups to raise initial capital without the regulatory restrictions imposed by banks or venture capitalists.
In a nutshell, when launching an ICO, the startup explains its project and how much money it needs to kick off. Enthusiasts willing to back the project can participate by investing their real or crypto money into the project currency called tokens. Of course, ICO participants expect a certain return on their investment if the project is successful.
In our case, the goal of the ICO was Digitex Futures, a commission-free cryptocurrency exchange. Adam Todd is a professional trader, and through Digitex he hoped to apply his trading skills and knowledge in the cryptocurrency sector.
How to prepare for an ICO?
As with every enterprise, good preparation is half the success. There are quite a lot of things to do before you actually launch your ICO. We met Adam about two months before the date when he planned to start his crowdsale. Two months seem like a lot of time, but as we were discussing the things we had to do and watched the list grow longer, we began to realize that we were on a very tight schedule.
There were three major areas that we had to take care of – creation of the information and terms for investors, web development including the necessary security measures and, of course, the ICO marketing campaign. Adam’s team took over the web development and marketing. Adoriasoft, in turn, provided a team of blockchain and cryptocurrency experts to handle the investor-related matters.
What Do Investors Expect to See in an ICO?
There are hundreds of ICOs out there – some running, some closed and some failed. They may be launched for different purposes, and they may have different investor terms. However, there are common things in any ICO, and they are what potential investors look for.
You may say that the white paper is the core of any ICO, the point on which the ICO success is hinged. A white paper is usually between ten and thirty pages long. However, its essence can be described with a short phrase – it is what people are willing to give their hard-earned money for.
From the white paper, the investors see the goal of the entire project and the way it is going to be reached. No matter if the investor reads it carefully from cover to cover or just skims through, they should get the idea that this project is worth investing in. Clear goals, specific roadmap, explicit graphics – these are the basic components through which the white paper gets the message across.
During the initial coin offering development for Adam’s project, we created a white paper that emphasized the highlights of the project:
- A brief description of futures markets with a focus on the specific of decentralized trading
- The mechanisms of commission-free futures trading, particularly, those implemented in Digitex
- The advantages and benefits of commission-free trading for the users
Here, we should say that the twenty-seven pages of the white paper are the condensed knowledge of the cryptocurrency experts both from Adoriasoft and Adam’s team. The white paper is based on an extensive crypto-economy analysis in the context of the futures exchange. It contains clear calculations of how the revenue is going to be generated, gives the exact breakdown of token supply and distribution, compares trading at Digitex with other cryptocurrency exchanges, and lays down the rules and terms of trading.
It would be fair to say that the success of Adam’s ICO, to a large extent, depended on a smartly written white paper showing the potential investors all advantages of the Digitex project.
You can find a smart contract in any ICO. However, this does not immediately mean that they are easy to develop or that there is a tried and tested method of developing it. The technology is very new, and there is no commonly accepted way of building smart contracts.
It is extremely important that the smart contract performs properly. In blockchain transactions, the smart contract is your lawyer and your notary. It verifies that both parties of the transaction have fulfilled their responsibilities and then releases the items to be exchanged.
Simply put, a smart contract is a piece of code that regulates blockchain transactions. Smart contracts are self-executing, that is, they check that both parties have supplied what they agreed to by the specified date. If both conditions are satisfied, the smart contract performs the exchange. If one of the parties fails, the other gets the return. Simple as that.
However, developing a smart contract is not that simple. The main catch is that after the smart contract is released, nobody can modify it. This is both its beauty and its peril. On the one hand, users cannot tamper with smart contracts, thus their conditions remain unchanged for everyone. On the other hand, even the developers cannot get “inside” to fix whatever bugs may occur.
To make the ICO smart contract work for the investors’ benefit and protect their money, it has to be effective and perform without failures. In practice, this means accurate and thorough development, some heavy-duty testing and expert audit.
For Digitex, we built an Ethereum-based smart contract that matched the terms of the white paper. We checked and tested until we were 100% sure that it worked as expected and that the money of Digitex investors were safe.
Transparent and effective investor terms help both the project and the investors themselves. Setting up the investor terms serves multiple purposes:
- Clear explanation of the conditions of participation in the ICO and the benefits that the investors can expect.
- Description of the procedure of investor verification and the criteria it uses.
- Compliance with the KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) regulations. This is an important point, as this check protects the company from opportunistic participants and simultaneously creates an additional security mechanism for the investors. Since an ICO expects investors from many countries, the onboarding rules should comply with the laws of any jurisdiction.
We got together with Adam’s team to work out a set of straightforward and transparent onboarding rules that would be clear to the investors and show that their funds are safe.
Of course, people who are thinking of giving money to your project would want to see who is behind it. They want to know who provides expert advice on the business matters, who develops the project, and, most certainly, who actually launched the whole thing. Presenting the project team increases the investors’ trust towards your project.
Therefore, introduce your team to your investors – the founders, the business advisors and the developers who actually create ICO. And not only that – your visitors should be able to learn more about the team. Make sure to include as much external information as you can – links to profiles in the social networks, references to publications, contact details.
If you browse the Digitex website, you are sure to meet Adam’s team. In addition to reading their short bios right there, you can look up their LinkedIn profiles for full career descriptions and achievements.
The website is one of the major tasks of the ICO development, as this is where users should find everything they want to know about the ICO and the project for which it is launched. ICO’s are usually represented as one-page websites containing all the relevant information.
The ICO website is where the user lands following the link, and this is where they should stay. If the visitor wants to know what the crowdsale is for – here’s the white paper. If the visitor is curious when the company is going to launch ICO – here’s the countdown timer. Many people want to see the team behind this project – here’re the photos and bios. The project description, the terms, and conditions, links to social and mass media, the project timeline – the visitor should be able to find everything related to the ICO on its website.
According to our project plan, the web development was the task for Adam’s team. Adoriasoft contributed by setting up the investor cabinet and the cryptocurrency wallet. Through personal cabinets, investors do their transactions and store tokens.
ICO’s are highly sensitive to hacker attacks. Each ICO accumulates a wealth of two extremely valuable assets – money and identity. Each of them alone is a prime trophy, while the two together is something hackers will die for. Therefore, ICO developers must be especially scrupulous in the matters related to ICO security and implement reliable protection mechanisms.
For the Digitex ICO, we started with selecting a reputed hosting provider. This way, we got double benefits – ensured the reliable website performance even during peak loads, and took advantage of the provider’s own security mechanisms.
In addition, we implemented own security measures – firewalls to restrict the traffic from untrusted points and anti-DDoS mechanisms preventing failures from high-volume attacks. ICO websites are often the targets of phishing attacks collecting the visitors’ data. Therefore, it was of utmost importance to protect the investors and to make the website withstand high loads.
How to promote ICO
We, probably, do not need to convince you of the importance of a proper marketing campaign for a successful ICO. Through clever marketing, the company, on the one hand, gets its message across to quite a wide audience. On the other hand, by promoting its communication channels, the company ensures constant contact with potential investors and gets a chance to answer their questions and alleviate their concerns.
An ICO campaign starts long before the actual token sale. An ICO can only be successful when enough people participate in it to buy the necessary quantity of tokens. Therefore, a lot depends on a wise ICO promotion aimed at using all possible channels to reach the public.
Thus, the ICO marketing strategy became one of the primary tasks on our list. We spent some long hours working out a campaign through which we hoped to reach as many people as possible, and Adam’s marketing team immediately set to work.
Marketing strategy for Digitex campaign
Adam used all channels possible to promote Digitex and its ICO. Anyone interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies definitely came across some information about the project and the upcoming token sale. For example, you could learn about Digitex ICO from the:
- Facebook page regularly posting the project news
- Reddit account that Adam monitored himself. He was actively answering the questions of the potential investors and other users and describing the specifics of the ICO
- Series of articles on Medium. Each article described a particular aspect of cryptocurrency trading or explained the specifics of the token sale
- Telegram chat that was specially set up for the 24/7 support of the project and prompt response to whatever questions people had about Digitex. The chat audience counted as many as about 20,000 members
- Vimeo account where Adam recorded a video describing his project and his expectations of it.
As we mentioned already, the ICO was a success, so we may rightfully claim that the marketing strategy was cleverly planned and smartly executed. Of course, there are lots of effective marketing strategies. The key is to choose the one that fits your project best. The recipe is simple – be open, be honest and be there!
The grand finale
OK, you would ask, but how did the actual ICO go? In fact, there is not too much to tell.
The ICO was scheduled for January 15, 2018 and was to continue for thirty days afterward. That means we had about two months to develop ICO and to create the token sale for it. Everything was going as planned, and by the date of the ICO, we were ready.
January 15 came. The countdown timer ran down to zero, and we began watching the numbers change. Then, before we knew it, it was over. Bam – and we saw the $5,600,000 of our hard cap on the screen. Seventeen minutes, all in all.
Adam’s success is a direct result of hard work, thorough preparation, and smooth execution. He managed to win his investors’ trust by presenting a high-potential project, showed his commitment by attending to the smallest technical details of his ICO, and was ready to share information about his offering via all possible channels.
We are happy that Adam chose Adoriasoft to create ICO for his futures exchange. Despite the tight deadlines and intense schedule, it was fun to work with him and his team. Now we are looking forward to continuing our cooperation, for example, on his futures exchange.
We would be also very glad to work on other equally exciting blockchain projects. The technology evolves with each passing day, and we try to keep pace with it. We already have quite a number of blockchain development services under our belt. If you plan a blockchain project or simply need a professional advice, contact us, and your journey into the world of cryptocurrencies will be smooth and secure.
“Adoriasoft helped me to launch my ICO and I have collected the needed funds in 17 minutes! Good work, guys!”
Adam Todd - Founder and CEO