The Prostitution of ICOs for 5 minutes of fake fame

What’s wrong with ICO event organizers

The other day, an ICO pitch event organizer stressed to me that some of the ICOs I am working with should join his tour. He had a whole presentation prepared regarding which ICOs he has worked with and how many millions they have raised. On the sidelines, he mentioned as well that I would get a referral commission if I brought him ICOs for his roadshows (I assume he does not totally understand the role of an advisor, which is most likely). I advise the founders of the projects I consult with that the competition they should get involved in is for community building in the crypto space.

Naturally, I have a lot of concerns. They like to be on the stage and at the big events but forget very often who their audience really is.

ICO PITCH EVENTS send the wrong message

By putting ICO projects up against each other, like at a Miss World Competition, the whole thing ends up mostly being like a “beauty competition” and about “who can pitch the best.” Founders waste time to build perfect narratives for their pitches and polish them with nice visuals and large numbers.

This is not how ICOs work

ICOs work by doing the hard work on the ground and building up the community. Every minute spent by founders on polishing a pitch deck to attract the next big fund is a minute not spent on building up their community base. Once the community base is strong and has validation from the crypto community, the project flies to the moon and the funds are wanting to get in. But yes, this takes time, and it’s not just a “we raised X millions of dollars in 3 days” thing; it’s most likely something that takes the ICO around 6 to 12 months, depending on how well the founders are already rooted within the community.

The judges and audience can’t evaluate properly

Most likely, the winners will be (as they were recently at the competition held by EOS in Hong Kong) those projects which have the biggest “Vision” and shiniest “Idea”. In most cases, the judges and the audience will not have enough information to be able to validate and compare the projects that are pitching because in this space, they can be from vastly different segments. The ICOs most likely present their standard pitch deck, which is more or less the same as other ICOs, just with other faces and other numbers. Proper due diligence to give proper feedback or make a meaningful evaluation is not there.

ICO event organizers are not investors (and most likely, the audience isn’t either)

At most, they are just event organizers who want to grab the money to be made at ICO pitch events because they are standard in the industry and one needs them. They are attracted to getting as many ICO projects as possible to their events because they will use those who succeed as a kind of validation for the event.

Lastly, ICO competitions also involve a moral hazard of giving the ICO who wins a false sense of pride because a ton of these events are rigged. In most cases, the ICO has not done much aside from make a good presentation; they are simply lucky enough to match the advisor’s industry taste. This can be very demoralizing for projects which are highly technical and most judges or people in the audience do not understand.

Stop wasting your time and do it this way.

Stop wasting your time and stop entering ICO competitions. Build your community instead of pitching at events, and if you do present, then present what your company is solving or give an informative overview of the space you are in and how blockchain changes or things can disrupt this space, as well as what part you and your company will play in this.

Always consider that those projects which really fly are those projects which have a strong community; the community makes them fly and not fake numbers in your Telegramchannel. Pitching at numerous ICO pitch events is not the way to go. It is better to do community meetups once you have enough followers to do so, and make them offline as well as online with ambassadors of your ICO project.

Always consider that those big projects were not born from newbies or someone who just had an idea and wanted to do an ICO; most of them have been in the minds of people for a long time and are solving real problems. Questions like “when MOON?” and “when LAMBO?” would not be asked because the community stands behind a project and it is not a simple pump and dump.

I have invested in more than 30 ICO projects alone in the past 6 months, but none of them was at any competition I attended; most of them just popped up on the Internet everywhere and had a strong community behind them. Some were personal referrals from people who work with the projects, and others just had such a unique idea that they stood out from the crowd and captured my attention.

About the author

Juergen Hoebarth is Managing Director of Tokenization Ltd. His involvement in cryptocurrencies dates back to 2014, and he was an early ICO investor of Ethereum and NEO. Juergen has profound and solid experience in the digital start-up and blockchain ecosystem and is also an evangelist who speaks about the potential of tokenization enabled via platforms such as Ethereum, EOS, NEM, NEO and Cardano.

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