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All You Need To Know About Writing A Whitepaper For ICO

2018 has been the best year for ICOs so far, the existing 800+ ICOs in June 2018 raising more than $5 billion and propelling the ICO market to maturity. This whopping growth, combined with the fact that more and more countries now have regulations in place for ICOs and cryptocurrency, show that this disruptive market is merely in its prime and that it could soon be as lucrative as traditional financial markets for investors.

However, the increasing competition and regulatory frameworks, as encouraging as they might be for economy as a whole, do pose one major issue for ICO startups: they need a compelling whitepaper to stand out from the crowd and attract as many investors as possible.

What is a whitepaper?

The whitepaper is an important document that provides essential details to investors on the technology behind your ICO, how you intend to use that technology and who are the minds behind your ICO project. Similar to a business plan, the whitepaper should include your long-term vision and estimate growth prospects. Ultimately, the role of the whitepaper is to generate publicity and convince investors that your tokens are worth it. Here are some tips to achieve this:

Step 1: know your audience.

In the first days of the ICO market, whitepapers were meant to be read mainly by investors who had a background in cryptocurrency and knew exactly what Blockchain is. But now, the ICO market is starting to gain mainstream interest, so that chances of your whitepaper landing in the hands of someone who isn’t tech-savvy at all are actually quite high. So, it’s very important to define the audience that you are writing for, as that will dictate the tone and terminology of your whitepaper. You have to give enough background info on the market for non-savvy readers, but not over-explain, because that will bore the experienced ones; give enough technical details to show that your ICO is legit, but do it in a simple way that can be understood by a wide audience. Try not to abuse Blockchain terms and buzzwords, because will only act as fillers and distract the reader from what really matters.

Step 2: show off the team behind the project.

The team behind your ICO project is just as important as your tech. Sometimes, the names involved in the project make the difference between success and failure, so in your whitepaper, it’s essential to point out all the strengths of the leadership team. ICO advisors explain that a thorough team presentation serves two purposes: first, it shows the human element behind the tech, which automatically creates trust and second, it helps you prove that you have the talent to implement your vision. Write a presentation for all team leaders, including not only details on where they’ve worked before and how they have influenced their industries, but also relevant stories that reveal their leadership abilities and personal branding strengths. Did one of your team members coordinate a social campaign or had a business project received with accolades? Be sure to mention that. In a professional way, you can even mention some of the quirks that make your team unique, because the human element really matters.

Identify the problem and explain how your product will solve it.

Any business, no matter its type, aims to address a specific need. The same principle can be applied for ICOs. In order for your project to draw attention, you should identify a problem that the world is facing or could face in the future and explain how your tech will solve it. The more relevant this problem feels, the higher the chances to stand out. Faster transactions, decentralized music rights databases, incorruptible voting systems, these are all examples of innovative Blockchain applications that saw the light of day because their creators knew how to present an existing problem. When you do this, make sure you describe the issue in as much detail as possible, insisting on all its ramifications and then, explain how your project will solve the problem. Don’t hesitate to add real life examples and case studies, not just facts, figures and theories, Divide your solution into clear steps – this will project a sense of organization and responsibility. Try to anticipate the questions of the reader and address the 5Ws of problem solving: who, what, where, when and why.

The product – the highlight of the whitepaper.

They say that a good product sells itself, but that’s only partially true. Tech specs do matter, of course, but you should also learn how to present your idea in a positive light. Describe your offering in as much detail as possible, explaining what makes it special and including a beta prototype if available. However, be careful not to exaggerate and make false claims, as this will only complicate things for you in the future. Instead, be honest and transparent.

Why wasn’t my whitepaper successful?

As you are reading this article, hundreds of ICO are being drafted. But sadly, not all of them will turn into success stories for reasons that may or may not be related to whitepaper quality:

  • You didn’t include enough technical information about your product or how you will be using the funds. Even when it’s unintentional, this mistake can make you look unreliable and make the reader believe they’re dealing with a scam.
  • You used the wrong tone. Perhaps your idea was brilliant and your whitepaper was technically strong, but it was written with the wrong audience in mind. Perhaps the tone was off, the examples you gave weren’t relevant enough or you used the wrong approach.
  • Your project wasn’t strong enough. Launching a successful ICO takes time, effort and sometimes, resilience. Even when it’s flawlessly written, a whitepaper cannot save a bad project. In such cases, the wisest things to do is go over your product, assess it and ask yourself if it’s really that good or if you are launching it at the right time.

Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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