The ICO is Not Dead: Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

Making of a Blockchain Rewards and eCommerce Platform: Journey of a Start Up - Part 6

Courtesy of Rik Buiting

Courtesy of Rik Buiting

“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.”

Patrick Overton

If taking the first steps into entrepreneurism is a case of stepping out of your comfort zone, then taking the decision to go to ICO instead of obtaining funding via the traditional route, is a giant leap into the unknown.

So much has been written and predicted about ICO’s since the beginning of the ICO boom in mid 2017; “Best practice” papers, blogs, opinion pieces, the inanest of which are now saying that that the “ICO is dead”.

I won’t name names, but the simple fact is, anyone who wants you to believe the ICO is dead, is worried about the long-term future of their own coin and / or investments. Period. There is no other reason. ICO’s are not dead. 

Everybody has an agenda…

Something I’ve never done is follow the crowd or accepted an “established” way of doing things as the best way of doing it. I’m talking about the subjective. And the cryptocurrency industry thus far is very subjective as it isn’t regulated. From everything that’s been written, said and applied in relation to cryptocurrencies and ICO’s you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And there’s A LOT of chaff.

Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule to one side (whether you agree with it or not), for a technology that’s only just beginning to sprout, where we’re at the beginning of the learning curve, there are too many (non-technical) self-professed experts. Again, you have to sort the wheat from the chaff. The easiest way to do this is to consistently ask “why?”. If nobody, including yourself, can’t provide a logical, acceptable or reasonable answer to what’s being said, be sceptical.

Courtesy of Joel Fulgencio

Courtesy of Joel Fulgencio

Many years ago when I first moved to Hong Kong as Commercial Head of Turkish Airlines, I wanted to buy a new mobile phone, which were much cheaper there. One of my colleagues who’d already been out there for a few months recommended “Stephen” who owned a shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, because he always gave the “best deal”. So we went, and the first thing that caught my attention was the numerous Turkish Airlines business cards he had displayed on his counter next to the cash register, from the various THY employees that had frequented his shop. Evidently, every time someone from the airline visited, my colleague would take them to Stephen. I got a price on the phone I was after and proceeded to walk out (to shop around). My colleague was taken aback that I hadn’t trusted his judgement.

 

“Why do you want to look somewhere else, you can’t trust other shops…”

“So you’re saying Stephen’s is the only trustworthy shop in Hong Kong?”

“……..”

Not only did I find the same phone for a better price in Wan Chai (where our office was located!), but I later found out Stephen was selling refurbished phones, which eventually malfunctioned very quickly.

I should make it clear at this point that there was no financial arrangement between my colleague and Stephen. He was just someone that his friend, the Turkish Trade Ambassador to Hong Kong - someone that could be trusted - had introduced him to, and being in a foreign land, he took Stephen as being the safest choice.

ICO’s are a similarly foreign land for newcomers. You can trust what those that are already there are saying and doing, or you can shop around by asking questions. That’s not to say that some of the practices when going to ICO are not fundamental, and we’ll cover those aspects in a future post, but there’s a LOT of room for development and improvement, to make the process smoother and proposition more valuable for both investors, investees and eventually, end customers.

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A soon as the website went LIVE for the UKasii Blockchain Rewards and eCommerce Platform, the number of messages and requests to collaborate from “Bounty Hunters” and “Community Managers”, alleging to have investor portfolios in the thousands was (and still is) overwhelming. However, much like social media “influencers” who have tens of thousands of “followers”, (many of whom are fake accounts), there’s no way of verifying if the claims are accurate, and even if the claims made are true, there’s no way to guarantee that their portfolio will invest. Telegram communities are crowded with profiles, again in their thousands, where the communications can become full of irrelevant messages and internet memes. These may be par for the course in building a rapport with your community, but key messages regarding the ICO can get lost easily in the noise. Our ICO Advisor, Omer Zaim, had pre-warned us early on that we should obtain a separate phone number, purely for Telegram communications due to the sheer volume of messages that are sent. I could see why. Hence, we’ve consciously avoided promoting Telegram, and “bounty hunters” who will invariably invite speculative investors to the channel, which would not be a good fit for UKasii and its purpose.

In parallel, numerous ICO rating and review websites started listing UKasii without permission. This was initially satisfying and had its benefits; immediate exposure and getting our “ticker” (UKS) established in the market, which there’s no official procedure for anywhere. As mentioned above, there’s no regulation. However, there are downsides; inaccuracy of the information published, branding guidelines not being adhered to and to a lesser degree, the quality of the websites themselves. This can be mitigated by social media messaging, communicating the websites that have been authorised.

No matter how diligently you try to manage the build-up to your ICO, some chaff will inevitably filter through.

But fear not, the ICO is not dead "but is the beginning of a new story - the story of the gradual renewal of man, the story of his gradual regeneration, of his passing from one world into another, of his initiation into a new unknown life. That might be the subject of a new story, but our present story is ended."

To be continued on 11 December 2018.

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