The Effective ICO White Paper: How to Write and What to Design
The ICO market is bigger than ever and hundreds of projects are trying to raise funds through initial coin offerings. This competitive environment has its own rules for all projects. One of them is that the team must submit its description in a special doc called the ICO white paper.
A white paper is a document that tells how the technology of the blockchain project will work. This file usually contains a detailed description of the architecture, as well as how the users interact with the system. Also, there is information about the market situation, tokens, and a list of team members, etc.
Of course, ICO creators have tons of work: hiring staff, choosing a right ICO platform, setting up ICO marketing, and so on. But without a properly designed white paper, the project will not be able to get the team’s message to the world. Few will be ready to invest in an ICO with the absence of clear and competent descriptions of the technology. So let’s find out how to write a white paper for ICOs to attract an influx of investors!
What Should an ICO White Paper Look Like?
The basic ICO white paper structure looks like this:
- Outline of the problem
- Proposed solution and product description
- Market analysis
- Description of the token implementation
- Team Information
- Tokens release and further plans
Let’s take a look at a few areas of the white paper that often lack the details needed to make an investor feel confident in the project.
Despite the fact that the section dedicated to the project team is usually located at the end of the document, it is one of the most important elements. Any angel investor can tell many stories about how they invested money in a strong team with a not-so-strong idea, believing in project’s ability to come up with something worthwhile. Hence, it is important that the team has assembled versatile professionals who have already achieved some blockchain success in the past. Equally important, this success is effectively described within in the team bios, or in their LinkedIn profiles.
Another important section of the ICO white paper should be devoted to the product description. Namely, information about the prototype, the first users and development plans. Very often, ICOs have only a beautifully designed pdf and a few mock-ups, with no product and zero users.
If the project already has an existing ecosystem and users, then the chances for a successful token’s life increase. This means the availability of these elements must be reported in the documentation.
ICO Funds Distribution
It is very important to detail the plans for using the funds raised during the ICO. Today, there are numerous organizations in the ICO world that report on their plans to create some consortium, non-profit entities, or a series of launch events for industry development. All this may muddle the level of ICO transparency and cause a feeling that perhaps someone from the team has the intention of spending some of the raised funds on something other than development else.
In this case, the probability is high that the project team is going to manipulate the price of the token when opening a free trade. In general, the future interaction of the company with the released tokens is of interest to the audience: will the issue be limited to presale, which determines the start of sales in the market, and will buy-backs will be conducted?
Of course, white papers for the ICO should contain a detailed technical description of the project and plans for its further development (the white paper’s roadmap). Ideally, the team should provide a detailed plan of its work for the next 12-18 months, which should include a beta launch.
Top Three White Paper Examples
Let’s move from theory to practice: the easiest way to understand how a good document for an ICO should look is to review real examples of successful projects. We selected three over-the-top projects and analyzed the white paper template of each.
1. Monetha is a blockchain project of a payment system, which raised $37 million in just 18 minutes. The whitepaper contains all of the above sections. Creators paid considerable attention to the description of the project scheme, the economy of the token, and plans for the use of funds, as well as the transfer of merit of the team members – up to the launch of past businesses that received investments.
2. The Aeternity project raised almost $34 million. Its whitepaper demonstrates that the documentation does not have to be extensive. Nor does the file have a be beautifully designed. Their scientifically-styled white paper format is simple and with only the most pertinent information included within.
3. Filecoin raised $257 million. Its creators also decided to use the format of a scientific article, without designer delights.
We have been actively studying the ICO market for the past 10 months, including the content design. At the end of the article, we will give some advice based upon the results of our observation and ICO white paper analysis of over 90 ICO projects.
A great whitepaper will not help a bad ICO. ICO white paper writing services often note that if a team tries to solve a non-existent or not very important problem, or if its members have little experience in development and they are new to blockchain, then success is a long way off.
The format should be suitable for the team. The style of the scientific article chosen by the projects Filecoin and Aeternity differs from the more popular chosen by the Monetha project. In particular, in the “scientific white paper design” there is usually no section with the team description. To create a quality scientific design, the author should have experience writing such documents. If it is not possible, it is better to follow Monetha’s way and make a unique presentation of the project.
Be sure to take your audience into account. Adapting the style of the ICO white paper to the target reader is significant. If the goal is to attract a technically literate audience of scientists, it is better to present the information in their usual form. But if the target is a broader audience, then you should not overly complicate the document; you can even create two versions: a lightweight rendition (the “lite paper”) and the more technical paper- for those who need and expect all the tech details.