The Blockchain Industry

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Today I want to tell you about popular ICO business modules and blockchain use cases.

Trust & Reputation in the Blockchain Industry

Personal trust matters a lot in the Blockchain Industry. The investors, team members, advisors or exchange staff may know each other from working together on other projects. It is important you conduct yourself in a professional manner and treat people the way you want to be treated. Maybe we can say the crypto world was first populated by computer geeks and cypherpunks in hoodies. And that is perfectly okay; but it surely has evolved since then. The culture is more complex today. Serious money is involved. Sophisticated investors and money managers command large pools of capital. Everyone has expectations of an appropriate degree of professionalism. Your reputation, behavior, and character are important. You clearly want to distinguish yourself from any of the scammers and frauds in the Blockchain industry.

Major Roles in the Blockchain Industry

There are many specific job titles in the industry. We will focus on the major ones. But you will most likely wear a few different hats anyway. Just like in the real world, you will have to do different jobs at different times. Broadly speaking, there are seven major roles in the Blockchain Industry relating to ICOs: -Legal. -Marketing/PR. -Accounting. -Financial. -Business Development. -Advisors. -Technical Experts. There are of course many other roles covering every imaginable area, just as in the traditional world. But it is most important to focus on roles as they relate to ICOs.

Legal

In the blockchain industry, it is the responsibility of legal to ensure compliance with all contractual and statutory requirements in each jurisdiction. Even though it can be said that crypto and blockchain are still unregulated in some cases, and inappropriately/ineffectively regulated by traditional banking or securities laws in other cases, there are significant and unavoidable legal implications of using blockchain technology. Consider the digital enabled signature legislation. This enables digital signatures to be recognized internationally, thereby validating and authenticating transactions. Nevertheless, some transactions are still accompanied by other legal documents as well. Someone must be responsible for any such legal functions. And someone must also perform as an advocate and representative for the project. The legal advisor will typically come from a background of legal practice in his or her own jurisdiction. They can often provide a bridge to the traditional business world. Lawyers are generally paid just as well in Blockchain as they are in traditional business, though they probably have greater freedom and flexibility in here in crypto.

Marketing/PR

The role of Marketers and PR professionals closely mirror that of real world marketers and PR pros. Their primary role is to increase public awareness about the ICO project, and shape the narrative of the company. Primarily they will highlight the key benefits of the company solution and ensure this information is presented to the most important people. Marketing/PR in the crypto world is almost entirely digital. Social Media, Telegram Channels, Medium Blog Posts, Email Marketing, etc. are all the main forums and means of professional communication in crypto. Marketing/PR individuals are typically compensated based on their experience and contribution to the company. A marketer who is able to demonstrate significant upticks in engagement, investor interest, etc. will of course be paid well. Marketers who command a valuable audience will demand a greater fee. This role is one of the most sought-after and well-paid, due to the great amount of “noise” considered appropriate in the cryptocurrency industry.

Accounting

Accounting roles are responsible for managing company finances, just like in traditional business. They do all bookkeeping work involving cryptocurrency transactions, as well as basic fiat currency transactions, and any exchange interactions and other transactions. Projects utilize major accounting software like QuickBooks, software which allows for computerized accounting, and payroll professionals, to perform regular tasks involving invoices, sales, purchasing records, and balance sheet reporting. Just like in a traditional organization, the accounting team monitors and maintains records of all financial transactions and investments. They ensure that specified budgets are followed and expenses are not surpassed. In so doing, they keep project expenses in-line with company objectives. They also might identify or evaluate business opportunities, and advise the project team about such investment ideas. They will often be compensated based upon experience and the significance of their particular contribution to the project.

Financial

A financial role in an ICO company can be one of the most engaging, but can come with great responsibility. Your role will focus predominantly on the management of company finances. That is a purposely general description because it is a position that covers a broad range of responsibilities. One day you might be coordinating with the founders and the business development advisors about the business model and the direction of the project. The next day you may be helping the founders explain to seed investors why you need capital to remain solvent. Then you may be tasked with investing the funds raised from the ICO into other cryptocurrencies to diversify the risk profile of the company finances. In the traditional market, finance jobs are very well remunerated. In the cryptocurrency space, you are of course rewarded based on your experience and contribution. However, the amount of responsibility you take, and your ability to be flexible and quick on your feet, can often command premium compensation.

Business Development

Blockchain business development professionals perform a variety of roles, typically structured around strategy and business ideas. Business development individuals will usually collaborate with every member of the team. Their contribution is not strictly defined by any kind of tangible work, such as writing code or producing graphic design, but rather by the idea of creating a general direction and manner in which the business can achieve its vision. They are responsible for structuring the company’s model, its roll-out plans and key objectives along the timeline. Often the founders of the company will be the ones to focus on Business Development because they have the strongest grasp of the magnitude and nuances of the project and its product. Business Development professionals also are often remunerated based on relevant experience, and their contribution to the project.

Advisors

Businesses that intend to launch new blockchain projects frequently seek guidance from more experienced advisors. These are people who can offer first-hand information, direction and contact with relevant parties. This kind of advice and ability to give you introductions can be crucial to the success of your project. The role of advisors cannot be easily overstated. The title may sound vague and ambiguous, because it is. But it is a role that covers a lot of very important areas. An ICO might have great financial wizards on its team. They might be incredibly talented at creating their unique product, ecosystem and solution. They have their Blockchain technical expert who can replicate and create the system on the Blockchain to anchor their project. But without effective marketing, without connections to investors, traditional companies, and governments, the whole project is dead in the water. Advisors play a crucial role. It is a role that should be appreciated, and used for all it is worth. In the Blockchain industry, we broadly define and divide advisors into two major categories, Portfolio Advisors and Domain Experts.

Major Roles in the Blockchain Industry

Portfolio Advisors : Would not contribute strategy or give serious feedback as much as help facilitate good personal interaction with the press and other key partners. A Portfolio Advisor can also be an invaluable conduit to explain things to investors or the press. The Advisor is a good person to explain team decisions in the event of both good and bad news. Crypto and Blockchain projects use advisors to improve their business reputation and industry image, and to make their ICO company appear more serious and professional than it would otherwise appear. As mentioned, the advisor does not necessarily do any actual work such as coding. The Portfolio Advisor is more of a figurehead and professional conduit for the ICO, with a wide range of advisory functions and roles. Compensation for the Portfolio Advisor is often directly proportional to the specific utility to the company or the size of the role. An advisor who brings in half of your ICO funding in pre-sale will of course demand a much larger fee than someone who simply connects you with a few partners who might possibly be useful sometime in the future. A good advisor can earn up to tens of thousands of dollar, or even more.

On the other hand, Domain Experts provide the kind of input you would expect. They give practical and strategic direction to help the business be more successful and achieve its objectives in a timely fashion. These advisors can be expert in Cryptocurrency or expert in another related specialty. Typically, Domain Experts will already have significant exposure to the cryptocurrency industry, and a valuable understanding of how things operate. Although, due to the rapid growth in the industry, there are many new advisors and experts specifically brought in for a particular reason, so it may in fact be their first interaction with a Blockchain company. Domain Experts could have experience as diverse as healthcare, finance or gaming. Generally speaking, their contribution to the team will be focused solely within their area of expertise. As with Portfolio Advisors, Domain experts are compensated based on their experience and specific contribution to the project. But many ICOs will try to bring the two roles together. They will ask a well-known, highly-regarded Domain Expert to also appear on the website and help build the overall professionalism and reputation for their project, just like the Portfolio Advisor would do, as well as contribute their Domain Expert knowledge to the project.

Technical Experts

Did you know that there are certified blockchain experts (CBE)? The Blockchain Council is a certifying body that helps businesses, developers, and all interested individuals to become educated about the Blockchain industry. Technical Experts are specialists with in-depth knowledge and understanding of what the Blockchain is and how it can be utilized by businesses to maximize their potential. They are often the individuals who design the framework of the Blockchain solution, write the associated code, and debug as necessary. These experts are also able to certify other individuals in the Blockchain discipline of Distributed Ledger Technology from a vendor-neutral perspective. One of the most notable technical experts in the Blockchain network, is the well-known creator of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin. Vitalik Buterin created Ethereum, and ETH, the world’s second most valuable, massively traded cryptocurrency. In 2011, the team founded the Bitcoin magazine which publishes information about the Blockchain technology.

Exchanges

While not a part of our original list of positions and functions, Exchanges perform a central role with every ICO and Blockchain solution. If you are an ICO company and want to facilitate a market for your token (you always do, your investors will demand it) then you need the exchanges to provide this service. Exchanges, as we have discussed before, provide the market, the liquidity and the compliance with the necessary regulation/KYC requirements. After the ICO fundraising has been completed, the company’s token/coin begins trading on an exchange. Working on an exchange is another important career option in crypto that should not be overlooked. Exchange professionals may not earn as much as some of the other positions, (unless they also own an equity stake in the exchange), but they are still well-compensated for their technical knowledge and the sensitive nature of their job.

The Interaction of the Roles

People in all of the positions and roles we are talking about will need to work together and communicate with each other at various times. To start and grow a company from an idea or vision, to a tangible thing, is quite a tricky feat. Sometimes the technical experts will need to sit down and explain something to the business developers. The marketers might need clarification how the underlying technology works. Similar to real-world business, something many of us already know from experience, the management structure of a company plays a large role in how people in different positions interact while performing their jobs. If the company is particularly hierarchical, management might insist on going through specific touchpoints when sharing information, thereby allowing management to add their own input. Other companies will be comfortable with marketers and technical developers just speaking amongst themselves to achieve the agreed upon end goals of the business. Cryptocurrency projects often tend to become a special collection of especially talented people from all over the world. Management takes on a somewhat different role in the cryptocurrency space. It is important when you start on a project to be clear about how you should communicate with other team members, the channels of communication and the expected manner of interaction too. Some teams prefer to keep things quite informal, sharing gifs and memes to each other, while others prefer conversation on company channels and a strictly professional style.

Pre, During & Post ICO Business Roles Pre-ICO Launch

This period is the same for all new companies. This is when the foundation of the business is formed. The idea is validated. Initial development begins, and the team is assembled to start building the company. For an ICO destined company, this period includes where the idea is placed upon the Blockchain, and the use case created. Ideally, the idea should require the Blockchain to function, or at the very least, require Blockchain technology as the most suitable option. One of the first things an investor should do when they look at your project, is evaluate the need for a Blockchain solution. That is exactly what you should do first too. Your team should thoroughly inspect all possible technology options to equip your business with the best framework or “backbone”. You should look to justify the positives and negatives of each framework before landing on the most suitable solution. For an ICO, this needs to be a Blockchain based solution.

Pre-ICO Launch

The next step is of course researching the competition. With so many ICOs recently it is important to consider who else is active in this space. Who has had or done the same idea before? How is your company different? Why should someone invest money in your company, in your idea, as opposed to the other available options? You should then identify the major challenges your business is going to face. The application of Blockchain technology is so wide and organic to a lot of industries, it’s important to fully analyze and develop your idea for the real world. Do not just assume the Blockchain is going to do anything you want and solve every problem for you. After identifying your needs and challenges, the next step is to look for information about Blockchain technology that does solve your specific problem. This is often a combination of a few different roles working together. Your business development, technical specialist, and marketer as well as perhaps your financial people should all be involved. All positions can and should conduct research, envision areas of opportunity, and predict associated challenges to be met. After doing their research, your team should be able to make an intelligent decision on the path to take. You should have a good sense of where that leaves you, from a business development standpoint, a technical standpoint, and a fund-raising standpoint as well. At this point, you will need to organize and arrange all of your business roles and services to suit the company’s direction from now on. You are also likely to need to bring new people onboard to continue to grow and progress down your chosen path.

During the pre-ICO launch, a timeframe is set with company goals. One of the components of a pre-ICO launch is to design and launch your website, which serves as the point where investors go to obtain information about the project. Basically, the website will provide a link to the whitepaper, it will show the members of the team, and it will show the timeline of the project. The success of any pre-ICO launch depends on how well the project is able to pitch to investors about the necessity of the product and the use case of the Blockchain. All of this information is normally available on the project website, and it serves a dual purpose, the latter being a Marketing strategy. The website provides an extremely useful central point of focus for everyone. Your marketers can use the website to refer investors or potential team members. Your company can use your website in meetings with partners, advisors and regulators to demonstrate authenticity and professionalism. You have formed your team and your idea. You have made an operational website and a full series of marketing materials. You are ready to present your idea to the world. In the cryptocurrency world, this involves placing ICO announcements on websites specifically targeted toward cryptocurrency investors and professionals. Utilizing social media like LinkedIn and Medium will enable you to reach out to more people and increase participation and hype surrounding your pre-ICO launch.

During the ICO, your project would have generated tokens which will be used in exchange for Bitcoins, etc. Creating a token virtually means producing an asset that your business needs to survive, an asset with which it can conduct transactions. Tokens can represent digital coins, loyalty points, gold certificates, IOU’s, in-game items. The majority of tokens should perhaps not be thought of as shares in a company, as in a traditional IPO, but rather as utility tokens with a value dependent upon and derived from the token’s utilization in the company solution. Some projects will begin to sell these tokens (usually a specified amount) during the pre-ICO period, typically in what is called a “pre-sale”. Pre-sale tokens are usually offered to team members, advisors, large investors, key partners, etc. as a way to both invest in the future of the company, and to reward the people involved. The pre-sale tokens are almost always offered at a discount, and come with a vesting schedule. A projects’ next step will then be contacting and building relationships with exchanges. As previously discussed, the cryptocurrency exchange provides the means through which people are able to buy and sell the project tokens on the open market. Recognition and acceptance by the largest and most reputable exchanges matters a lot. Being listed is an efficient way to raise funds, attract new investors, and incentivize your current investors. Many investors will require you to detail your plans for getting listed on an exchange before they even invest in the pre-sale. Investors will not see any value if there is no listing, no exchange, and therefore no liquidity for that token.

During an ICO

A comprehensive list of exchanges can be found on Best Bitcoin Exchange. Most tokens will also be listed on CoinMarketCap, which is essentially a stock ticker of token sales. Tokens are listed and ranked according to the success of their ICO project. When an ICO project begins to fail, or fall below target, its ranking on the list decreases and ends up at the bottom, or the token becomes delisted entirely. The actual process of listing a coin on an exchange varies significantly by the site. Most exchanges like Bittrex and Poloniex strictly forbid tokens that could be considered a security. Building hype during an ICO project is all about gaining popularity. With the large number of ICO projects coming up every day, you need an effective strategy to help your ICO project stand out. A strong Marketing & PR team should be focused on the main avenues of communication. Identifying avenues of Communication The first step is to identify the best social media channels to reach out to a large number of relevant audiences. Twitter and Facebook are most often used to advertise projects. Facebook offers various opportunities you would not want to neglect. Browse through different Facebook communities, as well as web resources like helpareporter.com, those frequented by experts, journalists, etc. in order to understand the message content they like to see and the information they think is important.

Being in Touch with the Audience After you have identified your audience, maintain contact with them before the ICO, and throughout the entire process. Slack and Telegram are two extremely common ways to stay in touch with your investors and the community at large. You may also use forums like Bitcointalk and Reddit. It could be very wise to hire a specialist to engage in discussions about your project at this point. A forum debate is valuable interaction with the audience allowing you to get feedback from investors in the ICO and future users of your product. Create a Bounty Program A Bounty program is a strong and powerful means to build hype for the ICO project. It is an effective way to attract the attention of investors to your ICO; and a good rewards program to incentivize freelancers to promote your project out into their network. Rewarding users for signature campaigns on bitcointalk, email subscriptions or blog posts may be some of the best ways to broaden your investor audience.

Investor Roadshows

During this period of building hype for your ICO, you can identify and meet with potential investors in your project. This is a crucial step for your ICO and is incredibly important. This should in fact become top-priority for all of your team members. Investors will want to talk with every member of the team and ask very specific questions relevant to their domain of knowledge. The investors are thinking about their return. It is important to develop a profession level presentation. Clearly define expectations for the project. Illustrate your projections with good charts and visual aids supported by relevant independent analysis as much as possible. Be prepared. This information should be available to you at any time. You should always be ready to deliver a sophisticated presentation to potential investors. It is also smart to talk about other ways an investor will benefit from your project, other than the financial gains. You can think about it, and research for good ideas. At this stage, it is also important you already know what the hardcap of your coin will be, as well as its circulation. This amount should be fixed and specified before you launch your ICO. The coin distribution can never exceed this specified amount.

There are three key attributes which investors assess before investing in an ICO.

Circulating Supply

This is the number of coins that have been freely floated and are available in the market. In some instances, projects could have all their tokens pre-mined, and released all at once through the ICO. The circulating supply will, therefore, be the same as the maximum supply. Other times, tokens have to be mined over time, or coins are released on a specified schedule. As discussed earlier, this strategy can help maintain the value of the coin.

Total Supply

This is the number of coins that actually exist, including the ones that are not in circulation. Why would coins exist but not be in circulation? It could be for a number of reasons. A team might have mined coins but held them back without putting them on the market. Team members, advisors and pre-sale investors are required to hold their portion of the ICO for a specified number of months to prevent coins being dumped at listing. The coins, therefore, exist, but are not yet in circulation.

Maximum Supply

This is also known as the hardcap. This number is of paramount importance because this is the maximum number of coins that will ever be created (Bitcoin’s hardcap is 21,000,000 tokens.). Not all cryptocurrencies have a hard cap. Ethereum, for example, has no maximum supply limit of Ether.

Why is the hardcap important?

There are two fundamental reasons to support an established hardcap. The first has to do with scarcity. Just like diamonds. They are not only valuable for their beauty and strength. They are also valuable precisely because they are scarce. The scarcer they are, the more valuable they become. It’s the same with cryptocurrencies, simple supply and demand. If there is a finite supply of a particular token, the value of the coin is likely to increase over time. This will in turn ensure the integrity and value of the underlying network. When the hardcap is extremely low, you won’t be able to obtain enough funds to develop and grow the network. On the other hand, if the network is flooded with tokens that don’t have a purpose because the hardcap is excessively high, the value of the coin will become diluted, causing a drop in the integrity and value of the network. The second reason the hardcap is important is closely connected to the project roadmap. For every amount raised, the startup should make sure there is an explicit and concise purpose for those funds. Basically, “if we raise so much, then this is the plan. If we raise more, than this is this plan, and this is how we will use the funds raised.” However, we’ve seen projects raising hundreds of millions of dollars with no set objective of what to do with all that money. There have been instances of startups setting a funding target of $20 million, but then they go on to raise over $200 million because they didn’t set a hardcap. That means there is no predetermined plan for the excess $180 million.

Post ICO

After the successful completion an ICO, it is time to kick-start the project. Immediately execute plans from the white paper and purchase lists. Move as quickly as possible to bring your company to life. Let’s take another look at an example of a successful ICO we have discussed before.

Tezos

The project was able to generate a total of $232million within three months of the ICO launch. The token created for the project was called ‘XTZ’ and the value for one XTZ was evaluated at: ICO Token Price: 1 XTZ = $0.47 XTZ token price max = $11.21 XTZ token price min = $1.76 XTZ token price to 07/01/2018 = $5.82 Returns since ICO (USD): +1,138% Tezos After the successful completion of the ICO launch, Tezos quickly activated their technology which is intended to compete with Ethereum, and simplify launches for new projects. Nevertheless, the project encountered a major setback. Two lawsuits were filed against Tezos claiming they violated both US Federal and State law. The Tezos tokens were qualified as securities. Therefore, by not registering them as securities, the company violated the securities laws. The project was also accused of fraud based on the premise that the tokens had been distributed under the pretense of being charitable contributions.

Bancor

The Bancor ICO project was aimed at introducing a convenient way to issue smart-tokens and convert them without a counterparty. After the ICO, the project made some good progress, launching its app in beta mode. Presently, the app has been fully developed such that it is able to convert 14 cryptocurrencies including ETH and BTN tokens. The ICO raised $153million from the sale of their tokens. The breakdown of the value of the token during ICO and after is shown below: ICO Token Price: 1 BNT = $3.92 • BNT token price max = $8.17 • BNT token price min = $1.52 • BNT token price 07/01/2018 = $8.17 Some projects, like Bancor, remain successful after their ICO; while some, like Tezos, fail. It is not enough to plan for an ICO project simply by investing in publicity and token sales. The team must continually try to keep up with and surpass the competition, and give more value to the investors. A basic way to add value is to increase the exchange rate or price of the token. Investors and team members earn greater returns, and the project always stays above breakeven. For a project token to increase in value, there has to be more demand for it in a free market, relative to a given supply. It is important to have a clear understanding of how your token will likely be received, traded and supported throughout each stage of the ICO process.

In the Post-ICO stage, the financers and founders of the company will usually begin to manage and assess how best to support the token price. Here are some common strategies and ideas: Token Cap: The easiest way to support the token price is to reduce the number of tokens in circulation. Putting a cap on a token means placing a limit on the number of tokens that are available. As the supply of tokens is reduced, the demand for the token increases and the value of the token goes up. Token Buy Back: just as the name signifies, the team members can unanimously agree to buy up all or most of the company tokens that are still in circulation. When they have done that, they can either burn or destroy the tokens. The of course reduces the number of tokens in circulation and subsequently increases the value of the floating tokens. This kind of buy back can be taken as a continuous course of action, or be used as a one-time way to boost the token value.

Token creation by Third Parties: Team members can also brainstorm for other ways to increase or restrict the supply of more tokens to the market. One way tokens are created is via mining. When a project makes mining the main way to increase the supply of tokens for their project, that is perceived as more difficult and restrictive, limiting the rate of increase in supply on the open market, therefore increasing the demand for that token. Token creation by the Project: A project can simply choose to create more tokens when necessary. For example, when the token value has become so high that the users do not use it anymore for the services offered. This action is not generally recommended. It not only burns earlier investors by diluting the value of their current holdings, but also bodes poorly for the future (you might just keep minting new coins). Generally, to increase the demand for a token, the services offered by the project can be made more valuable to the users. That will generate higher demand. The more investors make use of the services and pay with the project tokens, the higher the token value will be.

Involvement in the Blockchain Industry

After you have some ideas which role or position might be best for you, you can start to network and search for opportunities in the crypto ecosystem. It is not enough to be an accountant, an economist or a business development professional in the traditional world. You need to know about the Blockchain industry as well. Remember, in the Blockchain industry, your reputation is everything. You want a strong social media presence. A professional profile on LinkedIn. Published articles if you have them. When you start talking to projects, you want to have a solid understanding of who you are and what you can do in crypto and Blockchain. The best way to get experience and become a part of your first ICO project is either: Volunteering: gets you into the industry. At first, you might want to care less about what is in it for you, and just get your foot in the door. If possible, you can volunteer for a role in an ICO project you really want to work at. Direct Networking: is a loose term that simply means you contact projects and ask about what is going on. Many projects are run by very digitally savvy individuals. Just asking for a job opportunity is likely to leave you disappointed (unless they happen to actually be in need of your exact talents at that time! In which case asking for work is the smarted thing you could ever do). Try to be useful, become friends, or associates. Help a team member anyway you can and see if an opportunity arises from that.

That’s not all! You can get better understanding of major roles in the blockchain Industry from ICO teams through to solidity developers. Follow the link to read our lesson on the topic:

https://bit.ly/2Eh0CMV

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