Have you ever thought about launching your own project or startup? We all have. The crypto sphere is overwhelmed with people who have gone through with their ideas. You can see an example of this in the way crypto has incorporated crowdfunding into its structure. Ambitious crypto enthusiasts took the idea of crowdfunding and brought it to life in the crypto space. The working model fits quite well with crypto – in it, you invent your own coin in order to support a project which you feel strongly about. If people find the project useful and promising – they send money to help you develop the project, receiving the tokens you launched. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, this is basically how Initial Coin Offerings work.
Like most trends, it has its positives and negatives. A lot of projects are really helping to solve problems, as BlueOcean does in the medical sphere, but you also have to be very cautious when investing to avoid getting deceived. ICOs are risky due to a variety of reasons – from lack of government regulations to the manipulations of hackers and thieves.
Regardless, the number of ICOs listed rose by 282% in 2018 (3804 projects) compared to 2017 (1349 projects), but the total number of funds raised increased by only 15% in 2018. In addition, the average lifespan of an ICO was twice as long at the end of 2018 compared to where it was at the end of 2017 (stats from ICObench).
For some insights on the ICOs and what we are looking at going forward, we talked with Evan Ropp, CEO of cryptocurrency market tracker Coin360.
- Hello Evan. Tell us about Coin360. Why did you make it if there were plenty of similar services? Before I got my hands on crypto, I was into fiat trading and when I decided to try my hand at crypto I realized that there were no solid heatmaps out there that were easy-to-use and convenient. All the other projects out there were virtually identical and I was surprised at the lack of decent UX in such a high-tech marketplace. So Coin360’s team came up with the idea to take all the most useful features from the fiat market services and meld them into crypto price tracker with high-grade usability and a really cool intuitive design. In doing so we made Coin360 an ideal tool for newcomers looking to enter the crypto market, and, if you are new to the crypto world, I strongly recommend Coin360 (laughing). Personally, I like the idea of continuous development. We always add new features to our service: one of the latest was a watchlist, by which you can key in on several coins you are interested in and create your own customized list of coins. Now we updated it so users are able to create up to 5 different watchlists! It works with the help of the cookie framework and we are going to add service registration so that our users can access their watchlists across different devices.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your product? I’m convinced that Coin360’s strong side is its team: our people are diverse and willing to contribute their skills, ideas, and knowledge. We want to make the product as useful as it can be. Regarding weaknesses – we don’t have any of them (laughing). To be honest we have problems with the mobile version of Coin360. It works slowly, especially on iPhones, but we are fixing it now – we are rewriting the application from the beginning and optimizing its functioning. Of course, we have small bugs that pop up here and there. For example, we recently fixed a bug with the charts located in the coin cards. They were relaunching several times in a row with some of these cards. We learned about the problem from our users and fixed it as fast as we could – in just 2 hours actually, so please don’t hesitate to leave us feedback!
- Recently Coin360 announced the launch of a new API. Why do you think the market needs it? We have tried many APIs over the course of developing Coin360. For our personal use and to make Coin360 better we decided to develop our own API. Then we found out that our competitors are making their APIs paid. But Coin360 has always been about sharing experience and data. That’s why we are preparing to launch our API with higher request limits, more methods available, and faster data updates than most of our competitors have. Now anyone in the world can contact us to work with our Beta API.
- Do you personally invest in crypto? Despite the price drops of the market I continue to invest in some cryptocurrencies. I really appreciate what the GRIN team does. I hope the team will continue to develop its product. There are also some promising projects like BitTorrent and Fetch.AI. So there are still some opportunities to invest even with the market in the state it’s in. However, I have sold all my ICO tokens.
- So what is your view on ICO? How has it affected crypto’s popularity? Do you think people got more involved in crypto because of ICOs? Actually, I really love the idea of ICOs. I mean it is great that nearly anyone can invest in a product he believes in. And there are many advantages for companies. There is no need to pay a lot of money to investment banks, lawyers, auditors and so on. If we compare an ICO with an IPO than the ICO is much cheaper and easier to launch. There was a PwC survey conducted by Oxford Economics which said that 83% of CFOs surveyed estimated spending for IPOs at more than 1 million dollars (data from pwc.com). In my opinion, the problem is that too many unqualified people have invested in ICOs. There was a lot of money invested in some unreliable projects. So people gave these companies the chance to scam them. On the other hand, I’ve met many people who entered the blockchain industry through ICOs. Like many other instruments ICOs have their advantages and disadvantages. I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions because it’s only been 2 years since the ICO hype began. The industry needs more time to refine its methods.
- Do you think there will be another trend to replace the ICO? There is nothing new on the market for that matter. Some companies may use VC (venture capital) as a fundraising method instead of ICO. There are some advantages of raising funds through VC, for example, a company can get business consulting, connections with industry influencers, and proof of concept. I also really appreciate Binance for launching new projects on Launchpad. I suppose that it is ok that it is harder to raise money through ICO. In my opinion, it is the investors’ problem that many ICOs turned out to duds or even scams. There was some easy money for people who didn’t have any product, strong team or even whitepaper. I hope that ICOs don’t vanish as a method of fundraising but I want all investors of ICOs to spend more time analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each ICO.
An Initial Coin Offering is a good and effective way for startups to raise money. Besides some disadvantages and tendency reversing, it is hard to say that the idea of the ICO itself is dead. People are still investing money but mostly do it more thoughtfully and attentively: investors are looking for more credible and valuable projects and do not invest more than they can lose. Therefore the ICO is not dead but experiencing great changes. Time will tell what the end result of those changes will be.