Intrepid has been operating in the blockchain and ICO space for several years now. Over the years we have seen the ecosystem go through ups and downs and everything in between.
We’ve noticed an issue, as have many others, that has to do with ICO advisors and blockchain experts. It’s an issue we discuss with our clients when we work with them to launch their ICO through our ICO coin offering solution, Token Deck.
It seems like everyone is an ICO advisor or blockchain expert these days. The sector is awash in amateurs who bought a few crypto and blockchain books and almost overnight have morphed into ‘leading advisors’ and ‘experts.’
Blockchain projects need to be wary of who they rely on for advice in this environment. The same goes for institutional investors doing due diligence on a potential venture.
Anytime you see the words blockchain expert or ICO advisor on a project’s website, a resume or LinkedIn profile – warning bells should go off.
Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t any talented advisors in the space or people with an extensive understanding of blockchain. The thing is, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are relatively new, and everything is changing so fast.
In reality, there are only people with more experience who have been in the space a little longer than others. The title of expert is probably pushing it in most cases.
Most new projects are unaware of the processes and requirements that accompany an ICO and so look to advisers for guidance. Unfortunately, the hype and mania in the blockchain/ICO space have led to new advisors popping up everywhere, most of whom have little knowledge and even less experience in helping projects launch a successful ICO.
When you start your search for advisors, you will come across two types. The first and most common type of advisor, easily found online on any number of platforms, do virtually nothing besides have their photo and bio on a project’s website. They do this in exchange for tokens.
Because it’s pretty easy to find and hire this type of advisor, many projects make the mistake of seeking them out to show that they look professional. The thing is – most of the time, the reputation, and experience of these advisors don’t stand up to any serious scrutiny.
What’s more, these advisors don’t deliver any value to a project. It’s common for these types of advisors to sit on the board of many blockchain startups, which in itself should be a warning sign.
How much value can an advisor possibly bring if they sit on the board of 10 companies?
Hint: the answer rhymes with the word hero.
The second group of advisors are the ones your company should be striving to attract. These are real business-leaders who bring value, can make an impact and believe in your project. These advisors are picky in who they advise as they have real reputations to uphold. Naturally, these types of advisors are harder to find and bring onboard, but they can pay off big time in the long run.
Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Experts
What is an expert these days? The term seems to have lost a little of its prestige as self-styled experts, many of whom have only gotten into crypto in recent months are driven by the streams of money flowing into the blockchain space. Many individuals claiming to be blockchain experts have a limited or no real record of success.
The reality is that the blockchain and cryptocurrency space doesn’t have many if any real experts. Things are changing too fast, and technologies are also new. Of course, some individuals have in-depth knowledge, but this is by no means common.
So, with this in mind, how can a project choose the right ICO advisor or blockchain expert? If you’re an institutional investor, how can you evaluate current advisors or experts that are part of a project you are looking to participate in?
When evaluating an ICO advisor or blockchain expert, there are five indicators you should analyse. If you’re a founder or investor, the following list will make it easier for you to determine if a candidate is the ‘real deal’ or not.
In today’s world, a candidate’s experience can be easily found by conducting a google search or by just asking for a website, LinkedIn profile, portfolio, and a list of references. There are many qualified people out there, but you cannot take experience at face value. You need to look deeper into a prospects profiles, follow up leads and conduct extensive online research.
For ICO advisors, don’t necessarily look for people who have experience assisting projects do an ICO. Look for someone who has experience and expertise in your particular industry (e.g., healthcare, gaming, finance, etc.)
We live in a globalized world. International experience, especially in the markets you intend to target can be an invaluable asset. So, if an ICO advisor or expert has international exposure, rather than only local experience, it may mean that they have a greater skill set that will help a project if they decide to expand beyond their borders.
An advisor or expert with international exposure could help a project navigate the complexities of international regulations and other issues that must be overcome when operating internationally or expanding into new markets.
The intellectual and social currency an advisor or expert can bring to a project can often deliver more significant results than a purely financial investment. An advisor or expert with an expansive network that can get leveraged is very valuable to a company as they can help achieve many business objectives.
These could pertain to marketing or publicity or could be technology related. It could also be purely to improve a project’s access to the best talent in the industry. So, instead of only focusing on the potential financial benefits an advisor or blockchain expert can deliver, look at less tangible aspects as well, such as industry relationships.
Referrals/ word of mouth
There is no better indicator as to whether an advisor or blockchain expert is fit for the job than a referral from a previous project. Beyond direct references, it’s also important to ask the blockchain and cryptocurrency community and any personal connections you may have, to see if any names are getting passed around. Good advisors will usually have built up a strong reputation, and their name will be known and passed on by projects.
Has the ICO advisor or blockchain expert you intend to bring onboard produced any content? Maybe they have a Medium blog or LinkedIn profile where they share their insights. For blockchain experts, check if they have contributed to any research or white papers. Read their ideas and get a sense of community reaction.
Overall, if an ICO advisor or blockchain expert has taken the time to create content, or been directly involved in research, it is usually a good indication that they are the real deal!
For more details on each of the steps and more in-depth explanations download our “How to Launch an Initial Coin Offering” comprehensive guide.
If you have any questions or would like to connect you can find me on Twitter or email me at [email protected] I’m always interested in meeting people working, learning, or involved with the blockchain space.
Anthony is the head of content and research at Intrepid Ventures. He has spent the past several years researching and analyzing technologies and working with a diverse mix of blockchain companies to help them gain insight and develop authoritative content.
Also published on Medium.