In the past year, the majority of crypto enthusiasts like myself invested in overrated and hyped digital assets whereby if a platform were to promise a 10x return with a year, it was enough to attract investors. But after much trial and errors, people buckled up, as they learned the hard way that not all that glittered was truly gold.
I had just come from the MLM world, and straight into ICOs looking to learn the strings and make a name to myself. I was in for a hard lesson until I learnt several things. Among them was that, ICOs were mostly relying on hype.
Some of those projects that promised returns were either nowhere close to the first 100 crypto coins or had fallen out of the race long before they even started, while others had to face some legal issues.
Hype is probably the second one-factor-fuel driving cryptocurrencies and decentralized systems following speculations. So far, even with the complexity of how blockchains are designed, their relative functions and applications still elude the majority of adopters. This is because the only thing that interests most people who are heavily invested into the venture is the speculative profit they could get within short periods of time.
The fascinating thing about these platforms that have been developed so far is that, while they currently may not have a working product or prototype to show, they ended up raising huge sums of money during their crowdsale. And on top of it all, they are trading on exchanges despite no particular major breakthrough is yet to be conceived. That is, all they have is still a theoretical framework around the project.
Since initial coin offerings have become a convenient way for the startup to access financing for their venture, it is invariably a cause and effect model – such that the more people believe in the prospect of an ICO the greater the hype surrounding that particular platform.
Now, ICO hype goes beyond just advertisement and smooth talking. This is usually created by the intrinsic nature of the proposed platform. Some of the factors responsible for hype creation would include:
1. Novelty of the brand
The basic concept of ICOs is for startup companies to be able to avoid the difficulty of the traditional fundraising techniques, which could be cumbersome and often time fail due to the absence of angel investors. This new opportunity accorded by decentralized applications has made it, even more, easier for developers to create new blockchain based products. With different ways to achieve consensus and different hashing techniques, innovative solutions advertise themselves with little effort.
There is so much that the blockchain can do, which is currently beyond the current scope of usage. This has encouraged developers to think outside the box. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that we see new use cases for blockchain enterprise. Naturally, people are drawn to new concepts, ideas, and solutions to real-world problems.
So if a product claims to develop a brand as a panacea to a particular problem, there is the high tendency that people will want to subscribe to such a solution, as ICOs gives all investors that decentralized quality of participating – that is the opportunity of early entry into any project and be amongst those of the early adopters.
Another thing worthy of note is if there is currently a cryptocurrency, which has some laxities that have brought about a poor review of the coin. If a new product aims to solve that problem say through a fork or an entirely new blockchain, it definitely will attract a lot of investors and consequently increase the hype.
2. Team, advisory board, and partners
The team structure plays an important role in the hype assessment. If a project has a CEO, which was a member of a previous blockchain enterprise, the developer is more likely to draw more attention to himself, especially when the previous project had been successful and he was a key figure to that success.
People will generally believe he will reproduce the same effect with the new ICO. Such was the case when Ethereum’s former CEO and co-founder, Charles Hoskinson founded Cardano, the community began to think with the solutions proposed by Cardano, it would replace Ethereum in no time – some still think so, hence the massive support during their crowdsale.
Secondly, advisors with previous success history or credible public profiles have a natural way of attracting investors and pulling the crowd to any ICO event. Take, for example, the Bancor project which raised $153 million USD under three hours back in June 2017 during their ICO, this feat was allegedly achieved due to the premise that the project was backed by veteran venture capitalist Tim Drapper. As a result, investors trooped into the crowdsale and made it sell out in a short time – I would say the publicity was greatly intensified by the VC’s presence.
Another very popular figure is David Drake who has become a veteran in the cryptocurrency investment circles. Most projects will be proud to have him advise on their project and with his history in backing up projects with solidity, he is also a hype facilitator in a manner of speaking, as people will keep their finger on the pulse of whatever project he advises on.
It may not always work out that way, but once you are a reputable figure in the finance and investment sector, people tend to have a way of following your lead naturally.
As a contrast, a project called Latium (LATX) had John Mcafee as one of their advisors, and for some reason, they didn’t get much hype as one would expect to see that Macafee was a visionary and pioneered one of the leading antivirus and security software programs back in the day. This may be due to the fact that circulating news on the media happens to place him in a not so much as an influential party or a voice within the crypto ecosystem.
Another important influencer in the token offering market is the partnership base. With the advent of blockchain many reputable businesses and companies are beginning to show substantial interest in the blockchain enterprise as a whole, while some are looking into technical compatibility, others are considering investment opportunities whereby they look from brands that show promise.
So if a company like Samsung moves from building bitcoin mining chips to supporting high graphics end VR projects, for example, it would come as no surprise that the hype in that ICO would be enormous.
3. Use case demand
This may not play a significant role, but in its own way it has led many investors to ask questions like “what the heck is it doing on a blockchain?” No doubt the extent to which blockchain has developed is remarkable. New use case parameters are being discovered on a constant basis.
We can see the application of blockchain in Finance, agriculture, medical science, data security and privacy, hospitality and many more. As more of these applicable scenarios turn up, we can expect to see more people get drawn to more plausible projects especially those they can relate with. And from there, all it takes is a referral action to pull in more crowd.
At first, people approached blockchain with the understanding that it was a get rich quick scheme, some even only thought that peer-to-peer transactions were all there was to it. But now, we have learned that fusing blockchain with deep learning algorithms, these systems can be applied to virtually any particular field or sector of the economy.
But the hype around new ICO tackling new use cases are drawn by extensive research and demand ahead for the product before they venture into the crowdsale. In other words, developers don’t just assume that the product will be useful and that people will use it. They go the extra mile to ensure the viability of their product; and these among other things are what investors look for in is a project and are drawn by it.
4. Associated Risk levels
Speculations are risky business, of recent the business of cryptocurrencies and ICOs are termed as a huge gamble, especially with platforms that have no mockup to show their investors as proof of concept before embarking on their crowdsale.
The higher the risks, the lower the hype, well, not in all cases. There are projects where the hype is high and the risks are comparatively high, but people tend to stake a lot more on the success of the project than on its failure despite the surrounding facts that the platform may not make it to finish line.
5. Borderless crowdfunding and Profiteering
One of the most fascinating features of an ICO is that you can make returns on your investment and have more money to invest in other projects within a very short period of time. So laudably, people randomly invest in ICOs that have smart contracts – worst case scenarios they will get a refund if the project does not meet its minimum requirement. Else, if it’s not exciting them enough, they can classify it as a shit coin and dump once the token has been sent to their wallets.
6. Word of mouth and referrals
When a friend tells you he’s made 100x from investing in a particular ICO and his gut is currently telling him he could repeat the feat with another upcoming token. You may drag your feet a lil bit, but when he adds that he’s done that a couple of times already; you would be careful not to miss his next investment signal. Now imagine that he has the social media influence, he could topple a coin or raise the value beyond normal expectations. With countless airdrops and referral systems being adopted, it’s not really that hard to create a hype for an ICO.
Other than a good pitch to the investors, some of the factors outlined above used in combination can raise the hype level of an ICO platform instantaneously. This same technique is what is used in the cryptocurrency market, only this time, we have the FOMO doing the job of raising mass awareness to a whole new level.