How to Launch a Successful ICO

2017 was the year that most people will remember for when the term ‘cryptocurrency’ became part of our vernacular. The massive surge in the value of coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple saw people all over the world stand up and take notice.

The most famous cryptocurrency of them all, bitcoin, rose from just over $800 in January to almost $20,000 by mid-December. These kinds of returns were simply too much to turn away from. Despite persistent claims of the cryptocurrency market as being nothing but a bubble by people such as Jamie Dimon, the head of JP Morgan, millions of ordinary people began to invest in digital currencies.

One part of the digital currency revolution that benefited from this boom was the Initial Coin Offering or ICO. As investors poured into the cryptocurrency market, more and more companies began to realize they could tap the technology to raise funds for their projects.

Suddenly, we began to see more and more ICOs launched by all kinds of different companies. This resulted in a huge spike in the total amount of capital generated from ICO’s in 2017.  But what exactly is an initial coin offering and how can you launch ICO successfully so that you maximize the capital it generates?


In this article, I aim to give a few tips on how to launch an initial coin offering so that readers can ensure that their ICOs raise the maximum amount of money. I aim to give a complete overview of the main stages and to highlight a few of the dangers that you might face along the way. This information should give you a clear understanding of the work and timeframes that an ICO launch entails.


What is an ICO?
How to launch an initial coin offering
Understand the Cryptocurrency Markets
Create an OUTSTANDING White Paper
Get legal advice
Make sure your team is the right one
Choose the best ICO launch platform
Set a realistic value for your token
Kick of your marketing strategy
My final thoughts

What is an ICO?


An ICO is essentially a sale of digital ‘tokens’. Companies use ICOs to raise money which they can then use to develop whatever project they choose. When launching an ICO, a company will issue a set number of so-called ‘crypto-tokens’ that are then sold to investors who hope to make huge returns off them when they later gain in value. These crypto-tokens can be exchanged for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or even fiat funds as defined by the terms of the ICO.

Crypto-tokens have been referred to as digital shares because, in effect, they give the owner a stake in the company or project they are supporting (though not always). A recent article in Hackernoon.com highlighted that some “early investors are making 50,000% returns on ICOs”. Though these are only a few lucky investors, ICOs have proven great for investors who have been smart enough to sift out the most promising ones.

There has been a number of extremely successful and high profile ICOs over the last few years. While the first-ever ICO took place back in 2013 and only raised a modest amount of money, since that time we have seen the likes of ethereum raise enormous amounts of capital from its own ICO.

How to launch an initial coin offering

Don’t be fooled into thinking that launching an ICO is easy. While it is true that in the past some companies launched an ICO after only putting in a minimal amount of effort, the ICO market has become really sophisticated in a very short space of time.

Due to the recent spate of scams related to ICOs, many countries around the globe have begun cracking down on them. Some countries have even gone so far as completely banning ICOs altogether. Investors have also grown weary of poorly planned ICOs and now generally avoid them like the plague.

Understand the Cryptocurrency Market

Those companies who have already built their own cryptocurrency or have invested in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin should already understand most of the key aspects of how the cryptocurrency market operates. On the whole, investors are likely to already be part of the cryptocurrency community so will be familiar with the process of buying digital assets already.


You will obviously need a good understanding regarding the mechanisms behind cryptocurrencies as well as what kinds of selling points appeal to the investors who use them. Being able to identify the unique selling points of your ICO will help ensure that it is a successful one.

Commenting on his highly successful ICO, the CEO of COBINHOOD Popo Chen said “To me, it’s about building a solid ICO project that aims to solve these pain points in the industry. COBINHOOD is supporting the cryptocurrency industry while helping the people within it”.

Create an OUTSTANDING White Paper


Today’s investors demand thorough and well explained ICO white papers. Granted, there are still a small number of investors who jump in and buy up sackfuls of crypto-tokens based on nothing more than marketplace hype, but because of recent high profile scams, few are willing to take that risk.

A good white paper should sell your ICO without ending up looking like a marketing paper. A white paper should actually be more like a science paper in that it should clearly identify a problem before giving a credible step by step solution to the problem. If your paper looks like it is all marketing and no substance investors are likely to suspect it as being a scam.

If you have never created a white paper before then you should think about investigating some of the ICO launching services that are out there. Since so much rests on how well investors respond to your white paper, you really need to make sure that it is truly outstanding so as to make the biggest impact.

Questions you need to answer in your white paper:

  • What is the problem you aim to answer?
  • What is the solution to the problem? (Needs to be well presented and logical)
  • What market do you intend to focus on?
  • What is your business model?
  • Do you have an effective marketing strategy?
  • How much money do you need your ICO to generate?
  • What happens if you don’t meet your fundraising target?
  • How much will each token cost?
  • How can they be purchased? (bitcoin or other altcoins etc.)
  • What is the long-term value of these tokens likely to be?

Other things to consider:

  • Is the ICO well-presented including graphs etc.?
  • Is it written in a way that best appeals to investors?
  • Have you explained your product properly?
  • Are the estimates and goals given in the ICO white paper realistic?

Get legal advice

Before launching any ICO it is important to seek proper legal counsel to make sure that you are fully compliant with the laws of whatever country your company is based in. The penalties for not abiding by these laws vary from country to country and could even include ending up on a terrorist watch list should your ICO be identified as being used by known terrorists. Don’t take the risk; get solid legal advice before you go any further.

You can also use the advice/services of your legal expert to help you create your ICO’s terms and conditions.

Make sure your team is the right one

Not only do you need a team that has all the expertise and experience to successfully launch your ICO, but you also need one that is capable of projecting an image of confidence to investors.

Building the best team is probably the hardest part of any ICO launch. You need individuals who believe in your idea and are prepared to dedicate both their time and reputations on its success.

You will need to include pictures of all the team members in your ICO to ensure that it appears open and genuine. Including a picture of your entire team together in your office space is also a great idea as it serves to reinforce public investors that your team is real.

Choose the best ICO launch platform

The next thing to consider is which token technology you will use for your ICO. The vast majority of companies choose to launch an ICO on ethereum due to its suitability for this purpose. Since the ethereum platform is focused on using blockchain technology to create digital contracts, it has helped to make ICO launches easy and straightforward. It takes only a few minutes to create Ethereum ERC-20 Tokens that can then be used for your ICO.

There is quite a wide range of options out there to help you run a token sale. As a result, you will need to do your research to find the one that is best for you. Using a good ICO tool to help is also an option. BlockStarter, for example, enables your company to share your ICO concept with a large worldwide blockchain community. These companies and individuals can then decide if they wish to jump onboard and help with your ICO.



The last thing in the world that your ICO needs is to be subject to a cyber-attack. This will almost certainly doom your entire project and send investors running to the hills. As recently as July 2017, an ICO was hacked, resulting in the company losing over $7 million.

If your team does not include a security expert then it is certainly worth the extra money to hire a professional cybersecurity firm. Given the amounts of money involved, not to mention your reputation, these firms are actually a very cost-effective way to ensuring a successful ICO.

A great tip if you do use an outside firm is to include them in your ICO literature to help beef up your credentials. This will also help reinsure investors about your ICO.

Set a realistic value for your token

When it comes to setting the value of your token you should factor in the total number of tokens you plan to issue and the amount you wish to raise. As a general rule, it is better to try to keep the cost of each token lower and instead issue a higher number of total tokens. Since investors want to earn as much as possible from each token they will be less inclined to buy more expensive tokens.


Alternatively, you can choose to abandon the fixed price model and offer your tokens at either an undetermined price or one that fluctuates depending on how many an investor buys. All of these models have their own pros and cons, so choose carefully.

Kick of your marketing strategy

You should already have a well-defined market strategy developed for getting your ICO out to all the right people. Don’t forget that your ICO needs to stand out from the huge number of ICO’s that are launched each week.

You should create a unique and imaginative PR campaign that includes the following:

  • An informative and reassuring website
  • A great Pitch Deck where your spokesman really nails why investors should buy your tokens
  • Support materials like a video that sells your ICO
  • Paid adverts and banners that specifically target the sites investors might visit
  • Targeted social media campaign
  • Article placement on sites such as CoinDesk, NewsBTC, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch

As with any PR campaign, it is important that you generate the hype before your ICO launch. This strategy needs to be carefully orchestrated so that all parts are executed in the right way and at the right time. Once again, if your team lacks a professional market strategist who is familiar with ICOs then you should either hire one or engage the services of a professional company.

Final Thought

The key component to any ICO is investor confidence. Getting your ICO noticed by enough of the right people can be quite a challenge. Without making sure that your ICO addresses each of the points raised in this article in a way that attracts would-be investors your ICO has no chance.

There is a wealth of literature as well as past examples of successful ICO launches online. Doing your research for each stage of the ICO planning process will help ensure the success of your launch. If you at any stage feel that you don’t have the necessary expertise then you should seek expert help from an outside company.

Planning and executing any ICO is a really time-consuming task. However, when done well, the rewards can be immense and ensure that you generate enough funds for your company to undertake whatever project it needs the ICO for.

Aran Davies

Aran Davies

Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer
Aran Davies