“When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.”

Patrick Overton

If taking the first steps into entrepreneurism is a case of stepping out of your comfort zone, then taking the decision to go to ICO instead of obtaining funding via the traditional route, is a giant leap into the unknown.

So much has been written and predicted about ICO’s since the beginning of the ICO boom in mid 2017; “Best practice” papers, blogs, opinion pieces, the inanest of which are now saying that that the “ICO is dead”.

I won’t name names, but the simple fact is, anyone who wants you to believe the ICO is dead, is worried about the long-term price of their own coin and / or cryptocurrency investments. Period. There is no other reason. ICO’s are not dead.

Everybody has an agenda…

Something I’ve never done is follow the crowd — unless it’s my fellow Kopites on a match day — or accepted an “established” way of doing things as the best way of doing it. I’m talking about the subjective. And the cryptocurrency industry thus far is very subjective as it isn’t regulated. From everything that’s been written, said and applied in relation to cryptocurrencies and ICO’s, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. And there’s A LOT of chaff.

Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule to one side (whether you agree with it or not), for a technology that’s only just beginning to sprout, where we’re at the beginning of the learning curve, there are too many (non-technical) self-professed experts. Again, you have to sort the wheat from the chaff. The easiest way to do this is to consistently ask “why?”. If nobody, including yourself, can provide a logical, acceptable or reasonable answer to what’s being said, be sceptical.

Courtesy of Joel Fulgencio

Many years ago when I first moved to Hong Kong as Commercial Head of Turkish Airlines, I wanted to buy a new mobile phone, which were much cheaper there. One of my colleagues who’d already been out there for a few months recommended “Stephen” who owned a shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, because he always gave the “best deal”. So we went, and the first thing that caught my attention was the numerous Turkish Airlines business cards, cellotaped across his glass display counter, from the various THY employees that had frequented his shop. Evidently, every time someone from the airline visited, my colleague would take them to Stephen. I got a price on the phone I was after and proceeded to walk out (to shop around). My colleague was taken aback that I hadn’t trusted his judgement.

“Why do you want to look somewhere else, you can’t trust other shops…”

“So you’re saying Stephen’s is the only trustworthy shop in Hong Kong?”

“……..”

Not only did I find the same phone for a better price in Wan Chai (where our office was located!), but I later found out Stephen was selling refurbished phones, which eventually malfunctioned very quickly.

I should make it clear at this point that there was no financial arrangement between my colleague and Stephen. He was just someone that his friend, the Turkish Trade Ambassador to Hong Kong — someone that could be trusted — had introduced him to, and being in a foreign land, he took Stephen as being the safest choice.

ICO’s are a similarly foreign land for newcomers. You can trust what those that are already there are saying and doing, or you can shop around by asking questions and doing your own research. That’s not to say that some of the practices when going to ICO aren’t fundamental, and we’ll cover those aspects in a future post. But there’s a LOT of room for development and improvement, to make the process smoother and proposition more valuable for both investors, investees and eventually, end customers.

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