Are You Bullish Enough about Your ICO?

What happens with low minimum targets for crowdfunding campaigns.

Minimum and maximum thresholds are important parameters of any crowdfunding event. This is especially true for those campaigns organized as sales of blockchain tokens (ICO). For example, one of Ethereum’s default contracts has built-in threshold triggers.

Few projects get away with not setting a maximum. You have to be a really prominent (and perhaps a little arrogant) figure to declare “Well, let the market decide how much I am worth!”. There are at least two problems with high caps or no caps at all. First of all, it may sound irrational: why do you need so much? But it’s never too much, really. (In a good sense.) Consider the current ICO champion and where it stands: around ⅓ of a billion dollars? Look around local commerce and identify the top three things (in the context of consumerism). I’m sure the infrastructure behind all of them will happen to be way more expensive.

The second problem is more real — a big part of the original crypto paradigm is its being anti-fiat. And that means scarcity, the proverbial ‘twenty one million ever.’ So, from a founder’s perspective, for a particular project with the ‘real value’ of 25 million, setting a 30 million cap is a wiser move than going for 40. Investors want to belong to an exclusive club, once it is clear it is crowded. Setting a cap is like curling: knowingly false targets may just ruin the game.

But my point today is the derivative of just that: while many decent ICOs set sober maximums, I don’t know a single one with a reasonable ratio between minimum and maximum.

A common case can be found when an ICO sets a 2M minimum and 20M maximum. You won’t need to look for long to spot projects like that. Really? What the hell? One one hand, how can you be so unsure how much money do you need? There has to be some serious planning that’s been done ahead of time. So, come on, the figures are opposite ends of the spectrum! On the other hand, are you prepared to roll out a unique plan for each level, depending how much is raised? Doing the thing on 2 million implies one technology and type of scaling; doing it on 20 million means a completely different approach, maybe different people… different everything! And after all, shouldn’t you be the most bullish person about your project? If you set it at 20 for the maximum, I don’t see any reason the minimum should be below 12 or so. Better 15.

OK, you failed and it is the 14.5 result with 15 as minimum. And you return 14.5 million to contributors. Sheeeesh, that hurts! But it is still better than in a scenario where you’d take it, despite all real business conditions clearly dictating that you need 50 — the figure you were far too afraid to present in the first place. Now you are stuck with these 14.5, which are literally useless; you’re left to choose between waiting until the rise of the ETH or BTC rate to take it to 50 million dollars or you start pretending you’re developing — which, let’s be real. That’s basically stealing. Do you really want to waste years of your life waiting or misrepresenting the facts around your idea?

You might get lucky and develop for less, but it’s highly unlikely. You have the most precise knowledge in the world, so why would you fail with such limited funding. Nothing good can be achieved with that sort of mindset. Many, if not most, ICOs do not imply any series of next round, by the way. So, it’s a whole different game from IPOs. Most tokens are not surrogates of equity; they are some variety of API keys that are difficult to technically re-emit and you can’t justify additional emissions to owners and potential owners. So, in short, you end up burying the project, the time, and time of your colleagues. Not to mention, the stolen money.

So, I don’t know about you guys, but from tomorrow on, I will seriously evaluate ICOs for my portfolio by calculating the figure (maxcap — mincap)/mincap and comparing it to 30%, the maximum error allowance I am personally ready to give to a reasonable founder.

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