How to make an ICO - 16 steps

ICO is all about to be liked by your potential investor. So, first think about how to stand on his point of view. Clarifications, terms and FAQs are very important to be done correctly.

Even if you gather an excellent team, to solve technical and legal issues, I recommend recruiting specialists. Taxes, withdrawal to fiat money, responsibility to investors - all this should be thought through to the smallest detail. Carefully and responsibly use the terms: shares, share in the company, investment, profit distribution. About what legal risks exist, is described in this article.


Step 1. Formulate the idea

To collect the first user opinions, use the bitcoin-forum At this stage, your project may end. The basis for crypto invests is tokens. And if in your project tokens are used unnecessarily, then you will fairly be sent to seek investments elsewhere.

For example, you want to open a network of a coffee shop:

  • Why do you need tokens?
  • How does your idea, in general, relate to the blockbuster?

From ICO, in spite of the excitement, they still expect the development of blocking technologies.

Step 2. Assemble the team

If you do not spend money on external consultants, then you pay your time instead. No one person can invest thousands of hours into a project (~20 people: technical specialists, content specialists, editors, PR-specialists, SMM-specialists, community managers, designers, programmers, targetologists).
The market is overheated, you can hardly collect two dozen people.

Step 3. Examine the competitors

Learn which projects have recently been effectively conducted by ICO. Projects compete for the money of investors, so your competitors for this money are any ICO-projects. They are all different, many have much to learn.

Step 4. Register the company

  • Starta - USA.
  • MobileGo - the USA.
  • Golos - Belize.
  • Polybius - Estonia.
  • ZrCoin - Cyprus.
  • Waves Platform - United Kingdom.
  • SONM - Singapore (formerly in Switzerland).
  • Exscudo - Estonia.
  • BitCAD - Singapore.

Interesting fact: founders or co-founders of all of the listed above companies are Russian guys.

Step 5. Describe the product based on the idea

Whitepaper - is the main document of the project.

If you have done a qualitative job in the second step, then you know what it looks like.
This is the most complex document: it is prepared longest and must be carefully read.
Thoughtfully, your document will be read, maybe ten people, but they can create problems for you. Crypto-enthusiasts have weight in the community, they are read by thousands of people. If you are conducting a large-scale advertising campaign, but you have something to criticize, crypto-enthusiasts are more likely to do it. A large and complex Whitepaper is not read by a mass investor but immediately puts a fat plus on the project. If something in whitepaper can be illustrated - do it. Investors will run the text diagonally and focus on the pictures. If you write Whitepaper yourself, give it to proofread specialists: for $300 - $400 per hour they will correct the problem areas.

The typical structure of the document:

  • Background - where did it all begin.
  • Introduction - a description of the market, the applicability of the blockade on it.
  • Deep market analysis, market growth potential, existing competitors. Introduction to a product - what product, service or project do you offer.
  • Product specific section - a more detailed description of the product, graphics, tables, calculations.
  • Technical - a more detailed description of the technical aspects of the product. These cases are the practice of applying the product.
  • The pre-ICO is if the investment is pre-attracted.
  • The ICO - see the step "Describe the conditions for investors."
  • The roadmap of development is what is done, what is planned and in what timeframe. What will be spent on investment.
  • Team - leadership, key employees and their experience.
  • Conclusion - conclusion, conclusions.
  • FAQ - collect all possible questions and publish them. As soon as new questions appear, enter them into the FAQ.

Surprisingly, only a few projects have a full-fledged "Questions and Answers" section.

It's a good idea to publish step-by-step tutorials on actions that could potentially cause difficulty: how to use your personal cabinet, how to make transfers from different types of purses, how to get tokens after Release. This is the additional content for your social channels, and care about the user's convenience.

Step 6. Launch the site and email campaigns

As for the web site - usually now it is a one-page structure, it is very convenient for review. If you are planning a large-scale advertising campaign, think about hosting right away. At the moment of starting sales, thousands of users will be on your site at the same time. There are also DDoS-attacks, also protect against them (in advance of such an attack there is also massive spam by phishing links on all social channels like "the site is temporarily not working, go to a copy and register")

Site structure:

  • Subscription form.
  • Video.
  • Road map: what and in what approximate terms (breakdown by quarters) is planned to be done.
  • Description of your ICO.
  • Team: high-quality photos, brief biographies, links to social networks.
  • Press: photos with Vitaliy Buterin, links to publications, video presentations and speeches.
  • The description of the product.
  • Working cases.
  • Documents: Terms, Whitepaper.
  • Partners.
  • Contacts and social channels.

What can be sent to subscribers:

  • Weekly news - keep up to date with the project.
  • The reminders of the investment date - for the month, for the week, the day before the start.
  • A reminder of the start of investment - five minutes before the start.
  • Safety notifications and links to step-by-step guides

Step 7. Describe the conditions for investors

At this stage, you need to decide whether you will have pre-sale and pre-ICO.
Recommended to do both. This allows you to find bugs with the help of users, and also work out in social channels.

Check the following:

  • ICO start and end date (the recommended duration is not more than four weeks).
  • What types of currencies are accepted (bitcoins, air, etc.) Is there a work product?
  • Is there a roadmap?
  • What will the tokens be based on?

Tokens: the number of issued and crocheted tokens, is there a limit on the release, as determined by the initial price of the tokens, what will happen with the unsold tokens.
Is there an Escrow (guarantors, Those with doses ? Said to raise funds) source code audit by independent auditors for the source code to GitHub.

Tokens share:

  • Percentage for the team, but on the ICO, but on the bounty-activity.
  • The distribution is automatic or manual?


  • What will the first investors receive and on what terms (how many tokens are already issued, how many are sold and how many will be issued).
  • Who are the mentors, advisors, experts?
  • What are the partners among the block-services and financial institutions (for example, PWC, banks, investors)?
  • Conditions of the bounty-program.
  • Preliminary arrangements for listing on stock exchanges and the timing of the listing.
  • Bonuses depending on the time of investment. Or bonuses depending on the percentage of the total release.
  • Is there a maximum hidden cap, which stops collecting funds?
  • For citizens of the United States and other countries: are they making investments?
  • The funds received: is there a uniform delivery to their team within two to three years?

Motivation for investing:

  • Participation in profits, sale on the stock exchange, participation in the Management?
  • Is it a long-term investment or a short-term investment?
  • With what amount of funds is the campaign considered successful?
  • Is there a return if the goal is not achieved?

After the completion of the ICO:

  • What will the collected funds go to?
  • Are there different development models depending on the money collected?

Step 8. Create social channels

For Western users: need a Blog on the site.

Support by:

  • eMail
  • Reddit
  • Medium
  • Telegram
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Slack
  • Linkedin

If you have open source, put Link to GitHub.
If the resources of the team allow, then conduct YouTube and Instagram.
If you write in Chinese, then use Weibo.

For Russian-language users, add:

  • Medium
  • Telegram
  • VK
  • Facebook

Manage your topic in the BitcoinTalk forum:

If you can, then create copy themes in local branches (there are now 19 local language branches on the forum).
Put links from each channel to all the others.

Part of channels means communication, others - only informing. Follow the balance: give users the opportunity to ask questions and maintain official channels for ads and news. There are different users: scammers can come who will publish phishing links. Moderate all channels, preferably around the clock.
During the ICO, this is especially recommended: a link from a user with a nickname like MainModerator, which will hang overnight in your channels, can significantly impair your reputation. Ideally, if you can maintain communications in all channels and in all languages. If you understand that you can not allocate as many resources, then limit yourself to two or three social channels.
Social media will be useful to you after the ICO. An interesting fact: one of the funds investing in crypto currencies considers a signal for sale that the team does not publish news for two months. In addition to legal and tax consequences, the worst thing that can happen to your ICO is scam. Reputation is very important.
Constantly ask yourself the question: can not cause accusations in the scaffold what I now write or will do.

Step 9. Develop and publish a bounty-campaign

Bounty - remuneration of users for PR-activities: signatures on forums, maintenance of topics in local language versions, translation Documents to the local language, publications in social networks, blogs and other. The terms of the bounty are published either in the main topic on BitcoinTalk, or in the auxiliary with the prefix [Bounty].
Better to separate topic, because otherwise, the main topic will be 90% of the bounty discussions.

Step 10. Place the project in the ICO trackers

Tracks study your project, and if it does not look like a scam, then place it on your list. Some sites can ask for money for placement or for a detailed review - about $1-3 thousand.List of the main trackers:


Chinese trackers:


Each month there are new trackers, so the list can be doubled during the preparation of your ICO.

Step 11. Place the materials in thematic media

Here is the traditional PR-work: compiling a list of sites, preparing materials, contacting the editorial staff proof operation sites. Something to paint here is meaningless, I do not see the meaning of PR materials on the Internet.

Step 12. Launch advertising

Use any traffic sources that you can work with. Your main task is to make the tokens sold on the first day (hour). To potential buyers came to your site or to your social channels, admired and entered the date of your ICO red marker in their diaries. What can I do for this?
Limit the maximum amount of attraction. This is a good sign for investors: you do not take away all possible money from the market, but attract as much as you need for development. The smaller the amount involved, the greater the chance of a multiple investment growth.
Give bonuses or discounts on time or first investors. In all articles, blogs and social channels, write about the high demand you use: publish data on the number of email subscribers, participants in social channels, analysts' forecasts about the high demand for your tokens.

Step 13. Develop an investor's personal cabinet

The main functionality of the cabinet: the reception Crypto-currencies, transfer of issued tokens to the wallet, settings. Additional functionality: uploading of identification documents, additional protection.

Step 14. Make translations into other languages

You can do the translation yourself or with the help of bounty-campaigns. Languages that are popular: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, German, French. It is desirable to completely translate the site. Whitepaper can not be translated entirely (remember, the full version is read only by a few English-speaking geeks).

Step 15. Issue Tokens

There are not so many options: release on the Ethereum platform, on the Waves platform etc. Or own tokens.

Step 16. Start ICO

Finally, this day has come. Round-the-clock duty specialist from each direction is very desirable. Even at the time of launch, your site can hack and replace wallets for transfer, as it happened with ICO Coindash on July 17th.
Watch the fund raising, warm up interest in social channels - create a final hype.
Use at this step everything that you have learned in the previous few months.


The price for holding an ICO is constantly growing. More and more projects are coming to the market, it becomes more difficult to understand them. Investors are disappointed in ICO: the crypto currency is unstable, it is rare to get ROI in thousands of percent. Perhaps in a year $1 million will not be enough for high-quality marketing, and today's expenses will seem ridiculous.