Sept 2022#IDO#MarketResearch#CustDev

Token sales through the eyes of a public round participant:an in-depth interview in full

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Authors

Marat Gizatullin

Marat Gizatullin

Analyst, R&D

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15 min

In Q3 2022, BDC Consulting conducted a study of token sale participants, including a series of 10 in-depth interviews. A full transcript of one of them is provided below, together with the hypotheses that we drew up based on the interview. 

These hypotheses were later tested via a survey of 800+ crypto holders across the globe. A full survey report will soon be published on our website

Who is this article for?

For crypto projects preparing for a public token sale round, as well as for launchpads hosting IDOs, INOs, IGOs, and other types of initial crypto asset offerings. 

Interview structure

  • General background
  • Interest in token sales
  • Experience with token sales on launchpads
  • Experience with token sales on exchanges
  • Project requirements
  • Investment size and ROI expectations
  • Informational background
  • Conclusion

Interview script

General background

INTERVIEWER Our goal here is to understand what you personally think about token sales: how you choose projects, buy, sell, and so on. How long have you been in crypto?

RESPONDENT Starting from mid-2020.  

INTERVIEWER And how do you use crypto? 

INTERVIEWER At first I wanted to make some money. Now it’s not just about money for me – it’s about my interest in a new developing industry with interesting people and ideas. 

INTERVIEWER What sort of crypto projects are you interested in?

INTERVIEWER You mean specific projects or type?

INTERVIEWER A type.

RESPONDENT First of all, it’s Move2Earn. Because it’s not just gaming but also sports. Or games with augmented reality, where you have to walk around the city and earn money. I’m also interested in the NFT market. 

INTERVIEWER Why are you interested in these types of projects?

RESPONDENT Move2Earn is something lively, having to do with an active lifestyle. As for NFT projects, I like their communities. There’s nothing complicated, like with DeFi projects: you don’t have to study different protocols or look up technical information. There’s nothing that you need to delve into. NFT and GameFi projects are about people, and that’s why they attract me. 

Important notes

  • Initial reason for starting with crypto: making money. 
  • Priority niches: Move2EarnNFTMetaverse
  • Reasons for choosing these niches: personal use of their products; being part of a community where one can understand the conversation; easy to evaluate project quality.

Interest in token sales

INTERVIEWER Let’s now talk about token sales. When was the last time you took part in one?

RESPONDENT Because of the bear market I haven’t participated in any token sales in the past couple of months. But now I’m actively working on getting whitelist spots and analyzing projects. 

INTERVIEWER Are they IDOs or ICOs?

RESPONDENT I’m now focusing on NFT sales, so INO or IGO. They are my priorities, because the NFT industry is faring better during the bear market, you can make more money there. I did take part in an IDO, but it was a couple of months ago. And if I see a project that is backed by good investment funds and whose metrics and features I like, where I can see a profit potential – then I will take part in its IDO. It’s just that there are very few projects like this right now. 

INTERVIEWER And if we compare different token sale formats, like IDO, ICO, INO, IGO, and so on. What important differences do you see between them? Do you prefer some formats over others?

RESPONDENT I prefer to get a whitelist spot in advance, so that I have a priority right to buy tokens or NFTs. When you simply participate in a public round, you’re not guaranteed an allocation.  There is special software that buys out the NFTs so that you don’t get a chance to mint. So I try to get whitelisted early so that I can later mint an NFT or buy tokens without issues. 

INTERVIEWER And what about the difference between IDOs and ICOs? I mean, what do you think about decentralization, decentralized token sales versus centralized ones. Is this important for you?

RESPONDENT For me there’s no difference.

INTERVIEWER Think of the most recent token sales that you took part in, how exactly did you find out about them?

RESPONDENT Through influencers and closed groups that I trust. There are also channels that evaluate projects 

INTERVIEWER For how long have you been following them? How did you find them?

RESPONDENT For a long time. I found out about him by accident, saw a video by an influencer on YouTube and started following him. I noticed that he doesn’t shill tokens. The projects he reviewed were successful, and that increased by trust. Then he opened a private group where people post reviews of different projects. I get my information there.

Important notes

  • Priority format: buying NFTs through IGO/INO, as they can yield better returns in a bear market.
  • Participation strategy: getting a whitelist (WL) spot that provides a guaranteed right to mint an NFT or buy tokens.
  • Sources of information about token sales: private groups, channels with project reviews, influencer announcements and reviews. 

Experience with tokens sales on launchpads

INTERVIEWER Are there launchpads that you follow on a regular basis?

RESPONDENT Yes. I’ve learned about one such launchpad in a public group chat. It’s called Seedify

INTERVIEWER Why did this particular launchpad attract your attention?

RESPONDENT It made some mistakes in the past. There were projects that weren’t very successful. Now they select projects much more carefully. I also read that for those projects that created losses, they paid compensation to influencers out of their own money. Every launchpad has a pool of influencers that promote its projects in exchange for an allocation. When a token is listed, the price can go down. By the time an influencer’s allocation is unlocked, the price can be so low that the influencer will have lost money. So that launchpad compensated them. If it spoils its relationship with its partner influencers, then nobody will want to work with this launchpad in a bear market. This is a sign that the launchpad is really good, it understands all the details and values its reputation. So I came to the  conclusion that it has promising projects that I should participate in.

INTERVIEWER And what about other launchpads that you interacted with in the past – which ones can you name?

RESPONDENT I can name two popular ones that everyone knows. It’s DAOmaker, a good launchpad, and PolkaStarter  - I took part in all their IDOs for about a year.

INTERVIEWER Let’s discuss your experience using these launchpads. Were you fully satisfied with them, or was there something that could be improved to make the user experience better?

RESPONDENT No, I didn’t have any problems using them. The important thing is that the projects that you participate in through these launchpads yield a profit. So it all depends on the projects that the launchpad selects. For example, for a whole year all the projects on Coinlist gave great profits, so they had 2 million people registering for every sale. The only thing I would improve is for the top launchpads to select projects carefully. If you list IDOs that yield 2x in ROI, investors won’t care if it’s easy to use or not. If there is profit, people will go there. Now Coinlist has become worse, because it started to list IDOs by shady projects that make investors lose money. The same happened with Tokensoft. They had lots of projects, but then they started listing garbage. One of the recent ones even gave a -5x. 

INTERVIEWER And as for the project selection process on a launchpad – like you said, they take garbage projects. Is it possible to prevent such things?

RESPONDENT Of course. Every launchpad has a project analysis team. They need to do research the same way that investors do: study the roadmap, tokenomics, what the project is about, funds, social media accounts, and so on.

Important notes

  • Key criteria for choosing a launchpad: the quality of listed projects and the profit they can yield. 
  • Successful projects yield an ROI of at least 100%.
  • A good launchpad analyzes projects the same way that an investor does and conducts deep research before vetting an IDO.
  • The best launchpads value their reputation.

Experience with token sales on exchanges

INTERVIEWER Let’s now talk about buying tokens when they are listed on exchanges. Do you have experience with this?

RESPONDENT I’ve done this a few times, but only when I had insider information. I bought tokens of Walken and Stepn (Move2Earn projects), which had just been listed on an exchange. I found information that influencer allocations would be unlocked on the day of the listing. I realized that as soon as the token is listed, only the interested users will buy it. And the influencers would sell off their allocations to take profit or get a return on their investment. So the price would first pump and then dump starting from the moment when influencers begin selling. And when the price dumped, I bought the tokens, and eventually the balance was restored. 

INTERVIEWER That’s right. Buying tokens on an exchange isn’t the most convenient option, because you need additional information.

RESPONDENT What do you mean by convenient? With my strategy I won’t earn much with this option. But if you play a game and you need the tokens because they are used in that game, you’ll buy them anyway. I think that the only type of assets you should buy on exchanges is fundamental tokens for long-term investing. But with the market that we have now, it’s barely three or four different coins. 

Important notes

  • Buying tokens on exchanges is riskier, unless one has insider information
  • The profit isn’t high enough to justify the risk
  • Exchanges are good only for buying tokens of fundamental projects as a long-term investment

Project requirements

INTERVIEWER Let’s talk about what makes a successful project. What features must a project have for you to decide to buy its tokens?

RESPONDENT I’m going to name the main criteria for most projects but not for all, because there are exceptions. The first thing is the funds that are invested in a project. If there’s a Tier-1 fund, it’s a good sign that you can invest in the project. The second thing is social media accounts. I want to see how active the project is on social media, the number of followers, how often they communicate, what they say, and so on. If it’s active, it means the project is alive, people are interested in it, so I should also take a closer look. The next criterion is the team. It’s important to understand what sort of team is behind the project: from their geography to their background. If it’s people with lots of experience in designing games and they are working on an NFT game, then it’s a good sign of the future success. The size of the team is also important. Are they hiring? How big is it? The idea is important, too. If it’s a large-scale project or an ecosystem, it’s better than a small NFT game. I also look at who follows the project on social media. There’s a website called Coinsguru where you can see how many crypto influencers follow a Twitter account. If it has more than 10 important members of the crypto industry, it’s a sign of trustworthiness for me. 

INTERVIEWER At the beginning, you mentioned Tier-1 funds. Do  you mean Tier-1 according to some specific ranking?

RESPONDENT According to the amount they invest in the crypto project. Funds like Andreessen HorowitzBinance LabPolychainSolana Labs.. These are huge fundamental investors that everyone knows about.

INTERVIEWER And what about teams that are only starting out in crypto – what kind of advice could you give them?

RESPONDENT Talking about the team, if it doesn’t have experience, it should be a red flag. Ideally. If they don't have experience, you should look at each member individually – their background and executive experience. If the CEO of a new project worked as the CEO of another project before, was that other project successful? A project can have angel investors and advisors. If the advisor board includes someone who works in gaming and GameFi/NFT, then they can help. I would recommend focusing on the successful aspects and look for an advisor or partner whom you can showcase as part of the team.

INTERVIEWER And what do you think of anonymous teams?

RESPONDENT Sometimes such projects can pump, but it’s like 1% out of 100%. So I generally have a negative opinion of anonymity. But I don’t reject such projects straight away, you have to look into the details. 

INTERVIEWER This is interesting. And what about the roadmap – do you check it?

RESPONDENT Yes, definitely. There are two things I look for. The first is how the previous roadmap milestones have been implemented – if at all. And the second is how fast the project plans to move forward, how many features the roadmap lists that look interesting to me as an investor. If it’s an NFT project, then how many NFT sales it will have, if it will have a closed beta or a closed alpha that I can take part in. Will it have new game mechanics where I can participate, and so on. If it plans to release the game in 3 months, that’s fine, but if it’s only in 6 months, then I’ll think about it: why should I join now and lock up my funds for so long?

INTERVIEWER Let’s talk about tokenomics. What do you focus on?

RESPONDENT I look at the share of the tokens allocated to the team – it shouldn’t be more than 15%. If it’s more than that, there’s a risk that the team will sell them off and dump the price. How much is allocated for marketing? 20% or more is a good sign. It means they will invest in the development of the project, in its promotion. If more than 5% is allocated for airdrops and rewards, it’s also a positive sign. I join projects in order to make money. So I look at the price of the token for private investors and at the seed round. If the difference with the public sale is more than x5, then it’s not a good sign. These investors can dump the price after the unlock. For me it will mean a loss, as I’m a public sale investor buying the token at a price that’s several times higher. 

Important notes

Important project features:

  • Backing by Tier-1 funds
  • Community size and activity
  • Team size and background
  • Product value
  • Interest shown by influential people in the crypto community

If a team lacks relevant experience, it should:

  • Describe its background in detail and tie it in with the relevant market;
  • Onboard prominent crypto advisors and angel investors.
  • Projects with anonymous teams are rarely worth participating in

Roadmap evaluation:

  • Which targets were set – and have they been reached on schedule?
  • Upcoming activities that investors can take part in;
  • Six months till launch is too long.

Tokenomics – positive signs:

  • No more than 15% allocated to the team;
  • 20% or more allocated for marketing;
  • 5% or more allocated as airdrops and rewards;
  • No more than 5x difference between the private/seed and public round price.

Investment size and ROI expectations

INTERVIEWER What amount do you usually invest when you enter a project? Do you have different criteria for different projects?

RESPONDENT Usually it’s between $500 and $1000.

INTERVIEWER What sort of ROI do you expect to get?

RESPONDENT If I feel that the project won’t earn me any profit or if it will be no more than 2x, I prefer not to participate, because it can also result in a loss. But if I see that it can be 3x or more, I can invest as much as $1000.

INTERVIEWER For how long do you usually hold the tokens?

RESPONDENT One month. Of course, I prefer to get my ROI sooner. If it takes 3-4 weeks to get my investment back, it’s acceptable. With IDOs, 20% is usually unlocked after the TGE when the token is listed on a CEX. If I know that the project is good and the 20% that will be unlocked will pay back my investment, I can keep holding for 2 months. But if it’s not a top-tier project and the listing process takes a long time, then I won’t participate. 

Important notes

  • Investment amount: $500 to $1 000.
  • Preferred holding period: 1 month, sometimes up to 2 months.
  • Target ROI: 2x or higher.

 

 

 

 

 

Informational background

INTERVIEWER Let’s talk about your informational background. Which media do you read? What do you watch?

RESPONDENT You mean specific ones or a type of media?

INTERVIEWER More like a type.

RESPONDENT It’s influencers on Telegram and YouTube, mostly Telegram. On YouTube, I watch longer reviews of the projects I learn about on Telegram.

INTERVIEWER You mean crypto influencers?

RESPONDENT Yes, crypto. 

INTERVIEWER Is it expert and analytical content or something more basic? I mean that non-professionals can also understand the information that they share.

RESPONDENT It’s not some professors that create this content – it’s normal people who have been participating in token sales for 2 or 3 years and have experience. They create reviews and share their opinion.

INTERVIEWER Could you please name some of them – or share links?

RESPONDENT For example, IDO ResearchСлавик инвестор. There are also smaller channels that I follow, such as  Emotion Crypto

INTERVIEWER Do you follow them on a daily basis?

RESPONDENT Whenever they post new content. I have a Telegram folder with all those channels, so that I can quickly check who has posted what. 

INTERVIEWER And what about platforms, are there any niche platforms that you follow, something with reviews of new crypto projects?

RESPONDENT No, I don’t track any platforms.

Important notes

  • Key sources of information: influencers on Telegram and YouTube. 
  • Target content: project reviews.
  • Good signs that an influencer can be trusted: no shilling and the success of the projects they review.

Conclusion

INTERVIEWER If you were to try and sum up your investment strategy, is it aggressive or conservative?

RESPONDENT It’s aggressive. I believe that you should enter quickly and make money. While other people are still thinking and analyzing, I will have already earned my ROI. 

INTERVIEWER Do you trade?

RESPONDENT No. Trading is more complicated, and you need to really study it. If you don’t you’ll just lose money.

INTERVIEWER Do you have a long-term investment goal?

RESPONDENT My goal is to make 1 BTC until the end of the year.

INTERVIEWER That’s cool. And how do you evaluate your chances?

RESPONDENT I will earn 1 bitcoin.

INTERVIEWER This is in the context of the current market conditions?

RESPONDENT The market is making less money, but 1 BTC is also worth less. If more money flows into the market, Bitcoin will be worth more. It’s logical. 

INTERVIEWER Great. Thank you for the very informative interview. 

Important notes

  • Preferred strategy: aggressive (quick entries and exits followed by the search for a new project). 


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