Monthly Archives - October 2019

Marketing for Blockchain and cryptocurrency projects

Marketing for Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Projects

Starting a blockchain business or project usually begins with a great idea. Thanks to the blockchain technology, a lot of traditional industries are joining the revolution. New businesses are being born, and new projects are shaping the way information is stored or used. But wait a minute, after starting the great idea what happens? Most blockchain-based products die out because they leave out marketing.The place of marketing in any business cannot be overemphasized. The error most tech-savvy startups make is that they ignore the potency of marketing. Although a traditional industry, marketing has experienced a lot of changes over the years, and it still plays a huge role in the success of any business or project.  We will be looking at the potholes blockchain businesses are likely to get into when it comes to marking. Also, we shall take a look at the various marketing strategies blockchain and cryptocurrency projects and startups can adopt.Why Blockchain Projects Get Lost in the Marketing Maze    One of the biggest mistakes some blockchain and cryptocurrency businesses and startups make is to assume that their big idea will wow the market. Great! You have a great idea to revolutionize the market, but how do you plan to convince the people that your product is better than what they have been used to? As a result, a lot of project launch into the market with just great ideas and no marketing strategyIn the same vein, the ICO mentality has affected a lot of projects when it comes to marketing in the crypto and blockchain space. During the ICO boom of 2017 and 2018, it was not uncommon to see an ICO project launch a website, carry out loads of press releases, and then fade away. Some of the mistakes blockchain and crypto-based startups and projects are likely to make include;Not Carrying out a Proper ResearchMost projects are just great ideas for solving problems where there is a working solution. So, there is no real market.Going about Branding the Wrong Way The ICO mentality has affected a lot of projects and businesses. To some, all that is needed for a successful business is a website, a logo, a blog post, and social media promotions. But branding goes way beyond that. Starting Too LateIt is not surprising to see a lot of projects put off marketing until their next product is released. One lesson we can learn from Dan Larimer the CTO of Block.One, the company in charge of EOS is marketing even when the product isn’t on the ground. Voice, a social media platform based on EOS is yet to be launched, but a lot of branding is ongoing. Ignoring the Need for MarketingWhile some crypto startups feel that hiring a PR firm will solve all their woes, others ignore it totally. Some projects would instead focus on building a community on Telegram or Reddit than taking dedicated efforts to brand and marketing.The Potency of a Marketing Strategy for Your StartupSo, we now know the errors most businesses make when it comes to blockchain marketing. However, there is more to it than knowing your faults. What exactly is marketing, and why does your crypto-based project need it? Marketing goes beyond advertising. Although the term ‘marketing’ makes it seem like it is restricted to just getting sales. Marketing encompasses everything from branding to sales. The four Ps of marketing are Product, price, place, and promotion. However, most blockchain projects focus more on promotions than on product.So, what exactly can a cryptocurrency startup focus on Product instead of promotions? After you successfully convert that great idea into a product, you are expecting to make sales right. Marketing follows the following steps;Awareness: first, you have to bring your products to the knowledge of your potential customers or users.  Consideration: Even after getting your product out there, your potential customer has to consider utilizing your platform, product, or solution.Trials: Now that they have considered your product, they will undoubtedly want to give it a trial. Now, no matter how great your marketing strategy is, you must have an equally great product.Loyalty: Loyal customers are one of the most critical assets of any business. The aim of all your marketing strategy is not just to bring in new customers but to also ensure that existing customers remain loyal to the brand.Therefore to make sales, a cryptocurrency business has to pay attention to branding. Branding includes everything from the company’s logo to the public image of the company. And this is why it is vital to have a strategy.Branding Lessons from BinanceWhen it comes to successful brands, Binance should be somewhere at the top. One of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, Binance has grown from a China-based exchange to a global brand.  What did they do differently? Build a Great Product: Binance had a great exchange, and its features for ak for the company. The Binance exchange is easy to use, and its discount on its native token, BnB, makes it an attractive option. Also, binance is always creating additions to its products.Have a Brand Story: Binance has a brand story that most users can relate to. Changpeng Zhao the CEO of Binance always reflects the brand story, and this is reflected in the brand goals. Binance is among the first exchanges that partnered with an African country as the company spreads crypto education across the globe.Build a community: Binance has successfully built a community of loyal customers. The exchange even holds competition within its community. It celebrated its two year anniversary by asking that its community members participated in a video competition. Target Specific Markets: binance recently launched its crypto lending solution on its platform. The exchange also launched its futures trading. All its products reflect user experience. That is to say, the company addresses the feedback it gets from its community and transforms them into solutions.ConclusionOne take-home lesson for cryptocurrency and blockchain projects and businesses when it comes to marketing is ‘focus on branding.’ While it is essential to focus on your visual identity, building a brand that can speak for itself goes beyond what publicity and press releases can do. Also, while creating your brand, it is crucial to make sure it is unique to you. You may want to consider taking action toward protecting your brand’s intellectual properties. Finally, now that the excitement of the blockchain is waning off, people are looking forward to real solutions. Blockchain and cryptocurrency projects cannot afford to overlook marketing at this time.  Feel free to check up on us in our Telegram Group or our Telegram Channel if you have questions. We look forward to engaging you.You're also welcome to interact directly with the FINT Team. Join our Telegram Group: https://t.me/FINTConsulting or our Telegram Channel: https://t.me/FINTChannel. See you there.DISCLAIMER: This article is written for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult a lawyer for tailored legal advice.
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10 Things to Know Before Starting or Joining a Blockchain or Crypto Project

Featured Image Source: MyTechDecision

Introduction

These days blockchain and crypto is all the rage. Everyone from individuals, organizations and even governments are in a race to build the chain to rule them all. Perhaps, the best part is that decentralization has somewhat leveled the playing field, meaning even your dog can partner with you to save the world. A market projected to reach $2.3 billion by 2021 is not one to ignore.As usual, courageous entrepreneurs are entering the decentralized space with the 'next big idea' they desire to actualize, for the use of humanity and other species. Some already have some experience starting or working for traditional startups which were either bootstrapped or venture-backed.Alternative (IXO) and faster fundraising methods like ICO (Initial Coin Offering), STO (Security Token Offering), DAICO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization + ICO), etc have made it easier for entrepreneurs with even just an idea, to raise millions in a few minutes, days or weeks. However, this article is not about analyzing this fundraising route. Our focus in this article is giving you a rundown of what anyone interested in blockchain business development (BBD) should tick off their list before starting a project in the space.Let's dive in!

1. Global By Default

This is the first point of discussion because it is the first thing you recognize when you get involved in blockchain and crypto. Traditional businesses follow the classical route of starting small and then expanding as they grow, from one city to the next, from one country to the next. For blockchain and crypto projects, even where the beginning is small, the reach is fundamentally global. In fact, blockchain founders incorporate the distributed feature of the blockchain into building their teams. Thus you’ll find that the graphic designer could be in Japan, the chief technical officer in Turkey, with the chief financial officer in Nigeria.Unfortunately, this global and distributed feature does not reflect on a gender scale. It's a known fact that the tech space is bro-dominated. The situation is worse in the blockchain and crypto space. Initially, when I got into the space in 2017, I could count on one hand females I found at events. Over time, the number increased, but still nowhere near 20% of all attendees at current events.

2. Read the Bitcoin White Paper

You are not a true believer in the space until you have read the Decentralized Bible: Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin white paper. Preferably, you should read it more than once. Unless you have a tech background, chances are, like me, a major part of your first reading will feel like ancient Greek to you. But read again, and again, and again. After a while, the pieces will begin to fall into place.

3. What is Blockchain?

Anyone looking to start a project in the space must be ready to answer this question a zillion times with their own informed definition. Lip syncing another's definition just goes to show you have little understanding about what you are doing. Here's my own personal introduction to blockchain. There are tons of free online courses and other materials to help you get started. Closely related to this question is answering for yourself the question of whether your project truly needs a blockchain? Majority of blockchain entrepreneurs simply want to ride on the blockchain hype wave, when their solutions can be implemented without a blockchain. 

4. Never Ending - 24/7

In the blockchain and crypto space, it is a never-ending market and work cycle. The fact that the space is global contributes to this. By the time you are rising in the morning, half of the crypto world has been awake for hours. So, expect to find tons of messages waiting for you at work.Moreover, the never-ending cycle runs faster than the traditional world thanks to speculation in the most volatile market in the world. Within 24hours, bitcoin could go from $8,000 to $11,000 and down to $5,000. That's how hyper-volatile and fast, time runs in the decentralized space.

5. New Business Models

Blockchain on its own is a new business model. The particular act of removing the middleman means Bob and Alice can transact together, faster and cheaper since it doesn’t go through a third party. In a traditional business model, this is usually not the case.There are several new business models being adopted in the decentralized space. Most popular, or if you will, saturated, is the utility token model. This can be used in various ways like crowdfunding for a blockchain startup, customer or employee rewards and means of gaining access to the company’s products and services. There are other models like blockchain as a service (BaaS), network fees, blockchain development platforms and blockchain professional services. I will expand more on blockchain business models in a future article.

6. Build for the Masses and Not the Techies

Unless you're a technical engineer, I bet you have no idea how your WiFi works. But of course, to get online, all you have to do is tap on the WiFi icon somewhere on your screen and perhaps enter a short password. You have zero interest in the technical details. This same scenario, translated in blockchain and crypto will not be so simple. First, you will probably need to generate a key from your device, to be matched with a key stored on the WiFi device. Then, you might need to set up a network port, so that traffic to and from your device is properly routed. By now, you're probably already losing interest. Unfortunately, this is the average reaction of new users when they encounter blockchain and crypto solutions. At the moment, 90% of solutions in the crypto space, including the grandfather of them all, bitcoin, are used by mostly techies. Totally explains why the first wave of people in the space was of course techies, more specifically mathematicians, cryptographers and gamers.But if you have read the bitcoin whitepaper, Satoshi's real aim was to bring financial freedom to the masses while bypassing the government. So, until blockchain and crypto projects start building for the masses and not the techies, mass adoption will continue to be a mirage.

7. Competitors are Middlemen

Virtually all blockchain businesses base the foundations of the solutions they offer on eliminating the middlemen, namely the governments, banks and those with uncensored authority. It follows that the real competitors of blockchain businesses are not even similar projects, but the middleman sought to be removed.On the other side of the coin, the so-called middlemen could also leverage blockchain to upgrade their service offerings since they are in the best position to understand the nuances of all stakeholders in multi-party transactions.

8. Must Not Code But Must Get Technical

This is especially crucial if you intend to be a founder/ entrepreneur. While it is not required that you bother with writing a line of code when you can hire programmers, it is important that your understanding of the technical aspects relating to your blockchain business idea is not shallow. Covering the basics and more will enable you to tackle questions thrown at you (by users and investors) eloquently. This knowledge will come in handy when making decisions on what blockchain platform to build on, what features your solution should have, how to handle data integration issues, etc. Perhaps a positive downside to this is that the process of getting your bases covered could lead you down the infamous blockchain rabbit hole. More than any other tech industry, blockchain has an overabundance of available resources. 

9. Adopt New Digital Tools

While previously you were familiar with just Slack, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Twitter. Blockchain and crypto folks spend their time on Discord, Telegram and Steemit. Fortunately, they work similar to what you’re already familiar with, so worries there. In the startup world, users are able to directly interact with founders. For blockchain and crypto founders, the accountability bar is higher, although they could be pseudonymous. Founders in the space can expect to be summoned to a social hearing (packaged as AMA) to answer to community queries, as is common on CryptoTwitter.

10. A Decade-Old, But Still Early

A favorite comparison in the space is likening the blockchain era to the internet era of the '90s. Some say the ICO bubble is the equivalent of the dot.com bubble. Whether any of these assertions are true or not is yet to be determined. However, what is certain is the fact that the technology is still in its early stages. For this reason, enthusiasts and businesses in the space should devote more attention to education over speculation. Moreover, the more Satoshi converts, the larger the market size. Education and adoption rates will always tally.

11. Funds, Funds, Funds

Okay, I know I said 10, but FINT is benevolent! After all, you need to know the cost of what you are getting into upfront. So we have added four more points.Like every other startup project, an entrepreneur needs funds to start a blockchain and crypto project. Fortunately, alternative fundraising methods are available in the crypto industry. Ranging from the (bubble-burst?) ICO to DAICOs and even IFOs (Initial Futures Offering). There are also venture capitals like a16z which have set up crypto funds specifically for blockchain and crypto projects. Several other projects also chose to go the bootstrapping route.I dare say a blockchain and crypto project needs more funds considering that talent, especially blockchain programming, is scarce. And a huge chunk of available funds go to research and development. These are generally uncharted waters, someone needs to take the risk. Experienced blockchain talent comes at a premium. The average salary of a blockchain programmer starts from between $80,000 - $100,000, depending on the type of company and country.Blockchain programmers are not the only cost to prepare for. Other costs like use of a blockchain platform, team (and miners) compensation, shipping the product (solution) and marketing are equally to be prepared for.

12. Spam and Scam

If you previously had a laissez-faire attitude to your digital security before entering the space, then you should be near paranoid in blockchain and crypto. Hackers target crypto companies because they want to take advantage of the pseudonymous feature when asking for ransom or making away with the loot. You do not want to start a project, raise funds and then enter the spotlight for the wrong reasons: a hack. There are several measures that could be adopted to detect and handle spam and scam, but generally, the most important is when the humans involved are appropriately equipped defensively. 

13. Legal Uncertainty

Blockchain raises tons of brand new questions that were not existing several years ago. Each country and government have diverse reactions to these legal questions. Some have adopted a strong unfavorable approach, some are on the fence, trying to monitor the developments. While a courageous few like Switzerland, Malta, and Kenya have a favorable stance and approach, either through sandboxes or policies and regulations. On this point, working with a lawyer who understands blockchain is crucial. But also helpful for you to be conversant with the basics.

14. Protect Your Intellectual Property

On this point, I gladly direct you to an article written by our Head of IP. Although the article focuses on protecting your IP in a pitch competition, which is common in the decentralized space, by the way. She also succinctly addresses why you should even bother with protecting your IP.You should note however that by default, the blockchain and crypto space is community-driven using open-source software. On the other hand, there are also patented solutions by legacy businesses like IBM, Microsoft, and new startups like Hedera Hashgraph.It’s a wrap-up!Are there other points you would like to add? Please, drop them in the comments!From all that has been discussed, it's obvious the blockchain and crypto space is a vibrant interesting one. Like I always emphasize, the system that wins tomorrow might not be the blockchain, however, it would have the fundamental feature of decentralization. So, joining now is your best chance at being a pioneer and not a spectator. Feel free to check up on us in our Telegram Group or our Telegram Channel if you have questions. We look forward to engaging you.You're also welcome to interact directly with the FINT Team. Join our Telegram Group: https://t.me/FINTConsulting or our Telegram Channel: https://t.me/FINTChannel. See you there.DISCLAIMER: This article is written for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult a lawyer for tailored legal advice.
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Protecting Your IP in a Pitch Competition

The era where start-ups and SMEs barely considered intellectual property (IP) as part of their overall business strategy is far gone. Intangible assets, including intellectual property, make up for about 30-40% of the profit margin of most businesses today. In fact, some businesses deal solely on the intangibles. It is therefore very important to consider IP protection at every stage of the business, including at the seed or incubation stage. Intellectual property arises from novel or original expressions, which could take the form of copyrights, trademarks, patents, designs, etc. Every start-up has at least one intellectual property. Logos, designs, colours, customer databases, clients’ lists, manuals, software, etc are all intangible assets, which can be protected under intellectual property.Most innovations are products of novelty or originality. In essence, a start-up is putting forward what good or service it can provide distinct from that of others. Novelty or originality in this sense does not imply an out-of-this-world idea coming to life but rather, being able to establish a difference between your good or service, and that of related businesses.Imagine coming up with a groundbreaking idea and turning the same into a beautiful innovation. You cannot wait to pitch your great idea before potential investors, competitors and organizers of a pitch event. Before you do that, wait! There are certain precautions you have to take with regards to your beautiful idea before making it public.The purpose of a pitch competition is usually to present your innovations before the organizers of such competitions and potential investors. It is putting your stuff out there for others to see. This could help a start-up get seed funding for its projects, attract investors, and display what it can offer. It could also make room for collaborations as well as identifying competitors.

Why Secure Your IP?

Safeguarding Your Pitch Against IP Infringement 

Protecting a start-up’s intangible assets using intellectual property from the very onset is vital. This ensures adequate protection before going public with the idea. And prevents theft of the start-up’s ideas during the pitch presentation by organizers or potential competitors.Prior IP protection has two advantages for the start-up, that is, the “defensive” benefit and the “offensive” benefit. The defensive approach, also known as “protection and blocking” ensures that the start-up has in place the appropriate mechanism - IP protection – to prevent its IP from being infringed on. In addition, it would provide a basis for counter-infringement claims in IP litigation. It also serves as a barrier to market entry, blocking competitors from entering the same market.The offensive approach would allow a start-up to sue to protect its intellectual property rights (IPRs) in the event of an infringement. It also gives the start-up competitive edge when negotiating licensing or out-of-court settlement deals.

Time-Bound Nature of IP

Some classes of IP by nature are time-bound, that is, a period or window of opportunity is provided to allow for the necessary IP protection for any idea that is released during a pitch competition without adequate IP Protection, before falling into the public domain. Hence, to ensure adequate and timely protection, such classes of IP ought to be registered within a given time frame.  For instance, patents under most national laws have a period of grace of twelve (12) months within which patents that have been made public ought to be applied for to be protected. The implication is that if a start-up presents an invention during a pitch competition without having filed for a patent grant, it only has a period of one year to file for it; otherwise, it would lose protection and fall into the public domain. Hence, it is of utmost importance for a start-up to protect its IP before a pitch competition. For instance, if SmartTech, a tech company that produces microbots, displays its microbots at a pitch competition before patenting the functional aspects of those microbots, it has a period of grace of twelve (12) months to apply for patent grant.

Boosts Investors’ Confidence

Safeguarding your IP before a pitch competition gives your business a sense of seriousness that is attractive to potential investors. It shows the meticulousness of the idea or business owner as well as his IP due diligence. 

How to Secure Your Idea Before and During a Pitch Competition

  • Limit the amount of information you let out during a pitch deck

In a pitch deck, the information a start-up owner lets out should be limited to only the basics, that is, enough information to pique the interest of potential investors but insufficient to be stolen or misappropriated.
  • Execute non-disclose or non-compete agreements

In situations where giving out just basic information would not cut it, it is imperative to execute a non-disclosure or non-compete agreements with the pitch deck organizers beforehand. That way, if your idea gets stolen, you can hold them liable.
  • Seek proper protection of your IPRs

While it is very important to consider various means of securing your IP before a pitch deck, actual and adequate protection of your IPRs is of utmost importance. This is because of the defensive and offensive benefits that accrue to the start-up.
  • Keep a trail of documentation 

Having a good record of all transactions leading up to the pitch competition would leave a trail that would assist the start-up in proving ownership in the event that the need arises. These include emails, receipts, letters and other correspondence, etc.

Conclusion

The importance of prior protection of IPRs before a pitch competition cannot be overemphasized. The overall benefits far outweigh the often misconstrued perception that IPRs' protection is expensive. Feel free to check up on us in our Telegram Group or our Telegram Channel if you have questions. We look forward to engaging you.You're also welcome to interact directly with the FINT Team. Join our Telegram Group: https://t.me/FINTConsulting or our Telegram Channel: https://t.me/FINTChannel. See you there.DISCLAIMER: This article is written for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult a lawyer for tailored legal advice.
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