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What Is ICO?

Initial Coin Offering (ICO) has penetrated its roots deeply in the financial and technological world, largely associated with blockchain & cryptocurrency. Basically, an ICO is a way to fundraise for new projects or initiatives through the cryptocurrency realm.

Unlike venture capitalist or an initial public offer, ICOs function by making digital tokens or coins to investors in return for funds. Most of the time, these tokens represent a kind of future access to a service or product that the startup is offering.

What Does ICO Stand For?

The acronym for "Initial Coin Offering" is ICO. In the traditional financial market, this is similar to an IPO, when a company issues shares to raise capital from investors. With ICOs, companies issue digital tokens or coins instead of shares.

How Does an ICO Work?

Initial Idea and Whitepaper

The thing starts with some idea coming up from any start-up or project team which is recorded in a whitepaper itself. The whitepaper details have project goals, technical specifications and the tokenomics (economic model) of it as well as the problem it tries to solve.

Token Creation and Distribution

When you are ready, the next step is to make part of this whitepaper-life digital tokens that would go on sale as a part of the ICO. These tokens can mean different things, like power in a platform, use of services or even property rights.

Fundraising Process

Those tokens are sold to investors after the ICO, in exchange for other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. Those funds are next used to develop the project laid out in whitepaper.

Advantages of ICOs


This opens the gates of early-stage investing to everyone with an internet connection and crypto, in other words, it democratizes capital markets.

Global Reach

Because ICOs take place on blockchain networks, they extend to a global scale that allows startups to gather capital from virtually any part of the world with an investor base.


ICOs, which are based on blockchain technology, underscore the benefits of decentralization and eschew intermediaries such as banks or venture capital firms in the fundraising process.

Challenges and Risks of ICOs

Lack of Regulation

There is no regulatory supervision of the ICO market resulting in investor protection and fraud problems.

Scams and Frauds

Cryptocurrencies' decentralized and pseudonymous nature has been a key source for creating ICO scams such as fake projects, phishing attacks, and ponzi schemes.

Market Volatility

The price of tokens obtained during an ICO is often extremely volatile and may affect the value of other tokens or related businesses — positively or negatively.


Key Differences

Both Initial Coin Offerings and IPOs are fundraising mechanisms that offer fiat bank investments believing out tokens that correspond to future value or money, respectively.


ICOs and IPOs give companies the ability to raise capital from investors who want a piece of the action before they take off.

Successful ICO Examples


It raised over $18 million in its 2014 ICO, and even basic knowledge of it has since propelled others into creating smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps) on which this is based.


EOS gathered $4 Bn through its one-yearlong ICO in 2017–2018 which is one of the biggest if not considered to be the world-largestisclosed round ever. EOS attempts to offer a scalable and user-friendly solution for DApp development in the form of a blockchain platform.


The ICO back in 2017 Filecoin raised $257 million during its initial ICO to build a decentralized storage network where users were able to purchase and sell storage space using the cryptocurrency.

Legal Implications of ICOs

Regulatory Landscape

Different countries take diverse approach to the regulation of ICOs, some jurisdictions regulate very stringently in order to protect investors and prevent money laundering.

Compliance Requirements

Depending on the jurisdiction, startups doing an ICO might have to adhere to securities laws, anti-money laundering regulations and know-your-customer (KYC) demands.

ICO Marketing Strategies

Building a Community

Many successful ICOs concentrate on community building whether it be through engaging others via social media, meeting like-minded individuals at conferences and exhibitions or contributing to forums.

Social Media Presence

The announcement and launch of ICOs were made on all social media platforms, such as Twitter, Reddit, and Telegram, to maintain active communication with future investors.

Bounty Programs

These bounty programs are a great example of incentivizing the community by rewarding them for simply promoting the ICO in various ways through simple tasks like sharing on social media, content creation and bug reporting.

Future of ICOs

Evolving Trends

As regulators continue to find their feet, and the kinks of blockchain are ironed out, ICOs will no doubt be more regulated and standardized — mainly with an eye on investor protection and transparency.

Potential Innovations

Some of the fastest growing & most promising ICO trends are STOs, security token offerings which tokenize traditional assets such as real estate or stocks, and IEOs Initial Exchange Offerings via cryptocurrency exchanges.


To sum up, the basic concept of initial coin offerings (ICOs) has turned the traditional ways for businesses to raise capital around by introducing a decentralized and accessible alternative. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have many benefits, but it comes with a lot of risks as well — market volatility and regulatory uncertainty. Investors need to really do their DD while Startups should be focusing more on compliance and transparency, as the ICO space changes.

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