The Secret Is: There Are No Secrets (Blockchain Edition)

Don't tell anyone!

What is the secret to a successful ICO? What’s the one thing you definitely need to know to make sure your blockchain project will achieve world domination – but that no one is telling you?

Hold your breath…

There isn’t one.

Others may disagree with me. In fact, they quite obviously do – a quick Google search reveals dozens or even hundreds of supposed “secrets” to successful blockchain startups that are spilled all over the web.

Secrets to Blockchain Success

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Some are fundamental like:

  • Doing an ICO
  • Not doing an ICO

Some “secrets” address the underlying platform, such as:

  • Using Ethereum (Stellar, NEO, NEM, Waves) as a platform
  • Developing your own platform

Some “secrets” are supposedly to be found in the marketing and PR sphere:

  • Spending lots of money with an expensive PR firm
  • Doing grassroots marketing on Bitcointalk, Reddit and Twitter
  • Targeting experienced blockchain investors
  • Targeting conventional (fiat) investors

The business of whitepaper writing is full of “secrets” too (don’t say we didn’t tell you):

  • Writing the whitepaper yourself
  • Having experts write your whitepaper
  • Having the best graphics design in (crypto-)town
  • Not bothering with design at all (Satoshi didn’t, did he?)
  • Having the whitepaper translated into Chinese, Russian, Spanish, German, Swahili, Mongolian, and Medieval Latin
  • Not bothering with whitepaper translation at all

And, of course, the books of law hold many “secrets” as well – we’re not even getting into this field here, but we can put you in touch with excellent lawyers.

And the “secret” to an excellent team is:

  • Focusing on getting conventional industry experts on board of your startup
  • Focusing on getting blockchain experts on board of your startup

And now the juicy business “secrets”:

  • Having a prototype ready upon ICO launch
  • Having a fully functional platform ready upon ICO launch
  • Not bothering with a product or prototype until you’ve secured a couple of million USD in funding
  • Having the fastest time-to-market
  • Taking your time to polish your product, and letting others make the first mistakes

You’ve probably guessed it: None of those are actual secrets. They are opinions, approaches based on sufficient or insufficient experience, or expressions of the writer’s own hidden agenda. Of course, promising to reveal a secret always makes for a good headline (read: clickbait). Even more or less reputable outlets such as Forbes reveal so-called secrets with ill-mannered, annoying frequency (they give one away every couple of days, it seems, without ever running out of them).

Any of us would be all too happy to find a little-known shortcut to success, and because blockchain is such a new field – and a bit obscure to many due to its heavily technological roots – we are especially prone to believing that such a shortcut exists in the blockchain world. Like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, El Dorado in the uncharted territories of the South American jungle, or a worm hole in the delta quadrant.

But the truth is, blockchain, like other branches of tech, is not uncharted territory anymore. People have been looking for loopholes to success for close to 10 years now, and while sometimes someone still discovers a shortcut through rough terrain, they do so largely because they have put in the work: Learned the technology, drafted a solid concept, assembled a competent team, hustled for capital, and finally succeeded. No secrets in that.

So, the next time someone promises to tell you the secret to blockchain success, ask yourself: If it really was the quick-and-easy key to riches – why would they give it away for free?

(The only exception being ourselves, of course – we are adamant that the secret to blockchain success is a good whitepaper. Or wait: Seems like we haven’t kept that secret secret enough. Damn.)

This article was first posted on July 20, 2018 and has been last updated on June 14, 2021.

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