Back in 2017 I published an article on how to write a white paper for a crypto fundraising event correctly. I am proud to say it was a massive success. In a much smaller market it carried tens of thousands of views and encouraged many in the community to reach out in search of support while preparing their white paper. I like to think it had a positive impact on the community.
Since that early 2017 period the market has changed drastically. Regardless of whether you consider that change to be positive or negative, we are now in a very different place to early 2017 and even further away from where this whole adventure began. For those of us who have been in the industry for a long time, this changing market was always going to happen. Like a much loved child, the Crypto industry has grown up. So has the fundraising that accompanies it.
As an example, back in 2017 there was only one real way to raise funds - that was the much loved first child, the ICO (Initial Coin Offering). Since then, our family has grown a little to include the TGE (Token Generation Event), HTO (Hybrid Token Offering), IEO (Initial Exchange Offering), and STO (Stock Transfer Order). As a side note, I do jokingly say that the IEO was the child that went away and came back home after college.
With all of these new fundraising models in place, it is important to revisit some core fundamentals, especially when we look at the White Paper. The White Paper is the cornerstone document in any crypto fundraising event. Regardless of which model fundraising you are undertaking, the importance of the White Paper has only grown as time has passed. Therefore we should take a moment to sit down and revisit the fundamental elements that a White Paper needs with some new golden rules.
Rule 1: The Flow is everything
When you read a book, there is a beginning, a middle and an end. The same should always be true of a well-written White Paper. Introducing people to your project, the market, and what your token is or does is core. Early on.
Many white papers seem to scatter all over the place with very little flow or understanding as to how or what it is trying to achieve. Remember, if your White Paper is confused, it will give people the impression that your project is confused. Start with impact, get into the real information and then end with some hard-hitting conclusions.
Rule 2: Three, not Thirty-Three pages
There is an expression with all documents that are written: ‘First Three Pages’. This means that people will focus for the first three pages of any document and then turn off for the rest, typically skim-reading everything from that point onwards. Therefore, it is important to remember that your first three pages should be your absolute stellar output. They should give people enough information to want to keep reading.
In those first three pages, people will make up their mind on two things. Firstly, if they like the document and secondly, if they like your project enough to keep on reading. It always blows my mind when I read through a White Paper and the first three pages are useless bits of information telling people nothing about the project, token, plan or anything of any real use. Grab people’s attention while you have it. Sell the most in those first three pages and then expand on everything else later in the document. People aren’t going to read 10 pages of useless facts before they get to the core information about your project.
Rule 3: It should be simple
Can everyone understand your whole document? Great. Can your team understand everything that is in your document? Good. Now, can your elderly father or Grandfather who probably has little to no knowledge about crypto understand it? No? Remember, this document could be read by anyone, from anywhere, if it isn’t simple then people won’t be able to understand what you are trying to convey. Failure to convey information means one thing, people won’t be interested in your project and won’t participate in your fundraise.
Rule 4: No insane or unchecked statements
Education around your project is everything. Selling it to people as a possible participation or investment option is fundamental to the document. Essentially the white paper is a wonderful opportunity for you to promote the great features of your project and the amazing things it will do for them. However, that hard work can very quickly be undone with a few ‘cavalier’ statements.
The most common of these we see is ‘the world’s first’ - are you REALLY the world’s first? Because if someone does some research and finds out that you are not, you look like nothing but a badly researched project and they will stop reading right there. Badly researched projects don’t attract investment or participation.
Additionally, it is not your job to educate people on the state of the crypto market or the laws surrounding it. You’re not a lawyer, you’re not a stock broker. You also don’t know where your reader is located. People want to find out about your project, not the state of the crypto market or how they can legally participate in the project. Spend your time telling them about that, about you, about the exciting stuff.
Rule 5: Explain why you have selected this fundraising method
Describe why you are choosing this particular fundraising method over others. Now more than ever people are going to have different views on the various fundraising types. Explain in detail why you are doing an ICO over an STO, or an IEO over a TGE. Remember, if you are planning on doing more than one you should inform people about that too. Some readers may not want to participate in an IEO but could be interested in an STO and the same in reverse. If you are launching more than one, consider running them at the same time as an HTO, giving people more choice when it comes to how to invest or whether to participate.
Rule 6: How, Why, When
Everything that is included in the White Paper should do one of the following three things: explain to people how, why, or when. If the statement or part of the document you are writing doesn’t answer one of those three points, it shouldn’t be included in the document at all. Essentially, if the statement you are writing doesn’t actually answer one of these three questions then it shouldn’t be in the White Paper at all.
Explain simple things, such as HOW people can participate in the raise. The amount of White Papers that are produced but do not have actual information as to how someone can participate in the raise! Even if it is something as simple as ‘to participate, visit our website and use Bitcoin or Cash to become involved’.
Rule 7: Explain EVERYTHING about your project
Wallets, Participation, Investment, More information - everything. Your white paper should tell people from A-Z how your project will be created, where the money will go, why you are doing it, what your token will do and what will happen after the raise.
Don’t miss core things. The number of White Papers that fail to tell people where they can store their token after a raise is mind blowing.
Rule 8: Watch the law
No. Frivolous. Statements. Don’t make statements that aren’t totally true and don’t promise things you can’t deliver. No amount of disclaimers can protect you from misrepresentation. Those long passages that your lawyer should prepare for you are not a green light to say what you want. If you make bits up, change facts or totally misrepresent things, that is solid grounds for people to ask for their funds back.
There is a big difference between being specific in a White Paper and being informative. Information lets people know what you are doing and allows a level of creative understanding. Specifics give room for false statements. Avoid where possible solid dates and very specific information. There is a massive difference between ‘January 1, 2010’ and ‘Q1 2010’.
Rule 9: Your Team(s)
Talk about your team(s). Don’t just give people the bio as to who they are, LinkedIn can tell most people this. Explain why you have selected these people, what you like about them, what skills they bring to the table.
Also explain whether each team member is helping only during the raise or will be assisting the company after the raise has been completed. Many projects miss the point that their team will no longer be in place once the funding phase has been completed. If it is your plan to totally change the team after the raise, you should inform your readers of that fact and that other skills will be brought into the company to help achieve its goals.
Finally, talk about your founder(s). Explain who they are with passion and why they have chosen to undertake this project. Give it a personal touch, people buy into people long before they buy into a company.
Create an informative and interesting White paper and they will come.