Why we started Blocks Ventures

Having been serial entrepreneurs we realised that the advent of initial token offerings otherwise known as “initial coin offerings” (ICO) have the ability to shift the way startups raise capital.

There are huge benefits for investors and entrepreneurs in this new funding option.

Investors Benefits:

  • Access to liquidity with tokens vs traditional equity investments
  • Smart token contracts that make tracking business performance transparent
  • Initial token valuations are not as important due to the fact that these are tokens and not equity

Entrepreneurs Benefits:

  • Not having to give away control in order to get capital
  • Raising money without having to worry about valuations

We want to help entrepreneurs with funding, information, networks and our experience in this new and every growing field. In our opinion there is not enough information, experience or guidance in the crypto currency world. We believe that many people are naive about the legal implications around this as well and don’t spend enough time looking at the legal structures, token offerings and legal documentation that is required to do an ICO properly.

Apart from this help we believe that there is significant cost to doing an ICO properly and many businesses have not adequately funded themselves for the costs involved. This is why we would like to provide financing for this and help entrepreneurs get the best results for their ICO’s.

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Auspicious days to hold an ICO


Does it make sense to hold your ICO on an auspicious day or not?

In the Asian culture there is a belief that some days are more auspicious for different events.

An example of this would be the list of dates for weddings, moving houses, decorations, buying vehicles etc.: https://www.yourchineseastrology.com/calendar/auspicious-grand-opening-date.htm

This also implies that there are potentially better times to do an ICO based and this could be important if your ICO has many asian buyers.

If you feel that this is important then you can also look at the use of colours such as Gold (prosperity) and Red (good luck) which are considered to be related to luck and fortune in your marketing materials.

The other thing to look at would be numbers such as 888 which is considered to the the luckiest number and avoiding the use of 4 which is considered to be unlucky.

That all been said your ICO should not rely on luck and you need to build a good value proposition around your token and offering rather than relying on the luck of the gods to bring you prosperity.

Whitepaper ICO Translations and Scams

ICO Languages

There are many different nations that buy into ICO’s and not everyone reads and writes English.

In order to get your whitepaper translated can be costly and therefore often overlooked by ICO’s. However if you run a bounty program you can get people to help you translate your documents into many languages.

Key languages would be Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Hindi, Thai, Arabic as these languages cover much of the global market that could be interested in your ICO. Even though these languages  may not cover their mother tongue most buyers can read one of these languages.

Multi-Lingual social media management

The question of whether or not you can manage multi-lingual social media is much more difficult and it is probably not a good idea to run to many social media languages.

The other thing about social media is it is often plagued by scammers who will try to scam people with false wallet details and try to get individuals to send their crypto to the wrong wallet.

This happens around the time of the ICO and there is an attack on the social media channels to try to con people.

How to price your ICO

One of the most difficult things is how to price your tokens.

Traditionally ICO whitepapers published their token to ETH price. However with the volatility of ETH this is no longer a good idea.

As an example in the Gibraltar Exchange, the Rock Token (RKT) sale did their Preico sale in USD and therefore did not have to set the ETH to token price.

They did announce the time and date that they would set the ETH to RKT.

Below is an extract from their announcement:

ETH to Token Price setting

The other important point to note here is to publish the official accounts that token sale buyers can get information on.

Types of people in ICO’s


There are many different types of people in the ICO world but because this in many ways is a fringe ecosystem it is has many different dynamics than traditional business or startup environments that are more mature.

Early Tech geeks 

There are a set of early tech guys/girls who bought in early into Bitcoin and the ICO world. They are traditionally coders and tech guys who have spear headed the ICO environment and rightly should take credit for the current ICO ecosystem. Usually these

Tech guy doing an ICO  

There are pure tech guys who are building technical solutions that often deal with core blockchain technology ecosystem developments such as storage, databases, identity etc. These are often the most appreciated ICO’s in the market.

Business guy doing an ICO

There are many business guys who don’t know anything about blockchain however they have heard that an ICO is a great way to raise capital. The business guys are looking for experts to help them do an ICO.


ICO’s are like IPO’s and have ambiguity around the legalities of whether or not the proposed ICO token is a security. They also help with how and where the tokens should be launched and hosted as a trust, foundation, business etc.

Token Exchanges 

Token exchanges are the new stock exchanges and at the ICO networking events etc. These exchanges are looking for new deals and finding buyers for their networks.


Government representatives often come to conferences and networking events in order to understand the new technology.


There are guys on the fringes of the ICO market that often try to support ICO’s, OTC and other services around the ICO ecosystem.

ICO Promoters

 There are many promoters that help businesses do ICO’s. They work as agents and find

Institutional employees

There are also lots of employees from corporate organisations that are looking at blockchain initiatives and some are trying to understand the opportunities for their businesses and possibly themselves.


Why have a whitelist of token buyers

ICO whitelist

All ICO’s should create a whitelist of ICO buyers 

Whitelists have a number of benefits for ICO’s:

  1. Identifying your buyers
  2. Establishing interest
  3. Doing KYC/AML checks
  4. Capturing user data
  5. Building rapport

It is relatively easy to capture the data by allowing customers to create accounts.

How ICO Whitelists work

Whitelists are a list of pre-approved token buyers. The smart contracts only accept purchases from buyers that have their wallets pre-approved to buy the tokens and will automatically reject token buyers that are not approved by the smart contract.

Conducting KYC/AML

It is important to do Know your customer (KYC) checks and anti money laundering checks (AML).

KYC is for an ICO is basic requirement that involves getting an identity document.

AML is checking that these individuals are not on a list of sensitive individuals (known criminals, politically sensitive individuals and any other individuals that governments have deemed to problematic).

Building Rapport

Establishing rapport with your potential token buyers is important and can be done through sending emails with ICO updates, company news etc.

You can also promote other communication channels such as your Slack or Telegram group.

Doing an ICO before you have a product


The question of when you should raise your ICO is often contentious and often overlooked by new entrepreneurs seeking to build their dreams. There are two ICO key trends around what kind of projects are raising funds.

User Traction Wins

We are seeing more ICO’s that have existing businesses backing the ICO projects. Often these businesses are connected and can help bring the new projects that are blockchain related to the market.  A good example of this is Telegram ICO which is seemingly getting investor interest for their huge $1.2Bn ICO. This ICO is not closed yet but does serve as a good example of user traction appealing to investors. Some of the reason for the telegram interest is due to the ICO use cases around community development.

Traction for these projects will be viewed in the following way:

(Number of users) x (Product related to blockchain/ICO) = ICO relevance 

The “ICO relevance” is the quotient that will used by funders to help them establish their interest in the ICO.

Core tech problems

Building core blockchain technology is also a good way to raise funding from the community. The technology needs to be dealing with core developmental challenges such as Bluezelle (database) or Filecoin (storeage) that deal with blockchain technology projects that fill important gaps in the ecosystem.

Other ICO Funding

There will continue to be funding for good teams, niche ideas and scams that involve offering quick returns and slick marketing. However as the ecosystem matures there will be a rising to the top of the better projects and this will make it easier for funders to find good projects. This will likely happen with the help of licensed exchanges and ever growing community of money finders and financial advisors.

Market Trend: Ecommerce ICO’s incoming

As investors and entrepreneurs we have seen many iterations of the e-commerce over the years. Traditionally this market has seen low margins and even lower barriers to entry. A quick glance at Tokenmarket upcoming ICO’s shows that in the next week there will be 3 ecommerce ICO’s out of the 10 featured on the site.

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Size of ecommerce ICO’s

Traditionally the ecommerce ICO’s have raised smaller amounts and have not had strong use cases for their own coin’s. In ICO reports ecommerce has not traditionally even been a category and this gives a good indication of the lack of appetite for these offerings historically. A notable exception is likely to be Overstock ICO who have indicated they are looking to raise $500m in their ICO later this year on tZero.

What is interesting is that they in fact plan to sell off their retail business according to their CEO (Patrick Byrne) and focus on their blockchain businesses.


What does this mean for traditional e-commerce retailers and ICO’s?

The use case for a token offering specific to one particular ecommerce store is low when you think about utility tokens. However in the future with security tokens this may change as their could be more economic incentives offered vs technological rationale on why the new coins may have more value in the future.  The fact that Overstock is getting planning to move away from the retail space may tell you something about this opportunity or just be an indicator that they don’t fancy the prospect of continuing to battle it out with Amazon.com the behemoth in the market.

Bluzelle an example of leaving money on the table (expect a surge in price)

Bluzella ICO

Disclaimer: we did not get to own any Bluezelle tokens (BLZ) however we are friendly with Pavel (CEO of Bluezelle) and unfortunately our cheque size was not big enough to get into their PreICO round by the time we offered cash.

Today we found out that Bluzelle (BLZ) have closed their ICO.

Bluzelle has an amazing list of investors and advisors. They are taking on the challenge of putting a database on the blockchain. This is going to be an important building block to future projects on the blockchain.

The developers are seemingly being conservative with their cash grab and have limited their fundraise to a sober $19.5 million hard cap. The 7,471 potential investors who got through their KYC process (which closed a week before the ICO) are limited to less than 1 ETH each (0.9397 ETH for the 421 investors in “Group 1,” 0.4698 ETH for the 7,051 in “Group 2,” according to Bluzelle’s Jan. 16 Telegram post).

The next phase around actually building the project will now start in earnest and we hope that some of our future projects can use this database service.

Crypto Currency and ICO Legislation in Asia

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 12.11.36 PMIDC did a good infographic around the legislation in Asia for ICO’s and crypto currencies.

Legal ICO markets

There are three main ICO jurisdictions that are seemingly legal to do an ICO in Asia and those are Singapore, Japan and the Philippines. Out of the three Singapore has the most traction.

Grey Area ICO markets

Countries that have still yet to declare their positions formally on ICO’s are India, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Banned ICO markets

Countries that have come outright to ban ICO’s are Vietnam, China, Indonesia (by the fact that they have banned crypto currencies).

Summary of ICO in Asia

In summary the Asian governments have taken a cautionary approach to ICO’s and digital currencies in general. We can expect that over the coming year there will be more legislation and news from different markets based on their perceived need and the individual jurisdictions requirements (threats) around crypto currencies and ICO’s.




ICO Market Trends and News

The ICO market is fast moving and its interesting to see the volumes, capital and sectors that are raising funding.

A quick look at the types of ICO’s and their average funding show that Dapp marketplace, blockchain, distributed storage have attracted the most funding. This is part of an overall trend towards investors wanting to invest in fundamental building blocks over the blockchain ecosystem (storage and core tech). This could be for two reasons:

  1. It makes sense to back core technology as crypto currency is still in its infancy.
  2. Many of the early crypto adopters are technical in nature and can understand these projects.

ICO Project Types

The funding volumes have started to become consistent and have not fallen off as much as some of the doomsayers were predicting.

ICO Capital Raised

The interesting trend is that the average funding has been growing which is an indicator that the number of ICO’s successfully raising funding is going down. The indicators are that there are lots of ICO’s taking place however the funders are becoming more discretionary in the way they are selecting ICO’s.

ICO Average Raise