Opportunities abound. And fortune favors the brave. But with little in the way of guidance to explain exactly how to make the most of the opportunities presented by the blockchain, these intrepid adventurers are feeling their way in the dark. There are no business models for startups working with blockchain technology. And the models used by the companies in the ‘real’ economy just don’t work here. However, both effective marketing and management are crucial to any enterprise’s success.
So what’s a startup to do? The standard marketing concepts, such as Unique Selling Points, don’t work here: everything’s unique. There are so many industry firsts and little competition.
My own company is right in the middle of launching something completely new to market, so everything we do is a work in progress. But there are a number of rules we follow; principles we’ve seen work in other successful blockchain projects, which I’d like to share:
Make Short Term Projections
As with any enterprise, begin by drawing up a business plan; but instead of planning long term, focus on the immediate market and makes short term forecasts. There’s no point speculating what the market will be doing in a few years’ time. Things will probably look completely different in a month’s time given the rapid and volatile rate of change.
Focus On Building A Product
Investment is crucial, but you’re not looking for VCs or angels per se. The traditional ways of raising capital don’t apply. Blockchain projects are financed in a completely different way. While many see the idea of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) as the endgame, that’s very shortsighted. The aim should always be to create a product that will help change the world and benefit people, not just to attract finance.
Get The Right Management Structure
People make projects come to life, so having a tight management structure for your company is imperative. However, the vertical management model widely used in the real economy is inefficient. Horizontal management structures, that champion collaboration over hierarchy, are key to the success of a blockchain venture. Feedback and constant communication between all those involved in a single project will ensure that everyone can shift up a gear when the pace quickens.
However, this kind of structure doesn’t abolish the need for a CEO, but it does mean that the CEO is no longer the person who makes the decisions. Instead they need to be the person initiating discussions and verifying decisions; someone who assumes responsibility rather than calls the shots.
Overstaffing after an initial investment is one of the key mistakes a startup can make. A blockchain startup must be guided by rational sufficiency. All the positions and services not engaged in the development and promotion of the product directly should be outsourced. Only IT specialists, marketing specialists, and invited advisors should remain. They will help your company find proper solutions and increase the level of confidence in your enterprise. Don’t waste your investor’s money.
Be Agile (In Every Sense Of The Word)
Because everything associated with blockchain technology is uncertain, many (if not all) companies working in this space use Agile methodologies. This way of working encourage collaboration and requires everyone involved to give feedback, listen to customers, and ensure everyone is involved in product creation. This way of working dovetails neatly with a horizontal management structure and helps teams be more effective and bring new ideas to the market quickly.
In contrast to traditional startups, most of which operate at the local level, blockchain projects usually focus on the global market and many create international teams with a high degree of decentralization. This put a lot more emphasis on making sure that communication works. Fortunately, it is not a problem in the modern world thanks to tools like Skype, Telegram, Zoom, and Trello. Nevertheless, this means that every team member, remote or in-house has a responsibility to remain plugged into activity – across international borders and different timezones – and that the management team keep everyone in the loop on key decisions, achievements, and shifting priorities.
Let’s be honest, most people don’t ‘get’ what the blockchain is. And your team may struggle too initially. But that shouldn’t put off genuine people who are keen to make a difference and believe in your product’s potential. The chance to build something totally unique should be the motivation behind their involvement – not payment (cryptocurrency or fiat money). While certainly the financial rewards are there, it shouldn’t be their primary reason for working with blockchain technologies.
The path to startup success is widely publicized and preached. There maybe tips, tricks, and techniques that founders can used to keep things on an even keel, but when it comes to the blockchain, the rulebooks have been torn up. What works for one business may not work for another, but getting good people on board and ensuring they remain aligned, enthused, and committed is a great place to start.