As promised in our previous update regarding changes to the Smith + Crown token sale listing policies, we have launched our curated list of upcoming token sales.
Our curated list does not replace the inclusive list we have long published. Our basic policies for that list remains unchanged and we will continue to offer this general list as an independent, non-commercial source of information for the community.
The Smith + Crown curated list retains those same core values behind our established list, while introducing somewhat more stringent requirements for membership. Creating this list allows us to do several things.
- First, in presenting a more refined selection process allows us to contribute to the developing field of industry best practices by specifically elevating those projects we feel are more serious, professional, and credible.
- Second, this list offers a way for observers to focus their efforts on the projects our team considers the more professional, serious, innovative, and promising. This is important because as the list of ICOs grows monthly, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the average observer to evaluate the entire sector or even the industry insider to sift signal from noise.
While good, successful projects will be found beyond the confines of our curated list, we are confident this list will consolidate the bulk of the most promising projects in one place.
That is not to say the curated list allows one to support blindly or that we will guarantee that thefts, scams, hacks, and general failures will not appear amongst the companies on the curated list. Unfortunately, yet almost inevitably, they will. Before participating in an ICO, anyone should perform extensive due diligence and not invest more than they can afford to lose.
A critical point mentioned in the previous update but which bears repeating due to its importance, is that listing on the new curated list is not an endorsement of the product, sale terms, team, or long-term prospects for the project or its token(s), rather it is a signal that these projects appear to meet higher standards for transparency, innovation, and ethical behavior. As such, they represent excellent places for individuals to begin their own research, ideally prior to participating in any token sales.
Going forward, we will be selecting projects to research exclusively from this list.
Factors We Evaluate for List Membership
The primary criteria for membership in our curated list closely resemble those we mentioned previously, specifically:
- Transparent and verified team identity, including mention of team members’ involvement on a third-party site (LinkedIn, Twitter, Github, etc.). Note that simply a photo of one or several humans with a name does not meet this requirement. We specifically require an externally, publicly available source of information that confirms team member identities.
- Available project code, a working prototype, minimum viable product, OR a detailed whitepaper explaining how the product service actually works paired with a modest pre-product raise accompanied by a clear road map explaining how funds will be deployed and where that should take the company. We will make exceptions for ambitious and interesting projects led by unique teams.
- Detailed white paper that addresses obvious concerns or challenges, outlines a go-to-market or adoption strategy, and doesn’t clumsily toss around jargon about complex features that aren’t explained (“truly anonymous transactions” is one of the biggest culprits).
- Presence of existing blockchain development expertise through the team, partners, or active consultants–particularly for non-trivial integration with a public blockchain. Too many projects are promising impressive technical features without the technical know-how to make their claims credible.
- Professionalism and a credible presentation of the project demonstrating seriousness and a realistic understanding of the sector the project is entering. Whether cobalt mining, e-sports, real estate investment, or data storage–a demonstrable understanding of the space and problem being tackled is a necessary precursor to improving upon existing practices.
- A general commitment to best practices–including clear information, the inclusion of key relevant data, and a long marketing and outreach period–that treat token sale participants as educated audience community members, supporters, and investors. The field of best practices is an enormous and developing one, but our recent piece on positive trends we are seeing in token sale proposals contains several of our initial thoughts and observations on the topic.
Factors We Do Not Consider for List Membership
It is worth repeating that there are things we don’t look at when considering place on Smith + Crown’s curated list. We will consider and comment on these factors in our research reports, but we will not place a project on the list for these factors alone.
Those factors include:
- Professional background or pedigree. We take the view that disruptive products can come from college dorm rooms or seasoned C-suite boardrooms, from people making a career change or from industry insiders.
- Sale terms. These are often not released quickly enough to evaluate, and ultimately, whether terms are good or bad is best decided by the buyer.
- Credible go-to-market strategy, product viability, and market size. Drawing any conclusions about these requires careful research. We will look for the presence of such discussion–as noted above–but not base our decision on how realistic the strategy seems.
- Advisors and partners. In this industry, being a project advisor can range from actually reviewing project code to simply selling permission to use one’s name and image. One can never put too much stock in a project’s ‘advisors’ without insightful public statements from them–but when qualified advisors are deeply involved, it is a strong sign of credibility.
- Community traction. Any project looking to launch a crowdsale aimed at both financial backers and early adopters should build an online community. It’s hard work, but it pays off when projects sail through their sale and the initial stages of their roadmap. However, online traction can also be bought at shockingly low prices.
- Writing quality. While an entrepreneur should be able to explain his or her project clearly and pithily, we place a greater emphasis on substance over presentation. Note that we will not take into account language proficiency. A rudimentary command of English will neither get you a by for not meeting other standards nor disqualify you. It’s fairly easy to tell the difference between a well thought out whitepaper written by a non-native english speaker and a project with grammatical errors + no underlying substance.
- Note that we do not conduct audits of technical aspects (code or security) or legal compliance.
Overall, we intend this new list to serve the community in the variety of ways listed above. We recognize that good projects will be excluded from the list, an unfortunate side effect of needing to establish boundaries delineating inclusion into the list, and for this reason are retaining a degree of flexibility to incorporate clearly strong projects.
We look forward to hearing community feedback about ways we might improve still further the ideas outlined above.
The Smith + Crown Team