1. Seed funding round
In this stage the project is usually in its very early steps refining the idea, gathering the team and preparing the white paper, website and strategic approaches. The seed phase is usually not very public and the team aims to raise the initial funding from their own networks. This is a good opportunity to get the maximum bonuses from very early stage projects that have a lot of potential. The risk is that many of the seed round companies never make it all the way to ICO stage.
2. Private Sales
In the private sales stage the project usually has its basic materials such as the white paper, landing page and social communities established but there is yet very little visibility for the project. People participating in the private sale have to get tipped about the project from their networks since otherwise it is unlikely to find so early stage projects. Private sale can still provide good bonuses for early contributors but this stage still carries the big risk of the ICO marketing campaign not succeeding.
3. Pre ICOs or pre sales
In pre-ICO and pre sales stage the project usually has secured sufficient funding for a full size ICO marketing campaign rollout. The pre-ICO gives still the last chance for active industry experts and well networked people to invest into the project with discounted token price. The most endorsed projects usually get sold out at this stage already.
4. Upcoming ICOs & whitelists
If the project has not sold out during the pre ICO phase, there might be a time window form a couple of days to a couple of weeks when the project is usually allocating a lot of resources to roll out marketing campaigns and to show that their actual ICO phase is starting soon. Whitelisting (pre-subscribing into the ICO) is usually done to collect a newsletter list about the interested contributors to provide the community with relevant updates about the progress of the crowdsale. The whitelists are usually limited in size to
5. Active (ongoing ICOs)
The actual ICO is the main crowd sale of the project tokens. Usually most of the tokens are left to be sold on this stage, since the marketing momentum has reached its climax and most of the potential investors have received information about the ongoing crowdsale. The investor confidence is at its highest level since the project has survived through the earlier stages and raised significant funding already, most of the time reaching over the soft cap at this stage already. The main sale of the ICO usually does not provide any discounts any more for the tokens, since the campaign is already in a more advanced stage and seems like a lower risk for the contributors.
6. After markets
After the ICO and the token generation event are finished each contributor should receive their share of the total token pool. The tokens are transferred or programmed by the project technical team to be allocated according to the contributions, KYC acceptance and wallet addresses collected during the previous stages. The ICO project management starts at latest at this stage to setup a favorable environment for the token after markets. This usually includes a lot of negotiations with different token exchanges that host platforms for the crypto currency and token peer-2-peer trading. Usually every finished ICO has to start from smaller exchanges to accumulate the required daily trading volume to be eligible to be listed in the more popular exchanges. Choosing the right exchange partners and having collaborative marketing efforts with them can gain a lot of traction to the trade of the tokens rising the demand, increasing the token market value and ultimately making the early contributors happy.
The markets do not end there; when an ICO project has matured into the stage of being listed in the exchanges, the project has to start focusing on delivering its development milestones promised in the roadmap. The project has to focus on improving its product, gaining more users and utilizing any token value increase mechanisms at use to keep the project attractive for new users and investors. A project surviving through all of these steps as a winner is a rare success story which makes identifying the right projects in the early stage challenging and rewarding for the early investors.