Just do it? Launching a token, but skipping the ICO phase entirely - the emerging new model for crypto startups...

It's important to first understand how we got to where things stand now when it comes to conducting an ICO to fund and launch a project in the blockchain space.

The beginning was nothing short of a modern day gold rush, as over $20 billion poured into start-ups that went the ICO route. As most of those funds were raised the legal specifics of it all were still considered a grey area, and when the Securities and Exchange Commission initially took their actions, the only targets were blatant cases of fraud, only ICO's that made bold lies and clearly misled investors.

So SEC action began with the obvious bad apples, among the first was a story I actually broke following an insider leaking documents to me regarding "Titanium Blockchain" who raised over $12 million before it was discovered their CEO lied about business relationships with everyone from Apple to PayPal.

Other clear scams would come to face the SEC as well, notable ones include the Floyd Mayweather & DJ Khaled endorsed Centra which falsely claimed a partnership with Visa and MasterCard, and AriseBank which claimed to have purchased their own FDIC-insured bank.

But then - the SEC set their eyes on ICOs that never lied to their investors, changing everything.

This was a pivotal moment as the SEC charged 2 more ICOs, 'Airfox' which was launching an advertising platform, and 'Paragon' which worked in the cannabis industry. The only accusation against them was that they were selling an unregistered security, and if these ICOs qualified for SEC intervention then a whole lot of others did too.

SEC chairman Jay Clayton clarified his outlook on ICOs after a speech at Princeton University where he was asked if he generally viewed ICOs as fraud, he said "Absolutely not" but added "I believe every ICO I’ve seen is a security."

So here we are - this gets us to where things stand today.

Crypto startups do still have a couple legal routes to do an ICO, such as ban all US investors from participating, or only deal with accredited investors who can verify a high income and net worth.

But the boldest option of them all - skip the ICO phase entirely.

One of the crypto startups going this route is TuneTrade. They're in the process of launching a token creation platform where a user can launch their own token by using their tools to create a real ERC20 coin on Ethereum's blockchain. Users can then use their tools to manage it's distribution, and list their new token for trade on their built-in exchange. First use case they're targeting is the music world by allowing artists both mainstream and independent to create their own coin.

To power all of this is their platform's native token 'TXT' and without an ICO to kick it off, a whole new business model for blockchain/token based startups is beginning to emerge. Some of the changes in this new business model are indeed nothing short of massive.

The first of which is - who takes the risk?  They do, all of it.

Previously, the ideal ICO would work by first selling your token to thousands of people, and initially the token isn't good for anything but trading it. Eventually in theory it would be put to use on the service or platform or whatever the project was supposed to create, all that would be developed using the funds they raised by selling the coin first.

Under the new model, developing the platform or service comes first.  Since it's already built, that means the people acquiring your token are actual users, not investors.

"We don’t need an ICO because we have already developed our MVP (minimum viable product). Our value is determined by our community, distribution and the inherent utility of our platform. The proof is in the product not empty promises." says TuneTrade founder Kalani Moe.

With the TuneTrade platform currently in it's prototype phase they've been rewarding potential future users with airdropped (free) tokens for helping them give it a test run, joining their community on telegram/discord, or signing up to their e-mail list. 

Rewarding people with airdropped tokens for things like this isn't new, the reasoning behind it is. Airdrops have been used in the past to get people to help an ICO sell more tokens, but under this model there's an extra step.  People are instead rewarded for using the company's product, and telling their friends to. So the product better be good, actually it has to be - because selling tokens comes after all these steps first.

Of course, the key here or any time a company chooses to airdrop tokens as a marketing tactic is to give a reward large enough to create a user base, but small enough where people aren't jumping to trade the tokens before actually giving the final product a shot. A small percentage of the overall supply.

So far the results are impressive for TuneTrade as their TXT tokens are already in over 75,000 wallets, and 95,000+ users have joined their telegram channel.

It's a model we're expecting to see a whole lot more of in 2019. For people who believe in what they're creating and willing to take on the initial risks themselves instead of playing with investor funding, it's actually the route with the least amount of headaches along the way.

Selling tokens to people using your product, instead of selling tokens to people so you can build your product - it's that simple. The issues it solves and concerns put to rest under this structure go far beyond satisfying regulators - because a scam simply couldn't function like this.

Personally - i'm all for it.

You can take a look at TuneTrade at https://tunetrade.io
Author: Ross Davis
E-Mail: Ross@GlobalCryptoPress.com Twitter:@RossFM
San Francisco News Desk