How To Research An ICO Team?

More than checking LinkedIn and googling their names. Here are the real questions you should ask yourself when researching the project’s team before investing in the ICO.

Before deciding to participate in the ICO, have you ever wondered what makes a team member valuable? Sometimes, when you find that he worked for Google, Goldman Sachs, or Intel before, it’s obvious that it has something to offer. But is it really qualified for this PARTICULAR project?

If you’re finding yourself in the ‘team’ section, don’t forget to answer these 5 questions first:

1. Can the management team implement the solution?

It may be unfair to treat the management different from the other members, but the truth is that a team without great leaders is destined to fail. You should pay extra attention researching these guys. What they did before? Do they have any leadership experience?

In some cases, they may have tried businesses in the past. While past failures aren’t a sign for future failures (on the contrary), you should always try to find out WHY those businesses failed. There could be decent reasons like wrong partners, lack of capital, or Facebook decided to copy their product. But most of the time, there could be red flags like clear management failure, unaccountability, or even suspicion of fraud. You should always dig deeper.

And you must be aware that any of the other team members can be replaced (by the management), so ultimately, if they are steering the wheel with confidence there are good chances the entire team is great too.

2. How does their previous experience prepared them for the current role?

The ICO can be run before or after building the product. In both cases, it happens in the beginning phase of the product when the team is rather small. With only a few members their role in the team is much wider than it’s expected in a big company. You should assure yourself that each member (without exception) has enough experience to cover all the project’s needs on his side.

You have to look for a natural career transition. No matter the size of the companies he worked in, he should’ve started from an intern or junior role and climb the ladder up to a senior or leadership one. If he was hired directly as ‘lead’ or ‘chief’, there is a red flag.

Another good way to validate the members is to check for personal achievements, practical expertise in the field. Are they naturally tending to create or build things? Or are they on their first experience of this kind? Leadership who run the business before, developers who have an active Github account, and marketing experts who have a great portfolio are the ones you’re looking for.

3. Why are they qualified to implement this particular solution and deliver it to market?

Shouldn’t they have particular skills towards the market they’re building the product to craft it on the customers’ needs?

If they previously worked in the domain, that’s a great validation for their success. But it isn’t necessary for the entire team to have the knowledge. That’s why most of the teams choose to bring in experts from the market. Experts who worked closely with customers for whom they’re building the product and whose attention they need to attract. These individuals are playing a key role in the development of a successful final product. Teams should always have such members in their composition, if not, even one of their leaders to have such expertise.

If you can’t spot any reason why the team would try to solve that particular solution, they may be following the money. Trying to enter in a market with 0 expertise, it’a foolish thing to do and it’ll always lead to failure.

4. What is missing from their team?

Once you’ve done your research on the existing members of the team, you should step back and find the missing links. What role is missing from the team? Is it a key role? Are they planning to fill in that? The first place to look is on the careers/jobs page. If they’re having open positions you can only check the date of posting (anything older than 3 months is a red flag) and read the description to be sure they know what they’re talking about and they’re actually looking for the right person to join their team. There isn’t much to do in this phase. Only to move on with your investment and hope they’ll find a great new member in the shortest time. Maybe you can share the job listing, better than nothing.

What should you be looking for?

  • Obviously, developers and engineers. Two or more. A project with a single technical member will take a lot of time and it’s biased to his personal flaws.
  • Experienced marketing expert to assure the visibility of the project, attract investors, and increase engagement.
  • Designer. A team without a designer, most likely, will fail to build an attractive product for customers to love. It’s true that they can hire a freelancer for this short term job, but a real team member who knows the product and keeps in touch with customers will guarantee the success on his side.
  • Active community manager that is keen to bring the customers and investors closer to the product and try to influence the process towards these two desires.
  • If the leadership or any of these members are not experts in the product’s market, they should definitely have one.

There may be other roles like sales, communication, head of product etc. But going in that way is just diluting. The main roles that are essential for every project are listed above.

5. How are the advisors involved in the project?

Along the core team listing, there are the project’s advisors. Their roles aren’t always made clear. Are they supervising every decision? Or are they just supporting the project? Once Ethereum got momentum, projects started adding Vitalik Buterin in the advisors’ list. They did get his approval. But, in most cases, he was there just with the name. Same thing happened with more and more projects until advisors started stating they are just supporting the team and they’re believing in the success of the project. That’s a good sign, right? Of course, they’re differentiating themselves from other projects which didn’t get support from any of those familiar faces. But, if something happens, the advisor is covered. He can call it as missed potential while you’re calling your investment missed the money.

You should define the real relationship with each advisor. There could be articles or interviews of the individual speaking about its involvement. Analysing his social media accounts can tell if his paying constant attention to the project, sharing their announcements and giving insightful opinions on their progress. Their words may spread and raise the value of the tokens even after the ICO.

A clear red flag here is if they’re shuffling the advisors through the core team trying to look like they are part of the project. There should be a clear visual difference between a team member and an advisor.


Not every team is perfect. None of the teams is perfect. So, you shouldn’t dismiss the project right away on the first disparity or red flag. These are only signs you should take care off and dig deeper on their occurrence to get the bigger picture.

Researching the team is a complex process that leads to an objective overall picture of the jockeys you are ready to bet on!


DISCLAIMER: The author does not promote any of the personalities mentioned in the article as better than others. Do your own research and pick wisely!

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