The good news is… there are no generally accepted standards, rules or 100% sure practices, when it comes to creating documents describing nuts and bolts of an cryptocurrency ICO project.
It may seem ridiculous, but lack of standards offers you an opportunity to create a brilliant document. Both following your own way and answering tons of question provide you with a chance to gain useful experience and improve ability to understand project details better.
Must-have points of your white paper
According to Andrew J. Chapin, an e-commerce and blockchain expert, the founder of Benja.co, and Ship Ninja projects, there's a list of points common for all white papers. They are:
● Problem. Here you should define a problem and present your idea that makes it possible to save the day. In other words, this point contains the answer to the following question: why the world actually needs my product/service?
● Solution and Product. This point contains information about your product/service. Do your best to highlight solutions that make your project different from competitive ones. Feel free to provide the current market analysis to make potential investors sure: you're damn serious about your business!
● Token Implementation (Commercialization). This point contains information about the way your token interacts with the product.
● Project team. This one is one the essential parts in your white paper, no doubt. It contains data related to the project team, advisers, investors. The point is, when potential investors realize they deal with real people demonstrating serious intentions, they get more willing to share money. Mr. Chaplin says: "The team section is the most important section of any white paper. Period."
● Token distribution ways and economic ideas. In this section you should specify token sale methodology, security guarantees, dates of exchange listing, etc. Let your potential investors and users know you do care about their interests. Show them your project is not just another attempt to raise funds for hiring a better blockchain engineer.
For a proper white paper, only PDF format will do. There's a joke about the reason of such a requirement: PDF files are insecure enough to crash your browser, get edited or even rewritten.
In addition, they are frustrating to develop. In other words, you need to suffer in order to provide your project description. In world of cryptocurrency, that willingness to suffer highlights your sincerity.
Back in 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin founder(-s), published a white paper that spanned only 8 pages! Much has changed since then, indeed. Modern people are fond of long page-turners related to cryptocurrency ICO project.
These days, an average white paper contains up to 100 pages full of text and pics. This allows users to better understand the subject matter.
When it comes to style, it would be very wise of you to write and easy-to-read project guide. Nobody wants to get lost in a wilderness of hard science, academic terminology and long citations. On the other hand, you can hardly define thick business plans as a better option.
All you need is a compromise: combine two options to get a catchy longread (academic research paper) full of comprehensively evaluated data (startup business plan). Profit!
NB: ICO is NOT a "digital IPO"
It would be helpful to remind you of the difference between an Initial Paper Offering (IPO) and Initial Coin Offering (ICO). It's sad, but people often mix both offering types. As a result, they provide irrelevant information and excessive details in their projects' white papers.
To avoid misunderstanding, please keep in mind the following kind of stuff:
● IPO and ICO occur at different stages of project development. So, a share offerings usually occur at a later stage. Coin offerings, on the contrary, are unproven concepts seeking money to deploy. That is why you'll need to work on a project presentation from the outset.
● Different offering types attract the same different investors. Unlike an IPO, an ICO doesn't require sophisticated (aware of potential risks) investors; any Internet user can participate in a ICO! So, to succeed, you need to work on style in order to make your white paper interesting to the target audience.
● But the most important thing is that an ICO doesn't offer investors-to-be equity or ownership in your business.
So, read your white paper carefully and weed out all references to voting rights, ownership stake, shareholder
privileges, etc. Tokens issued in terms of your ICO project are not akin to shares.
Some tips from a pro
It's widely believed that good writing is rewriting. Analyze your drafts in order to find the best options you can put into words. Don't hesitate to follow six writing rules developed by George Orwell, a British novelist, journalist, and critic:
1. Never use a metaphor, simile or another figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.
Congrats, you got yourself a white paper!
If you want to present a brand new technology or create a more advanced Bitcoin exchange software version or make a trading exchange platform, don't hesitate to learn from other projects' experience and develop your own solutions. Writing white paper for a cryptocurrency ICO project certainly will not be a walk in the park. Hang tough, your "paper" will be the same good as the Ethereum's ERC20 one. Or even better!