Case Study: Basescore Platform
1) Project Background & Overview
Basescore is an ICO Reviews & Research Platform that aggregates ICO review scores and more from the leading critics. Through aggregation, we give users a singular, weighted Base Score that truly reflects how an ICO fares amongst users. Call us the “Metacritic of ICOs”.
We’re on a mission to build the world’s largest ICO database because we believe that through the aggregation of ICO review scores, we can bring a new level of truth, trust and transparency into the cryptocurrency market.
2) Problem: Identifying the Pain Points in Cryptocurrency
To start, what are ICOs?
ICOs, in a nutshell, are a form of crowdfunding where teams create a coin/token for their project that users can purchase. Selling these coins/tokens is how the teams can raise money, and the idea is that as the teams build their project and prove its utility, the value of these coins will increase so that the users can re-sell these coins in the token markets (also known as exchanges).
Unlike a traditional IPO, an ICO does not grant investors equity or shares in the company, but rather, just a promise or hope that the ICO team will do something that will increase the price of the token. Therefore as a result, scammers have been able to exploit this method of fundraising, resulting in over a billion dollars raised in ICO scams alone in 2017.
What problems are we solving?
Trust and transparency has been widely wrought by the bad apples in the market, giving ICOs a bad reputation. Working in line with our other product, the Cartel ICO Platform, we want Basescore to become the research tool for VCs and ICO enthusiasts to dive deep into their favourite ICOs through highlighting the discrepancies and biases that exist in the market.
Lack of Transparency
In a report put out by Alethena in 2017, it was discovered that an ICO startup team can easily purchase positive 5-star reviews on popular ICO review sites such as ICO Bench from so-called “industry experts”.
We’re aiming to create a safe space where users can tap into the power of groupthink, contribute fairly to a community and prevent the bad apples from harming others.
Scores can be skewed, and information on the project’s website can easily be faked. Buzzwords can be used to make anything sound way better than it actually is, but with an active community of crypto watchdogs, they better watch out.
By aggregating information across multiple news sources and with the community, we can uncover the discrepancies and identify the sources that can be seen as less than legitimate.
As the laws have yet to catch up to the ICOs, some teams continue to operate their ICOs without a proper legal framework nor a proper contribution structure for users. This is jeopardizing users’ safety, and leads to them being more susceptible to being tricked and scammed.
Basescore aims to expand the visibility into the ICO market using the platform as the space for the community.
3) Solution: Basescore Platform
i) Building the Product: Market Validation
Building a platform without proper market validation is not only a waste of time, but also a waste of resources. As the product manager of Basescore, this data gathering process took place over two weeks in speaking with industry professionals (ICO teams, VCs and investors), as well as reaching out to the users across popular cryptocurrency subreddits and forums.
Reaching the Crypto Community
Creating a survey within Google Forms, I posed as a university student performing a research experiment and reached out to subreddits in the cryptocurrency space, namely r/cryptocurrency, r/icocrypto and r/BitcoinCA being the most active in their response.
On top of this, I spoke with at least 5 ICO teams and ICO investors in the crypto space. It was important for me to not only validate the demand, but also see exactly what users would look for on an ICO review site.
Overall, I ended up gathering over 100+ responses to my survey and countless responses to my discussion questions, all proving to be invaluable in validating my market.
ii) Prioritizing the MVP: Product Roadmap
With a good understanding of the market, I sat down with my team and started looking at the ICO review sites out in the market to see what sort of data was easy to gather as a start for the MVP.
Using similarweb.com as our benchmark, the tool gave us insights on the ICO review sites that were the most trafficked, and showed us exactly what to look for. We wrote down the information that these sites provided in common, then cross-referenced the information that we gathered during market validation.
This step worked hand-in-hand with the market validation step, as we never stopped returning to the forums and subreddits to revise and validate our work.
iii) Designing the Branding: Basescore
The Basescore logo went through several iterations, and finally with a tint of inspiration of “bars”, “scores” and “ratings”, this was the final design of the Basescore’s branding.
iv) Building the Prototype: Basescore
The idea of “scores”, “ratings” and “reviews” is the basis of the entire platform, and many elements of that can be seen throughout, including the branding, the colours, to even how the ICOs are laid out.
4) Today: Marketing, Launching & Getting the Word Out
While we ran into a number of developmental and server issues during the process, we were able to launch earlier last month in September ‘18. It’s been a wild ride, but an extremely rewarding one! With the contacts that we have made during the initial market validation sessions, we have reached out to them to assist in promoting the Basescore Platform.
We are starting off with a soft launch as not all of our functionalities are ready on the platform, but we have made consistent communication a strong part of our roll out. We have launched several social media channels where we push out weekly educational and ICO-related content, including Medium, Reddit, Facebook and Twitter. We are also actively participating in forums, and subreddits to push our platform into the community.
We have also received a number of positive feedback from the community on our platform that has just been made us absolutely giddy!
It’s clear that the market understands what this product does, and we hope that Basescore will pick up traction over time with the community.
Once we have reached our Phase 2 milestone, we plan on launching a large-scaled marketing campaign that will take the Basescore Platform to the next level. This has been an incredible journey so far with the team, and we look forward to the future of ICOs as the market continues to evolve. We cannot wait to turn Basescore into the largest database for ICOs around the world, and we have a lot more plans in the future for it as well.