While practically everyone has their eyes glued on the mushroom field of ICOs, a less conspicuous industry is silently growing; players in this less crowded industry are growing quite fast, mainly because there aren’t many of them – or, at least, not many that matter.
Behind the world’s biggest ICOs is a force equally persuasive. In fact, no ICO would have made it to where they are now if it weren’t for the existence of this supporting industry.
Verma Media, a PR and marketing firm focused on the blockchain space, has been on the move, quietly but surely, propelling one blockchain company after another. Despite the company’s young age, they have successfully catapulted several blockchain startups into over $120 million in funding and counting.
Speaking about the competition between blockchain companies, AJ Agrawal, the CEO of Verma, sums up the primary challenge for blockchain startups.
“Nobody will buy a product unless they understand what that means for them,” AJ says.
“And nobody should.”
Three Major ‘Battlegrounds’ for Brands, According to AJ
AJ says that, in a world constantly witnessing technological face-offs, brands have to look at other aspects of their existence that affect their growth.
“There are three major battlegrounds in which brands have to fight it out: the tech, the experience, and the communication,” AJ explains.
“Under the tech, there’s the economics, the architecture, and in the world of blockchains—the code. Cryptography and security are critical aspects of any project. When I talk about the experience, I mean the business model, the ease of use, barriers to entry, the design, and practically all the aspects through which users and clients interact with both the product and the company behind it.”
“And then, there’s the communication—the marketing. This is one critical aspect of a start-up that is underrated but—believe it or not—could ultimately dictate the success or collapse of a project.”
This was quite a loaded claim which AJ quickly backed up with an interesting question.
“Historically, how many companies that had the first mover advantage had the ball taken from them—the rug swept from right under their feet by a newer company that’s not even necessarily better at the job, but was better at reaching out effectively to the same audience?”
The Numbers Don’t Lie, and Neither Does Verma
AJ’s take on how critical communications are for blockchain startups makes individuals rethink some of the world’s biggest blockchain events. Marketing, in fact, can be so powerful that it can be dangerous. If you think of scams like Bitconnect, there was never really much of a product; their biggest investment was in marketing.
It’s an extreme example, but it paints the picture well.
“Of course, we don’t condone a purely hype-based approach to launching a start-up, and we absolutely condemn scams—which, unfortunately, we see a deluge of in the blockchain space lately. Everything has to be backed by a reasonable level of credibility and the non-negotiable intent and drive to deliver,” AJ says. “But yes. It helps illustrate how vital communication is and it demonstrates the power of marketing, especially in an industry that is getting more and more competitive by the day.”
As early as February 2018, 46% of ICOs launched in 2017 have been declared dead; this in itself is already a massive bulk of startups. Yet, Vitalik Buterin – the founder of Ethereum – expects that count to rise to an even more depressing 90%.
Having assisted over 70 successful ICOs with over $120 million in funds raised in quite a short amount of time, Verma’s track record speaks for itself. According to AJ, entering the arena requires far more than technology, the intent and capability to deliver, or the claim to be better than everybody else.
But as a PR firm that relies on the flow of clientele, how discerning is Verma in terms of deciding which companies are worth shooting up the million dollar seed table?
“As a marketing firm, our job isn’t just about making companies believable. Before we can do that, we must believe in them ourselves. We can’t just keep taking in clients without a proper vetting process. We screen them rigorously because we do not want to stake our names and reputation on less-than-stellar projects,” AJ says. “Credibility is more valuable than revenue; this has always been true and is even truer in the Internet age.”Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.