Crypto needs better execution

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The longer a team waits to launch their product after fundraising, the less likely the company/product will become valuable or be sustainable. Think of this as Newton’s 1st law of motion applied to entrepreneurship — a company without momentum is likely to continue with no momentum and a company with lots of momentum is likely to continue with more momentum.

Unfortunately, hundreds of crypto teams raised money through Initial Coin Offerings during the 2017 bull market, but most of them have yet to launch a product. Even worse, the most popular decentralized applications (dApps) that have made it to market routinely have less than 1,000 users. It is safe to say that the 2017 vintage of crypto companies have very little momentum currently.

To take this argument a step further, if a project raised money in 2017 through an ICO and still has not launched their product, there is a less than 20% probability in my opinion that the company/product will end up being successful/sustainable. This doesn’t mean that we should all give up and go home though. Just like any great investor, the crypto industry should cut the losers quickly and double down on the winners.

Luckily, we have teams like Maker and Lightning Labs that sidestepped the ICO mania and have been impressively executing. For example, Maker recently launched a collateralized debt product that already has almost 2% of ETH locked up and Lightning Labs has been busy pushing Lightning Network adoption at a breakneck speed.

So if these two teams have raised less money than most, didn’t conduct ICOs, and have working products being adopted quickly, why can’t all crypto entrepreneurs do it?

It comes down to two common mistakes:

  1. Growth, not distractions — Too many teams are focused on the wrong things. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much money you raised, how many people joined your Telegram channel, what conference you spoke at, or what news outlet wrote about you. The only thing that matters is that you launched a product that people want to use. If a team doesn’t do this, everything else is a waste of time. Remember, don’t confuse motion with progress.

  2. Done is better than perfect — Some teams are actually focused on product and growth, but they are chasing perfection. They want to make sure every single aspect of the product, website, messaging, and architecture is exactly right before they launch. This is a classic mistake and ultimately leads to death for startups. Instead, these teams should be focused on getting the earliest version of a product possible into the hands of users/customers and iterating at a frantic pace from there. Speed kills in this business.

The bear market provides an opportunity for the crypto community to be intellectually honest with ourselves once the tourists leave: The industry has a lot of promise but we need more teams focused on executing at a world-class level.

Startups are easy to talk about, but hard to execute. The beauty of being an entrepreneur though is that results speak for themselves. People are either using what you’ve built or they aren’t.

Personally, I’m hoping 2019 is the year that many teams launch viable products used by millions of people daily.


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