One of the hottest ICOs to make their breakthrough in 2018 was undoubtedly Holochain. In this article we breakdown their path to success by following them throughout the pre and post-ICO stage.
To some it seems as if Holochain was merely an overnight success, in retrospect Holochain’s early remnants has been close to 10 years in the making and began with the Metacurrency Project formed by Holochain founder Arthur Brock in 2009. A few years later this was followed by Ceptr, which ultimately led to the HoloPort and then Holochain.
With Holochain’s ICO conducted in the midst of the bear market of April 2018; a time when many projects failed to hit their softcap, Holochain managed to successfully raise enough to hit their hardcap of $28M USD.
Shortly after the Holo (HOT) tokens listed on exchanges, it reached a peak return of 15x the initial USD ICO token value just one week later. Holochain broke through the top 100 on CoinMarketCap landing itself at #88 with a $225M market cap valuation.
Today, the Holo token sits at #61 with a valuation of $59 million (as of 13 December 2018).
Despite the extended bear market throughout the second half of 2018, Holochain has managed to climb the top 100 whilst many projects have languished and fallen to the wayside.
What is it that has contributed to their on-going ascent? We’ve identified seven key factors from our research and the first begins with…
Key #1 – Create Something Unique to Stand Out from the Crowd!
Holochain isn’t merely another Ethereum clone. No, no, no…
Holochain was coded from scratch and doesn’t even like to classify itself as a blockchain, in fact they would rather be known as a blockchain alternative.
Their approach is radically different from all current solutions as it seeks to disrupt and redesign how the internet functions at its core. In doing so, they’ve managed to carve out a new category for themselves winning people’s attention.
The idea behind HoloChain
HoloChain offers a tamper-proof distributed ledger using a combination of hashing, digital signatures, and a distributed hash table (DHT) system. Focusing on a peer to peer agent-centric model – as opposed to data-centric like in blockchains – Holochain has the ability to scale immensely as there is no requirement for global consensus for peers within the network.
Prior to the ICO, the team had already been developing several decentralized apps in a prototype and proof-of-concept form to launch on Holochain once things went live, this included:
- Clutter – P2P Twitter clone
- Fractal Wiki – Hierarchical wiki with cards
- Holo Vault – permissioned user controlled KYC
- Holochat – secure Slack-like multi-channel chatroom
They had also ran a successful indiegogo crowdfund for their HoloPort box that enables users to share spare capacity on their computers by hosting decentralized apps, which they would then be rewarded for in Holo fuel/tokens.
From having laid the prior foundational groundwork it’s a clear signal that the team is dedicated to the project and have the capability of delivering on what they promise to achieve.
Key Takeaway: Building something unique and valuable greatly helps to differentiate and distinguish a project, thus making it more memorable. Pairing this with a dedicated team and a strong vision is what serves as the bedrock foundation for everything else to rest upon. Getting this foundation right makes everything else that will follow a LOT easier.
Key #2 – Publish High-Quality Content Consistently
In a developing tech space that is riddled with uncertainties, publishing content to help educate and quell confusion, fear, and doubts that people may have surrounding a project can pay GREAT dividends.
The simplest and most effective means for doing this is to push out high quality content consistently that not only keeps community members in the loop, but also helps them to draw and attract new people into the community.
Mind the (Knowledge) Gap and Explain Like I’m Five!
Crypto is a highly technical space and finer technical details tends to fly over most people’s heads. To make Holochain more accessible, the team produced a TON of great content to help educate people about what they’re doing.
To highlight one of their many articles and efforts in doing this is a simple explainer piece that broke Holochain down into 100, 200, and 500 words:
This won’t provide readers with a thorough understanding of how Holochain works BUT it does provide a general understanding and starting point for developers and non-devs alike to dive in further.
(As a majority in the blockchain space don’t possess technical backgrounds, dumbing things down can help a lot!)
Cater for Different Community Members + Stakeholders
In their educational efforts, Holochain authored not one but three different papers:
- A Green Paper for beginners or non-developers
- A Currency Paper for tokenomics and those who are economically/financial minded; and
- A Technical Whitepaper detailing the inner workings of Holochain.
To cater for newbies to end developers, the team built dedicated pages for FAQs, and a page to “Learn everything you need to know about Holo”. Numerous videos were provided alongside written content to further cater for those who prefer engaging with visual and audio content.
Any devs interested in tinkering and learning more about Holochain were blasted with extensive documentation and support through Holochain’s Developer Resource Portal.
Overall, the Holochain team killed it when it came down to communicating their mission, vision, plans, and in educating the public through the creation of great content.
Key Takeaway: High quality content to educate the public in a clear, and transparent manner is necessary to alleviate FUD and grow a project’s community by attracting new members into the fray.
Key #3 – Gain Recognition from Influential Influencers, Figures, and Publications
Recognition and praise from trusted figures and brands significantly helps to boost a project’s legitimacy getting people to pay much closer attention. Holochain accomplished this to great effect.
As attention is a scarce resources these days, unless there’s something intriguing about a project to prompt people to pay closer attention, they’ll quickly run off to the next thing that grabs their attention.
This is why recognition from third parties as to a project’s legitimacy can be crucial, otherwise most people won’t even give a project the time of day.
Testimonials & Endorsements:
Positive testimonials and sentiments from external parties were highlighted on Holochain’s website in order to leverage this social proof:
People from reputable companies and brands such as Coca-Cola, Deloitte, and Mozilla praising Holochain instantly intrigues people’s curiosity to dig further once they land on the website.
Several major publications had featured Holochain including Forbes, CoinTelegraph, and the World Economic Forum. Once more, highlighting these brands and features on the website acts as a great signaler as to Holochain’s legitimacy and as a project to pay closer attention to.
Several key influencers played a significant role in Holochain’s success leading up to, throughout, and after their ICO. Influencers play a pivotal role in directing what the wider crypto market and community pays attention to and this was especially the case for Holochain.
According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, 92% of people trust the recommendation of people they know, which is where most influencers these days fall under.
In Holochain’s case, one key influencer came in the form of Andre Cronje who wrote a glowing review that revered Holochain’s code nearing the end of their ICO.
At the time, Cronje’s profile had just taken off with his reviews carrying great clout amongst many high-level crypto communities. Before Cronje, no one else had been publicly reviewing or scrutinizing ‘established’ blockchain projects code. It’s also safe to say that no one was doing it quite as harshly as Cronje was either.
After quickly gaining a reputation for calling out several big name projects as being mere Ethereum clones, a positive review from Cronje meant serious business.
The fact that the review was not only positive, but highly praised (and almost worshiped) Holochain’s code, this put the project in front of a lot of people and different crypto communities.
Holochain is not really like anything I’ve seen before, so this code review won’t be quite like anything you’ve read from me before. The Holodchain scalable distributed computing model seems to be taking decentralization to a new level, but bloody hell, is this thing just too good to be true?
– Andre Cronje
Key Takeaway: Positive sentiment and recognition from influential figures carries a lot of weight as to whether people will look further into a project beyond their website. Recognition needs to be earned from the right influencers and brands however. Once someone’s attention has been captured, high quality content is what keeps their interest and helps to educate them about your project.
Key #4 – Dedication + Sleeper Project + Community = Massive FOMO & Demand
With the earliest remnants of Holochain forming almost 10 years ago with code development starting December 2016, some digging quickly showed the team’s dedication to the project.
With a ton of progress already made when the ICO rolled around in a product (HoloPort), developer documentation, and prototyped dApps, this served as further evidence of the team’s dedication to the project.
Throughout Holochain’s ICO, the project was relatively under the radar to the wider public. Only closer to the end of the ICO did things start to really pick up for them once Cronje’s code review was published and started doing the rounds sparking a lot of discussion about Holochain.
The team’s heavy focus on product development – instead of marketing – and towards building an inclusive community definitely contributed to this.
Without any well known crypto VCs or funds investing early into Holochain, this largely kept Holochain off the radar for many people.
This may also be the reason for Holochain’s strong price action post listing as any high-networth funds, VCs, or investors who missed out on the ICO now wanting to invest would have to buy Holo tokens on the secondary market, thus resulting in increased demand.
Coin Community Offering
The team detailed how their ICO was more of an Initial Community Offering. With several posts being published to explain the team’s interest in the fair distribution of Holo tokens – not simply an ICO to raise funds.
Their rationale was to help fuel the future use of tokens (or Holofuel) once the network goes live, and above all, to also build a more inclusive and vibrant community that aligns and fits in with their ethos.
The article mentioned that no one was supposedly given discounts and explained anti-whale mechanisms put in place where harpoons would be launched if any whales attempted to purchase more than 10% of tokens that were available for sale on any given day of the ICO.
A wider distribution of token holders meant more Holochain community members and people that had skin in the game. This allowed Holochain to leverage the next key factor with great success.
Key Takeaway: A strong focus on building an inclusive community allowed more people into Holochain’s community. Holochain’s heavy emphasis on product development, as opposed to sheer marketing power also created a perfect storm for Holochain to take the cryptosphere by surprise that resulted in FOMO and increased demand.
Key #5 – The Power of Word Mouth & Your Community
Word of mouth is the best marketing force that anyone could ever hope for.
This primarily occurs and is sustained by a project’s community members. In the hyper-connected world we live in today, word can spread faster than ever before and having a community that is behind a project’s vision and mission is the best thing possible to leverage the true power of word of mouth.
To achieve word of mouth:
- Build something people care about and can stand behind (Key #1)
- Offer opportunities for people to join your community (Key #2 + Key #4)
- Provide the opportunity for community members and the wider public to get some skin in the game.
Meme Me Up Scotty
AfterHolochain’s ICO ended, investors were now holding heavy Holo token bags and went out in full effect to spread the new gospel of Holochain.
Get as many people on the Holo hypetrain as possible.
As a result, a multitude of threads, posts, and memes were made helping to spread awareness about Holochain throughout all major social media channels and crypto communities.
Word of Mouth (WOMO) Leads to FOMO
Post-ICO, news quickly spread about two Ethereum Genesis Wallets investing heavily into the ICO (Ethereum genesis wallets are wallets that were created for people who invested into Ethereum’s original ICO).
This stirred up a lot of discussion as many started questioning and wondering about what these early Ethereum adopters knew about Holochain that they didn’t; some went so far as to speculate that the owners of the wallets may have been Ethereum developers.
Needless to say, rumors of early Ethereum adopters investing heavily into Holochain caused mass FOMO to ensue and greater interest of Holochain from the wider crypto community.
Key Takeaway: Building a vibrant community is important to all projects project because of (1) the power of word of mouth, (2) future product adoption, and (3) greater business development opportunities down the road.
Key #6 – Keep BUIDLing + Establish Legitimate Long-term Partnerships
Can You BUIDL Your Way to Binance?
Holochain was listed on Binance late July 2018 and it isn’t known as to whether Binance listed Holochain for free or at the cost of a nominal fee. Changpeng Zhao (CZ), Founder of Binance previously stated that Binance seeks to list tokens focused heavily on development and that also provide a valuable contribution to the wider crypto ecosystem.
(Holochain clearly ticked both those boxes.)
Along with the hype surrounding Holochain, paired with their strong mission, values, and heavy dev focus, this likely put Holo on Binance’s radar resulting in their eventual listing.
Listing on Binance is as a big win for any project as they not only reach a wider audience, but this also offers far greater liquidity for a project’s tokens.
Shortly after listing on Binance, Holochain scored a second wind after potential partnership talks was mentioned between Holochain and Mozilla during a webcast with Matthew Schutte, Holochain’s Director of Communications.
This partnership was elaborated on further by a Holochain developer during an AMA where it was mentioned:
“The relationship we’re building with Mozilla is very preliminary and informal right now. Technical teams are talking to each other to define how we want to work together.”
Rumors of a potential partnership between Mozilla and Holochain surfaced as early as April 2018 when Jim Cook (CFO of Mozilla) expressed positive sentiment with Holochain “talking Mozilla’s language.”
No public announcements or mention of a partnership had been made by either party until August of 2018 however.
Rumors of this potential partnership spurred further discussion about Holochain that spread throughout September and October via word of mouth eventuating in greater speculation and talks that spurred more positive price action for Holo tokens.
Key Takeaway: Focusing on development and building partnerships quietly behind the scenes to then announce positive news at an opportune time has a far greater effect than letting news leak of partnerships early on when it isn’t possible for others to act on the knowledge.
Key #7 – Continue Connecting and Engaging With Your Community
Consistent time, energy, and effort needs to be dedicated towards building and interacting with a project’s community.
Regular updates and opportunities for the community to connect, engage, and ask questions keeps community members engaged and interested.
Interactive events such as competitions, quizzes, hackathons, or AMAs can be held regularly to maintain and establish a strong connection between projects and their communities.
Holochain has done a great job so far working around the clock to provide support in different time zones and through several platforms to keep the conversation flowing between their community members.
By answering community questions promptly and regularly updating followers on the latest of what’s been happening has also helped to further grow their community.
Depending on the nature of a project, as they mature their primary focus will tend to shift towards developers or adoption by customers.
For Holochain, it’s all about the developers right now and their Development Resource Portal is the perfect gateway for them to engage with devs. They’ve also started hosting Hackathons recently to get developers further involved in the project.
The team is highly active in their Holo chat channels in providing support and discussing further about any developer inquiries.
Key Takeaway: Once the ICO ends, community building and communication efforts shouldn’t stop!
Providing further opportunities for community members to connect and engage is crucial, and so is consistent updates and communications to keep old (and new) members in the loop.
Well, that about wraps up the seven key factors we found that has contributed most heavily toward Holochain’s success throughout 2018. To sum up here are the seven key factors once more:
- Build Something Unique to Stand Out from the Crowd!
- Publish High-Quality Consistently
- Gain Recognition from Influential Influencers, Figures, and Publications
- Dedication + Sleeper Project + Community = Massive FOMO & Demand
- The Power of Word Mouth & Your Community
- Keep BUIDLing and Establish Legitimate Long-term Partnerships
- Continue Connecting and Engaging With Your Community
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(Shoutout to Sven Haake for his tremendous help on this article!)