You want to create a Web3 startup around blockchain? Or you want to evolve your traditional Web2 company to Web3? Well, one thing is for sure, it’s the perfect time to enter the Web3 space. Whether you have a blockchain-based solution to a real-world problem, a DeFi project, or a dApp idea in mind: The next disruptive companies will be blockchain startups and there is still time to give yourself a chance to create a Web3 startup that will be part of it.
However, developing a Web3 startup is far from easy, and above all, very different from creating a Web2 startup. Web3 was born from a technological transition (the blockchain) but above all from a cultural & social transition of people. People want more control, equality & power. Thinking about the interest & power & freedom of your future consumers is essential. By following the steps described in this article, you will maximize your chances of creating a truly successful Web3 startup.
In this article, I will share with you the different steps to launch a Web3 startup. These steps are based on my experience as co-creator of Web3 startups and on the strategies of the most successful Web3 companies. I’m Julian, CEO of Web3Island & co-founder of the startup studio The Secret Company. We’ve co-founded several Web3 companies that are thriving today (StaySAFU, Safetin, Mobula, Alchemist Labs). Here are the best steps to follow to create a successful Web3 startup.
Whether in Web2 or Web3, many people think that to create a startup, the most important step is to find the idea. FALSE ❌
The most important thing is to find your partners & the right team to develop a project with. You will most likely iterate on your idea, if the team is truly committed and ready to do so, there will be no worries. The opposite is very difficult… If you start with an idea and you don’t find your team, it will be more complicated to develop a real ambitious startup.
1 —CREATE YOUR TEAM
The first thing you have to do to create a successful Web3 startup is to create a successful team. You can decide to create your startup by yourself, but the risk of failure will be much higher. You will probably end up creating a solopreneur business, not a really ambitious startup.
In Web3, the majority of events, meetings & conversations take place online, with people from all over the world. You can find your partners & team anywhere in the world. People who know about Web3 & its opportunities and want to create Web3 projects are not centralized in a particular geographical area but spread all over the world. People meet mainly on forums, dedicated communities, discord severs…
I’ve seen many Web3 entrepreneurs find their co-founders on Discord or Telegram. The removal of the geographical border allows to build diversified & complementary teams. It also allows Web3 startups to directly address large markets instead of focusing on specific limited (national) markets.
I recommend you partner with people you have already established a trusting relationship. The most important variable in a successful co-founder relationship is trust. Then comes complementarity, level of commitment, vision, etc.
These methods can help you:
A good way to find your future partners & teammates is to start by defining the ideal profiles you are looking for (tech? marketing? passion? origin?). You can then visit websites & join communities where the ideal profiles you described can be found. If you are looking for a developer, passionate about P2E games, there are dedicated P2E developer servers on Discord for example ;)
Another effective method is to find Web3 freelancers on Web3 talent sourcing platforms. You can start working with them, testing their work and their commitment. If the relationship goes well, you can offer them to join the adventure as partners, or as full-time employees.
Here are some Web3 talent sourcing platforms:
Don’t forget to incentive your team
Whether in Web2 or Web3, incentivizing your team is extremely important. They must feel concerned by the startup’s figure to work with a real degree of commitment.
For a traditional Web2 company it’s a bit complex. You have to create a heavy financial package with the emission of some company shares that you can distribute to your teams under particular conditions. When you develop a Web3 project with a blockchain brick, there is often a token at the center of your project. This makes things much easier…
Whether it’s your partners or the first employees on your team, I recommend incentivizing each member of your team with a % of your token, proportional to their level of engagement.
2 — SETTING UP YOUR REMOTE WORKSPACE
Remote work is on the rise. Although it has been possible to work from outside a corporate office for a few decades, remote working is only now becoming mainstream. In any case, having a remote startup requires defining a remote company structure, a rhythm, an organization with ownership, etc.
The first thing to do is to create your digital & online “office”. It can be a Slack workspace, a Discord server, a WhatsApp group… I recommend you create a Slack workspace.
Then, you have to define roles & missions & ownerships for each team member. For this I recommend you to use the Trello application. You will be able to define each person’s mission at the beginning of the week, analyze their progress and create a good mission-based system.
The final step is to establish a rhythm of work within the company. Monthly company meetings, weekly team calls, daily reports, etc.
You will probably be working with people from all over the world, with very different schedules and availability.
The idea is to keep regular contact with all teams, but with very specific and defined interactions. The idea is not to have as many meetings as possible, but to have regular and quality meetings. I recommend that you create a weekly call to define the mission and follow-up of each person and a monthly call to review the development of the company and the next steps.
3 — (CO)CREATE YOUR OFFER
By making the choice of co-creation, information & ideas within your startup will be shared rather than kept secret. Co-creation is inclusive, transparent, and self-organizing. The consumer will be able to give his opinion, propose his own ideas, and challenge some of your propositions.
The central idea of co-creation is that working together is better. As a result, the startup is no longer an entity to be personified, but something to be built and owned collectively, with intent and purpose. For this, you need to document the creation of your startup and ask for feedback from your customers. The easiest way is to create a community, for example, an online community on a Discord server. You will set up the server with channels dedicated to co-creation, a “Co-founders” channel open to all for example.
This will reduce the risks when you enter the market. It will help you find quickly the real Product Market Fit of your offer. And above all, it will encourage all customers to help you because they will have participated in the development of the project. Your customers will become your first and best ambassadors.
4 — DEVELOP A STRONG & LARGE COMMUNITY
More than transparency or co-creation, the creation of a community is a real strength for the development of your Web3 startup. It will be one of the main levers of your growth.
Handling marketing in Web3 is really different from the common practices in web2. One main rule: community first. Everywhere in the web3 ecosystem, you will hear people telling about how their communities were developed. This could be associated with the cultural change related to decentralization. People are willing for more transparency, security, and ownership. They wish to be involved in what they invest in. They want to bring a commitment to the technology they believe in. That’s why we observe such devotion to building communities around disruptive web3 projects.
A few words about the process of creating a good community
When it comes to communities, size is not the most important thing. The only thing you should be aiming for at the beginning is engagement, then comes growth… Having 10 people with 8 collaborating and actively involved is much better than having 100 people with only 10 involved… To achieve such dedication and commitment, you need to find the right key to get people engaged and excited about collaborating. This is mainly related to your “why”: a great mission approved by your peers, a common vision, and milestones to strive for as a team!
Once you’ve gathered a large community, it’s time to use incentives as a guideline. Keep building your community around your product, and incentivize your community to help you make it bigger and stronger.
Remember to offer full transparency and updates to your community. You should consider them as co-founders. People need to know and remember why they are involved in your project. Building your product and your community should appear as a common process: an open-source collaboration will bring more transparency, governance, and decision-making.
I won’t go into the details of strategies to build a good community to stay focused on the topic of the article. If the subject interests you, I wrote a dedicated article about Web3 communities.
Organic growth first, paid marketing strategies later
You can also conduct paid marketing strategies to grow your community. In the early days of Web3, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and most other advertising platforms did not accept advertising for Web3 & Blockchain projects. Their financial aspect and the legal vacuum concerning them did not reassure the platforms.
As the adoption of blockchain increased, these rules became more flexible & open. Today you can promote your Web3 project on most platforms, respecting their conditions, especially on your creatives.
Even though blockchain adoption is progressing, there is still a lot of market education to be done. We can find paid advertising agencies that share files of leads already educated on the blockchain. These can be email files or even Facebook pixels filled with buyers of blockchain projects (NFTs, DEFI, etc). I’m not a huge fan of this but I think I should mention it.
5 — BRINGING YOUR OFFER TO LIFE
In Web2, whether you develop a tool, an agency, or a media, there are no secrets: you have to execute, test & iterate. In Web3 it’s quite different. First, technically speaking, it is very difficult to iterate. As soon as a smart contract is deployed, it’s hard to come back to it.
Therefore, the first step in building your offer is not like in Web2 (deploy your offer as fast as possible, boost and iterate). You have to be much more careful about your model & your offer from the beginning. The best is to start by creating a landing page and a whitepaper. For the construction of your landing page & whitepaper, you can focus on the problem & demand you have identified, the solution you want to bring, your team, your first customers & partners, the place of the blockchain in your solution, the token economics associated with the token. The idea is to see if your community, your first customers, are receptive to this offer.
For a long time, we saw many projects emerge that focused on the stage of the project presentation (landing page & whitepaper). They carried out the launch of their project and did not deliver as promised.
The reality is that the market is no longer the same, it’s not as easy. Customers, users, and investors are more attentive and difficult than before, and fortunately! It’s very rare now to see great projects develop, have the support of their community, and raise funds with their token with a simple landing page and a whitepaper.
So I recommend you bootstrap the development of your startup. Bootstrapping describes a situation in which an entrepreneur launches a company with little capital, with hacking techniques, minimizing the blows and favoring organic growth.
I recommend you to:
● Propose your offer to potential customers to see if they are ready to buy it
● Build a light MVP of your product, construct the usage
● Be data-driven, talk to your customers, and get lots of feedback to improve
You can create a landing page with a website builder quite easily to present your offer. You can use Systeme.io for example. Concerning the whitepaper, you can create it from a template. You can use Gitbook for the online version and to make a downloadable pdf version. Concerning the MVP, you can make a no-code solution for less money. The idea is just to validate the usefulness and if people are really willing to buy your solution.
Leverage your community to grow. I’ve seen many projects grow only because of their community. Early members will help you in exchange for benefits (a place in the future whitelist of your token for example). You can start this incentive marketing with nothing. You don’t need to have a product, a blockchain, or a token to set up a form where the members who helped you the most will be referenced to get benefits the day the token is launched ;)
There are many opportunities in Web3, so we can find many people who are willing to work with you for free. Like you, they will bet that your solution will work and they will be rewarded. People want to be early, and they will help you so you remember them if your startup develops well.
6 — LAUNCH YOUR TOKEN
Access to funding for a project is a source of acceleration, but it can distort your intuitions and your key performance indicators. So I really recommend that you bootstrap your offering to find the right fit between your product and the market and not simulate adoption with a big marketing spend. These expenses will eventually fade away if a balance is not maintained. So I recommend that you validate the above steps before you get interested in launching your token.
However, launching a token is almost essential for a web3 startup attached to a blockchain. This token launch has several purposes:
● Give you access to funds.
● To give you visibility
● To give you the power to incent your community
● Give you access to partnerships and collaborations
With Mobula, for example, we decided to raise funds with the community and the VCs because the community needs to be incentivized on the token and its use, and the VCs need to introduce us to tools that will want to integrate our API, to exchanges that can index our token, etc.
However, launching a token and raising funds should not be the priority of your Web3 startup. You should not rush the fundraising and see it as a must. If you want to make an ambitious startup, the token and the initial fundraising of the token should not be part of your business model. It should be an accelerator for your project and a basis for the functioning of your offer.
Let’s face it, if you only count on the launch of your token and the ROI of your team wallet, you are not going to create an ambitious startup. You need to put vesting of 1/2 years and count on the business model you create around your project and the success in the long term.
For the launch of your token, know that you can split your launch in several parts. Many people think that the launch of a token is done in one place but the reality is that you have a lot of flexibility and you can do the launch that suits you. I recommend launching a game with your community. They are your first supporters, they deserve to have a place in the token launch. I also recommend launching a game with some VCs. The idea is that to limit the volatility at launch, it’s better to work with 2/3 ventures that you know well, that will be vetted and that won’t make the token’s price drop all at once. You can also launch another part via launchpads, especially DAO maker to make your project known to new people.