Our content library features a rich variety of written pieces ranging from an in-depth discussion of technical topics to more free-form informal pieces.

What do Investors Look for when Evaluating your Startup?
June 28, 2019

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It’s important for founders to understand the way investors think about startup investments. There’s no clear-cut answer, but after analyzing several hundreds of companies over the course of our collective careers, we’ve come to the conclusion that investor pitches are often sub-standard. It’s unfortunate because the project would actually be considered compelling had the presentation been more polished and well-communicated.

Because this post is meant to be an introduction, we will paint with broad strokes first, with later posts focusing on the specifics of given areas. Here are some of the main categories investors evaluate when looking at your startup, in no particular order: 1) Problem and Solution, 2) Unique Differentiators, 3) Market Size, 4) Team, 5) Traction, 6) Financials.

State of the Market III: November 2018
December 15, 2018

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Bitcoin’s price crash is not that relevant

By far the biggest news this month, was Bitcoin’s massive price crash that reverberated across crypto markets. The cryptocurrency had been trading rangebound between about $6000 and $7000 since September to mid-November, until it dropped to $5600, and then continued a free fall for the rest of the month. It ended November at $4000 (see below). As of the time of writing, prices haven’t stabilized.

The Decentralization Spectrum
November 13, 2018

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A New Kind of System

The idea of having a fully-functioning system where no trust is necessary is compelling. I’m describing a system that is able to codify the laws which, in some systems, we take to be unspoken and unenforced. Blockchain gives us the ability to codify these laws. If you want to participate in a blockchain-based protocol, you must follow the rules. More importantly, if you do follow them, then there should be no worry as to whether your transaction, your message, or your vote goes through.

State of the Market II: October 2018
November 1, 2018

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The title of this post might ring a bell. That’s because we put out a State of the Market post at the beginning of every month to do a recap of the previous month, discussing notable happenings and takeaways that you should be aware of. We discuss what you should know as well as the positive and negative developments of the month. Highlights of October include: Bitcoin experiencing its lowest volatility in 18 months, number of altcoins eclipsing the 2,000 count, and heightened institutional interest in crypto with the number of new launches. There were a lot of positive stories this month: Fidelity announced its launch of an institutional-grade crypto trading platform, Bakkt announced a launch date for BTC futures, and the Yale Endowment initiating investments in crypto funds. Some of the negative news came from: Tether losing its stability and plunging to $0.85 at one point, Ethereum announcing a delay of its next hard fork till 2019, and ICO funding hitting record lows.

How do you Characterize Project Visions?
October 19, 2018

While there are many different types of cryptocurrencies out there — the latest data shows 2,112 as of October 19th, 2018 — there are most certainly not 2,112 unique project visions in existence. There are broader general categories that each one falls under. Each project tries to differentiate itself from the competition by having its own unique aspects as well as its own interpretation of how to best execute the vision, which is often driven by the personalities and experiences of the team members.

The point of this exercise is to zoom out and take a bird’s eye view. Do we think that the majority of these projects will be successful in 5 to 10 years? Most likely not; we think there will be only select winners in each category. We’re anticipating oligopolies — a few winners that take the majority of market share. Similar to the way Microsoft competes with Apple in the personal computer space or how Goldman Sachs competes with Morgan Stanley and other bulge bracket banks when it comes to capital raising and M&A.

Energy x Blockchain
October 19, 2018

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Normally we’re pretty cautious when we hear the term “X + blockchain”. I liken it to something I heard a lot in the VC world — “Uber for X”, or the “Uberization of X”. This mix-and-match approach to entrepreneurship is often the basis of ideas for new ventures. By applying new technologies to new use-cases, or innovative business models to new sectors, or successful ideas to new regions. Don’t get me wrong, some of these companies have been massively successful. For consumer companies, the most successful of them adapt their business models to suit the local market (known as “localization”). Today, we’re being flooded by news of multinationals across sectors adopting blockchain for one thing or another. Some are legit use-cases, some aren’t. Something that recently caught our eye was the action occurring in the energy blockchain space. We decided to give it a closer look.

Why do we Call Ourselves NeonVest?
October 19, 2018

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We’ve gotten asked this question a few times and it makes sense. We don’t have “block” or “crypto” or “coin” or “chain” or “bit” or “ledger” or any of the usual suspects in our name. For the purposes of this article let’s call these crypto-sounding names.

Constructing Narratives

Let’s backtrack to mid-April, when we began serious discussions on how to build this company. One of the points of discussion was the name. A common fallacy is how consumers think about “good” names. We point to an Amazon or Robinhood and think, yeah, those are great brand names. But we only think that because they’ve become successful. Their success is the biggest factor for why we have a positive perception of the brand, after which we construct a narrative for why that name was unique and a perfect fit. So, in this post, we’re going to give you the real story for how we came up with NeonVest. At the end, though, we’ll leave you some more satisfying post-hoc narratives, that you’ll hopefully remember.

The Scalability Trilemma in Blockchain
October 19, 2018

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The Scalability Trilemma, a term coined by Vitalik Buterin (founder of Ethereum), refers to the tradeoffs that crypto projects must make when deciding how to optimize the underlying architecture of their own blockchain. In layman’s terms, it’s akin to the phrase “you can’t have everything”. The trilemma Vitalik is referring to involves three components: decentralization, security, and scalability. In this post, we’ll provide an overview of these three components and evaluate the pros & cons of each. This is a useful comparative framework to measure blockchains against each other. Rarely is it the case that the actual underlying infrastructure is poor (though this also does occur). The better question to ask is, which aspects of the blockchain does the project intend to optimize, and are these in line with its value proposition and use-case. While educational, we hope this content also enables you to better evaluate cryptos on your own.

What does Dollar Shave Club have to do with Crypto?
October 3, 2018

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In this post, we’re going to focus on a crucial component that is often overlooked when evaluating a blockchain or crypto asset’s potential — Marketing, Branding & Growth Strategies.

How does a new project get the word out? How does it engage with its community? How does it curate its unique brand image? For a project where “success” is so closely tied to adoption by the community, these are very pertinent questions that every project must answer.

The Importance of UI & UX in Crypto
October 3, 2018

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User experience plays a big role in determining how people use and perceive your product. You can have the best idea and technology in the world, but if it’s not easy on people’s eyes or on their brains, then you’re going to run into trouble. Especially when you have competition. If you’re looking to invest in a crypto asset, test out the product as a user, if possible. Then test out competing products, both crypto and non-crypto ones. This gives you one (often overlooked but crucial) evaluation metric when examining a crypto asset’s investment potential. At the end of the day, the value of the coin will only go up if a lot of users adopt it. And people are more likely to adopt things that are visually appealing and easy to use.

What Matters Most in Evaluating Cryptos – The Jockey or the Horse?
October 3, 2018

In fact, it’s not just the jockey or horse you should be looking at. They’re just as important as the other horses, the division, the racetrack, and the betters. To speak contextually — it’s not just the team or the product you should be evaluating. You should place just as much importance on the project’s competitors, the type of asset/project it is, the overall vision & use-case, the investors and the backers of the project. In this post, we’ll be looking at the jockey and what you should look for when evaluating the team behind any blockchain/crypto project.

How do External Support Mechanisms (like Institutional Investors, Board Advisors, and Business Partnerships) Shape a Crypto Project’s Trajectory?
October 3, 2018

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In this post, we’re going to be talking about some of the crucial external support mechanisms that blockchain/crypto projects rely on in order to help them boost their branding and distribution channels as well as achieve their strategic goals. One areas of particular importance is the ability for projects to attract high-quality partners, be it from an investment, advisory or growth perspective. In our mind, this is one of the core drivers of future value for a project.

State of the Market: I (September 2018)
October 3, 2018

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This post discusses some of the highlights of September as it pertains to crypto markets as well as a recap of some of the positive and negative developments in crypto land more broadly. Highlights include: increased trading volume, Ripple growing significantly in market dominance, increased spending from the U.S. government on blockchain analysis firms, and a relative shift in market participants from speculators to more informed investors. Some of the positive stories from the month consisted of the following: Coinbase welcoming altcoins, Walmart adding to the mix with regards to institutions wanting to implement blockchain, and positive crypto sentiment coming from economic-stricken countries. The negative developments consisted of: the SEC delaying a decision on Bitcoin ETFs, a Japanese crypto exchange getting hacked, and a growing awareness of the massive costs associated with mining Bitcoin.