Writing a White Paper for an ICO: expert recommendations

13 July 2018

Initial Coin Offering may look like no great shakes with a lot of startups raising millions of dollars in a snap. However, a successful outcome of the fundraising campaign depends on many things, including technology development, marketing and White Paper, among other things. Let us look closer at what White Paper is and how it should be composed.

What it’s all about

White Paper represents a statement of the project owners about the problem they want to solve with their offering. It resembles a business plan in a sense and should outline the solution to the existent issues either in the technological or financial spheres, or other industries, within the environment whereof the product would be created.

Featuring the same nature of a business plan, the White Paper should be made like an official project plan using accurate, concise and detailed language to describe the mission and the vision of the campaigners along with the information about the means to achieve the set goals.

While being an official project document, the White Paper still features a marketing character at its core. It means that authors of white papers should compose this document keeping in mind that their ultimate goal is to sell their product and motivate people invest in their ideas.

What should be there?

White Paper should cover a number of questions important for the investors to make their decision to buy the marketed tokens or not. Understanding that the ultimate task of the entire ICO process is to sell tokens for collecting more money to finance the operation of the future project, good campaigners try to provide as much details about the market situation and the figures behind the promised profits and token value, as possible. These are the key questions, which should be included into the White Paper:

– Terms of reference, or a statement of the problem in clear, strict and consistent way

– An overview of the solution to be used for solving the given problem

– More detailed outlook of the project: the operating principle, key features, advantages

– Detailed explanation of the benchmarks: achievements already made and a roadmap for the future developments

– Explanation of the token purpose: what the fuss is all about

– Giving a clear vision of how the tokens would be commercialized

– Mandatory description of the team and team members, their qualifications and skills

– Of course, a schedule for the benchmarks and token pre-sale and sale


The introductory part should be set out in brief on 1 or 2 pages without stacking up too many technical details, as the major objective of the introduction is to attract interest of the potential investors to the core part of the project statement, making them wish to learn more. The introductory part should contain the market features and issues along with the facts supporting those statements.

Product overview

This section is dedicated to more expanded description of the project and all aspects associated with its implementation, such as the team and their skills, transparency of the project development and ability for the public to assess its advantages and drawbacks. This part of the White Paper should contain the definition of the terms to be used thereafter, if this has not been done in the introductory section. The story should begin with simple easy to understand words with further immersion into technical data and arguments. The Overview section should also provide for the advantages the project has over similar products or competing startups.

Market assessment

This section of the White Paper should contain the study of the market condition and key trends performed by its authors. The study should touch upon such issues as the major developments and potential direction of the market for at least five years ahead. Experts recommend using diagrams in every section, preferably cited from authoritative sources, for instance, published by the ‘big four’: PwC, Deloitte, KPMG и E&Y.

Problems addressed

This part of the White Paper explains existing problems and the ways to resolve them in a most efficient way. White Paper authors are recommended to stay objective and not give in to temptation to dramatize the essence and the significance of the problem, choosing balanced and neutral terms and rhetoric. This section will show your potential investors the degree of your understanding of the overall industry and market conditions and meeting of minds existing in your team.


This section should contain clear statement of the token operation and its meaning for the project development. Authors of the White Paper should provide accurate description of how the token would be sold and distributed among the ICO participants, and how it would be issued, used and disposed to derive a profit. This section is the best place for diagrams and schemes.


This section should contain the information about the plans and major parameters for the project, the targets and goals you want to achieve. It is recommended to use graphs, schemes and diagrams to support your statements. This part should justify the utmost market capitalization of the project and describe expectations for how the fiat money would affect the token and the project.


This section of the White Paper should contain the schedule for the project implementation stages: timeframe for all steps and actions to be taken. It would be better to use illustrations, graphs and diagrams to make it easier for the investors to trace your roadmap.


Do not forget to tell more details about your team members, describing their educational profile, experience and qualifications. Every member should have their photos and, if possible, a link to the business profile in the social media. The main objective of this section is to show that your project is managed by highly skilled specialists, which remarkably increases the level of trust to your offering.

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