Create a Web3 startup: Everything You Need to Know to Build a Successful Web3 Company
You want to create a Web3 startup around blockchain? Wondering what are the important steps in creating your company? 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… 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 interests, power & freedom of your future consumers is essential. With this in mind, you must adapt your mindset, vision, and roadmap.
My name is Julian, co-founder of Web3Island & The Secret Company. We’ve co-founded several Web3 companies that are thriving today (Mobula, StaySAFU, Safetin). In this article, you will discover everything you need to know to build a successful Web3 business. I will share with you all my learning as a co-creator of Web3 startups and the strategies of the most successful Web3 companies.
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Whether in Web2 or Web3, many people think that the most important step is to find the idea to create a startup. 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. There will be no worries if the team is truly committed and ready to do so. The opposite is very difficult… If you start with an idea and don’t find your team, developing a really ambitious startup will be more complicated.
#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 create a solopreneur business, not a really ambitious startup.
In Web3, most events, meetings & conversations occur 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 worldwide. People meet mainly on forums, dedicated communities, discord servers…
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:
If you want to know more about platforms that help you find Web3 talent, I present in this article the 100 tools to create and develop your Web3 startup:
100 tools to create and grow your Web3 startup (NFT, DeFi, DApp, DAO…
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 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…
For the development of StaySAFU, many community members helped us for free to co-build our tool and grow our community. Some of them then helped us even more in exchange for tokens. Some of them are now working with us full time (Hello Christian & Kanga 👋)
Whether it’s your partners or the first employees on your team, I recommend incentivizing each team member with a % of your token, proportional to their level of engagement.
#2 ORGANIZE YOUR TEAM, REMOTELY
Remote work is on the rise. Although it has been possible to work 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 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.
With Eudaimoia (StaySAFU, Safetin, Mobula) we tried a Discord group and a Slack group but we preferred Slack. We were able to configure automations very easily and channels dedicated to all subjects. We chose Trello to define team members’ assignments each week and track their progress. We connected Trello to Slack with Make and we automated new assignments on Trello on a dedicated Slack channel. I talk about it in this dedicated article: Inside Web3 💎 | Hiring and managing Web3 talents
You will probably work 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 company's development 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 can 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, open to all, for example.
With Mobula, we created the channel “Co-Built In Public 💎” in our Discord server. We share our progress & concerns, and listen to everyone’s recommendations. You can join our Discord to discover the configuration:
This will reduce the risks when you enter the market. It will help you quickly find your offer's real Product Market Fit. And above all, it will encourage all customers to help you because they will have participated in the project's development. Your customers will become your first and best ambassadors.
If you want to know more about marketing strategies to grow your Web3 startup, I made a dedicated video on the subject: Best Web3 Growth Hacking Strategies: From 0 to 1 million users (Crypto, NFT, DeFi, DApp, DAO)
#4 DEVELOP A STRONG & LARGE COMMUNITY
More than transparency or co-creation, creating a community is a real strength for developing 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 must 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 article's topic. If the subject interests you, I wrote a dedicated article about Web3 communities.
Organic growth first, paid marketing strategies later
You can also perform paid marketing campaigns 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 progressed, the traditional advertising platform rules became more flexible & open. Today you can promote your Web3 project on most platforms, respecting their conditions, especially on your creatives & CTA.
Even though blockchain adoption is progressing, there is still a lot of market education to be done. In 2021, there were only 300 million crypto-currency users in the world. There is a high positive growth, but we are just at the beginning. We can find 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 (Except if you use a proxy 🤫)
The first step in building your offering is different from Web2. Indeed in Web2, you will be asked to deploy your offer as fast as possible (MVP), talk to your customers, boost and iterate. In Web3, you must be much more attentive to your model and offer from the beginning. It’s best 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, and the token economics associated with the token. The idea is to see if the early members of your community & your first potential customers are receptive to your offer.
For a long time, we have seen many Web3 projects focusing only on their project presentation (landing page & whitepaper) and their token launch fundraising. They launched their project and didn’t deliver what they promised. Whether it was intentional (with a business model based on token launch fundraising) or an execution & team or idea problem, it was disastrous and tainted for the Web3 space.
The reality is that the market is no longer the same. It’s not as easy. Customers, users, and investors are more attentive than before, and fortunately! It’s very rare now to see great projects develop, support 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 Web3 startup. Bootstrapping describes a situation where an entrepreneur launches a company with little capital, with hacking techniques, minimizing the blows and favoring organic growth.
I recommend you to:
● Present your offer to potential customers to see if they are willing to buy it
● Build an alpha/beta MVP (use blockchain frameworks) and develop its usage
● Talk to your customers, get feedback and improve your offer
With Mobula, we started with a landing page coded in Html & Css, then we created our whitepaper with Gitbook. We built our community around our vision of a decentralized data aggregator. The community asked us to build the protocol and launched the DAO. We did it in a few weeks. With the DAO active, we started to integrate our on-chain API solution into crypto tools that wanted to access our data. In discussions with VCs and tools, we were recommended to create our own platform to display our data and add game-changer new features. We co-created this platform with the community, had the design mockups validated, and asked for their ideas for features. You can discover Mobula here.
You can easily create a landing page with a website builder 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 linked to a blockchain. This token launch has several purposes:
● Give you access to funds.
● To give you visibility
● To give you the power to incentive 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.
Curious to understand how to incorporate and manage a DAO? Check out my latest article on the subject: How to create a DAO legally: The different options to launch DAOs without breaking the law
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 be honest. If your business model is based on your token share, you will have a hard time creating an ambitious and successful startup. Moreover, for your token economics, I advise you to set up a team wallet vesting period of one year and a half at least and rely on the business model you create around your project and its long-term success.
For your token launch, know that you can split your launch into 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 part with your community. They are your first supporters. They deserve to have a place in the token launch. I also recommend launching a part with some VCs. The idea is to limit the volatility at launch. It’s better to work with 2/3 ventures you know well that will be vested and won’t make the token’s price drop all at once. You can also launch another part via launchpads like DAOmaker or Polkastarter to make your project known to new people.