You may have heard of the rock ‘n’ roll legend that was the Van Halen tour contract, and their express distaste of certain very specific forms of confectionery. Rock and roll, stars and their egos, right? Surely this is akin to the TV sets thrown out of hotel windows, and more about the legend than the reality of life on the road?
It turns out that far from being apocryphal, the band’s concert rider did indeed have a clause requiring a bowl of M&Ms in the backstage area – from which every single brown one had been carefully removed by hand. Otherwise, the promoter would theoretically forfeit the entire show at full price.
However the reason behind this strange demand wasn’t rockstar megalomania, it was a simple test of whether or not the promoter had read every word of the contract properly – and therefore whether the team could be 100% certain that they would pay attention to the details.
At the time, this tour was the biggest production on the road and made unprecedented demands on local crews – demands which could affect the viability and safety of the whole performance, including that of the group, crew, and audience. So the presence of brown M&Ms on the catering table was an indicator that the local crew lacked the necessary levels of perfectionism. It signalled a potential inability to attend to the smallest details which go to make up the whole – on which the success of the entire endeavour might hang.
To quote from Dave Lee Roth’s autobiography: ‘Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.
‘The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes …” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”’
‘So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl … well, [it was time to] line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.’
The brown M&M was the canary in the coalmine, the advance warning of something potentially far bigger and more dangerous. That gave them time to back off and get out, then decide to return with better safety gear.
Your Investment Whitepaper
Your whitepaper is a multi-purpose document which has to be a business plan, sales brochure, project CV and tokenomic model disclosure – and anyone considering investing in your token sale or seed round will be poring over every detail, every word, before putting their money into your success.
That document has to appeal to seasoned institutional funders, bounty hunters, potential end-users, outright speculators, and everybody in between – being exactly the right combination of accessible and professional, as well as deadly accurate. It has to convince them that your project, and your team, is investable – that you are going to take their money, look after it and turn it into more money for them. That there is a real problem to be solved, with a genuine rationale for your exact solution, which will be delivered by a professional and competent team.
And in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace, anyone doing their due diligence correctly will be combing through it over and over, looking for a reason, any reason, not to invest in your particular startup. Whether that’s a gaping flaw in your security, lack of a clearly defined customer needs, a single unsubstantiated claim, or a lack of attention to spelling and punctuation – in this highly speculative funding world, the smallest thing can be a deal-breaker.
The smallest thing can be a brown M&M.
Your potential investor isn’t going to throw a rockstar diva tantrum and start smashing things up. They probably won’t give you any feedback at all. They’ll just put their funds elsewhere – and you may never know why.
Too Close for the Big Picture
You’ve probably worked on your visionary project for months, if not years. Everything you need to include is already thought out. But it might be at the stage where all the knowledge is distributed around different heads in the team, or you have a stack of disconnected documents written. There could be significant parts missing and you can’t see the wood for the trees, or it might all be there but simply not in a logical order.
Maybe you have spent ages perfecting the document itself, worked it to death until you have actual dreams about it – it’s almost perfect but you are just too close to it to see the brown M&Ms lurking deep within its paragraphs… It simply needs fresh eyes for a final copy-editing pass.
Or perhaps the tech, team and tokenomics are gleaming with perfection, but the compelling reason you created it in the first place isn’t clearly articulated.
Having brought the project to this point, you are so far past the need that it meets, you’ve completely internalized it. It’s hard to look at it from the point of view of someone outside the industry or vertical that it is specifically intended to disrupt. You’re 100% invested emotionally, so your case becomes too rational – when what is actually needed is to create a compelling call to action, clearly demonstrate the gap between the status quo and the answer only your solution can provide.
You need professional copywriting.
And it’s bigger than that. In the token sale world, every member of your team, and everything they say and do, is under greater scrutiny than ever before. That sarcastic political tweet, that weirdly unprofessional profile picture, or an irritated response on Telegram – it’s all out there, as hard to edit as the blockchain itself in some cases, and completely searchable. Before you expose yourself to the degree of scrutiny involved in a token sale, have a thorough audit of your entire public presence.
Presenting your whitepaper, and every aspect of your professional communications, as perfectly professional as possible, is vital to your success. If you think yours could do with a polish, contact the BlockSparks team today for advice.