As we watch the price of Bitcoin sore over $6000, breaking old records, people are often looking for the next big opportunity. It’s hard to say if or when existing coins will ever see anywhere close to the gains we’ve seen in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others, and chances are they’ve already had their price spike (many followed by a crash) or they may never see another significant price spike. ICO’s seem to be the next venture for people looking to make a quick buck. Although many, if not most, of the current and upcoming ICO’s will likely fail or simply not deliver what they claim in the future, there will be some that will rise to a great store of wealth and those who got in early will reap quite the reward. But with the hundreds of new ICO’s popping up how would one know which ones are worth investing in? There are of course several key things to consider when choosing an ICO to invest in, such as: market buzz and pre investor excitement, positive and abundant press, a solid whitepaper, credible business or partner affiliations, a competent development team, the total amount of circulating coins and how those coins will be distributed and used, and the ability to illustrate that they will actually solve a real world problem with their vision and technology. Researching these factors can be a daunting task when considering how many ICO’s are currently in the works, how many more are upcoming, and how many more will spring up over the next few years. Much like the dot com bubble in the late 90’s which burst a few years later, the ICO market will almost inevitably experience the same type of collapse. However, just like before the dot com bubble burst, a lot of people made a lot of money, and ICO’s are no different in that way. It’s hard to say exactly when the ICO bubble will burst but for now it can be a good place to speculate and invest to make some incredible returns. So, for those who wish to gamble in the ICO market, make sure to do your research and never invest more than you are willing to lose. And with that said, I’ll mention from my research my top picks for upcoming ICO’s and which ones I’m still on the fence about. Top ICO Picks: #1 - Flixxo https://www.flixxo.com I first heard about Flixxo from a Coinspeaker article. They also just had a nice write up in the Huffington Post Technology section. Since I’ve always been very much into large scale video sharing platforms, including apps like MovieBox and Popcorn Time, etc., the project quickly caught my attention. And once I learned they were partnered with Popcorn Time I was sold. But I had to keep an open mind so I kept reading. Essentially, Flixxo is looking to disrupt the YouTube virtually monopoly on video sharing by offering more incentives to video creators through their platform that will have a better reward system than YouTube currently has. The idea is to build a decentralized video sharing platform that will hopefully attract more quality content and built a community around that. The users can use the FLX token to gain access to the content they want and contributors can be rewarded for helping to seed content. Users can also obtain FLX coins by viewing ads to support the advertising aspect. Here is an interview with the CEO Adrian Garelik talking about his vision for the platform: Additionally, here he is another interview with Omar Bham from the Crypt0 YouTube channel, discussing some of the current issues within the video streaming/sharing space that Flixxo is aiming to tackle: There will be a total of 1 billion FLX tokens that will be issued, which usually for a coin is quite high when looking to see large returns on investment, however, considering the nature of this product and how the FLX tokens will be used within the community, having a relatively large amount of coins like this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since, it would seem to me, that there will be a lot of transactions happening on this platform so the need to keep costs and fees low will be important. The ICO will begin on Oct 24th and there is a day one bonus of 30% extra coins. The base cost is: 1 ETH = 4000 FLX (or 1 FLX = 0.00025 ETH). They are hoping to at least raise about 7,500 ETH to get their project on its feet. The ICO will run for 30 days, and if you’d like to contribute, you can check out the ICO page. #2 - Winding Tree https://windingtree.com Another passion I have is travel so Winding Tree also peaked my interest. Winding Tree’s mission statement is to make travel cheaper for travelers and more profitable for the travel providers. They plan to accomplish this by using a decentralized blockchain distribution platform to reduce fees for the industry which savings should be passed onto the consumer and end the price gouging by middle men. Here you can read the Winding Tree whitepaper, which says that the market will decide the number of tokens generated, which is a bit of a rare concept in the ICO world, but should prove to be interesting. The price of the Winding Tree token or LIF will range from 9-10/LIF per 1 ETH depending on the price of ETH on the date of launch, which will begin Nov 1st, and end November 15th. Not only has Winding Tree been mentioned in major press publications like Nasdaq and Forbes, but they have official partnerships with several airlines including Swiss International, Australian Airlines, and Lufthansa (who was also an early investor). This project has a lot of potential, and if successful, can target a real world issue within a very large industry. If you want to keep updated on the upcoming ICO you can visit their token event page, and signup for their mailing list for emerging details. #3 - Universa https://universa.io Universa is a new blockchain platform built on their own network that will attempt to compete with the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains, and boasts much higher scalability (20,000 transactions per second), and lower transaction costs. Their ICO is set to launch on Oct 28th and are hoping to raise $100 million to get their project off the ground. ApexFree will invest $7 million in the Universa platform, and their initial target market seems to be for businesses. And the most notable thing about Universa is that John McAfee is not only one of their listed advisors, but will also build his own coin called McAfee Coin on their blockchain platform: Another cool thing is that for simply signing up to their platform they are giving away 50 free coins; you can register for your free coins. This ICO is sure to attract a good amount of investors and may be quiet successful in the near future. #4 - Dether https://dether.io For many crypto traders we know how difficult it can be to convert between crypto currency and fiat currency. There are not as many avenues for converting fiat to crypto as there are for converting crypto to crypto, so this is a definite marketplace need. Omar Bahm interviewed one of the co founders of Dether: According to the cofounder, you can buy ETH using the Dether app with your fiat currencies and of course sell ETH back to fiat as well by utilizing a system similar to UBER that allows you to see who is buying and selling ETH in your area. But apparently the transactions will happen much like a craigslist transaction, in that buyers will have physical meet ups to swap currencies. The buyer will be able to use Telegram to communicate with the seller to organize the transaction, and to essentially meet up in a public place to make the swap. Although there are plenty of things that can go wrong with such a transaction like theft or hacking, the app uses a rating system, much like an Ebay profile (or Uber driver rating), that rates users based on their successful transactions. So if you get robbed I suppose you can give your robber a bad review, but unless there is wide scale use of this app it may not have much of an effect on deterring theft initially. There is an extensive Dether whitepaper, and they say the purpose for the Dether tokens (DTR) will be to help gain more Dether map visibility for trading zones. This however begs the question: will the large stake holders dominate the seller market leaving the smaller stake holders holding the their bag of ETH? I suppose time will tell but they will also offer a DTR buyback program to help regulate the amount of circulating coins on the market. Users can also use physical locations as a selling shop, similar to a crypto ATM. By staking larger amounts of DTR coins a user can take advantage of their already existing business, like a pizza shop, and sort of advertise their business via the app which will also make their physical business a sort of exchange teller, much like how certain convenient stores offer other services like money transfer (Western Union). They will “mint” a max of 100 million DTR tokens and the actual crowdsale doesn’t appear to have been announced yet but could likely happen later this year or during Q1 of 2018. All in all Dether seems to be an interesting idea and, if adopted successfully, could promote a whole new approach to expand the mass adoption of Ethereum and the overall OTC marketplace of crypto currency. #5 - Hacken https://hacken.io Another interesting project I came across is Hacken. Hacken wants to create an ecosystem where white hat hackers can keep up with the ever expanding world of cyber security to help their clients prevent exploitable vulnerabilities by using the blockchain and smart contracts. Here are some good articles about them here and here discussing their partnership with Neuromation to help prevent blockchain cybercrime. Although they seem to be in the early stages of their road map plan, they definitely have potential and are trying to address a legitimate use case. Another interesting method they will use for their tokens is the Burning Principle, which you can read about in the Hacken whitepaper. Their total supply of Hacken coins (HKN) will not exceed 20 million and the initial price according to their website will be: 1HKN = 1USD. The token sale should start on Nov 1st and you can signup for more information. On The Fence: #1 - Ankorus https://www.ankorus.org Ankorus will be an exchange that will allow a user to “tokenize” an assets (e.g. bonds, shares, ETFs, commodities, etc.) and exchange them for cryptocurrency. Their plan is to merge the world of real assets with the world of cryptocurrency. You can read more in the Ankorus whitepaper. Their ICO begins on November 25, and lasts for 30 days. However, they have yet to provide a few key details such as their financial projections, how they will navigate the murky waters of merging the world of crypto with the world of real assets, especially considering how the SEC in the US is dealing with securities, and they have yet to announce the exchange price for the cost of their coin. They do claim they will be fully insured and regulated which is a nice appeal for crypto investors, but such a large scale task of SEC compliance and insuring of assets seems to be a tall order considering the brewing fear and distrust the US government seems to have about crypto currencies, especially with ICO’s and more especially with ICO’s that have anything to do with securities. The asset market is of course huge and rife with liabilities, so there is a lot of money to be made, especially by creating new market opportunities, but legal challenges may be greater than they anticipate. One article is calling Ankorus the “most controversial ICO of 2017”. Ultimately, the idea is there and the marketplace they are trying to enter is massive, but the question is can they succeed? As with anything, time will tell, but for now I’m not sure they have the ground swell of support they need to launch such a large scale endeavor and quickly be successful. Perhaps over time as they build a strong support base they can ease into this marketplace but until then they face quite an uphill battle. So all in all, the potential is there, but it may be a little early to tell when such a project will begin to see larger scale adoption. #2 - Crypterium https://crypterium.io Crypterium will essentially be a bank for crypto, enabling users to pay for goods and services through their app using a virtual credit card for instant payments. For more information, here is the Crypterium whitepaper. Their token sale begins on October 31, and early buyers will get bonus tokens. They will also incorporate a credit system for obtaining loans. Although the idea is definitely interesting, so far they don’t seem to have the buzz needed to kick off a project of this magnitude. Anything dealing with banking, loans, or know your customer (KYC) programs takes a large scale infrastructure to gain user support and trust. However, they appear to already have a working product, as seen in this video: Here is an interview with Steven Polyak, the CEO of Crypterium, where he explains how their token will be used within their platform to create a demand based system, which he says should drive the value of the coin up. They definitely are entering an ever expanding market but they are not pioneers to this particular marketplace so they will have to prove themselves over their competition which may take time. Overall, I think they have potential but it may take some time for that potential to be fully realized. #3 - Blockbid https://blockbid.com.au Blockbid seems to have a solid team and an interesting idea, but I’m still not convinced after reading the Blockbid whitepaper. They are offering something more significant than exchanges that already exist, other than using their tokens which enables free transactions on their exchange, but technically they’re not free if you are buying the token in the first place, so I guess you’ll have cheaper transactions than those using the exchange that don’t have tokens. And if you look them up on YouTube, there is only one video that has anything to do with Blockbid, which was posted by the Blockbid team: As of now there simply isn’t a lot of buzz surrounding their project and if they want to attract investors, they will need to get out in the public space more than they currently are. Also, they do have a few media mentions but none of which are from major publications. I do like that their token supply isn’t huge (30 million) but their token cost is about $1USD/coin, at the current ETH price, which may be a little high considering the little amount of buzz they currently have. Also, as of writing this they’ve only raised just over 15ETH with 11 backers, so unless they can generate more buzz, they may need to either extend the ICO or come up with plan B. Although they seem interesting and their team seems like they are dedicated and very competent, I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I would want to invest. Their ICO has already launched and if you’d like to contribute you can do so.