You might have heard this expression before – and it’s definitely a new one if you just got into the investment and/or web3 world.
According to Investopedia, a whitepaper is “an informational document issued by a company or not-for-profit organization to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product, or service that it offers or plans to offer”.
Or, as I like to call it: the “book of the game”.
Of course, it can have only a few pages – and some projects should listen to this – but for the sake of the comparison, try to look at a whitepaper as a board game’s manual where you can see all the components and items that the game has; what you can and cannot do within the game; and the information on how it works.
However, you can add one or two more things into this “manual” as whitepapers contain more relevant information such as the team members, the purpose of the company/project and other topics.
Why have a Whitepaper?
Whitepapers exist to explain what the subject is, what it wants, what is going to happen, who is involved in it and what’s featured inside of it.
Let’s try to think like this: imagine you just hit the lottery and won 10 million dollars.
After crying, almost fainting, paying all your debts and buying the stuff you wanted, you wish to invest in a project so you can make more money out of the remaining sum.
Then three of your friends come and tell you that they want you to invest in their next big idea.
However, you don’t want to jump in without knowing exactly what they are thinking so you ask them to present their ideas to you but in a way more explanatory than a commercial pitch.
After all, we are talking about 10 million, not 10 dollars – and you just won it, you don’t want to go broke again, right?
So, each one of them presents to you a document: the first one has the name of the project, the general idea, and the money he wishes you to invest.
The second one presents a document with just a little information about the project’s idea and the amount of money he wishes you to invest.
But the third one came prepared – he gave you a document with a structure divided into topics such as: the project’s idea, the current state of the market and why it needs something like his project, how the project works, how the money invested is going to be distributed inside the project; the people involved in the project and their backgrounds; the next steps the company will take and the dates it will achieve its goals.
Well, this could easily be turned into a whitepaper.
One of the most famous whitepapers in the crypto world is Satoshi Nakamoto’s “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”.
In a very academic-style whitepaper, Nakamoto explains not only what Bitcoin was but how the peer-to-peer system (blockchain) functions.
Divided into 12 topics, Nakamoto dissected:
3. Timestamp Server
7. Reclaiming Disk Space
8. Simplified Payment Verification
9. Combining and Splitting Value
This whitepaper is considered the first milestone in the crypto universe especially because it was used as reference for many other projects that would come with time in the future.
The goal for Satoshi in this whitepaper was to explain how his/hers/their theory (since we don’t know the real identity of the person/people involved in it) worked and to spread that idea across the web. With this document, he/she/they did it.
How can I build a whitepaper?
Personally, I don’t think it is a one-man job.
A whitepaper requires a lot of information both from technical and operational sides. This would involve different segments of the same business and to master each and every one of them is, at least, bold.
Of course, the general idea can be developed by one person, but the market research, the financial part, the marketing part, the administration part, and the technical part can be developed and written by the team.
Main topics of a whitepaper
Let’s go back to the example where you just won 10 million dollars from the lottery.
Put yourself in the shoes of any stakeholder whatsoever (investor, consumer, etc). What do you want the project to explain to you?
1. Explain what your project is
Tell the reader what is your project; what it aims to achieve; the general idea of it and why you thought about this.
2. Talk about the business
What is going on in the market segment that you wish to be a part of?
Research a little bit more about the business with some interesting numbers and cool data
3. How are you going to do it?
Now that the reader understands the business and the market a little bit more, tell them what your idea is; how it was built; the main goals and problems it aims to solve.
4. Let’s get technical
Talk about the solutions you are bringing to the table. This is the time to categorize your features and explain how they work in a (not too) technical way.
5. Who is involved in it?
Tell the reader who is involved in this project and their respective backgrounds.
People feel more comfortable with projects that have faces to them – and even more with experience to do what is being offered. It’s also cool to give social media links and email addresses.
Whitepapers usually finish with a roadmap.
The roadmap is the path the company will take for the next month’s and/or years. Tell them what you want to do and when you want to do it.
Other Web3 projects also use whitepaper and might inspire you for your projects.
Financial: Klever Exchange
In a very structured and user-friendly way, the company summarized its ideas, goals and ‘how tos’ in a 92-pages document with incredible artwork and objective information.
Click here to read and get inspired.