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When a new crypto company creeps into the market, the first response from the public is often skepticism. An ICO is particularly scrutinized due to the sheer volume of competition. There are plenty of scams and hackneyed offerings monopolizing public attention. And frankly, the ICO mechanism of raising funds is losing its gusto. High-profile strategic partnerships could be the key to injecting enthusiasm back into the ICO ecosystem.

We can blame some of the lackluster ICO performance on crypto winter. ICOs, even the good ones, aren’t generating near the returns they were in 2017. That’s not to say they won’t stage an epic comeback soon. Still, ICOs need an adrenalin kick. And strategic partnerships are the metaphorical syringe.

To date, the ICO hunters and crypto influencers have all leaned on similar formulas to track down “the next Bitcoin.” Some of them even make their formulas public. Most are a ratio of Team, Product, Vision, Public Awareness, Competition, Advisors. But as the market matures and the public becomes jaded on the sea of projects, partnerships will become a more significant factor in the legitimacy of ICOs.

High-profile partnerships may have a great impact on established crypto companies. Take IOTA for example. Most people had never heard of IOTA before they announced a partnership with Microsoft. In one week the price of a MIOTA jumped from $1 to almost $6. This announcement was quickly retracted, but the popularity of IOTA remained.

We anticipate that the most successful ICOs in 2018 will announce and publicize partnerships earlier in the development phase. We’ve seen a little of this with high-profile advisors. But co-developed Blockchain projects with large enterprises is a likely next step.

Companies like Oracle, JPMorgan and Accenture, are all scrambling to onboard Blockchain savvy employees. At the same time, early ICOs like Nucleus Vision stack their partner roster with major brand names like Lee, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. It’s a trend we expect to differentiate top-tier ICOs from the general riff-raff.

An ecosystem of cryptos has emerged, but most large companies to date have had little say in the vision and strategy of early Blockchain companies. If large companies partner with early-stage ICOs, they can corner the emerging market and create business paradigms that best work with their existing offers. On the other side of the equation, crypto companies that build their partner community early on can increase public visibility, tap into enterprise resources of established companies, strengthen their reputation and counter cynicism.

The argument that cryptocurrency is a speculative bubble will proliferate through the rise and fall of several generations of Blockchain. However, those companies with significant resources, branding and support will likely stand the test of time – the same way Amazon, eBay, and Adobe thrived after the dot-com crash.

Partnerships will continue to take several forms:

  • Exchanges
  • Banks
  • Technology Partners
  • Third-party Analysts
  • Venture Capital
  • Channel Partners
  • Retail Partners
  • Government Supporters

The adoption, financing and advocacy of Blockchain from respected institutions will drive mainstream adoption. Today’s speculative investors can take solace in the fact that Blockchain has pseudo-silently infiltrated water-cooler talk of major corporations. Blockchain is a topic of discussion in almost every boardroom, and that could mean a bright future for cryptocurrency.

Many nay-sayers are turning to bullish supporters. And although news of regulation and negative sentiment has gnawed away the early profits of 2018, familiarity with Blockchain is stirring up a second-wind of more mature investment. According to Juniper Research, 57 percent of large corporations are actively considering or in the process of deploying Blockchain.

Today, Blockchain is still a touchy subject. It’s easy to view major institutional support as just PR riding the hype train. And some companies may be hesitant to announce their intentions until media mania and regulating powers have had their fill. But it’s far more likely that many of them are making serious efforts to benefit from the technology.

That said, if you are planning an ICO, or even operating post-ICO, consider the strength of your partner ecosystem a top-priority.

The views and interpretations in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Cointelegraph.

Ben Noble is a founding partner of MarketBlok, a marketing and PR company for Blockchain technologies. Prior to his crypto work, Ben was an accomplished marketing professional for cloud-based services.