There have been very few ICOs in the history of cryptocurrency where buying into the ICO netted a better price than one could have got on the open market.

In other words, although some ICOs are worth supporting (just like some crowdfunding projects are worth supporting), in terms of dollar value… it is rarely worth buying into an ICO.

Rather, you are generally better off skipping the ICO and buying the token about a month or two out on the open market if you plan to go long in the token (which generally means using a token exchange EtherDelta).

Here I have to note, you should almost never buy a token right after the ICO (as prices tend to be high for a moment), what you should do is wait a month or two (and inversely, generally it is worth dumping a token right after the ICO and buying again later).

I get that this isn’t the ideal thing to say, as I want this all not to be the case… but like, it has historically been the case, and this is a place to discuss facts, not wishes.

With that said, if your skill level isn’t at a place where you can use EtherDelta fluidly, and you don’t mind buying into an ICO and then holding until the token makes its way to a reputable exchange, then there isn’t much to worry about here.

Sure, you’ll miss a window of opportunity, but that window becomes pretty theoretical if you don’t have the ability to jump through it.

However, if you aren’t worried about navigating some token trades on a site like EtherDelta, and/or you are thinking about this all just in terms of dollar value, consider skipping the ICO phase and buying the same token on the open market (or entering during an ICO and then very quickly selling off your stack for a profit).

The problem with ICOs is that they pose risk upfront, and then generally see their token prices decline afterwords.

That one two punch makes even some really interesting ICOs lackluster in practice. Tokens that really should do well, and companies that really do offer something interesting, still can’t avoid the reality of the market (the reality being that early investors dump tokens and then price declines until that token can get picked up on a decent exchange or two).

Thus, it really doesn’t matter what the discount is, 9 times out of 10 the token will be cheaper later. Not only that, but 9 times out of 10 your Ether (or whatever you use to buy the token) will be worth more.

Thus, this one, two, three punch generally goes from lackluster to actually kind of frustrating.

Imagine buying into an ICO when Ether was $270, then getting tokens that are now worth $100 while Ether is now worth $370. The math is very far from being in your favor, you lost $100 of gains in Ether and you lost $170 in value in the token. That is going to require these tokens to really rally for you to get your money back.

All of this said, some tokens really do rally. There have been ICO tokens that have gone up 1,000%+. Thus, no one should be feeling bad about supporting an ICO they dig and sticking with it. However, in terms of a pure money making opportunity, like I said, 9 times out of 10 you want to buy the token on the open market after launch. Your Ether will likely buy more tokens, and the tokens will generally be cheaper.

The bottom line being: almost every time buying into an ICO offers less value than buying the token after it launches. I can’t think of any examples of this not being the case for those who can trade quickly enough.

Now let’s be clear, this could all change with the right ICO, and certainly if you bought Ether or Stratis in the ICO phase you have very little to complain about, but as a general rule… entering ICOs are hard IC-nos 9 times out of 10 (unless you plan to sell quickly or don’t mind holding through the initial dip and going long).

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"TIP: Consider Buying the Token After the ICO" contains information about the following Cryptocurrencies:

Ethereum (Ether)