Initial DEX offering (IDO): A Beginners Guide


The growth of the cryptocurrency sector has given rise to innovative fundraising methods, such as the Initial DEX Offering (IDO). However, early birds know that the initial coin offering (ICO) was the inaugural fundraising method, leaving a mixed legacy behind. While ICOs swiftly enriched many early investors, they also sparked controversy due to their unregulated nature and lack of investor safeguards.

What is an ICO?

ICO, or Initial coin offering, is a fundraising method used by new cryptocurrency projects to raise capital for their development. During an ICO, the project issues a new cryptocurrency token and sells a portion of it to early investors, usually in exchange for well-established cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, or sometimes fiat currency. 

The primary issues with ICOs revolved around the absence of control measures and investor protections, as project teams were not subjected to due diligence. This lack of oversight allowed numerous ICO projects to make lofty promises of substantial returns, leading to some being considered quick money-making schemes or fraudulent endeavors. Consequently, ICOs cast a shadow on the crypto industry, dissuading potential investors.

Decentralized finance (DeFi) emerges as a solution to these challenges, introducing alternative fundraising models. One noteworthy model is the Decentralized Exchange (DEX), offering crypto investors access to a more equitable crowdfunding approach. Before going into the IDO's specifics, we briefly overview DeFi and DEX.

What is an initial DEX offering?

An initial DEX offering (IDO) is a fundraising method aggregating investment capital from individual investors. The IDO was developed to address the shortcomings of the traditional ICO crypto crowdfunding model by utilizing a decentralized exchange (DEX) instead of a centralized one, turning DEXs into decentralized liquidity exchanges.

IDO represents the latest fundraising model for cryptocurrency projects seeking investment. However, it has its drawbacks. Unlike ICOs and IEOs, which can often secure over $1 billion, DEXs struggle to achieve such high levels of scalability.

The complexity of DeFi platforms poses a challenge for potential investors with limited knowledge of cryptocurrency operations, acting as a barrier to entry for the average crypto trader. Effectively overcoming this challenge requires investing in DeFi education.

With the correct information, investor confidence remains unshaken. The key challenge lies in the ability of DEXs to secure funding for these educational initiatives.

How do crypto IDOs work?

An IDO's effectiveness depends on the immediate token liquidity provided by DEXs. Consequently, DEXs often incentivize liquidity pool providers with attractive rewards, ensuring smooth user operations.

Projects typically contribute liquidity to the DEX by allocating a portion of their funds to facilitate trading. Many projects also employ a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, initially designed for network security. 

In this context, PoS discourages premature selling by requiring investors to hold their capital in the supported token within their wallets, earning rewards for their stake in the network.

Upon project launch, investors gain prompt access to trading the project token. Early investors can capitalize on selling tokens at a higher price during the IDO. At the same time, those entering the market early can secure a substantial quantity of tokens at a discounted rate.

The token value rises as the public sale commences, initiating an upward price movement after the first sale. The exchange's liquidity leads to negligible gas fees for executing new smart contracts, as abundant liquidity is available for trading pairs. Smart contracts play a crucial role in managing asset tokens and liquidity pools. Unlike traditional fundraising models, IDOs enable instant token minting.

Furthermore, any sound project can qualify for fundraising without undergoing a rigorous approval process, offering retail investors increased access. This also avoids the high costs associated with Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs). However, the lack of due diligence has led to the launch of subpar projects, including scams where project owners abscond with investor funds.

Unlike traditional models, investors do not face prolonged waiting periods for listing their desired tokens on an exchange. Typically, listings occur immediately after the completion of the IDO, enabling investors to capitalize on their investments more swiftly than in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

Despite their positive aspects, DEXs are not without drawbacks. While their trustless nature enhances reliability by eliminating the need for human intermediaries, they remain exposed to technical exploits. Instances of hackers absconding with investor funds through potential exploits have been reported, emphasizing the need for ongoing vigilance in the decentralized exchange space.

Differences between an IDO and an ICO

At this point, you should get a hint of the components of an IDO and the reasons why it's better than an ICO. Let's compare ICOs and IDOs in greater detail.

In contrast to IPOs and IEOs, IDOs and ICOs do not require token issuers to pay fees to intermediaries. However, projects opting for the IDO or ICO fundraising approach have complete control over their marketing.

Experienced teams often enlist developers to craft the smart contract responsible for token sales. Additionally, teams may be required to conduct audits and ensure full compliance to preempt legal or regulatory complications in the future.

How IDOs solve the problems of ICOs

Let's explore the primary shortcomings of ICOs and why IDOs offer a more favorable alternative. Firstly, ICOs exhibit high centralization and are susceptible to rug-pulling, where the team absconds with investor funds. Furthermore, ICOs lack sufficient investor protection.

ICO tokens are typically generated post-sale, with token minting occurring on the company's website. This method incurs substantial costs, as the token issuer must secure listings on one or more prominent centralized exchanges.

Compared to ICOs, one significant advantage offered by IDOs is the absence of a pre-mine allocation. This can enhance investor confidence, particularly for those who rely on fundamental analysis when selecting projects. A substantial pre-mine allocation can raise investor concerns regarding the token's emission rate over the long term.

IDOs could also be more equitable in providing token access to investors, as IDO tokens are immediately tradable. Unlike ICOs, where lockup periods are common, such restrictions are nonexistent with IDOs.

ICOs often extend preferential terms to insiders and early investors that are inaccessible to retail investors. This preferential treatment is precluded in IDOs due to the limitations of smart contracts

Unlike ICOs, which involve an initial waiting period for liquidity and trading, IDOs provide immediate access. Another advantage of IDOs is that the issued token is promptly listed on the decentralized exchange (DEX) where the IDO occurred.


When seeking funds for a project through an ICO, the initial step involves covering exchange fees and awaiting approval before the token gets listed. In contrast, IDOs eliminate the need for hefty fees and centralized approval processes, providing a fully decentralized alternative.

This means project teams no longer face delays waiting for exchange approval; instead, key community members often take the lead, reviewing projects and tokens beforehand. This decentralized approach expands the project's reach without relying on traditional advertising channels, leveraging platforms like Twitter, Discord, and Telegram for community support.

Few drawbacks of IDOs

Despite its advantages, IDOs have some drawbacks, such as using bots to manipulate prices, enabling a favored few to gain substantial profits at the expense of other investors. Additionally, hackers may exploit smart contract vulnerabilities, disappearing with investor funds undetected.

It's important to note that IDOs typically generate less capital than ICOs. While ICO projects may reach valuations exceeding $1 billion, such levels are rare in the realm of IDOs.

The DeFi sector has experienced rapid growth, but even well-known DEXs like Uniswap and PancakeSwap struggle to match the liquidity of centralized counterparts like Binance. Moreover, DEXs come with a steep learning curve, which can discourage potential investors, particularly those new to the crypto space.

Final thoughts

IDOs were introduced to address challenges posed by ICOs, offering teams a way to involve investors more directly in their projects. The lower entry barriers provided by IDOs are advantageous, enabling deserving projects that may struggle with other fundraising methods to access capital.

The assumed fairness of IDOs positions them as a "great equalizer," allowing small teams with innovative ideas to launch projects and gain exposure.