What Types of Projects Applied for Token Launches?

A retrospective analysis of IDO applications submitted on Polkastarter between March and August 2023.


Author: Justin Rogers
Research Analyst @Polkastarter

Bear markets typically bring limited liquidity and more risk-averse investor sentiment, making it difficult for projects to successfully launch tokens. That being said, with fewer private investments in the crypto space, projects more than ever need to look towards public markets to bootstrap additional funding. This dynamic fuels the discussion: Do certain projects even need their own native tokens in the first place?

Understanding the market

However, before asking why a project might need a token - it is useful to understand builder-side market sentiment by observing which types of projects have been recently looking to launch their tokens. Particularly, if there are any industry-specific trends that could relate specific verticals with the proclivity to launch tokens.

Polkastarter continuously receives many applications for IDOs - a popular way for projects to distribute tokens to the public. Although there haven’t been any IDOs on the platform for around a year (a decision made by the team to align the best interests of investors and projects), going through applications can still provide useful information on the general builder populous, not just those that are necessarily well-backed by funds and VCs.

By first filtering out dud applications, we have assessed and labeled hundreds of submissions dating back to early March 2023. The results are as follows:

The most popular categories tend to be DeFi, Gaming, Infrastructure (includes tooling, UX/DX platforms, etc.), and Social platforms. These tend to align pretty well with the broader scope of project types being built, and it’s hard to conclude from this if there are any sectors that asymmetrically launch more tokens than others.

A couple of notable observations:

  • Growth in AI-related projects. Likely expected due to the surge of AI in traditional markets this year, a growing number of teams decided to build Web3 projects around it.
  • Few NFT projects. This is likely due to the nature of IDOs targeting fungible tokens rather than non-fungible ones. We do welcome NFT sales on Polkastarter however!
  • Little-to-no L2s or roll-up technologies. Though fields like zk-proofs have been rapidly gaining popularity, due to greater infrastructure and R&D overheads, these projects may seek more private investment, making them less likely to directly apply for a Polkastarter IDO.

Getting a broader picture

In order to explore some of these ideas further, we can compare the applications to actual token launches, measured by what is listed on icodrops.com.

Within the same period (March-August 2023), ICO drops list 99 token launches which can be broken down into the following:

Similar to token launch applications, Gaming, DeFi, and Infrastructure seem to be the dominant categories. Interestingly, the presence of Web 3 social tends to make up a lower share of launched tokens, and AI has a much higher share. They also reinforce the narratives above, on the point of Layer 2s, though there was only 1 listed Layer 2 protocol on ICO drops, it was referring to the Arbitrum launch, which in itself represented an extremely high profile and high capitalized project example.


With a better understanding of the landscape of projects looking to launch and launching tokens, investors can be better informed about the relevant trends and where builders are utilizing their resources. They may also be more inclined to question why categories such as DeFi, Infrastructure, and Gaming tend to be a hotbed for fungible token launches and may be more selective about the projects they consider.

Looking for the tools to follow on-chain metrics and get an edge in the crypto market? Check our past article here.

About Polkastarter
Polkastarter is the leading early-stage fundraising platform enabling Web3’s most innovative projects to kick-start their journey and grow their communities. Polkastarter allows its users to make research-based decisions to participate in high-potential Public sales.

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