There are several details about the Nucleus Vision ICO that are designed to grab your attention. For one thing, it’s backed by Tim Draper. For another, it has an impressive list of advisors. It’s live in India and was founded at Harvard Business School. Moreover, it already sold out during the pre-sale (there won’t be any public sale now). Your first reaction might be “Wow, looks solid” But hang on, let’s look under the hood. 

  1. Why isn’t the founding team more seasoned?

With a pitch like this, you’d expect to find a world-class team. But take a closer look at the CTO and the blockchain specialist’s LinkedIn profiles, and you’ll realize they both lack the sort of experience you’d look for in a project like this.

The CTO has a couple of consulting gigs at blue chips in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) space but no hardcore engineering experience in places like Google, for example. Nor has he been involved in scaling Big Data startup platforms. He’s got 14 years of experience in tech, so the fact that he’s never scaled a startup is telling.

The blockchain specialist has no relation to the crypto space: he’s never worked for a crypto or a blockchain venture. He ran a development agency that knocked out mobile apps.

  1. Why hasn’t it released its white paper?

It seems really strange for Nucleus Vision to have no white paper out in the open considering that it has been in R&D since 2014, built a live product, found partners in India, launched, secured great high-profile investors, and put together an appealing ICO website.

Is Nucleus Vision reticent to publish the white paper because it is struggling with just how much to share in light of a pending sensor patent?

  1. Why no mention of how much the sensors cost and who pays for them?

The white paper states that the retailer installs the sensors. Fine, but who pays for them and how much do they cost? This is a critical piece of commercial positioning for Nucleus Vision. Why? Because today you can pick up iBeacons for anything from $5 to $120 depending on the solution you need. Yes, your customers need to pre-install an app for you to pull the sort of data Nucleus Vision claims to offer. But if you use an Apple iBeacon, for example, it’s built to work with any iOS app right out of the box. This means hundreds of millions of Apple phones are pre-setup for this type of service offering in-store.

So, if Nucleus Vision’s sensor costs retailers $500 apiece, you can see why price is such a sensitive issue when it comes to scaling the idea.

  1. What happens if the customer fails to respond to push notifications in-store?

Nucleus Vision states in its white paper that in the case of customers with no previous shopping history, the retailer can request data from Nucleus Vision’s extended partner ecosystem. If the network partners accept, they send a push notification to the customer so the latter can opt-in to share his or her data.

OK, now imagine this: you're walking around a store, and your phone is buried at the bottom of your bag. Do you see or hear the notification requesting that you allow this store to get your data? If you’re window-shopping, you’re probably in and out of there before you’ve even had time to see the message.

This customer opt-in for every new retailer is the weak link in Nucleus Visions’ proposition. It won’t allow retailers to make real-time decisions, as the company claims, because there is a high chance the customer won’t see the message in time.

Where are the stats on this? Nucleus Vision has been live long enough to have gathered sufficient data on the conversion rate for phones they pushed opt-ins to versus the phones that didn’t respond. If we aren’t getting this data in their ICO, then we have cause for concern.

  1. How is it going to deliver a full ecosystem when partners won't share?

Nucleus Vision states that all the partners across its network can use a set of pre-defined rules to decide in advance who they share their customer data with. The phrase ‘’friendly, non-competing entities’’ is used in the document.

Bricks-and-mortar retailers these days have a broadly diversified product range online. Digital operations have enabled them to widen their customer segments, so it might be a tough call finding non-competing entities they can comfortably share data with. Supermarkets, for example, sell everything - fashion, technology, entertainment, household goods, DIY, and food. In a sense, every entity is their competitor.

This non-competing entities restriction could seriously limit the available data on a customer. Is a fashion retailer going to be happy getting secondhand data on a customer’s coffee-drinking or cinema-going habits? Just how valuable will such information be when the question is whether to discount a coat the customer is thinking to buy?

With this restriction in mind, I’m surprised that Nucleus Vision makes no mention of scraping a customer’s social media data or online browsing data. That could at least plug some gaps.

Nucleus Vision recently announced that there will be no public sale, since they met their hard cap during the pre-sale. Instead, they will be doing an airdrop for those interested in acquiring some tokens. That being said, I still feel the project, despite an overwhelming pre-sale response, should answer these questions.