LakeDiamond's ICO: A diamond in the rough
Case Study

LakeDiamond's ICO: A diamond in the rough

17 pages
May 2020
Reference: IMD-7-2191

LakeDiamond is a company founded in 2015 in Yverdon, close to Geneva, in Switzerland. Its goal was to leverage an industrialized method of producing high-purity diamonds through a process called “micro-wave chemical vapor deposition” (CVD).

Such diamonds are much purer than diamonds obtained through mining, allowing for novel industrial uses for diamonds, such as in watchmaking or in developing military applications. An initial funding round allowed LakeDiamond to demonstrate its ability to grow such diamonds in an industrial reactor.

In 2017, LakeDiamond’s founder Pascal Gallo started seeking new funding to scale up the operation. At the same time, the hype around blockchains had started to drive a surge in startup funding through Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). As Gallo was reluctant to dilute his ownership and control over the venture, he decided to raise the money needed for LakeDiamond’s expansion through an ICO.

Despite significant press coverage regarding blockchains, ICOs remained at the time relatively niche investments. Therefore, to target a wider base of investors, Gallo partnered with Swissquote, a prominent Swiss online bank that was at the forefront in offering to layman investors access to crypto-currencies. The ICO did raise sufficient funds for new reactors to be purchases and production to start. However, LakeDiamond’s sales never really picked up afterwards and by early 2020 the company was filing for bankruptcy.

Framed from the perspective of a small investor assessing the opportunity of investing in LakeDiamond’s ICO, the case is based on publicly released information by the company, and especially on its ICO. Extensive interviews with ICO experts who assessed the LakeDiamond fundraising at the time were also conducted.

Learning Objective

This case showcases business issues such as:

  • Understanding what blockchains are.
  • Assessing the characteristics of an ICO.
  • Choosing between traditional VC funding and alternative funding routes. 
  • Balancing founders’ efforts between raising funds and ensuring product-market-fit
Settings
Europe, Switzerland
May 2015 until Feb 2020
Type
Published Sources
Copyright
© IMD 2020
Case clearing houses
IMD case studies are distributed through case clearing houses. In order to browse the collection and purchase copies please visit the links below.

The Case Centre, UK Office

Cranfield University

Wharley End Beds MK43 0JR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1234 750903
Fax +44 (0)1234 751125
Email [email protected]

Harvard Business School Publishing

60 Harvard Way, Boston MA 02163, USA
Tel (800) 545-7685 Tel (617)-783-7600
Fax (617) 783-7666
Email [email protected]

The Case Centre, US office

Babson College

Babson Park, Wellesley MA 02457, USA
Tel +1 781 239 5884
Fax +1 781 239 5885
Email [email protected]

Asia Pacific Case Center

NUCB Business School

1-3-1 Nishiki Naka
Nagoya Aichi, Japan 460-0003
Tel +81 52 20 38 111
Email [email protected]

Contact

Research Information & Knowledge Hub for additional information on IMD publications

Looking for something specific?
IMD's faculty and research teams publish articles, case studies, books and reports on a wide range of topics