I apologize in advance if this post does not meet all the requirements or if the question is not relevant to this discussion section.
I've been reading up on Ethereum and how it can benefit the startup community, apart from all other great use cases, by providing a platform for funding with an ICO. That being said, I have still not been able to confirm whether a smart contract is needed for an ICO or if an extensive whitepaper could also support the ICO by itself?
Smart contracts are quite expensive to make and take a long time to develop. Most startups, already with limited funding, cannot afford to pay upwards of $100-200k to create a smart contract for the ICO and then hope that the funding from the ICO will be able to cover the cost of hiring a company or an individual to produce the smart contract before starting an ICO.
Are smart contracts required for one to create an ICO for the means of crowdfunding an investment round for a startup ? My guess is that the idea/project behind the ICO will not make much of a difference on whether a smart contract is required to accommodate the sale. I am just not sure at what point is the smart contract required?