(BTW, don’t you love the price predictions on Bitcoin that pundits come up with from time to time? Talk about a wide price and time spread. And they are always disclaimed with something like “these predictions should be taken with a grain of salt” and “do your own research” and “this is no way constitutes investment advice”. Imagine if there was a “sell side analyst” job in crypto. Talk about a great gig…)
The natural inclination for crypto investors is to identify a new altcoin with the potential for growth, invest heavily when it's still inexpensive to do so, and then reap the rewards when the value increases. That being said, the altcoin market is growing so quickly that many new digital currencies hitting the market might not be good long-term investments.
ICOs, as you may have guessed, are much like IPOs. This is where coins are offered for the first time to the public. ICOs are not offered through exchanges, but rather you buy them directly from the creators of the project. Usually (it’s different for each project) you will send them Bitcoin or Ethereum that they will use to fund their project; in turn you receive a certain amount of their new coin.
Always pay attention to Bitcoin. Most altcoins (every cryptocurrency except Bitcoin) are pegged more closely to Bitcoin than Asian currencies were to the USD during the Asian Financial Crisis. If Bitcoin price pump drastically, altcoins price can go down as people try to exit altcoins to ride the BTC profits; inversely, if Bitcoin prices dump drastically, altcoin prices can go down, too, as people exit altcoins to exchange back into fiat. The best times for altcoin growth appear when Bitcoin shows organic growth or decline, or remains stagnant in price.