Storytelling for Startups
You are waiting for a cab, you call the dispatch and are reassured the cab will be there soon. You call again after 10 minutes and hear the driver is on their way. It’s late, you are now late and no cab arrives – wouldn’t it be great to have an app that let you use unused empty cabs or cars instead? This or a similar version was the inspiration around the Uber story. Their tagline: ‘we ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion’. Here is more of their ‘story’:
Good things happen when people can move, whether across town or toward their dreams. Opportunities appear, open up, become reality. What started as a way to tap a button to get a ride has led to billions of moments of human connection as people around the world go all kinds of places in all kinds of ways with the help of our technology.
A transportation story about human connection with no data (at least in this short paragraph)? This is storytelling - a way of expressing the company’s services in a way that will capture the attention of an audience. Beyond data, this short description serves to get our attention, creation connection by appealing to something we care about (in this case getting somewhere….). Storytelling forms an important part of marketing and communications – stories are a way of getting customer or audience attention and connection leading to persuasion and action.
Storytelling is important for all startups but all the more important for early stage startups, where a compelling story of a goal and vision helps counterbalance a lack of data available. And maintaining this evolving story as you grow is equally important, to be used in pitches, presentations, web content and communications strategies.
And storytelling is also, importantly, a way for startups to differentiate themselves. Stories are about connection, they are an accompaniment to data, locking in and securing the attention of the audience. Stories are the glue that will get you remembered – consider the last pitch session you attended….did you remember the names of the investors or did you more likely remember ‘ah the team with the new AI health app’ or the ‘wine thing’.
How to get started on your stories? Start with documenting two types of core stories – the origin and future vision story.
This is like your superhero origin story. The startup founder shares the story of their inspiration, recounting the thing that got them started, was the source of passion, what got you launched, who inspired you or what challenges you overcame. What got you started? What moved you as founders to create this company?
This story is about passion, inspiration and vision. Its purpose is to capture attention, get your audience engaged and to have them remember you.
Future Vision Story
Here your story is about the vision your investors and collaborators can really care about – something big, where maybe you are changing the space or industry. How will your vision make a change for the industry, for people’s well-being?
Origin and Vision stories – both are core stories that can be used in pitches, presentations – they can be content for marketing as well as spoken. Write them in plain language so they can be shared you’re your team – investing some time as a team on these stories is important as they form an important part of your script or talking points.
Every member of team should be able to speak to these two stories – in an elevator pitch, in a formal pitch presentation, in 2 minutes while meeting a new collaborator or investor. No time for stories? Sorry no – these are key parts of your communications strategy and deserve attention. Think of them as your communications muscle – building your storytelling abilities will serve you well in pitches, presentations and marketing efforts onward.