Insights from 10X Startup Accelerator: Storytelling

As program coordinator in the most recent 10Xelerator class I had to opportunity to meet and work with many incredible founders and mentors. The first week of the 10-week program was highlighted in a previous post about lean product management. The second week of the program focused on the startup’s story and how that story changes across different audiences. Here are some key insights.

Define your core

You are thGolden Circlee founder; you created this business for a purpose, you know it creates value and solves a clear identifiable problem; people may understand what your product offers them but they are truly buying WHY you connect.

Simon Sinek discusses the concept of the “golden circle” in his book Start with Why in which he found that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. For example: TiVo. To date TiVo may have the most functional, fast, and effective solution to pause and rewind live TV, record shows, recommend new shows, and remember your viewing habits but why have we not heard from TiVo in years? Simply put, from their inception TiVo’s core story was to focus on WHAT their product did not WHY their product was for you.  Sinek discusses this further in his TED Talk.

A good core story builds a relationship with the audience, a great core story inspires. Your team should understand what your mission is and this story should create an emotional or personal response for you and your team, your customers, investors, and future employees.

Define the why.

Keep your story simple for your customers

It is your job to know your market and customers inside and out, a product that can do everything for everyone sells to no one. Make sure your customers are in a large niche market that isn’t saturated with competitors.

Know your audience and their pain points, understand the problem and provide a solution. Then communicate this solution in a quick and concise 1-3 sentence response.  How you speak and tell this story should reflect your customers needs and desires.

In their book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Health find that a clear message follows the S.U.C.C.E.S. Model.

Made to stick

TELL your customers, don’t sell them. Defining the right story to tell your customers takes practice and may always be changing depending on your audience. Always be testing out new messages based around your core story and find what message sticks.

Make it impactful for investors

Your team and startup are rock stars, show investors why they need to hop on board.

The goal of the investor story is to show that you have done everything to minimize their risk for an investment.

Reid Hoffman recently released his LinkedIn pitch deck to Greylock Partners with some invaluable insights and commentary.

Again, knowing your audience is pivotal to your success. Here are some key questions to help carve out your investor story:

– What market does this firm do deals in?

– What partners will be in the room? What is their background? (make it personal)

– What metrics do they like to focus on? (traffic, time on site, users, etc)

– What is your main revenue stream?

– What are the risks? How do you minimize them? (show, don’t tell)

– How are you different than your competitors?

– Is there a focus on financial strategy?



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