When your business is new most people don’t know who you are or what you do. Telling the story of your company — no matter if you’re the founder, CEO or an employee — is always an exciting opportunity. Building your story, putting it all together in a way that makes sense for your audience, and nailing the delivery is hard work.
Last week, I attended Vator Splash Oakland and watched eight early-stage startup entrepreneurs — Wonderspark, BrightHub, Thesis Couture, ShowKit, Countable, ShareRoot, CrowdStreet, and Cloudstead — take five minutes each to pitch their stories to a panel of Bay Area venture capitalists. Some people had clearly done it before. For others, it might have been their first time. The better presenters told their story in a way that helped the investor panel see the complete picture of the business and assess its potential.
Presenting a company story is difficult, especially when you only have five minutes. Here are three things I’ll think about the next time I deliver a pitch based on my observations from the event:
- Position the Need and Why You’re Solving It — Up Front: Once you’ve delivered your introduction, start the journey for your audience by helping them understand the need your company is solving for. If you’ve got a positioning statement or a company message — use it. The better presenters in the group did this and it was clear from the Q&A that the investors understood the whole picture. Knowing what the company does upfront gave the panel the right context to make sense of the other elements of the presentation — the offering, market opportunity, and business plan. Conversely, one presenter didn’t use this tactic leaving the investor panel confused. He started his presentation with a long overview of his industry and didn’t quickly isolate the problem he was trying to solve. During his Q&A session, the first question was “What do you do?”
- Provide an Authentic Perspective About the Customer Pain/Problem: Make your story simple, be authentic and include personal anecdotes from conversations with customers. One of the better presenters did this — she spoke with understanding about a problem facing consumers and provided personal anecdotes. Not only did this add to the legitimacy of her ability to solve the problem, it added another dimension to the story. Another presenter with a solution that services a crowded marketplace didn’t explain what his business was doing differently to solve the customer problem. The business has paying customers and the presenter didn’t explain why customers select them over the competition. The Q&A verified this much for the investors didn’t see how the businesses was different — how it was solving for a new unmet need.
- Highlight Your Relevant Experience: Tell your audience about why your experience, and that of your leadership team, will help drive the business and achieve its goals. Two of the standout competitors did this. They delivered quick hits about their relevant experience and accomplishments leading up to their current role in the business. Doing so, helped the investors create a bridge between what the business does and why the leadership team will be successful.
Building and presenting your company story is a continuous journey. Get out there, tell it a bunch of times and collect feedback. The eight presenters at Vator Splash Oakland provided great insights which can be leveraged by businesses small and large in telling their story.
Ignyte Marketing Group offers strategy consulting and marketing execution services. Ignyte services help technology companies target, acquire, retain and grow their customers. For more information on Ignyte, visit http://ignytemg.com.