When Selling Fire Extinguishers, Open with Fire

When Selling Fire Extinguishers, Open with Fire

I pass this phrase on a regular basis during my bi-monthly collabration sessions with our enterprise innovation parters at Ogilvy & Mather in NYC. It is painted on a wall at their headquarters and is attributed to the great ad man David Ogilvy. From the lens of storytelling, it means, articulate your problem loudly and urgently — make your audience feel the pain — then provide them a solution to address that problem.

This structure is the basis for a good pitch — and over the past 12 weeks I have seen this statement made real as I have watched a great group of founders reflect, question and confront assumptions about their businesses through active deliberation. They have been learning, and doing and learning and doing in an iterative cycle of improvement. I’m struck at the progress they have made in their businesses. They have re-defined their purpose, narrative and approach — what once were small embers are now roaring flames.

I’m in awe of these founders as well as my colleagues on the humble impact side who are the driving force in realizing this: Ray, Mary and Harry make this happen and create this change through continuous in-person and digital mentorship. The learning for our founders is experiential and they bring brains, hands and hearts to help these founders scale against their jobs-to-be-done. As all fire-makers know, the flames need to be stoked continuously to keep the heat. They don’t duplicate, replicate or replace the abundance of existing resources — they instead apply a lean startup methodology, a partnership mentality across stakeholders and reach into the ecosystem to bring the best experts to address founder needs. This is the same model that drives successful innovation on the enterprise side.

Tomorrow in conjunction with the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, we’ll be hosting this Spring’s ‘Partnership on the Potomac’ where we will showcase the 13 startups we’ve been diligently working with during the Spring BOOST program.

We’re not officially live streaming this time and instead optimizing for in-person fellowship. You can follow along at home via Twitter, Medium and stay up-to-date via email (start at humble dot vc).

Here’s what our Fall 2016 Partnership on the Potomac looked like: