The Startup
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The Startup

Finding Your Story Will Make You Grow

Stories can attract investors, customers, and engagement

Photo by Daniel Hjalmarsson on Unsplash

Whether you are a creative or a tech startup, customers and investors don’t only want to know your product, they want to know your story.

In recent years, I have been doing a lot of consulting for startup companies. When I am hired, often the first order of business is for me to create/revamp the investor presentation.

For companies that need funding, the investor presentation is a critical first step. It should intrigue investors. It should make them want to dig deeper, to want to learn more, and ultimately, invest in the growth of the company.

My industry is biotech. That means founders fill their investor presentations with towering piles of science. The founders fill the room with scientific datas and theories. Its all very impressive, and its all very technical.

I have been working in and around academic scientists for 23 years. Yet often, I have no idea what these presentations are talking about. I can’t even imagine what investors might think.

So, we take a step back. We get out of the weeds. If we can weave some of that science into a story, investors will understand why its important. Why it makes a company unique. How this particular company is going to save lives, find a cure for someone’s suffering. And why the company is an intriguing investment.

When investors, customers, or readers understand your story, you resonate with them. They “get” who you are, and why you do what you do. And they understand the potential you hold in the future.

If you can tell a compelling story, they will invest, or buy your product. You will grow.

There are a few key elements to telling your story.

Now, I’m not a marketing specialist. This comes from the years of sitting in meetings with new companies, or being the new company. These questions are the common themes I have seen over many years. Questions that I have asked others. The things we always want to know:

  1. What is the current market — who else is out there?
  2. What is the unique value or angle that you have in the market?
  3. What information do you have to support the value of your unique perspective? Or, if you are an individual or creative — what have you done in the past that relates to your unique value?

The information/evidence that is usually given in my sector is heavily scientific. I’ll give a more general example. Here is a short story that addresses all the question above. Its about a macrame plant hanger. The product itself needs to appeal to the customer or investor, but here is a story that can go with it.

We are an Etsy shop that sells macrame plant hangers. There are over 11K macrame plant hangers on Etsy. Ours is the only one that sells rainbow ones that can hold 2 plants. I learned how to macrame plant hangers with my grandma. We’d sit for long hours in the little greenhouse off of her kitchen, surrounded by her many plants. She taught me how to make so many different knots and tassels. I put the love of my grandma into every plant hanger.

We all have a story to tell.

While I have been helping companies tell their stories for years now, I believe we all have a story to tell. The advantage of starting my writing journey at 45 years old is that I have so many stories to tell. My experiences in business are just one of them. But perhaps my stories of how to create, grow, and run businesses will resonate if you know more about my story. So here it is:

I’ve learned so much in my career and I would be honored if my experiences could be valuable to other people. I have worked at the senior levels of Wall Street, Corporate America, and the world of startups. I have analyzed or operated hundreds of businesses of all sizes. I would like to distill the most valuable business tools that I have learned. To provide simple explanations and structured thinking. I want others to be able to apply the tools to their own businesses and lives.

What is your story?

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Deb Knobelman, PhD

Deb Knobelman, PhD

Neuroscience. Wall Street. C-Suite. Parent. Recovering Nervous Nelly.