Use Startup Stories to Open Check Books – No Story, No Money

If you cannot articulate your startup stories then no will give you money or accept to work with you; no story – no money. Each pitch, whether it targets a sales prospect or an angel investor, is a story. Only the best story with a compelling narrative is capable of connecting with listeners. Often startup stories succeed when one connects a small action or idea to something bigger (a movement, a purpose or emotion). This is the best way you can get people to follow your journey be it a customer who is following you via your product or employees agreeing to work with you for more hours. It is your job to keep both of them connected to the dreams you have as well as what you are building even during the hard times.

Focusing on creating a great product is vital since without your product the startup doesn’t have a purpose for its existence. But sparing time to craft your business’s communication strategy is also significant. You need to design a story that will help you market the business and gain traction. Are you eager to develop a startup story that will be compelling but you are not sure if you can do it? Here are some helpful tips.

Startup Stories Finding Your Hook

All compelling startup stories have a hook. Simply telling people that you quit your job to launch a company doesn’t count nor will it work. You need to examine your founding story and get to know the most exciting and unique elements. As you try to find your hook be sure to ask yourself the following questions;

  • Are there some unacceptable things that you are doing?
  • Why is this untraditional or weird?
  • If you are trying to impress someone, what would you tell them about your startup?

Developing a Reason For Existence

Yes, you require a reason for your business to exist. Even though it’s obvious that the ultimate goal is to make money, this is not a great story to sell to investors. The reason needs to be relatable and catchy. It should be able to make people say that they know what you are getting at or that they have been in similar situations and your products would have come in handy if it existed by then. There needs to be a compelling need for the service or product.

One ideal way to know your reason for existence is to compare customer or user feedback with the original decision for starting up the company. The feedback needs to validate your choice. For instance, imagine you started a company that assists people to send funds to other people in different countries because you had a difficult time trying to pay some of your international friends.

Thinking of a Narrative

Now that you have a relatable explanation of the reason you exist and what you are offering you need to build all that into an exciting narrative. Below is a basic structure you can use for your story:

  • Exposition – Set the scene and describe your main characters
  • Rising action – Design your first events to catalyze your story’s plot
  • Climax – The conflict or struggle
  • Falling action – The action is taken to lead to the resolution

Always remember to incorporate a solution into your story. Often, this will be shown at the rising action since that’s where you explain how you created your product, the reason it gained traction as well as how people used it. Another alternative would be mentioning the solution during the climax. Perhaps the startup wasn’t doing very well then you pivoted, came up with a new solution and then you found success. Remember that your narrative should end on a very high point.

A climax that states that you are losing clients each day or your competitors are sabotaging you or you are having problems retaining your employees won’t give the listeners the desire to purchase your product. Startup stories need to have a climax that gives positive media attention and invest in the company. Ensure that your story is an exciting one.

Getting Professionals on Board

Once you have finalized your story, you need to refine it. Getting feedback from professionals in different segments you interact with its key: users, the press, angel investors, potential workers, other founders and so on. When you poll representatives from each category, you will be able to discover the story version that resonates with your audience.

There are entrepreneurs with a wide network of people they can rely on for a project like this. If this is you, then you are lucky. But if not you need to reach out for assistance, and one place you can find such help is by using social media accounts. You can ask people via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn if they know investors, journalist or business professionals that you can contact.

When talking to these professionals be sure to state your intentions that you have created a story for your startup and you want some feedback. Then to tell them your narrative and allow them to give you feedback. If you don’t get anything constructive use these specific questions:

  • Are there some parts of the story you related to?
  • Was the narrative too short or too long?
  • Which part of the story was more intriguing or least intriguing?
  • Were there any points that felt less believable compared to others?
  • Did anything need more details or explanation?

Involve your Team

It’s important for everyone in the company to tell the same startup story. Because of this, the story versions should be the same with details included or omitted depending on the audience in question. While recruiting a candidate, they should hear a version of the story. As you bring your employees on board the startup story, need to be a fundamental part of integrating them into the work ethic and culture of the company. To keep your entire team on one page, ensure that your story is a prominent part internal messaging and it should be in your values, announcement, meetings and so on. This shared narrative will unify your team and assist you to scale your culture.

You Need a Long Version and a Short Version

From my experience you need to have at least 3 versions of your story. Not 3 alternative versions, rather 3 different lengths of your story; 30 seconds, 2 minutes and 5 minutes. Having each one of these prepared beforehand allows you to pullout the version that is best suited in your situation. You’ll know which version to use based on how much time you have with your attended audience. When design these 3 different lengths, time yourself. If you’re going to ask someone for 2 minutes, don’t babble for 5 minutes.


These elements of startup stories are critical. Ensure you follow these steps, and you might end up telling a success story that will be emulated by many; get your story right and avoid the startup valley of death. Getting someone to open their check is easier when they like you and your start story.