Storytelling is a technique that can be used to great effect. When done well, it connects the listener to your ideas, pulls the listener into your world, and, hopefully, persuades the listener to see what you see. For startup founders, storytelling can be a powerful tool when pitching to potential investors.
When pitching, you can consider how to effectively tell two stories. First, you have the story of you and your company—where your idea came from and how it has developed to where it’s at and where you want to take it in the future. Second, you have the story of your consumer or end user, the person who will purchase and benefit from your product. Telling these stories in your pitch will give a well-rounded picture to the data and facts that pitch decks should contain.
Connect Potential Investors to You
Your story is the story of why you founded the company and your passion for what you do. Articulating this well and showing potential investors where the idea came from and how you’ve developed it can help them understand, and ideally believe in, you and your startup.
Although financials, market fit, and other business elements are essential to a good pitch, telling your story helps connect your listeners by adding the human element to your startup. Your story will help potential investors share your vision for the company.
You can describe why you started the company as you begin your story. Where were you when the idea struck? What problem did you face that you needed a solution for? What are the ideas that keep you up at night? What are the driving principles that keep you and your company on track with your vision for it?
Storytelling connects the dots for your listeners, gives humanity to data, and shows them the underlying why.
Connect Potential Investors to the Solution
Your product or service, no matter how amazing, is only going to attract investor support if it actually solves a problem for a sizable market. Telling your consumer’s story goes beyond the hard data of how many people experience a certain pain point to help your listeners understand the problem. Even when numbers add up, if the potential investors don’t “buy in” to the idea behind it, they likely won’t be compelled to invest.
Paint a picture with words to describe both the problem potential consumers experience and how your product provides the solution. You can tell the story of an average day in the life of a customer or share the pain points potential customers face that your product would solve. After you’ve shared the consumer story in your pitch, your listeners should be able to clearly identify who your target customer is, what problem(s) they experience, and how your startup solves it.
Shape Your Stories for Your Startup Pitch
Storytelling is powerful because it includes both descriptions and facts and an emotional connection. You’re either asking the listener to put themselves into a scenario, or you’re offering them a situation that they can hopefully empathize with. You can draw your audience into your pitch by opening with an anecdote or description. Common advice for writers is to remember to “show, don’t tell.” When you begin your pitch, you can use this idea to engage with your audience.
If you’re not sure how to get started with telling your startup and consumer stories, try one of the techniques below for setting up your story to connect with your listener.
Visualization or immersion involves you setting up a story by saying something to the effect of “imagine yourself in…” and then filling in details. This opening puts the listeners in the position of picturing themselves in the situation that has the pain point your product solves.
For example, “Imagine you’re traveling. Your suitcase was delayed, and you won’t have it until after your scheduled meeting.” Set the scene by helping your listening identify with the problem your startup is a solution for. This helps them connect on a personal level with your pitch.
Another technique for storytelling is to build empathy. Your story opening could be crafted to put your listeners in a potential customer’s shoes, so to speak. Describe an individual using both demographic and emotional descriptions, then add in the pain point that your product or service solves. This approach is similar to developing a persona for user testing or marketing.
For example, “Cynthia is a suburban mom with three children and is stressed about managing her work schedule and her children’s school schedules.” This describes a demographic (suburban mom), a problem (managing schedules), and adds an emotional descriptor (stressed). You gave your listener a specific person to think about, presented a problem, and then helped them empathize by adding an emotional component.
A third technique is to build a sense of commonality. This type of story pulls in data that shows a large volume of people all share a similar situation or problem.
For example, “125 million American report that they don’t use mouthwash daily, with 80% reporting it’s because they don’t like the taste…”. Not only does this type of story opening demonstrate the number of people with the problem (hinting at your potential market size), but your potential investors might even be in this broad group.
Storytelling is importance because it helps connect you and your startup with your potential investors. If you focus on a solid pitch deck and a well-told story, you’ll have a good start for your next pitch.
Do you think you have a great story? If you’re looking to raise capital, learn how to apply to raise funds on MicroVentures.
The information presented here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed or used as, comprehensive offering documentation for any security, investment, tax or legal advice, a recommendation, or an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, an interest, directly or indirectly, in any company. Investing in both early-stage and later-stage companies carries a high degree of risk. A loss of an investor’s entire investment is possible, and no profit may be realized. Investors should be aware that these types of investments are illiquid and should anticipate holding until an exit occurs.