Jayadevan PK about Storytelling in Startups [Accel Launchpad]
25th July 2019

// While writing a startup story, it’s important to be conscious about what the status quo is, and how you are changing that. It could be something as simple as “today problem A exists and it creates so much of pain to B type of people, and here’s how we are going to solve that problem”

// Content efforts in any company can be perceived as two types:
  1. Clinical - this includes the tactical content strategy you develop around blog, SEO and other channels. In this type, you are mostly moved by metrics to chase and there’s a good chance you’d be following a playbook or combining a few already used by other companies.
  1. Creative - this includes the effort that goes into growing your brand. This is generally hard to define and track. 
But it helps to keep in mind that both these are related. Eg. you CPC (cost per click) in an SEM campaign (clinical) would be high if your brand recall is weak (creative). Or more valuable the brand, lower the CAC (customer acquisition cost) could be.

// Look out for clutter breaking content. It could be a valuable but unpopular opinion you write or it could be a story that covers a topic but with a different tonality altogether. An evergreen example would be the dollar shave club story that stood out by being funny, challenging the incumbent, leveraging video for storytelling - basically everything that explainer stories were not doing at the time it was published.

// Other examples of clutter breaking content could be what Buffer did with its transparency first approach and Basecamp’s anti-VC “bootstrap your startup” stories. Some of these could be risky, but if you think it could help you stand out and if you are sure about the conviction you have in the principles you are talking about, it’s worth trying.

// To develop a good story, it helps to look deeply
  • within you as a founder and explore why you care about the problem
  • at the product and question why you think it would solve the problem or sell the promise to solve the problem very soon.

// Try to humanise your story. End of the day, it helps to realise that it’s a human being who’d be reading your story and end up being moved to take a decision based on that - be it your customer, an engineering candidate or an investor.

// In the early days, it would help to build your startup’s story around the founder’s persona. But as you grow big, it helps to depict the story as something that’s certainly larger that you.

// Two books JPK recommended about writing: 
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Stephen King)
  • The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase (Mark Forsyth)

~ Matthew
Founder, Typito