there is more to a startup than a pitch

14/6/2016

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‍There is still a lot of story left to tell - Walt Disney

The story of every startup is unique. How did the co-founders come together? How did the ‘idea’ get formed? When did they ‘launch’?

Who is their customer?

How much ARR are they making?

Why should I use them over xyz?

When are they ‘going global’?

We’ve just had the R9 accelerator teams and the Auckland Lightning Lab teams pitch at their demo days. This coming week Lightning Lab XX teams will pitch.

People listening to pitches are privileged to the story of the startup. They get a short snippet into the passion and dedication involved with building a successful business. However, pitches always, ALWAYS leave questions unanswered. I don’t think I’ve ever walked away from a single without having some major questions

Stories of startups aren’t written in a weekend, 3 months or even a year. One of NZ’s more famous startup stories, GreenButton, was founded in 2006 (under a different name) and it wasn’t until 2014 that the story ended with acquisition from Microsoft. Stories aren’t just started and ended with the first pitch you hear from the startup.

Stories.

Every startup has the potential to be a great story. The saddest thing I see is when startups end the book unsatisfactorily, and from what I’ve seen that generally means they close off the story abruptly, without any purpose or proper ending, it just stops. Like the author just got bored, lazy or decided that story wasn’t for them anymore. This happens all the time. Because writing a good ending is damn hard.

We will see the stories end unsatisfactorily for many of the startups that pitch out of these accelerators.

To the startups I urge you, don’t stop your story too soon. Bang out just one more chapter, even if you're not sure what you have left to say. Find a new character, a new setting. If you get through that chapter, start writing the next. Write until you truly believe your story has come to an end.

To those listening to pitches I say this to you. Remember the story is not yet finished. That’s why people read – to find out what happens. If you like the start of a story keep reading. There will always be unanswered questions, because the story is still being told. It is not yet completed. And with your support alongside the startups drive, there is far more likely to be ‘a lot of story left to tell’.

For everyone pitching a startup - yes you’re in an exciting time. You’re learning every day and if you've managed to get funding from your pitch then you're very privileged to have the support behind you to allow that to happen. But the biggest thing I want to emphasise to you is that you’re continuing your story. You've opened the book, began the first couple of chapters and engaged people with it.

The works not over, anyone can start writing a book. The skill comes in crafting the satisfactory ending. The skill comes in making sure people keep reading. The skill comes in putting pen to paper every single day and progressing the plot line.

We all have our idea for how the story of our startups will end. But here’s the thing, we don’t know. New characters will be introduced, plot twists will occur, new settings, new themes will be introduced.

I’m excited for all the teams coming out of accelerators at the moment. I can’t wait to see where the story takes you and could everyone please, please, allow me the privilege of continuing to read it. If you're looking to begin your fundraising journey and want some guidance feel free to contact us.

Best of luck.

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