My main business is to help entrepreneurs build content for investor presentations and I absolutely love doing it. As part of my work, I get together with just about every company that comes through the Band of Angels (in my experience, the best in the business), I love working the group and the companies that come through.
Last night, I was working with a consumer product company that has a product that is all-natural, low calorie that has satiety (I don't even know if that's exactly the way to say it, but in short, satiety means that the food makes you feel full because of the ingredients.) They have good sales momentum already at a few notable grocery chains. They also seem to have a grasp of how to grow through building a brand around their successfully developed combo (low cal, all natural, satiety).
Their ppt was loaded with info about why the product was great, detail results of the small launch (although it was not the most compelling info, at least they had it). They had all kinds of detailed competitive stuff as well.
I was overwhelmed.
Like just about every other start-up I work with, one of the first key steps towards clarity was to talk about life before and after. When we started, like most every other start-up I talk to, they dove into how they would beat the competition, how they have the experience to build the company and how, frankly, it's hard to talk about competition, because there's nothing else out there like this.
Gently, but firmly, I re-directed them. I asked them to tell me a story about someone who walks through the store and arrives at the shelf where there product is. Tell me, for example:
- What other products do they look at as they browse?
- Are they in a hurry or are they on a grocery store trip where they are stocking up? (their product is a meal drink kind of thing...)
- Who told them about it?
- If your product wasn't there, which one would they choose?
- And, once they have your product, assuming it works, would they recommend it to a friend? buy again on the run or on a list?
The discussion turns, quite swiftly, to why they are different using words that are accessible. They re-connect, perhaps with why the company made so sense in the first place (rather than defaulting to a speedy, lengthy list of benefits compared point by point to the competition).
It makes them think about whose lives they are affecting and how.
It works with all types of different companies:
- Medical device: This one is a great one because often times the device addresses a condition that is treated in an expensive, ineffective and sometimes risky way. And it's great when that's the case because if people will pay a lot for something that doesn't work and might be risky, it's an awful good sign there's a market need.
Consider a future where someone affords a safe and effective procedure with the new device.
- EDA Software in Semi-conductors: This one is simple because it's really easy to lay out the pieces of the semi-conductor process and have the entrepreneur describe what happens (and believe me it's not rocket science). They will often describe a costly, clunky, lengthy, error prone process that seems to be only understood by expensive phd's on site or really expensive external vendors.
Consider a future where the company can place anyone in front of a computer and get immediate, accurate feedback when there is a problem.
I believe (I actually know, but that sounds a little....boastful I guess....but I do know) that nothing is rocket science (even rocket science, and I've worked with a startup using that type of tech before). As such, it doesn't matter what type of start-up you bring me (and I see 3 different industries every month), in most cases, in less than an hour, I can figure out the life before and after in a one to three sentence message.
That to me, is the most exciting and rewarding part of it. Because when the entrepreneur feels the shift because of the statement, they realize that people will, at least, get it. People not getting it is...a drag.