As we explained in part I of this series on storytelling, one way of spinning a story for your start-up is the personal story of the founders. Nevertheless, If your personal story as a founder isn’t specially interesting, I would recommend you to focus on stories about your users.
When a start-ups has a little bit of traction, there are always incredible stories to be found among your most loyal customers. Actually, the first users tend to be the most loyal and they’ll be excited to share with you why they use your product and what has happened to them through it. The problem in many companies is that no one takes the time to really listen or even ask the users. I find it incredibly lame, specially because, despite the storytelling part, if you want to build the best product ever, you need to be in regular contact with your customers.
Sometimes, these user stories aren’t perfect, that is, they have interesting twists but only on some parts of the plot. One thing you can do to pump the quality of the overall story is to mix several of these. As I always tell in our workshop, stories are about balancing between facts and fantasy.
You probably have the facts and cool experiences from your users, you just need a little bit of fantasy glue to stitch those independent user stories into something that could have happened to a single protagonist. That’s where your imagination comes in, you need to put all those twists into the same plot and a single character. That means, you need to find which independent user stories are credible enough to have happened to your character.
Sometimes you work backwards here. Instead of looking at the events and trying to find which fit and which don’t, it’s easier to just expand the background of our protagonist to make it plausible that such event happened or could happen to him or her. After all, that’s the magic of writing, you can always tweak your universe to make things plausible.
A word of caution though, don’t be greedy, trying to cramp the plot with diverging events will ruin the story. This is about the audience believing in the story. If it’s too wild or tries to touch on opposite extremes of reality, it will become impossible to believe it and as such, the audience won’t empathize with it.
So, summing up, two strategies to write cool stories for your start-up, one, your background story, how did the founders got there, why did they created the company? A second one, dig for gold among your user stories. There is always a user that has a mind blowing example of how using your product changed their life. Find it! If you can’t find it, stitch small cool stories together to make it a great story.
Both strategies work if done correctly, although it’s important to understand that stories also get old, so the goal should be to keep polling your ecosystem in search of new fresh stories to tell. Sometimes it will be the personal story of a new employee, your new VCs, a new hunted office you’re moving into, customer service stories, etc. I hope that with these tips, you have at least a first starting point for your stories!
Find your inner creativity and let the WOWness flow!