Mentors Monday with: Heidrun Twesten

#storytelling #strategy #investment

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This seems to be the mantra for startups co-founders, who are constantly challenged to communicate their product in the most passionate, convincing way possible. Luckily, we have Heidrun Twesten as a mentor. Being an business angel and an expert in communications and storytelling, she knows exactly how to guide teams into building a story that will lead to closed deals. 😉Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from her advices in the following interview.

1- “To hell with facts! We need stories!”. This is apparently your motto. Can a startup have a great product and fail because they don’t have a good story?

Yes, absolutely! You may have the greatest product on earth — if you don’t manage to let people know, inspire clients and investors alike it will never fly. “Why should I buy (or invest into) this crazy new thing I don’t really understand and that doesn’t even have a market yet?” Some geeks might get convinced by technical facts — most of us won’t. But if a gripping story makes our hearts beat faster, we are hooked … This only works with stories that are true to the business, the situation and the teller — so it doesn’t help to copy others. Teams should invest time to dig out their own story.

2 — Which role play the people telling the story? Who should be chosen in the startup to convey the pitch?

Two people can tell the same story with completely opposite effects. So clearly, the teams’ best performer should convey the pitch — no matter what’s his management role. Teams should find out early on who best convinces audiences and let him/her do (most) of the pitching.

3- In your company, impacct, you support companies telling stories through different channels. How can startups learn to tell a story not only when pitching, but also in their communication channels (e.g. social media, websites, apps or even pitch decks)?

After developing their core story, startups should adapt it to the different channels — e. g. create matching sub-stories (text, video, photo) that convey and deepen the same message on different levels. How to learn this? Hire an expert or learn from the best: follow successful peers’ social media activities, monitor other websites, pitch decks etc.

“You may have the greatest product on earth — if you don’t manage to let people know, inspire clients and investors alike it will never fly.”

4 — Visuals and design are also a part of the presentations by startups. How can teams develop the visual aspect of the pitch in order to make their story even more interesting/convincing?

They just shouldn’t make it look like the usual powerpoint presentation! Rather define the basic visual elements (fonts, colours, grid) early on so they don’t have to think about basic design aspects every time they want to communicate. It’s helpful to use (develop) icons that show the business or reflect the brand. They should focus on the essential — and not overload materials with information no one will read. One or a few engaging pictures help to emotionally support key aspects of the story.

5 — You are also a business angel. What are looking for in a story when startups reach out to you to seek investment?

If I don’t know the team before, I spend an average 2 minutes on deciding whether I want to learn more about the startup. So depending on the approach either the first charts of the pitch deck raise my interest or someone tells me a convincing story in a short time. What makes the story convincing (apart from being engaging)? I need to see the pain to be solved — why should anyone profit from the product or service? Then the respective market should be relevant (size, accessibility). The startup should have a competitive edge, a sensible strategy and matching business plan. The story told should be engaging, very clear and consistent.

Thank you, Heidrun. 🎉 Our teams are ready to tell great stories on Demo Day!

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