Investors Insights on Startups Communication in 2024
2023 has been a year of reset and adjustment. Some companies had to shut down, while others faced tough layoffs. However, there has also been a ton of opportunity.
The META Alpha team recently interviewed Siim Teller, Tim Vaino and Yrjo Ojasaar, who have experience supporting startups through their ups and downs. They shared their insights on what matters in 2023/2024, what type of media they follow, and what topics matter for them in communication efforts. As a New Year’s present, we have included 10 questions for founders that can help you align your communication efforts.
It Starts with Your Vision
When talking with investors, one thing became clear: what matters is the vision and mission the founders have to be able to sell. Many startups are too technical initially, and looking over their experience and origin story could build trust between their startups and investors.
According to Teller, the company’s narrative is crucial: “The story that a company tells is one the most important thing,” he emphasized. Teller’s insight suggests that startup primarily sell their vision story, particularly those in the pre-seed and seed stages. A charismatic leader and a compelling story can significantly impact positioning and attract attention.
Many startups face the common challenge of not being able to effectively communicate their product to their target audience through a compelling story. Since emotions drive customers and investors, it’s important to identify their pain points and concerns to craft a narrative that resonates with them. This is where seeking the help of an unbiased third party can be beneficial. They can provide a fresh perspective and ask the right questions that help the founders tell their true origin story in a captivating and engaging way.
General Media or Social Media?
During a discussion on scoring in the media, there were varying opinions. While most investors keep up with Sifted, TechCrunch, and TechEU, accessing local news behind paywalls has become more complex. As a result, LinkedIn has become the primary communication channel. However, it was also mentioned that a single news publication can increase the valuation and generate buzz. „Your valuation could be either 3 million or 5 million, and it might depend only on 1 well-timed coverage,“ according to Ojasaar.
Educate Your Audience
Investors are not experts in every field; therefore, it is up to the founder or team member to educate them on the market, explain why it is a promising opportunity, and demonstrate why it would benefit them to invest in it. Additionally, it is important to highlight the team’s unique expertise to differentiate from your competitors.
Some of the participants highlighted a startup called Woola as an excellent example. They educate their customers about the growing use of fossil fuels and the market while explaining in simple terms how their product works and introducing the people behind it.
Navigating the Crowded Marketplace
The startup industry is fiercely competitive, and according to investors, your story, team, revenue, and burn rate are the key factors determining your ability to secure investments.
In this environment, how can you stand out and grab investors’ attention when the investment demand is high? The answer is by networking and contacting investors directly to ask for a coffee meeting. Alternatively, you can leverage your warm leads by talking to startups that have already been or are currently in the investors’ portfolios and learning from their experiences. You should also focus on understanding what went wrong and whether there is a potential fit between your company and the investors.
It’s important to not only focus on established investors but also to engage with younger colleagues who are constantly on the lookout for interesting companies. Doing so can increase your chances of success in securing investments for your startup.
10 QUESTIONS FOR FOUNDERS
- What is our company’s narrative, and how well-defined is our vision and mission?
- Are we open to seeking the assistance of unbiased third parties to provide fresh perspectives on our storytelling and communication efforts?
- What media channels are most relevant to our industry, and where are our potential investors most active?
- Should we prioritize traditional media outlets like TechCrunch or focus on social media platforms like LinkedIn for communication?
- How can we balance general and social media to maximize our reach and impact?
- What key topics do investors need to understand about our market and opportunity?
- Are we highlighting our team’s unique expertise to differentiate ourselves from competitors?
- Are we learning from the experiences of startups in the investors’ portfolios to increase our chances of success?
- Are we proactively reaching out to both established and younger investors to diversify our network?
- How are we adapting our communication strategies to align with evolving trends in the startup ecosystem?