How to Communicate When You’re Founding a Startup

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Forward Partners look to help early stage ventures get to Series A or seed funding by working with them on getting to viable and sustainable business models within 12 months. As such, for their team of startup experts, communication is absolutely key. So how do they make it work? Dharmesh Raittatha walks us through it.

Get Lean

The first thing anyone Forward Partners do with anybody they’re interested in, is get them to fill out a Lean Canvas. This forces founders to think about various aspects of the business and genuinely assess its credibility.

The Lean Canvas for designing product value propositions

Get Your one Line Summary Sorted ASAP

Those companies or projects that can’t explain what they do in a single breath, struggle the whole way. Don’t be afraid to piggyback on someone else’s product either – ‘Tinder for shoes’ is perfectly reasonable if it helps explain your concept to someone who’s never heard of it before. Don’t move on until you’ve got this nailed.

No 1 Rule of Communication – You’ve got to Listen

Once you’ve got your startup or project up and running, resist the urge to ‘get building’ and take a minute to speak to people. In fact you should speak to lots of people who could form your customer base – 20–40 of them who have been trying to meet the need you’ve identified. Structure these interviews as:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • When was the last time you solved this problem for yourself
  • What were your frustrations?
  • What are your aspirations for how they could be solved?

If there’s no clear problem to solve, these interviews will not come back with strong results.

Use Information Radiators

Personas and user journeys for existing products are just some of the materials that you can use to help get the rest of the organisation or team across the information you know or are trying to find out.

Get From Idea to Real User Feedback as Quickly as Possible

Google Design sprints are a great way to shortcut the process of understanding how your ideas will genuinely land with your target market. This lets you test the assumptions around your Core Value and then how you communicate that to the real world.

Get PR as Early as Possible

The only way you’ll get early adopters is to have proof points from content across the web. This will help you with customers, staff hires and investors.

Brand is Important

Being able to communicate with your target market about everything that your company embodies is crucial to ongoing success. A well developed brand and strong copy will let you do this and is worth investing in early.

Internal Communication

Once you hire people you need to make sure that they understand what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re going to do it. Be as transparent as possible and talk regularly about where you’re going.

Communicate to Investors

No 1, you need to get them to believe in the vision and that there’s a big market opportunity which you’re going to realise. After that you’ve got to show how you’re going to continually grow with their investment. Finally you need to show them how your team is strong and is able to execute on the idea you’ve identified.

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