Storytelling tips for founders

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” – Andrew Grant.

This cliche quote couldn’t be more true. Whether it’s a cold email, funding application, or spontaneous conversation, a first impression impacts how potential investors view your business. For founders, that first impression often happens when others look over a pitch deck.

In this article, I’m NOT explaining how to build an effective pitch deck. Instead, I’m sharing a few tips relevant to pitch deck storytelling. My goal is to highlight a small, simple aspect of storytelling that gets overlooked.

Note: These tips came to mind after reviewing DRF portfolio company pitch decks!

1. Share more details about your background

Many pitch decks lack information regarding why a founder is pursuing an idea. The title “Stanford CS, ex-FB, ex-McKinsey” is great, but it lacks an explanation of your passion. In addition to describing your professional journey, include a bullet point related to your startup industry.

Examples:

  • Music, entertainment
    • Guitarist with 500 monthly listeners on Spotify (link your profile)
  • Fitness
    • Ran three marathons and seven half-marathons
  • Supply chain
    • Lived in [blank] country for blank years
    • Visited over blank countries or states
  • Fintech, Web3
    • Created an NFT focused on [blank] activity (link out to it)
  • Software
    • Coded and recreated a video game using [blank] coding language

2. Reframe the problem

Okay, maybe there isn’t a fun fact tied to you and your startup. Consider creating a slide describing how you went from idea to reality. If the slide disrupts the flow of your pitch deck, reframe the structure of the “problem” slide. Instead of explaining the problem you’re solving, describe your personal ties to the problem and the creative solutions you created.

Rather than…

  • People have a hard time buying and selling tickets at the best prices

Reframe it as …

  • My friends and I spent way too much time calling for tickets and hoping we received a fair price.

Rather than …

  • There is an inefficiency in banking that financial institutions can be solved to add more revenue.

Reframe it as …

  • After working in banking/finance for the last five years, I found an inefficiency in the payment-per-order model.

While these tips might feel insignificant to investment decisions in the short term, the social capital added by a fun fact or relatable problem will almost always net an unexpected positive return in the long term. You never know, the person reading your pitch deck might also be an aspiring Spotify star, fitness junkie, or metaverse enthusiast.

And when it comes to first impressions, nobody will criticize your pitch deck for showing too much passion.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you’d like to learn more or chat about content strategy and storytelling adding value to your company.


Written by DRF content associate Daniel Aboul-Hassan. You can reach him at daniel.aboulhassan@dormroomfund.com. More updates on our Twitter, Medium, and newsletter 🚀

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