Startup Storytelling

Silicon Valley of USA is the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley of India is the Garden City of Bangalore. There is something magical about these places; both these places have been the logical epicenter of cultivating a startup culture in their respective countries.

Country shifted, Story stayed.

It was Amazon to Google to Facebook that has been the faces spearheading the new age companies in US, and then in India it has been companies like Flipkart to Paytm to Freshdesk.

These companies have collectively created gravity defying forces in the startup space across the continent, agnostic of the places they have started. They are now omnipresent. One thing that is fascinatingly common among these companies is the “power of idea” that has empowered the venture even though there were same ideas and similar companies in the beginning but with test of time these startup leaders have proved to be powerfully cut above the rest. And the fundamental to such grandiose success of these companies (once a startup) resides not only in their unique art of storytelling but the science of doing it doggedly and differently, and the story of new age startup that can beat the biggies in their backyard.

They have done so fighting the odds and even against companies like Walmart in US to Infosys in India. Amazon’s market cap is twice that of Walmart. Flipkart valuation in such a short tenure is envy for Infosys. While narrating a beautiful story they have kept their focus on masterly execution and they have done what they have told…the script in the story and, the scene on the screen are a mirror image and there is no mirage, the audiences loved it.


Startups are in the business of telling stories not selling products…while telling their products get sold, the beautiful art of storytelling. Click To Tweet


There are mushrooming startups and hundreds of products in the market, the space are crowded and the choice is crazy.

How to differentiate and make a mark?

How to clear the clutter in the minds of customers and create a space for ourselves?

The answer lies in creating a real good story in the customer’s mind.  Telling a good story becomes easy in the hands of a creative mind and digital tool in hand, provided we have one. Stories cannot be fabricated and broadcasted, it will show up its true color and the story will very soon fall flat, leaving the customers fuming and companies gasping for breath. The constant bout of fresh oxygen in terms of customer acceptance is quintessential to the survival, standing up and sustaining the success of the startup company.

Good stories are not easy to craft, it needs a good craftsman. To etch out good stories we have to create our own customers experiences, for that we need to engage with customer, engage in a meaningful way, we have to patiently understand his pain points and handhold him to mitigate the pain through a prudent usage of our product. This is factually a very hard effort and this is the real challenge, how to get the customer solve its problem, not just solve it but do so better than if he is using any other product.


Competition is a reality and successful startup companies face the reality squarely and realize their peg of dream. They defy the idiom “square peg in the round hole”… Click To Tweet


Make the customer speak out and share his experience of meaningful engagement, the voice of customers is heard louder than the voice of the person behind the product. People belief the words of customers who are independent and have no anchor or prejudice for the company and the product. People look for pattern to take an informed and wise decision, one or two customers may not be convincing but if a number of customers representing different communities to different locations to different designation speak about the product experience, and do so consistently; it registers in their mind and it resonates well in thoughts of potential customers. The story has to have depth and width, lack of either dimension will make the foundation unstable and the shallowness in stories will sooner or later surface out.

Honesty is the best policy.

It holds true and more so when we are telling a story, the customers wants to hear a real one, the one that the founder of the company has experienced, the one that employees of the company have experienced it, the one that customers have benefited to cherish it, and the one that has been passionately created within the canvas of the company.

Action is the best form of positive reaction.

It is truly about doing it not just selling or telling it, it so happens that we keep telling about company and selling our product but the customers want to see what we are essentially doing and how we are doing, they observe our actions and actions speak louder than words. How we act when they complaint? How we respond when they communicate with us? H ow we behave when they confront us with their issue? It is our behaviour and action that overrides our telling and selling.

Simplicity is the best form of sophistication.

Simplicity over jargon, many times we get swayed by the usage of jargon thinking that it will impress our customers and we keep loading our story with high funda jargon and jig ourselves to take a jibe of our competition. We are the pioneer in the field and we have brought a paradigm shift in the way the market works, often we do so without adequate data and testimonials from industry approved sources and we keep referring to reliable sources and not mentioning the source. Without getting entangled with the use of jargon and hiding the reliability of sources, we need to focus on simplifying the complexity of communication and use of simple thoughts and ideas that catches the fancy of customers.


In the ultimate analysis what real matters is the authenticity, transparency and humility of the leadership team or the founder behind the startup.


These are such powerful words that make or break the journey of startup; unfortunately these get least priority in the process of building the foundation blocks of startup business. Such is the challenge in the journey of startup, the focus gets skewed on the tangibles and the intangible gets quickly sidetracked till the reality dawns and we are then forced to get it on track. The startup goes through ups and downs, the highs and lows and it is no less than the roller coaster ride we experience in any large theme park and the ride calls for the rider to demonstrate dependability when in trouble and express modesty when high on success.

The story has logic and the story has an emotion. Telling a story that is logical but devoid of emotion can never connect for long, it will touch and it will go, it will only be a “touch and go” story, that’s what we don’t want, we want our story to remain in the hearts of our customers and last long. The emotional attachment is significantly vital to make the logic make its true meaning to the targeted audience, they buy the logic but they get soon lost in the battlefield of so many logical drones that keeps flying around them, they look for the differentiation and it is the poignant bonding that connects and keeps them hooked for longer.

The startup story needn’t have to follow a convention or adhere to any given rule, there is no such thing called convention or rule when we want to tell a new story, a story about an innovative product and the story that has to be creatively crafted. We may start with the end and go to the beginning. We may start with the solution and then go to the problem. We may run the emotional flow and give the sequential flow a go, sequence matters but emotion gives a sequence ride and story with emotional accessory can engineer an eruption of volcano.

In the entire spectrum of things that works together to build up a good startup story what ultimately matters is what we do and how we do not just what we speak and how we speak.


The words can take us thus far but it is the action that will take us the distance to reach our destination… Click To Tweet


The successful startup stories are in essence about doing what they promised to do, doing it subtly and certainly doing it smartly.


Nihar Pradhan

Startup Entrepreneur

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