FiBAN Insights: These three soft skills can help your startup with funding
September 22, 2023
Many brilliant ideas fail to reach their full potential simply because they don't tell the right story to the right audience and neglect the human side of business. In this FiBAN Insights article, Communication Manager Milja Mäkelä dives into the critical topic that can either make or break a funding round: Soft Skills.
In the Finnish startup scene, outstanding innovations and ideas shine, but storytelling, sales, and marketing are left at the end of the priority list.
I’ve looked at things from the founder’s perspective. I’ve also helped dozens of early-stage companies, film projects, pharma, and tech with marketing and communications for nearly a decade. These tips help startups communicate more effectively to the right audiences and can be applied to investor relations, too.
1. Know Your Audience: Think of Investors as Customers
When addressing potential investors, remember that they are not to be thought of as just your financial supporters. They’re customers and potential business partners. You’re in it together for the long haul. It helps to apply tools, such as creating a customer persona about your ideal investor.
Questions for creating a customer persona:
- Define their characteristics (age, interests, expertise, etc.)
- Define their investment capacity and terms. How much capital is this person willing to invest in your startup?
- Recognize their values and needs. What motivates them to invest in startups?
- Envision your future working relationship. What does it look like?
When the investor-founder match is good, not only does it affect the capital, but also values, expectations, and the overall professional relationship, and how easy it is for you to run your business with them. This matters because you’ll work together for the next 5-10 years.
2. Become Unforgettable: Apply Storytelling
Hypothetically, let’s say there are 50-100 companies pitching to an investor on the same day with the exact same idea and somewhat the same data.
What will be the factor that will make you stand out from that? Often, our investors say this about what matters in a startup: “It’s the team.”
This refers to traits like resilience, self-reflection, and pivoting abilities – the ability to honestly self-evaluate and abandon plans that don’t work. These are some of the non-technical factors at the core of a successful team that investors look into.
Questions to formulate your unique story as a founder:
- What do you deeply want from your business (or your life)?
- What motivates you to go after your vision?
- What made you create this business?
- What happened before you came up with the idea? What in your life triggered it?
- How do you react or operate in a crisis? Do you become solution-oriented, or do you become paralyzed?
- Are you willing to change something or move on when something doesn’t work?
If you don’t have known brands and several exits in your CV on your team slide, these questions may help you find the other factors that make your founder story relatable and demonstrate resilience. Subconsciously we all look for something we can relate to, which is essential in regard to the next point, trust.
3. Build trust with branding and stay human
Investors are not going to invest if you come out of the blue and ask them to give their money. For that question to actually lead anywhere, you have to have the patience to do the background work.
If you haven’t already started, it’s time to start building trust across social media, with PR and just simply, showing up. Here’s how you do it:
- Showing up is the first step to building trust. Join events and have discussions human to human.
- Instead of posting with your company profile, post with your personal profile. Deep down, people want to know the founders and their stories and to recognize themselves in those stories.
- Collaborate with others for increased social media reach (tagging companies and people makes a big difference!). This helps you show in more feeds than just in your own network.
- Engage with social media comments, interact with others’ posts, and answer your messages. The algorithm picks it up and shows it as a relevant post in people’s feeds again. Show that you’re there for others and stay reachable.
- If you have some budget, invest in PR for media visibility to scale what you’ve built with the actions mentioned above. For example, funding round news is something investors pay attention to.
If you want to succeed in marketing, communications, or investor relations, you need to have the will to deeply understand and get in the minds of the people you want to convince.
Tap into how they feel, how they operate, and the deep reasons why they do so.
Do you have a story to share with the FiBAN community? Contact: