The culminating moment in the FastFWD program is an event where the Entrepreneurs each deliver an eight-minute pitch presentation to a room of impact and angel investors. To prepare for this event, we invited Andculture, an experience design firm located in Harrisburg, PA, to talk about crafting business stories.

Justin (left) and Dominic (right) from Andculture talking about their work

Justin (left) and Dominic (right) from Andculture talking about their work

Throughout the accelerator the Entrepreneurs experience a deconstruction of their business model–examining and refining each part separately. Beginning in Week 9 (of 12 total weeks) they are ready to put it back together and build the new "story" of what they have to offer. This "story" is not singular, rather it is used to represent the various ways a start-up explains their business model to different audiences. One of those stories is the eight-minute investor pitch, and the tight timeframe makes it one of the more difficult ones to tell (also because there is a lot riding on it–investment money!). It requires the Entrepreneur to have a strong understanding of their audiences' needs/desires/interests and to deliver a message that resonates with them.

Dominic from Andculture explaining the first strategy

Dominic from Andculture explaining the first strategy

Dominic and Justin began their talk by sharing 10 key strategies for crafting stories. The points they covered are listed below, and the full presentation can be viewed on Slideshare.

Andculture's 10 Storytelling Strategies for Start-up's

  1. Use analogy and metaphor
  2. Ask "so what?"
  3. Make it real
  4. Use your audience's language
  5. Provide context
  6. Consider your constraints
  7. Be mindful of expectations
  8. Have intent: stories can accomplish a lot of things
  9. Know your audience
  10. Tailor your story
Sharath from Village Defense (one of the FastFWD Entrepreneurs) working with Evan from Andculture

Sharath from Village Defense (one of the FastFWD Entrepreneurs) working with Evan from Andculture

Following their talk, Dominic and Justin led the FastFWD Entrepreneurs through a tightly timed activity to begin understanding their potential audiences and how they might tell their story to them.

Dominic and Justin first instructed all of the groups to divide their large paper into three columns–people, wishes, and responses. Then, they had the Entrepreneurs rapidly write out all of the possible audiences (people) they might be talking with–one per sticky note. Next, the Entrepreneurs prioritized the audiences by importance and chose the top three. In the following task, they outlined the perceived needs/desires (wishes) of each of their top three audiences. Lastly, Dominic and Justin encouraged the groups to consider the points they had covered earlier in their talk and to begin listing "responses" to each of the top three audiences' wishes. In the end, the Entrepreneurs left with three story outlines ready to refine, as well as a tangible method to replicate whenever they needed to re-frame their stories for new audiences.

A big thanks to Andculture for delivering such an informative talk and valuable work session!

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