The Art of Storytelling for Startups with Laura Mather

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This is a podcast episode titled, The Art of Storytelling for Startups with Laura Mather. The summary for this episode is: <p>In today’s episode, we’re welcoming multi-time founder Laura Mather back to The Daily Bolster! Tune in as she shares storytelling tips that will help startup leaders succeed with investors, board members, and customers.&nbsp;</p>
💻 Have a focused story for investors
01:43 MIN
📝 Nail your board meeting materials
01:54 MIN
💼 Have a compelling sales pitch
00:48 MIN
🔑 The key is strategic storytelling
00:24 MIN

Speaker 1: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. Each day we welcome transformational executives to share their real world experiences and practical advice about scaling yourself, your team, and your business.

Matt Blumberg: Welcome to The Daily Bolster. I'm Matt Blumberg, co- founder and CEO of Bolster, and I'm here today with Laura Mather. Laura has founded two different companies in two really different fields. One in cybersecurity and one in HR tech having raised over$ 30 million for both in venture funding. And Laura is an expert in pitch decks, board messaging, and working with analysts. Laura, great to see you.

Laura Mather: It's great to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Matt Blumberg: So, keying off of the things that you are expert in, I wanted to talk today about storytelling. And it's one of the things, actually, I think one of the first chapters in my first book, Startup CEO, is about visioning and storytelling and how important that is for CEOs to understand and to do. And my question for you is, how important is that kind of art or practice of storytelling in the startup world and what forms does it take?

Laura Mather: I think this is a really crucial question for founders to understand. And the way I look at this is every situation I approach, I think about what do I want the person I'm going to interact with to leave with? What should they have in their heads as they're walking out the door after we've talked or after we've met? And let's be clear, storytelling isn't lying, it's not making something up. It's much more, again, about scripting the way you want the end of the meeting to transpire. And so, the three key places for this are pitch decks with VCs, right? What are the one or two really key points you want them to have when you're done giving your pitch? With your customers, what do you want them to leave with? So again, you see these founders who go and do a sales pitch and they've got 57 things that they tell the customer because they do everything. And you just have to be really careful of what is it that you want to emphasize. And then the one people often don't think about is their board meetings. Every board meeting, you should probably have the one or two things you want the board to leave with when you are done with the meeting. And you should think about what story do I need to tell to get my board members to leave with those thoughts in their heads?

Matt Blumberg: That is absolutely right. The first page of my board book is what I call the preamble, and it's like two or three paragraphs and the end of it says in bold, " If you take one thing away from this meeting, it is" or" It should be." Exactly. But I haven't done that for 25 years. That was, I got to that over many years of thinking, how do I focus the board conversation? How do I figure out what to pay attention to out of the 40- page book?

Laura Mather: Well, and I think what happens with founders is that you're so busy running the business, the board meeting is a distraction, let's be clear, right? It's not something that you're going to invest a lot of time in. And that's actually a mistake because it's the board members who are really making key decisions about your business and about you, mostly about you by the way. And if you are not thinking what story do they need to hear, what do they need to walk away with, then you're missing a giant opportunity.

Matt Blumberg: It is. I mean, I always say boards are garbage in, garbage out. If you give them a bad board book, you're not going to get much out of the meeting. If you give them a really focused set of materials, you will get much better advice from them.

Laura Mather: Exactly. And if you have a strategy about that, that's when you can do really good work there. Whereas I think a lot of people just, they rush into the meeting, they go through the slides, they're done. Sometimes the boards have no comments and they're like, " It's a win." And I think if the board had no comments, you actually should think back to why they might not have any comments.

Matt Blumberg: Right. Okay. So, we've talked about fundraising, we've talked about board. What's number three?

Laura Mather: So, it's in your sales pitch, right? To customers, it's really critical that you have a strategy of what are the key elements that you want your customer or your prospect to walk away with, and again, with that story, it has to really be what is their pain? I'm used to doing enterprise sales, so this might not apply to consumers, I'm not sure. But in enterprise sales, it's the check signer. What is their pain that you're going to solve? Not a vitamin that they need, but the thing that is actually going to take away some key element that keeps them up at night. How does your product address that? And that's the story you need to tell. And you need to be sure that when you're done, that is the thing that is crystal clear in their heads.

Matt Blumberg: Absolutely. All right. Do you have a final word that ties it all together?

Laura Mather: It is just strategic storytelling. It's thinking about the strategy you have, the message you want to get across, and then finally, what is it that you want the person to have in their minds when they're walking out the door after talking to you? And if you can figure out a way to make that happen, that's what's going to make you super successful in multiple facets of your founder journey.

Matt Blumberg: All right. Beginning with the end in mind.

Laura Mather: Exactly.

Matt Blumberg: All right. Laura Mather, thanks for being here.

Laura Mather: Thanks so much for having me.


In today’s episode, we’re welcoming multi-time founder Laura Mather back to The Daily Bolster! Tune in as she shares storytelling tips that will help startup leaders succeed with investors, board members, and customers.