Start-up founders need the right pitch


September 23, 2019

The founder of a Dubai-based tech startup told me recently that Chinese investors approached him out of the blue keen to become part of his company’s growth journey just because they had read articles about the startup and its solution in online publications.

It comes thus as no surprise that 30% of the 130 institutions who invested in MENA-based startups during H1 2018 came outside the region, including Asia, the US and Europe.

The role of PR in helping tech startups from the region achieve their communications objectives and fulfil their ambitions is undisputed. No other marketing communications discipline is as effective and as impactful as PR in helping entrepreneurs and their companies tell their story.

Startups with a compelling narrative and the ability to tell it can quickly attain the attention they merit, adequately articulate their solution and proposition to their B2B and B2C audiences globally and attract the interest of angel investors and VCs from the region and beyond.

But before you reach the stage where your startup is in a position to start building reputational currency as a recognised entity in the international Fintech, Healthtech or E-Commerce arenas, a few boxes need to be ticked first. Here again, the role of professional PR counselling is paramount.

Set your course: A strategic framework with distinct vision, mission and values can create the right engagement in your startup and help it gather strong support from stakeholders and investors. Businesses are in many ways similar to individuals. They come from somewhere; they are on their way to something.  The journey and the destination are the big story. It should be inspired by the unique character, personality and life learnings and experience of their founder and deliver a logical narrative on both the past and the future. The stronger the relationship between who we are genuinely, what we have actually achieved and our ambitions, the more authentic and credible we are. For storytelling to be effective, it must be part of a larger narrative. An overarching message needs to be established, which needs to have a set of clear themes, supporting messages, and facts and stories that together create a powerful narrative: the communication platform.

Learn how to navigate: A clear purpose will help you navigate the best course to suit stakeholder interests in an increasingly complex media arena and landscape. A strong story, distinct design and thought leadership can drive advocacy and create a competitive advantage for your startup, help it rise above the clatter and eventually prosper. A smart and cost-effective thought leadership strategy goes beyond the planning and implementation of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme. Thought leadership is based on taking ownership of an issue that is related to your company or industry. It also goes beyond meeting standards; it is about developing and shaping important areas of business and society. Being an impactful thought leader – as a firm or an individual – means you are recognised for your knowledge, insights and solutions you provide, both within your industry and within external expert groups. You become the partner of choice for your customers, media approach you for comment and stakeholders seek your advice and input.

Communicate effectively:  When communication is well orchestrated, with interaction between many players in different media and venues, we achieve the best results. Communication activities should be developed strategically over time and in accordance with the strategic framework. A successful communication programme integrates traditional and social media. Founders and CEOs need to understand the mainstream and social media landscape, what stakeholders are discussing and how best to convey a story through the appropriate channels. You can also reach your stakeholders directly by speaking at the right conferences, B2B events or even global forums, hosting roundtable discussions with the right influencers and organising thematic forums related to your thought leadership agenda.