Investors are human too
March 29th, 2019 • 4 minute read
“I’ve got this great idea to change the way we buy insurance,” exclaimed Steve. “The sector’s in the dark ages, and frankly, we just need to make it fairer and more transparent for customers.”
And off Steve went to get his new idea started.
Nowadays, you could argue that it’s easier than ever to start a business. In fact, 660,000 UK founders thought so in 2017, increasing the number of new businesses by 5.7% on the previous year.
But back to Steve.
With good knowledge of the insurance sector, he’s able to pull together a wicked team of co-founders. They collectively pitch their business idea to friends and family and get enough funds together to build their MVP.
Fast forward 6 months and the MVP is nearly finished, but cash is low. Steve and the team break all their piggy banks, get more funds from the bank-of-mum-and-dad, and reach out to their friends, who are happy to help. Why wouldn’t they be? The team is smart, expert and backable.
But 6 months later, Steve is still struggling to get early stage investment. He’s sent his investor deck to dozens of seed angel networks and early stage VCs, but has only received polite rejections back.
There are 1,400 insurtech startups in Europe vying for the attention of investors. That means investors have to read dozens of decks each month, and a recent report stated that only 5% get past the executive summary. Shockingly, one early stage VC I spoke to claimed he sees 3,000 decks a year and only invests in 30.
This means competing for investors’ attention is as important as competing for their funds.
Well, Steve had a plan.
With a strong concept, brilliant MVP, great founding team, clear routes to market and an ambitious but achievable financial forecast, they had all the ingredients for success. They just needed to bring it all to life.
Steve recruited a branding agency!
Investors are human too.
Although technically brilliant, Steve’s investor deck didn’t clearly articulate what they do, how they do it and why.
His business wasn’t a run-of-the-mill insurtech. It was AI powered, forward-thinking and transparent.
Here’s the thing, founders often have too limited a view of branding. It’s not just a logo and a few pretty pictures. Brand is a strategic business tool that brings the business strategy to life.
Having a clearly defined brand strategy mitigates the risk of irrelevance, invisibility and vagueness by ensuring the business is being built with an audience in mind, stands out and has an easy to grasp proposition.
Taking the time to analyse your market and find a unique angle, not only in product offering, but also in key messaging, can be the difference between being ‘one-to-watch’ and being ignored.
However, startups don’t need a full brand strategy before launch — they just need strong brand foundations.
They need a Minimum Viable Brand (MVB). It’s enough of what startups need to align their founder team and identify their unique proposition, without all of the trimmings. Believe it or not, this is not a new idea. Denise Lee Yohn explores this concept in her Harvard Business Review article, defining the basic tenets of MVB as the ‘6 What’s’ — what you stand for, what you believe in, what people you seek to engage, what distinguishes you, what you offer, and what you say and show.
At Future Kings Ventures, we simplify this to What? Why? How?, but the principle is the same: you need to be able to define your story, your brand identity and your visual expression to get investors excited.
Equally, with technological leaps happening in the space of months rather than years, businesses need to offer more than a new product feature or function.
Faster, smarter and more innovative products are always around the corner, so to be perceived as truly distinctive, a brand must convey more compelling, sustaining differentiation through emotion. Appeal to the heart, as much as the head.
MVB finds the right balance between structure and flexibility. It delivers enough of a brand framework to align the internal team, inform design and appeal to audiences, but allows room for the iterative growth of the company and post-launch refinement.
MVB provides an affordable route for startups to build a compelling brand identity to get investors and customers excited.
Steve got it right. He understood that although he’s an expert in his field, he’s not able to create a compelling brand alone. That isn’t a criticism — the fact is, we need each other.
With a brilliant, branded investment deck, a clear proposition, beautiful digital assets, a stand-out brandmark and effective tone of voice, Steve now has the deck he needs to get investors as excited as he is.
Good work, Steve!
Yohn, D.L. (2014). Start-Ups Need a Minimum Viable Brand. Harvard Business Review [online] [Accessed 16 May 2018]