Using Storytelling in Your Startup and Innovation Plans

The talented researchers at your university are probably full of ideas and creations. Numbers aren’t your problem. Deciding which research is commercially viable from the standpoint of entrepreneurs, startups, and companies is. Sometimes you get lucky and companies find you. Other times you have to select, groom, and market that research or idea appropriately. Look to the wrong source or fail to engage the startup with your pitch, and the gap between idea and it becoming part of your commercialization portfolio widens to the point it can’t be closed.

Storytelling is all the rage in marketing right now. You see it in popular advertising like the Dollar Shave Club. Storytelling is popular because it speaks to our emotions and believe it or not, many of our buying choices ultimately fall on how we “feel” about something.

While it doesn’t take the place of facts and figures and projected revenue over time, storytelling does make an indelible impression in your presentation.

Using Storytelling in the Grown-up World

People outside of marketing scoff at storytelling, but it’s one of the most persuasive ways to capture an audience’s attention and using it is nothing new. Think about presidential political campaigns and the faces of democracy like “Joe the Plumber.” The McCain-Palin ticket used this persona (based on a man in Ohio who asked then Senator Barrack Obama about small business tax) to connect with voters by giving a face to the middle class working population. Storytelling presents real emotions and challenges in a hauntingly memorable way.

How Do You Incorporate Storytelling When Pitching a Startup?

Most startups are not cloaked in cumbersome tradition or protocols. They are not far removed from the time when they were just a dream or a thought in someone’s head. Startups are still fleshing out much of what they want to be.

When using storytelling in your pitch, you need a problem or a challenge. Your “hero” will overcome this challenge to much fanfare but needs a classic foil or sage person to help along the way. Here’s where most people make the largest mistake in storytelling. They position themselves as the hero. Positioning your tech transfer department as the hero, does nothing to ingratiate your department in the startup’s eyes.

On the other hand, if you position the startup as the hero of the story, with your tech transfer patent or department as the sage, you impart a feeling of immense appreciation and illustrate an effective working relationship before you’ve even begun. The startup feels supported and victorious and begins imagining the potential behind the two of you working together.

Storytelling is a creative tactic that sets the stage for an effective and fulfilling working relationship. Your pitch and approach will long be remembered as it appeals to emotions, which many people use in making decisions. An emotional method helps establish relationships and connections, two things that will take you far in technology transfer and the world of startups.[/vc_column_text]

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