May 22, 2024

5 Tips on Unifying Your Founder Story and Company Story When Building a B2B Product, with Andrew Rea

On the latest episode of Minimum Viable Podcast, I sat down with Andrew Rea. Andrew grew up in Ohio and was the first in his family to attend college. With a whole lot of grit and hard work, he worked his way into the tech scene. He became an early team member at On Deck and later served as Head of Growth at Capital, where he played a key role in initiatives like New York Tech Week. These days Andrew is working on his next big thing, a venture-backed startup building products to solve state and international tax & compliance burdens for scaling companies.

During our conversation, Andrew opened up about the highs and lows of being a young founder building a B2B product. If you're a founder looking to create a brand story that connects with your audience on a deeper level, this episode is full of actionable advice. Andrew doesn't hold back in sharing the lessons he's learned on his journey - from the importance of grounding your story in customer conviction, to why brand building needs to be a priority from day one.

Want to learn how to use storytelling as an asset to establish credibility, build trust, and inspire belief in your startup's mission?

Make sure to catch the full episode with Andrew here:

In the meantime, here are 5 major takeaways from my chat with Andrew:

1. Interweave your personal story with the company mission to inspire others

Andrew has a gift for getting people fired up about the companies he works with by connecting his own journey to the larger mission at hand.

"I think ultimately every business exists to serve someone. So, how inspired can you make yourself, your team and the broader market that you're involved with about what it is you exist to serve."

By tying his story to a larger goal of empowering entrepreneurs and creatives, Andrew is able to rally employees, customers, and the wider community. Don't be afraid to bring your whole self to your company story - your "why" is a powerful motivator for others to believe in your mission.

2. Back up your storytelling with real conviction, not just confidence

When pitching investors or selling to customers, projecting confidence doesn’t quite do it. To truly persuade, you need conviction - and that comes from deeply understanding your customers and the problem you're solving.

"There's a big difference between confidence and conviction. Unless you're a sociopath or something, conviction is literally truth."

If you do the hard work of talking to customers and validating your ideas, you'll be able to tell your story with conviction that comes through as genuine. Investors and customers are really good at spotting the difference between real belief and bravado.

3. In a world of AI, authentic storytelling is key

AI and automation have led to an explosion of content and products, but customers are craving human stories and connection with brands more than ever.

"In our time today in the market [personal stories have] never mattered more. There's more software out there than ever before. There's more content out there than ever before... I think it is human nature to lean towards the people and the things that we perceive as real, authentic and human."

With an onslaught of noise and generic content, genuine, helpful founder stories attract attention and build trust. Don't be afraid to show vulnerability and share your journey - that's what will make you stand out and connect with your audience on a human level.

4. Invest in your personal brand to increase your startup's credibility

As a young, first-time founder, Andrew leaned on his personal story and brand to establish credibility for his startup while fundraising in a not so ideal market.

"We were young founders raising money in a really tough market in an industry that we didn't necessarily have experience in. The thing that I started to lean on really early is just telling my own story."

Especially in the early days, your personal brand is a major asset in getting others to believe in you and your company. Be intentional about crafting a founder narrative and reputation that lends weight to your startup’s story.

5. Make brand building a priority, not an afterthought

Too often, founders put off brand building in favor of other tasks that feel more pressing. But as Andrew talked about, investing in your story is some of the most important work you can do.

"I think it's easy to think this isn't the work. I have other stuff that's more important, but like we've talked about this whole time, this is how you build a company. This is how you build the brand. This is the work. And this storytelling needs to come first. It's kind of the front door into your product."

Your story is the first thing people will encounter about your company, so treat it like that! Crafting a narrative is the foundation that paves the way for everything else, from fundraising to hiring to customer acquisition. Brand building isn't a nice-to-have - it's essential.

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