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Leveraging Your Startup’s Origin Story

By Laura Vrcek, June 12, 2024

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Selling a product is selling a story. Where did your company’s story begin?

The startup origin story is a powerful way to connect with your audience, as well as ground and humanize your company. These stories tell the personal journey of how you, the founder, got to where you are today, and, importantly, what drives your passion to build for your space.

If you take the time to write your company’s origin story, you’ll find that it’s a versatile piece of cornerstone content you can use ubiquitously across all of your channels, in both earned and owned media, and through the long-term journey of your company’s growth.

While your boilerplate communicates the brass tacks of the product or service you provide, your company’s origin story holds space for an emotive backstory that can communicate your passion – the ‘why’ behind your work – in addition to building trust with your audience. Once there’s trust, the selling becomes that much easier. 

Let’s look at a few examples from the True Portfolio

Basecamp Research’s co-founders came up with the idea for their company while conducting experiments on Europe’s largest icecap, Vatnajökull, in Iceland. Their research was inspired by a 1932 expedition where half a dozen students from Cambridge University traversed and lived atop Vatnajökull.

Moneta co-founders Paul Campbell and Jen Flexman began building their cognitive brain health company following Paul’s mother’s dementia diagnosis. His experience supporting his mother’s journey with dementia drove Paul to take on the challenge of changing the standard of care. Paul shared his story along with Moneta’s mission to make early-intervention cognitive therapy more accessible with AI for millions of older adults like his mother – and it’s captured attention in a way that will enable the company to help more people. 

Seurat’s story began when James DeMuth attended a seminar at Stanford University on the National Ignition Facility. Captivated by the potential of fusion energy, James joined the NIF and worked on the development of a fusion powerplant. The project revealed to him the limitations of existing manufacturing methods and led him and his Seurat co-founder, Erik Toomre, to innovate a new approach to manufacturing metal components. Seurat’s origin story appears on the company’s website as well as Medium

The stepping stones that led to the creation of these companies are fascinating – and easier to connect with than product messaging. Origin stories are free of industry buzz words; they’re fact-based and detail-rich. And they’re liberated from the constraints of snappy one-liners companies are forced to fit within the character limits of their social profiles.

“Being able to clearly communicate what your company does is great, but an origin story that roots a reporter in the time and place where an idea began creates the foundation for a truly compelling, memorable story,” commented our Head of PR Brooke Van Natta.

“In the hustle of operating a company, we sometimes forget to take the time to shape our stories and make them interesting so we can continue to reflect the passion that got us started in the first place,” shared Dave Balter, investor at True and Founder-CEO of Flipside Crypto. “Origin stories are also good for recruiting talent and partners.” 

Why not try your hand at writing yours? Once you do, here are a few ways you can use it to connect with customers and other key audiences: 

  • Copy for your website’s about page
  • A post on your company’s blog
  • Rewrite it in first person and publish it under founder authorship on LinkedIn
  • Divide it into a three-part series with your favorite generative AI writing tool (Lex or Strut) and use it as an opening series for your newsletter 
  • Turn it into a video script and share video snippets on your social channels 
  • Refer to it in conversations with reporters when you emerge from stealth or announce funding; it can create a memorable moment or personal connection during an introductory interview

Try writing your origin story and see where it takes you.