Storytelling: A Must-Have Skill for Tech Founders

by | Jul 14, 2023

Home 5 Agile Thinking 5 Storytelling: A Must-Have Skill for Tech Founders

The quintessential tech founder sits in the crosshairs of a confluence of diverse roles. From visionary to problem-solver, from inventor to entrepreneur, from chief cheerleader to lead negotiator, the multifaceted nature of their role is staggering. However, one of the most vital yet often overlooked aspects of a founder’s role is being the chief storyteller of their venture. The knack for conveying a compelling narrative about their company transcends the tech sector and is deeply rooted in the core of human interaction.

While sometimes disregarded in the technocratic world, storytelling is an indispensable facet of leadership. From the boardroom to the sales pitch, from the engineering floor to customer relations, a founder’s ability to craft and convey an engaging narrative of their company can be the difference between success and failure.

Why is storytelling paramount in a tech-driven world brimming with hard facts and figures?
The essence of our relationship with stories underscores our human nature. Even when we believe in the importance of reason, research implies our fundamental connection to feelings. For example, one notable study from the University of Southern California revealed that we tend to recall emotionally resonant incidents more effectively than everyday, unremarkable ones[1]. Our cognitive wiring responds to the emotional tugs presented by narratives. The stories we interact with mould our views, steer our choices and galvanise us to take action.

Consider sacred texts such as the Bible, the Quran, and the Vedas. These compilations of narratives illustrate the enduring potency of storytelling. These captivating tales have shaped societies for millennia, serving as navigational beacons. These books house compelling narratives that have been handed down from generation to generation, cultivating profound emotional ties and propelling the deeds of multitudes.

Transitioning this potent narrative ability into the context of tech businesses, storytelling morphs into a mechanism for simplifying and expressing intricate concepts. It empowers tech entrepreneurs to articulate their company’s vision, mission, and product offerings in a manner that builds a deep connection with its customers, workforce, and investors.

Yetonly some tech founders are naturally endowed with narrative skills. This might seem daunting initially, but the good news is that storytelling can be learned and refined over time. Founders can develop a narrative around their venture, making it informative and compelling.

However, crafting an authentic story requires a deep understanding of the company’s core. The founders’ definition of corporate culture provides the foundation for the company’s narrative. It should resonate with the founders’ vision and mission, augmenting them into a narrative that encapsulates the company’s spirit.

In a study published in the Journal of Business Venturing, it was discovered that entrepreneurs who leveraged storytelling raised about seven times more funding than those who did not[2]. This is a powerful testament to storytelling’s role in convincing investors, who are often inundated with facts and figures but ultimately make decisions based on the narrative surrounding them.

Moreover, storytelling offers an exceptional avenue for customer engagement. According to a study from the Journal of Marketing, brand narratives enhance the perceived value and willingness to pay for products and services[3]. Hence, founders who master storytelling can cultivate stronger customer relationships and foster loyalty towards their brand.

Yet, while shaping the story, founders must ensure the narrative is firmly anchored in reality. Creating a story that contradicts the realities of the business could backfire, eroding trust and credibility. The company’s story should genuinely reflect its culture, mission, and vision.
In conclusion, while data and analytics rationally understand the company’s performance, storytelling stirs emotions and establishes a deeper connection. The founder who can weave facts and figures into a powerful narrative, can motivate employees, captivate customers, and convince investors. Storytelling is not a peripheral skill; for tech founders, it’s a central part of their leadership toolkit, which can significantly impact their venture’s destiny.

To master the art of storytelling is to empower oneself to traverse the complexities of the human heart. It’s not just about reporting the facts but about communicating the soul of the venture.

For tech founders looking to elevate their businesses, the message is clear: learn to be a storyteller, and you unlock a potent tool that goes beyond mere facts and figures, straight to the core of the human experience.
[1] Dunsmoor, J.E., Murty, V.P., Davachi, L., & Phelps, E.A. (2015). Emotional learning selectively and retroactively strengthens memories of related events. Nature, 520, 345-348.
[2] Martens, M.L., Jennings, J.E., & Jennings, P.D. (2007). Do the stories they tell get them the money they need? The role of entrepreneurial narratives in resource acquisition. Academy of Management Journal, 50(5), 1107-1132.
[3] Escalas, J.E. (2004). Imagine yourself in the product: Mental simulation, narrative transportation, and persuasion. Journal of Advertising, 33(2), 37-48.