Imagine that you were at a bar with some friends, and the three of you (with the aid of some beer) came up with an interesting idea for a new business. Now one of you was unemployed, and none of the others had any amount of investment capital to launch it. Imagine further that there was a place where you could explain your idea to others you had never before met, and they would give you money (investing in your idea) so that you could make it a reality.
Well there is such a place, called Kickstarter, founded by young entrepreneur Yancey Strickler, along with Perry Chen (a waiter) and Charles Adler. The business model is about telling great stories. When you do, Kickstarter helps provide you a place to tell it in order to attract others who think your idea is awesome. Basically, it’s a service that budding entrepreneurs, artists, and community activists can use to raise money for projects by soliciting donations from the masses
Here is just one example from the article in Think Quarterly:
“One such storyteller described a new a concept called the ‘TikTok,’ a case for the iPod Nano that resembles a wristwatch. At that time, it existed only in an artist’s rendering before its designer, Scott Wilson, turned to Kickstarter. He said that all pledges over $25 would count as pre-orders, and put forth an impassioned call for donors who wanted to support not just another iPod accessory, but ‘a collection that was well designed, engineered, and manufactured from premium materials that complemented the impeccable quality of Apple products, not just clipped on a cheap strap as an afterthought.’ The TikTok raised over $940,000 on Kickstarter and is now sold in Apple retail stores.”
It seems a simple idea, and is quite possibly an idea that crosses between creating a new brand message and a vision statement. It starts NOT with a business plan, marketing strategy or set of pro-forma’s. It starts with a compelling story, crafted in an authentic way – that can spark the imagination of the listener/investor. Strickler describes it this way: “The power of an individual telling a story about something they care about, or is important to them, and precisely defining how it is they go about doing that is exciting. As a backer or a spectator, I get the warm glow watching that thing come to life, knowing that I have a piece of it in some way.”
Visioning is a pretty difficult thing to teach – but it should be as simple as telling a good story, one that comes from your imagination, and your heart.
What is your company’s story?