Funding is crucial for any startup.
It helps startups launch their products and ship them out the door, expand operations and scale up, and acquire other startups that can help it develop a competitive edge. That’s why funding is valuable for any startup regardless of its stage in the journey.
But funds, like most resources, are limited. And the number of startups vying for this resource is increasing rapidly. As on 30th March 2018, there were 8,625 recognized startups in India. Also, while the overall funding for startups in India grew by 108% to USD 4.2 billion, the seed stage funding declined by 20%. According to NASSCOM President Debjani Ghosh, if a startup fails at the seed stage, innovation gets affected.
To increase the potential of securing funding in this seed stage, more and more startups are turning to a useful tool – PR. While it might sound like an expense, especially for cash, crunched startups, it is, in fact, an investment that empowers startups to establish themselves in the eyes of Venture Capitalists and customers in many ways.
Here are 4 of them:
1. Education about its USP
Every startup exists to fulfill an unaddressed need. How startups address this need and make customers’ lives better to become their USPs. But just having a USP is not enough. Communicating it in ways that resonate with stakeholders is equally important.
A PR agency addresses this need of startups by building a robust and compelling marketing message and distributing it among relevant target audiences. This gives the startup visibility at the early stages of a business cycle, making them accessible to VCs when startups seek funding. It also catches VCs’ eyes before founders or spokespersons approach them to pitch for funding.
2. Establishing Credibility Among VCs
A critical factor for VCs – probably as critical as the startup’s USP itself – is the credibility of the founder. VCs want to know the founders’ backgrounds, their track record, education, and more. It enables them to gauge whether the startup will follow through on its growth promises and whether the founder has done it before or not. After all, every startup’s culture depends heavily on its founder(s).
A PR agency, through spokesperson profiling opportunities, creates a persona for founders talking about their unique strengths and their achievements, thus establishing credibility for them. This ensures that the reputation of the founder precedes her when she engages with VCs. It also makes for a powerful slide in the presentation that shows VCs about the founder’s credibility.
3. Establishing Credibility Among Customers
Few are innovators and early adopters – people who want to try something new and share their feedback with startups to help the latter evolve. PR agencies help such early adopters discover startups that are in their seed stages.
Getting featured in reputed publications enables startups to develop credibility and gain traction in the form of onboarding customers. This once again proves useful when startups pitch to VCs because the latter can see proof of a working model and existing customers, and founders can justify how growth will occur from there.
4. Brand Building Among Stakeholders
Every startup needs good people to scale. And to reach out to these good (read skilled) people, startups need to get the word out about what they do, what they want to achieve, and what kind of help they’re looking for.
Positive PR is a powerful step in helping startups discover and connect with such people. Plus, getting covered in a reputed publication gets people talking about a startup, giving the existing employees a feeling of pride and strengthening their sense of purpose to achieve their goals.
In today’s hyper-competitive times, talking about your work is as important as the work itself. The world is drowning in a sea of information, most of which is just noise. To differentiate from the crowd and stand above the din, your startup needs a powerful tool to give it a boost in the right direction when it comes to marketing. That powerful tool is PR.
PR might sound like an expense when there are more pressing issues to handle. But it’s not. It’s an investment in the growth of your startup, which is its most important goal.
Written by Anindita Gupta, Co-Founder of Scenic Communication