Written By: Kelly Bryant
Earlier this week I was listening to an interview with Luciana Lixandru – partner at Sequoia Capital – on the VC20 podcast.
During her interview, she discussed the power of what the team at Sequoia calls ‘crucible moments’. As the term suggests, these are transformational moments in the lifecycle of a business or one’s personal life that help shape our destiny. Said differently, they are “the rare, bold decisions that shape (a founders) future”.
This got me thinking… Why aren’t founders talking more about their crucible moments?
I meet 50-60 founders a month and am blown away by their stories, backgrounds, triumphs and hardships. Yet oftentimes, when I’m initially being pitched, I see founders go into ‘automatic mode’. They start talking through their business plan and background mechanically like it’s a job interview or exam.
It’s not until the team and I spend a couple of days getting to know a founding team that we really see the magic. Suddenly, people aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and a human connection is made. We understand the authentic genesis story of the business, the crazy pivot the founders had to make in the early days, the insane way they landed their first client and so on. We hear their crucible moments.
Any decent sales person will tell you that pitching is largely storytelling. In my opinion, storytelling isn’t complete without a beginning and an end with lots of plot twists and a crescendo in between. As you get ready to raise capital for your business, I encourage you to outline your startup’s story (that likely overlaps with your own!). Think about the incident that happened in your youth that sparked the inspiration for your business, or the time your company’s bank account sunk under $100 and you managed to get an angel investor onboard. These are the moments that define a business – and you as its leader.
If nothing comes to mind, consider the global pandemic we all just lived through. How did your business survive? What trials did you overcome?
There’s a fine line between captivating an audience of investors and oversharing, but I hope this lesson encourages you to reflect on your own crucible moments and consider which are worth bringing to the fore. I promise you that a VC wants to hear the ones that have changed you – and your business – for the better.
Kerosene Ventures – Helping Great Founders Raise Capital