I have been working with early stage founders on sharing their narrative and story with others. One thing that stands out more than anything else is the ability to share their story arc in the context of a metric that they own. A few examples will help bring this to life.
Back in 2013 Wunderlist (acq. by Microsoft) raised $30M for the to-do app that I still love and use today. By showing their user stats + their core action (todos) they could share a magnitude and scale that outpaced their closest rivals. The thinking I am sure influenced by something like – well if 5 million people have checked off a quarter of a billion items this must be worth a try.
Google did the same thing back in the day by sharing the total number of pages they had in the index (in this case over 3 billion) which of course begged the question “why use any other search engine?” if they didn’t scrobbled the entire Internet? Leaving someone with a question about other services while showing that you deliver value is powerful.
Compare and contrast this to the same time frame of a property like Yahoo doing the opposite. Of course everything that is old is new again but the principles still apply.
Taking a step back towards startups there are great parallels for “winning” in the domain specific sector you are in. The example that is of course near and dear to my heart is Foursquare. We were able to compete against others with the check-in – the digital form of raising your hand to say you are in a physical place. This metric became synonymous with Foursquare in the early days, now within Swarm, but the lesson was clear. If you were building something in the social location space you needed to measure your success in the form of a check-in.
There are countless other examples out there for any space; rides taken, payments processed, reservations made, apps downloaded – all seem bland and without personality because it is the dimension that everyone else is competing on. By setting your own metrics of success you can align the team, tell your own story, and be in control of the narrative you want to tell. This also gets people competing on your home turf vs. something that everyone can control.
My final favorite example of this (although without a number) is what Stripe rolled out recently which is “increase the GDP of the Internet” which works both as a mission/vision but also a recruiting tactic to show the sheer scope and magnitude of what they are doing.
These types of stories are the difference between hitting someone over the head with metrics and sharing a narrative that they can tell someone else. Whether in fundraising, recruiting, partnerships, or other alignment exercises I find it incredibly valuable to own your own metric of success.
Tags: Metrics, Narrative