We had recently organised a meet-up on building your Founder’s Profile. One of the reasons for this meet-up was to address the fact that most startups often get judged by the founder and not the business itself. There is little to show in the form of business and most startups have only early traction that they can talk about. The earlier your company is on the curve, the more important it becomes to have a strong founder’s profile.
There are three perspectives from which you need to build the Founder’s profile:
- From the perspective of Investors
- From the perspective of customers
- From the perspective of team members and media
It is great if you are getting into a business that is also your area of expertise. For instance, when the Bansal’s quit Amazon to start Flipkart, the fact that they came from a global e-commerce major would have to a certain extent, proved to their advantage. You need to just play up the fact that you come from the same industry and understand the dynamics well. If you have an understanding of what is needed to succeed in the industry, you can impress people easily.
Alternately, if you come from a background that is completely divorced from the industry you are in, you need to establish credibility. You need to be able to create parallels in your profile between the industry and yourself. Here are some of the things that you can do to ensure that you create those parallels.
- Writing blogs related to the industry showcasing your insights.
- Engaging and networking with a lot of critical people from the industry so that if investors reference check, they have heard of you.
- Writing for industry blogs / magazines that are reputed.
- Speak at industry events, even with a small audience [Smaller events are a good place to start].
- Securing awards and recognitions in the said industry
Understandably, in order to do all of these things, you need to have enough substance. It would not be possible to get speaking slots at industry events if you cannot offer substance at the event.
Stories are also great ways to bring out your relationship with a certain problem and what set you down the path of targeting an industry that you were not already familiar with. These stories have to necessarily be authentic if you wish to make an impact. Also, stories leave an impression and are remembered by people so it also acts as a great recollection tool.
The other perspective from which it is important to build a founder’s profile is that of leadership. When an investor, especially, is looking at you, they want to be able to see that you would be able to build an organisation. This means that you must have the capability to lead people, extract productivity and help them develop and grow. LinkedIn is a great place to get testimony to that effect. People who have led you, who have been your colleagues, your reports and even teammates from projects that you undertook during college can testify.
Again, stories about how you got your existing team together and how you manage them might serve you well from the perspective of establishing your credential as a leader. You can also do all of the previously mentioned strategies to establish your leadership credentials. Write about it, talk about it and share your insights.
In all of these areas, whatever you do would reflect upon all those involved – your investors, your customers and your team. Obviously none of the things mentioned above can be done in a day and needs consistent and determined effort to get it done. So keep at it and never stop building your profile.