YourStory is the outreach partner for SheLeadsTech from Facebook.
You have a great business idea. You’ve done your market survey and know you have a winner on hand. So how do you tell your story to potential investors and get them to back you? Particularly when there’s a minor detail that can be pretty major in some quarters even in this day and age: that you’re a woman.
So back to your story. How do you build your brand? How do you going about raising funds? What needs to be done to gain investor confidence? All these questions were addressed in a room full of businesswomen and aspiring entrepreneurs at a recent SheLeadsTech offline meet-up, an initiative by Facebook to empower women entrepreneurs. The evening’s discussions mainly centred on telling the brand story the right way.
The event saw the likes of Sumeet Singh, Chief Marketing Officer of Info Edge (also a mentor of SheLeadsTech initiative); Nidhi Agarwal, CEO of Karyaah; Tara Bedi, Public Policy & Community Outreach – Instagram; and Namrata Kohli, Manager, Strategic Product Partnerships, Facebook; come together and share their experiences of building a successful brand.
It is a given that dices are loaded against women though they are the engines of the Indian economy. Often, gender bias turns their starting block into a stumbling block. However, technology is today helping them lead the way in the startup ecosystem.
Sumeet Singh said, “Before the world wide web, brand storytelling was through word of mouth and other mediums that needed dollars to create stories. However, the internet has changed the face of traditional forms of marketing, expanding a brand’s reach -both globally and hyper-locally.”
But, she cautioned, entrepreneurs need to get their checklist right before setting out to tell their brand story. Listing some common mistakes committed while conveying brand stories, she stressed they had to decipher the brand value, pitch the storytelling perfectly and plug in something relevant for customers.
“Effective advertising is advertising when you are ready. Just because you have started a business and everyone around you is telling a story, you don’t necessarily have to do the same. Before storytelling, we need to understand what the market need is and who our customers are,” she said.
Tara Bedi, highlighting the pros and cons of using the digital space for brand building, unveiled the secret sauce of leveraging Instagram as a platform for great storytelling. “The moment people see a watermark or logo, they switch off. You think about the way that you consume imagery and content. Try and put real things that can build an emotional connect: that’s really the key. Instagram lets you turn your passion into a business.”
Nidhi Agarwal, whose brand Karyaah faced 113 rejections from investors before getting funded by Ratan Tata, stressed on the importance of creating strong brand value over valuation. “We have 500 percent ROI (return on investment) over every dollar we have spent, and most of it has gone into building the brand. Even when there came a time when we had to sacrifice sales for brand value-led products, we did it. We never cared about valuation that much, and our focus has been more on creating value.”
As per a Facebook study, in 2015, 800 startups were founded and $5 billion raised as funding. However, only 72 (9 percent), entailing $168 million in funds, were led by women. This clearly bothered Namrata Kohli, Manager - Strategic Product Partnerships at Facebook, who observed, “When we go out and talk to women, we realise that four out of five of them want to start a business. Even if half of the women who say that they want to start a business actually do start out, we can expect 15.5 million new businesses getting unlocked in the next three years, which will lead to 64 million additional jobs.”
It is with this ambitious goal in mind that Facebook launched SheLeadsTech, an initiative that aims to make women the harbingers of economic growth.
This interactive platform for technology-driven startups, offers women entrepreneurs a host of benefits such as access to resources, a peer community, exclusive mentorship for a year in the form of monthly interactive Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions, and quarterly in-person engagements at events. To take the technology startups to newer heights of success, participants also get access to FbStart, a programme providing year-long technical support from Facebook through an exclusive community of global startups, free credits to tools, training on Facebook developer tools, and service from dozens of premier partners including MailChimp, App Annie, and Amazon.
The event had these important takeaways for women entrepreneurs:
Every great brand story is embedded with honesty;
Entrepreneurs should be clear about what they want;
They really need to be passionate about what they are doing;
This passion needs to strike a balance with business sense;
And if they are prepared to face the challenges on their entrepreneurial journey, they are well on the road to success.
So, if you are a woman founder/co-founder, and have a tech-enabled startup with a working bot in Messenger or native mobile app in the Google Play or Apple app store, then the SheLeadsTech programme is what you need to grow. Apply to be a part of the programme. Find out how to apply here.