However you've been describing your product so far, it was enough to get you into YC, so congratulations. But convincing consumers to jump on board can be a whole different ballgame. Consumers are far less focused on our future potential and far more focused on their own immediate needs and worries. This article is written to help you start moving from an early product description or YC pitch to a more consumer focused set of selling points, as quickly and painlessly as possible.
To get consumers on board we need to get them excited about our creation, but we don’t want to sound pushy or salesy. We need to find our tribe, but we don’t want to be attacked by the mob.
With those goals in mind, you'll find 3 parts to this article.
Part 1 is a short summary of the most common "mistakes" I can see after looking at every YC W23 website with consumers in mind. Think of these as general guiding principles.
Part 2 is a short version of my framework for creating a more compelling consumer pitch. It gets to the core of what really gets consumers to take action.
Part 3 is quick and dirty feedback on the current website copy of each individual startup in the W23 batch. Do a word search for your company name to jump straight to yours. (I'll release these in batches as quickly as possible, so that you have something specific to get started with.)
What's in this for me? I'm launching a fully supported training course for tech startups who want to write more compelling copy. If you find the feedback in this article useful, you're invited to join the beta for the complete course.
You can connect with me at email@example.com
When focused on building a technical product we tend to talk about the product first, its technical features, then at the very end we add on how this might help the customer. The customer's world view is the exact opposite to this. They think about themselves first, how they feel (usually uncomfortable) in a situation, only then does our product become relevant as a means away from that discomfort and towards a better future. The quickest way to improve most pitches is to flip them, talk about the user and their problem first, then connect the dots to your product and how it can solve their problem.
When looking for finance or backing we write about the product and the market from a neutral point of view because we're selling the idea to a 3rd party (like YC) but on our websites we want to talk directly to the users. Don't talk about markets and customers in the abstract. The consumers problems and hopes (their motivations) are personal.
A quick and easy way to tell how focused on your customer your copy is: Do a quick word count to see how many times you use the words "you, your" vs "me, I". A first draft of any copy is usually far too much about us, and our problems and our thoughts. That's just how we think as humans. We have to consciously flip that so we are putting the user and their needs and perspective first. As a general rule you want more "you, your" statements than "me, I" statements. (If using "we" or "our" as I do in this article, make sure that its in the context of being in the same boat as your users, not just the plural of "I".)
Our product is not the hero. Our startup is not the hero. The customer is the hero and the heroic journey is their life, not ours. Instead of positioning our product as the hero, we should position ourselves as a helpful guide on the journey, offering them a weapon, tool, shield, potion or wizardly wisdom that will allow them to progress more successfully to the next stage of their journey.
Don't jump to end of the story too quickly. For a narrative to deeply connect it needs a beginning, middle and end. The beginning is pain, the middle is the solution, the end is pleasure, or the removal of the pain. While it's ok to promise an ideal world in your headline, when it comes to telling your story in more detail, don't promise an ideal world until after making it clear that you understand your customer's pain. Without building that credibility there won't be enough trust in the bank for them to believe in your solution.
Don't use a website template as the starting point for writing a sales pitch. You're better starting with a blank page and writing a few compelling paragraphs that really connect, than filling in a bunch of carousels and bullet points with "stuff" to create the appearance of a website.
People who are great at making things, are often more comfortable with things and less comfortable with people. We betray this visually by showing lots of very big clear screenshots of product, (which often communicate very little meaning), while using tiny headshots of people (users). Try to flip this. Remember that our products are just a means to an end. The end is happier, more hopeful people (customers). Try to demonstrate that visually.
When we're starting out we only have our own words with which to communicate. But we should seek to change that as soon as possible, through talking, questioning and listening to customers. If an early pitch is mostly in our own voice, communicating our best guesses at what a customer wants, then each revision should seek to use more and more words that come from real users. A worthy goal is to replace all our words with those of our customer's and our customer's heroes. While this takes time, the questioning and collection process starts at the very beginning.
Don't get hung up on a fixed piece of writing or copy, as if it were a piece of art. (This tends to happen when you pay a copywriter a lot of money to make one.) Instead focus on understanding the underlying sales points that move your customers to action. Get used to constantly testing individual sales points, so that your copy evolves as your understanding of your market evolves. Once you understand the key sales points, you can create your own persuasive messaging wherever and whenever it's needed, whether that's in a tweet, an email, or a new product page.
Demonstrability is a really important word. How can we demonstrate the things we're saying? How can we make them bigger, brighter, bolder? How can we allow the user to experience them? Make them first person? Move them from abstract ideas, to personal experiences? It's hard to remember ideas, its easier to remember emotional experiences. It's even easier to remember dramatic emotional experiences. Demonstration often involves narrowing down your focus from "we can solve everything for everyone" to "watch us solve this one small problem for this one specific person". It also involves moving your product from "on paper" to "in the real world". To demonstrate "A 5GB hard drive MP3 player" using nothing but words, we can talk about "1000 songs in your pocket". To make it more dramatic we can pull that tiny device out of the little pocket in your jeans. To move beyond the technology we focus on the customer not the product, the ipod becomes small, the silouttes of individual humans dancing (enjoying) their favorite genres of music becomes the focus.
Developer to developer can be a great route to market and "by developers, for developers" can be a great pitch for the developers. But more often that not there will be non developers you also have to convince to approve the sale of your product. Even if you hope to have the developer doing the internal pitching for you, make it easy for them. As well as considering what it will take to convince a developer (this will make your life easy) consider what it will take to convince that developers boss / legal department / Ceo or controller of the budget. How will it also make their lives better?
Ok those are some useful guiding principles. In the next section we're going to look at how to start from scratch, asking the most important consumer focused questions and getting to the core of what causes people to take action...
We've been writing about persuasive communication since the Greeks, and likely long before. And what all of those writings point out is that people almost never make logical buying decisions. We make emotional buying decisions. And after we've made an emotional decision we look for some logical narrative to justify our decision, to ourselves and to those around us.
But there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what that really means. "Emotional" certainly doesn’t mean random, unintelligent or irrational.
An emotional decision is more like: A decision made unconsciously, based on my past experience, and the experience of those I respect.
So how can we make that work for us?
If we zoom in we see that people only ever buy one thing - hope.
Hope that the purchase will bring more comfort and control to some aspect of their life.
Let me repeat that because it’s incredibly important:
People only buy when they hope to gain more comfort and control in some aspect of their life.
We can think of "hope" as positive expectation.
We can think of "control" as if it were a fuel gauge.
The more control we feel over each aspect of our life, the more fuel we have in the tank and the more comfortable we feel as we make progress towards our goals.
When we feel out of control, the warning light starts to flash. We feel an uncomfortable urge to go top up our fuel and an anxiety about continuing our journey until we have.
We are constantly attempting to control our:
Time, Energy, Health, Riches & Resources, Power, Freedom, Sex, Love & Respect, Safety and Alliances.
Because we "believe" that one, or more, of these strategies will keep our genes alive into the future.
So, however abstract, logical or technical your product may seem, if your customer can’t connect those dots, between your tool and their unconscious drives, they simply won’t feel motivated to buy it.
We’re going to look at how to position your product and communicate its value through this deeply motivating lens.
How is your customer struggling, before they buy your product?
How will your customer experience more comfort and control, after they buy your product?
Why is it just like them to buy your product?
How can you prove this isn’t going to kill them? (Physically, emotionally or socially)
Why is now the perfect time for them to buy?
When we piece those answers together we are building a simple but complete narrative that demonstrates your value. It looks something like this:
Hi, we deeply understand the problem that’s giving you pain and we know it’s not your fault. We have a novel solution that promises to give you more comfort and control. It’s consistent with your past behavior and the people who matter to you will approve. It’s a low risk decision that can’t harm you and there’s a good reason for you to act now.
The specific language, the colors we use to paint the picture, and the type of comfort and control your customer is seeking, will be different for every product. But the underlying pattern, the structure, is essentially the same. And it’s the structure that does all the heavy lifting.
Let’s break it down and look at the first couple of questions in a little more detail…
Before we can persuade anyone of anything we need to know who we are talking with.
A useful first question is this - are we talking to the person who will use our product, or the person who will approve its purchase?
They are frequently different people with quite different values, goals and social pressures.
So before we attempt to create any kind of pitch, we need to pick the person we are trying to persuade and think only about them. We can have different conversations with different people later. But never all at once.
Identify as best you can who you want to communicate with first. If you're not sure, make a list of who we don't want to talk with. Are they going to use your product? Or approve its sale for someone else? Give them a name and some kind of identifying title.
Hint: Hi [Bob], I know you have an interest in [X]...
All valuable products solve at least one big problem. (Often more than one.) And all human problems have at least 3 components:
There’s the practical problem itself.
There’s the emotional part, or how it makes people feel.
And there’s the social part, or what other people will think.
Many technical products are good at solving the practical problem, but fail to address the emotional and social dimensions that are the source of the underlying motivation.
Without hitting all three, people will struggle to get as excited about your product as you think they should.
Here's an example from one of the startups...
A company is making software to allow local pharmacy's to sell their products and expertise online and compete with the online only guys.
Let's look at one aspect of the problem from the consumers point of view.
One of the practical problems they have is physically going to the pharmacy, standing in line and maybe asking the pharmacist for advice when they are sick.
How does this make them feel? Well they're sick, so normal activities require a lot more effort and focus. Travel, finding parking, standing in a queue, these are all more stressful and draining when you're sick.
What's the social aspect? Simply being sick in public is uncomfortable, we're naturally avoidant of strangers who are ill. We don't want to be around people, when we are sick, and we don't want to be around other sick people. More than that there's a high level of embarassment involved in the process of asking for medicines or worse, standing at the front of a queue and asking a pharmacist for advice on our sickness while surrounded by strangers.
So we can see that the ability to ask advice and order medications remotely has clear benefits. Simply saying it's "convenient" doesn't fully connect the dots of the real pains involved, practically, emotionally and socially.
Let’s think about these different aspects of the problem as they relate to your product...
You live with your product day after day, so you’re an expert on the problem(s) it solves, but to your customers it’s often new territory, so don’t overlook the fundamentals.
Describe the problem(s) your customer has from a practical, physical or technical point of view before they discover your product. What are they struggling to do? What's the situation they have? What are they trying to change? List as many problems as you can identify.
Hint: The practical problem(s) you have are…
Now let's think about how each practical problem makes our customer feel. Because it's those feelings about the problem, often uncomfortable feelings, that are motivating them to act in the first place.
Describe how the problem(s) make your customer feel before they discover your product. Do they feel rushed? Do they feel tired? Do they feel unwell? Do they feel impoverished? Do they feel powerless? Do they feel oppressed? Do they feel unloved or not understood? Do they feel anxious and uncertain about the future? Are they driven to have a family? Make the world better for their children? Or to be remembered?
Hint: These problem(s) make you feel…
If our customer's feelings aren't obvious to us, we can try to narrow down what it is that they are trying to achieve on a more fundamental level. We can assume that they are lacking control in this area of their life. Once we identify what type of control they are lacking, we can pinpoint the type of uncomfortable emotion that is usually associated with it.
There are a number of areas in which we generally seek more control:
Riches & Resources
Access to Sex, Love & Respect
Life & Legacy
Let's look at some common feelings and emotions that accompany them:
Not enough time - Unable to do all the things we need to do in order to succeed. Causing feelings of being rushed, pressured, under skilled and stressed.
Not enough energy - Unable to execute our plans fully, or do all that we know we need to do. Causing feelings of lethargy, tiredness.
Not enough health - Unable to move, think, act and carry out our plans. Causing feelings of weakness, pain and fear.
Not enough riches / resources - Unable to satiate your basic needs. Causing feelings of thirst, hunger, exposure, insecurity, poverty.
Not enough power - Unable to move other people, or things, to your will. A lack of leverage. Causing feelings of vulnerability, weakness, or impotence.
Not enough freedom - Unable to move yourself or live your life by your own design. Causing feelings of restriction, servitude or being stifled.
Not enough sex / love / respect - Unable to find sexual attention, friendship, admiration or respect for ones values. Causing feelings of childlessness, loneliness, a lack of connection, not being understood.
Not enough safety - Unable to predict what will happen in the future. Causing feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
Not enough social allies - Unable to predict how the social group will behave towards us. Causing feelings of isolation and vulnerability. (We’ll look at this one in more depth in the social question up next).
Not enough life / legacy - Unable to live forever, in body or sense of self. The drive to procreate in youth so our genes can survive and evolve, and the desire to improve the opportunities and conditions for our offspring. The discomfort of aging and the dread of death. Or the longing to be remembered for our accomplishments, ideas or values.
Consider how each of the common control strategies listed above applies (or doesn't) to your product and its individual features. Establish what type of control your customer is seeking and use that information to answer the previous question about how the problems are likely making them feel.
In most situations we don’t just consider our own needs. We worry about what other people will think of our actions.
This social aspect of human life is so important to our survival, it’s hard wired into our brain and affects every single decision we make and every action we take.
Social allegiance is so useful for our feeling of being Protected, that it is almost always a factor in how we choose to act.
Without social allies we feel isolated and vulnerable.
So it’s essential to know - what individuals or groups does your customer feel like they have to be aligned with for protection, and how will this affect their actions?
Establish who else matters to your customer in this situation? And how are they making your customer feel? Do they feel pressured by their boss or their peers? Do they feel intimidated by the opposite sex? Do they feel ignored by their parents? Do they feel like an outsider in their community? Do they feel vulnerable or isolated?
Hint: The problem also makes you feel… (uncomfortable in a different way) around… (these people who are important to you)
Once we’ve established the extent of the problem, we need to consider how serious or embarrassing it is.
If they feel guilty about having the problem, they will be too embarrassed to buy from us. So we have to take the pressure off and establish who, or what else, is to blame.
Problems don’t get solved because:
The customer didn’t implement an existing solution properly. (No customer ever wants to hear this)
The technology wasn’t advanced enough yet.
The previous solution, from our competitors, wasn’t as well designed as our new solution.
The times have changed.
There’s a big evil enemy that’s conspiring against them.
Briefly explain why the problem isn’t your customers' fault and why hasn’t it been solved already.
Hint: This has always been a really hard problem to solve because of (this)…
Now it’s time to present our solutions to the challenges our customer is experiencing. Again we’re going to look at the 3 types of solution. The practical, the emotional and the social. And then we’re going to consider what’s new about our solution.
Remember, this is the fundamentals of whatever problem your product solves. The basic features and benefits.
Describe your solutions to your customers problems from a practical, physical or technical point of view. What will your product let them have? What will they be able to do? How will the situation change after they have purchased your product?
Hint: With our product you'll be able to...
How will your product give your customer more control over their life and how will this make them feel more comfortable?
More time - Able to do all the things you want to do. Causing feelings of relaxation and comfort.
More energy - Able to execute on your plans. Causing feelings of energy, capability, strength.
More health - Able to operate optimally. Causing feelings of youthfulness, high energy, vigor, mobility.
More riches / resources - Able to satiate your basic needs. Causing feelings of fullness, protection, security, abundance.
More power - Able to move other people, or things, to your will. Having more leverage. Causing feelings of power, strength, effectiveness.
More freedom - Able to move yourself and live your life by your own design. Causing feelings of freedom, independence, possibility.
More sex / love / respect - Able to find sex, love, lust, admiration or respect for one's values. Causing feelings of connection, self acceptance, validation, joy, ecstasy.
More safety - Able to predict and avoid dangers in the future. Causing feelings of calm, familiarity, certainty, safety.
More allies - Able to call on allies and group strength for protection. Causing feelings of belonging, brotherhood, sisterhood, comradeship, group pride and safety. (We’ll look at this one in more depth in the next question).
More life / legacy - Able to continue your genetic line, give your offspring more opportunity and greater safety, make an impact on the world and be remembered after your time.
Describe how your solution will make the customer feel more comfortable and in control after they buy your product. Will they feel relaxed? Will they feel capable? Will they feel energetic? Will they feel abundance? Will they feel powerful? Will they feel free? Will they feel loved or respected? Will they feel safe? Will they feel belonging? Will they establish a legacy?
Hint: And you’ll feel…(more energetic, abundant, powerful, free, loved, safe, protected, remembered)
Once again, knowing how important the social aspect of any solution is, let’s make extra sure we have it covered.
Who are the powerful people or groups your customer wants to feel comfortable around, included in, and most importantly Protected by? And how will your product increase that sense of group belonging?
Describe how your product will make your customer feel more aligned with, and more accepted by other people, after they buy your product. Will it help them become more attractive to the opposite sex, recognized as a leader in their field, more respected in their parenting group, more intelligent amongst their peers etc.?
Hint: You’ll also feel… (more comfortable and in control) around… (these people who are important to you)
When describing the benefits, keep in mind what is new and novel about your product.
It’s likely that your customer has tried and failed to solve this problem in the past.
While they are still driven to solve the problem, their past, negative experiences will work against you. They’ll be skeptical and cynical and want to dismiss your product to save them from more pain.
So your solution needs to look and sound different enough to fit into a new category. It must be novel enough to allow your customer to feel a new sense of hope.
Briefly explain why your solution is new, novel or an improvement on past solutions.
Hint: This has always been a really hard problem to solve but because of (some new thing), things are finally changing…
Now you know the basics of what to do, let’s quickly look at why this approach works by laying some foundations.
To understand what motivates people to buy, we need to understand what motivates people to do anything.
Let's condense all the human sciences into a 90 second overview…
We're all subconsciously motivated by a simple primary drive: stay alive and reproduce. If we can achieve that goal, the unique combination of code that makes up our genes can survive and continue to replicate through time.
Sitting here today, we are part of an unbroken chain of survival and reproduction that goes all the way back to the very beginning of life on the planet, about 4 billion years ago.
That’s a lot of survival and reproduction. How did we manage it?
At this stage of our evolution we use water, food, mobility, clothing and shelter, social alliances, communication, weapons, tools, sex, and education.
(And we use money and social reputation as a convenient way to store value so that we can trade these things.)
It’s these everyday survival and reproduction strategies that determine our basic wants and needs. And we want more control over each of those categories.
Remember, we can think of control as a fuel gauge.
The more control we have over each category, the more fuel we have in the tank, and the more comfortable we feel. The less control we have over these things, the more uncomfortable we feel.
We want more time and energy. We want cleaner water. We want tastier/more nutritious food. We want faster, safer transport to more places. We want nicer clothes and a bigger house in a more prestigious location. We want to be more popular with better friends and alliances. We want more people to hear what we have to say. We want the tools and weapons that give us the most leverage. We want a more likable and attractive partner. We want a school and an environment that provides better opportunities for our children. We want more money and a better reputation. And we want to be remembered after we are gone. All for the purpose of staying alive and carrying our genetic and memetic torch forward.
Every product or service, however technical or complex, either serves these basic needs directly, is a tool (a lever) to serve them indirectly, or is hijacking the biology that drives us.
If it doesn’t, it has no value to us.
Now that we’ve established what everybody wants, the most important question, the thing that really makes all the difference is this: what is it that tips people over the edge, from wanting something to actually buying it?
It's rarely just a lack of money.
It turns out that when we want something, and when we feel motivated to act on that desire, we’re using completely different parts of our brain.
For the sake of simplicity let’s horrify the neuroscientists and imagine that the brain consists of only two parts. Our conscious and our subconscious.
Let’s call the voice we can hear in our head our consciousness. Always thinking, making plans, setting goals, trying to understand what’s going on and creating stories that seem to make sense of the world.
We tend to think of our consciousness as “us” or “who we are” , the clever “thinking part” that’s making all the decisions.
But in reality it’s our subconscious that determines when we take action. Making us move, act, get off the sofa or take out our wallet and buy. (Or not.)
Here’s how these two forces work together to move us (and our customers) forward in the world…
The process generally starts out with an uncomfortable feeling, like hunger. In response, we come up with a clever idea to solve the problem. “I see a restaurant, let’s go inside.”
But before we feel motivated to physically act on our wants, to literally move our muscles, our subconscious has to approve the action.
Our subconscious is not so concerned with perfectly optimizing our life. It just wants us to be safe and not run out of energy.
It doesn’t use logic or reason to decide if an idea is worth acting upon, it relies mostly on our previous experience of similar situations.
Did I feel pleasure or pain the last time I did something like this?
Now rather than scanning through all of our past memories every time we need to act, our subconscious creates simple rules over time. We call those rules our values.
A value effectively says - “Based on my past experience of how this kind of situation made me feel, I’m going to either move towards it, or away from it.” (I like it, or I don’t like it.)
Collectively our values become our identity. The way in which we typically act in the world.
But what if we don’t have any first hand experience? In that situation our subconscious will rely on the experience (the values) of the people we trust.
Initially our parents, then our peers, and eventually the people we look up to as heroes. (People who appear to have more control over their lives than us).
And that’s how we really make the majority of our “decisions”. They are not decisions in the conscious, logical sense at all.
They are predetermined by our values and based on our (limited) experience of the world, and the (limited) experience of the people we trust. And they happen completely unconsciously.
We feel driven, motivated, optimistic and hopeful. We start taking action naturally and with no resistance. We sign-up. We press the buy button. We consume.
We feel indifference, resistance, pessimism, cynicism, procrastination or revulsion.
Our subconscious doesn’t explain why it approved, or disapproved the action, it just sends us the feeling.
Our conscious mind is left to create a narrative about our own motivations. (Often a wildly incorrect narrative).
And so if we want people to follow through and buy our products, we must talk to both parts of their brain. The conscious and the subconscious.
And that’s exactly what we’re doing when we consider the questions in this framework.
We’re aligning our product with our customer’s deepest motivations. The strategies that have become hard wired to keep our genes alive.
We’re positioning our product as a lever to achieve more time, energy, health, riches/resources, power, freedom, sex/love/respect, reputation, safety and allies in their life. The increased feelings of control that lead to comfortable positive emotions.
We’re demonstrating consistency with their past actions, and the past actions of people they trust.
We’re lowering the risk of taking action, and we’re increasing the risk of not taking action.
A powerful combination of forces aligned to make more people say Yes.
Accounting platform for software companies from inception to IPO https://www.porter.software/
I love how there are a couple of positioning statements that try to make it clear who the product is not for. "Small business with no growth? Porter is not for you. Get a bookkeeper to manage Quickbooks." It respects the users time and maximises your own.
I also love the clarity of the main headline "Accounting platform for software companies" which tells me exactly what this is. And the second headline which tells me the emotional outcome or benefit this tool promises. "Peace of mind".
The most dominant thing on the page is the illustration of "the tech stack". I'd consider fleshing out the human aspects of the pitch. Expand on how the tool gives the user more control over this aspect of their business. And don't be afraid to lay out the negative aspects of not solving this problem. If "peace of mind" is the outcome, what's the set of negative emotions the user is currently experiencing? We feel satiated, quenched and content after a good meal, but it's as much the discomfort of hunger and thirst that prompts us to eat in the first place.
I'd connect the dots between your customer's greatest worries about what could go wrong, and the things they really think about. Does the person responsible for buying this type of product, think like a developer? Is accounting software to them just another part of a "tech stack"? Do they think of the company in terms of a machine, or a puzzle, or a game, or a system? Where all the components have to work together to create an outcome or prevent failure? Or is accounting software a necessary evil, a box to tick like getting a bank account or insurance? If so, what else are they really focused on and how could that be threatened if they screw up their accounting?
The current suggestion is that achieving "product market fit" is the real driver, and the software will give you "peace of mind" so that you can get back to focusing on "product market fit". Is this at odds with the "Small business with no growth?" point? If the client hasn't achieved some level of product market fit yet, how are they growing?
"Know your cash, runway, burn, and spending pattern on the 1st". It feels like there something missing from the end of this sentence. On the 1st what? 1st of the month? 1st software to do X? But hidden behind this brief sentence is an important statement about how your tool could give the user more control over this aspect of their business and life, and that's super important. "Know X because it will allow you to achieve Y and avoid Z." This simple formula helps the user connect the dots and feel the potential control they can gain. It's the sense of control that results in the "peace of mind".
There are 101 things that can kill a great product as it's being born, shaped and starting to grow, it lives in a precarious state, in a dangerous world and it's that danger, that potential killer of dreams that creates the emotional drive to do something, to protect ones hopes and dreams and ambitions. So I'd maybe test fleshing out the nature of that world. Make it as bold and bright and important as the idea of it being part of a tech stack.
We’re building an API for launching credit products. We enable any company to offer credit by handling origination, underwriting, compliance and servicing with just a few lines of code. https://www.pier-finance.com
There's a clear benefit, speed. "Launch your own credit product in weeks, not months", "Time is your most valuable currency."
There's also a hint at the pain involved in the process normally. "Bank sponsors take months", "Leave the toughest compliance and licensing burdens to us"
The technical aspect, the developer to developer side of the conversation about the product is pretty clear and well demonstrated, step by step.
The current messaging reads as a conversation from one developer to another developer. In that situation, the context and emotions aren't so important, it's all code, API's, math.
That delveoper to developer conversation is important. But there's almost always at least two other points of view in play, as well as the person building the tool, there's the end user and the person whose job it is to understand the end user and sell to them.
Some of the key emotional issues are hinted at, but can be expanded upon in more detail. "Leave the toughest compliance and licensing burdens to us, so you can focus on your customers." I'd double down on explaining exactly how tough, costly, risky, and often unsuccessful these compliance and licensing burdens really are.
Similarly with "Bank sponsors take months." What is involved in this process? How frequently or likely are you to put in a lot of work only to be rejected?
Speed and effort savings are both strong drivers. But often feel generic unless quantified. Especially motivating when the emotional toll of being slow, painful and then potentially being rejected is included for comparison.
There's nothing more painful that going through a difficult process to be rejected. Avoiding loss is a huge motivator.
The big opportunity here is to flesh out the use cases to include real scenarios that include the non-developers and the end users in specific contexts that round out the whole picture.
Rather than a list of potential industries "Trucking, Ecommerce, Health Care etc", include real, basic stories that deepen the level of comprehension. If you're in trucking, you only care about the trucking business. You know who the key decision makers are and you want to know the real benefits of this product to them and to you.
At this early stage that might require some exploratory conversations, but fleshing those stories out, industry by industry will be important. Better to focus on one industry at at time, than try to appeal to all industries at once.
Scenario's just make the abstract personal. The context, the problems, the emotions and the goals. That personal approach is what allows deep comprehension, understanding and benefits that motivate action.
"This is Bob, Bob leases Tesla trucks to independent truckers, many of them in the growing whatever sector in Alaska. The finance application process is usually the biggest pain in Bob's life. The effort he's put into building a highly motivating sales process through his own site teslatrucksrus.com is disrupted when he has to send potential clients off to 3rd party financing sites. Bob tells us that his truckers run into all sorts of problems, like this and that, which they find super stressful, and feel like they have to deal with those complexities on their own. A good 40% of his sales never make it past that financial application stage and Bob never really has the information to determine why. By bringing his leasing applications in-house using the Pier API he's able to..... its a quick, easy and low cost process for Bob's developer to integrate..."
So, in this super rough example scenario, in a couple of paragraphs we are telling a very context rich, specific story that includes all 3 key players, for a much more persuasive pitch. We're just connecting more dots for more people.
Minor: "The AWS of..." and "Democratizing X..." often make a pitch sound generic because they're just so frequently used. Getting specific about your customers solves that.
The founder bio's and pics are good. There's something very impersonal and inhuman about blank web forms. Maybe test adding one of the founder photos next to the contact form, so people feel like they're communicating with a specific individual. Adding alternative and more personal direct options also helps. A whatsapp or phone number, or personal email. Make it feel like someone is really there waiting to communicate.
Empowering Autism Care Providers to Go Independent. Our platform is simple: we provide everything providers need to go independent, from scheduling and billing to marketing and client support. https://www.finnihealth.com/
"Life changing care designed for your child. Finni provides world-class behavioral health care for your child, right at home!" A big clear promise.
Right after the headline there's reassurance that they likely accept your insurance provider, with a list of providers. A good practical barrier that's likely on the users mind from the start.
"In-home therapy: We know how difficult coordinating schedules can be. That’s why our therapists provide care where your child feels most comfortable." I love how the basic point "In home therapy" has been expanded to explain the benefits of scheduling for the parents and comfort for the child.
"We know it takes a village to take on ASD, that's why we provide full parent training and resources to all our families." "Our experts are on your side". We're on your side (you're not alone) is a very strong message. Combined with the series of similing friendly human faces on the page there's a positive and believeable feel that you're here to help the user."
So the YC pitch is care provider focused, but the site is mostly consumer focused. There's a clear request for care providers, but I didn't see much of a pitch aimed at the care providers. Other than the availability of some jobs. Where's the pitch for these guys?
Services are listed in a side scrolling carousel. Anything off screen likely won't be seen by most users. They're best used for only the least important supplemental information. Core services might be best all visible without the need for readers to take any action to see them.
Most expert fields tend to have their own jargon and acronyms, and many like to invent, maintain and encourage their use in order to sound "professional" and smarter than users, who are coming to them for expert advice. But every word and sentence carries a weight in a consumer pitch and they quickly build up and cause many readers to disconnect from what's being communicated. I'd be tempted to test an even simpler version of the whole page. Imagine you're writing for someone 20, or even 40 IQ points lower than you.
"Developmental counselling. We use developmental counselling to support your child's learning through interactions." Statements like this are essentially technical in nature. Imagine the client talking to his neighbor over the garden fence and saying something like this. The neighbor would have no clue what it really means, without some context, some examples. What kind of interactions? What specific problems are being solved with what specific interactions?
Even words like "facilitate" carry a weight that works against understanding as they build up. Simplify to every day language. eg. "We help you get a referal to a psychologist, so that you can see one in a matter of weeks, not months." Words and phrases that a reader wasn't using on a regular basis for the first 20 years of their life should be used very carefully and not very often.
Acronymns also carry a huge weight. A few are used so frequently the reader no longer needs to translate their meaning, but many are not. They require a split second of additional translation. That weight again builds up. The reading itself becomes an effort, rather than the focus being on the benefits of the message. Often a good idea to include in brackets, at least the first time, what any acronyn means.
Overall I think it's a very good consumer pitch, well designed and has some clear selling points. There's almost always an opportunity to simplify the language and to double down on the negative emotion prompting the users to seek a solution in the first place. That is not seen as being negative, it's felt as empathy - these guys really understand my pain!. Once that empathy is achieved, the reader is far more open to hearing and believing all the positive emotions and relief that your solution provides.
How is the mother's life negatively affected right now? How is the father's life negatively affected right now? What about the grandparents who are helping out? What other aspects of their life are suffering because they don't have an adequate childcare solution? How exhausting is it? What are the financial implications? The general quality of life? What about the child themselves? How are they suffering?
Now flip it, your carer is in place, it's 6 months later. What is the mother now able to do? What is the father able to do? The grandparents? How has the child progressed? How do they feel better? How are they more in control of their lives? What kind of control have they regained? Control of their time, their energy, their freedom? Their skills in being able to manage the situation?
These personal and specific before/after stories are often best told as customer stories or testimonials. But if not yet available can just be presented as illustrative scenarios.
Luca helps E-Commerce Operators decide how to price their products and when to update their prices, creating as much as 10% in incremental profit or sales. https://www.askluca.com/
"Customer demand for your product changes with: season, competitor pricing, inflation etc" I like this, clearly pointing out that the user is not in control of customer demand. It's volatile, ever shifting. This lack of control will cause a negative emotional response. It's a pain.
"Is your pricing strategy keeping up?" "You are leaving money on the table". I love this, it's an emotional appeal to loss. We are more motivated to not lose what we already have, than to take big risks to gain a little more.
"We understand that pricing across multiple SKUs on multiple platforms gets complicated. With Luca, push prices live to all of your platforms with just one click a." Before it was complicated, now it can be easy. This is the core of any good messaging. I'd double down on how "complicated" makes the user feel. (Typo at the end of that sentence?)
"AI-based pricing science to create 10% margin and revenue growth." "creating as much as 10% in incremental profit or sales." I'm no accountant, but there's something about these statements that feels a little less specific than it could do. And not quite consistent across messages. 10% is a very specific round number, but I'm not 100% clear on what it's 10% of. Margin, revenue, profit, sales? Those words can be interpreted as very different numbers, which makes the specific 10% claim (or upto 10%) feel less believable. I'd maybe talk to users and pick the one word they feel most relevant and the percentage, or percentage range they feel most believable and stick to it consistently.
On the volatility of customer demand and the lack of control this creates, I'd be tempted to specifically point those two things out. Rub the pain in a little.
That volatility, when applied across a wide range of product types also has to create a sense of overwhelm, or chaos, there's too much information to keep in mind, too many data points to consider, too many options. Infinite options tend to create paralysis or over simplified solutions. The human brain just isn't optimized to deal with that amount of information. Even the expert mind will find it exhausting.
"Smart Pricing Recommendations" there's something more to dig into here. There seem to be a number of potential pricing strategies, and points where action can be taken. Again there's a complexity and almost creativity involved. That's all demanding brain work. If feels like we could expand upon the how much of that effort can be outsourced to the AI.
On a similar thread it feels like there's something missing where we explain, not just that the "AI" can make suggestions but how it makes those suggestions. "AI" has such a vague fluid understanding in many people's minds. From something that's overhyped bs, to something that's about to take over the world as we know it. We know that keeping on top of all these datapoints is complex and effortful for a human brain, but we aren't explaining exactly how the AI is gathering and will continute to gather all the information it needs to make these smarter suggestions.
Once we can convince people that yes, this AI actually has access to more data and can process more data than we can, then we have an opportunity to give us control of that power. To put it back in our hands. Which is what the user always wants, the control. We want to outsource the effort but maintain the power. The fact that the AI is making "suggestions" is important. I'd just connect the dots to explain how you remain in the drivers seat, of an upgraded vehicle.
It reminds me of the food companies who started making cake mixes back in the day, when everything was done for the user, the "cook" felt like a fraud. So instead of including powdered eggs in the ready mix, they removed the egg and told the user to add their own eggs. This gave the sense of control and really being part of the process, back to the user. They could take ownership of the baking process, while still saving most of the effort. I think something similar could apply here. An expert business owner is successful because of his / her understanding of their market and many of those fluid data points in it. They will have a sense of pride in that knowledge. It's not so easy to tell them that an "AI" can do a better job than them. In the same way that it's not so easy to tell your Granny that a packet of powder can make a better cake than she can.
These ideas all come together to create a narrative about lack of control and the negative emotions it creates, and the increase of control and the positive emotions you could experience, all possible because of a tool you can trust, a tool that gives you more leverage to be creative. It's not a different pitch to the one I see, it's just a cohesive underlying structure that should feel more motivating to the user.
Workflow and data management for commercial real estate development. https://www.bidsight.io/
At the time I'm looking this pitch seems super early, but from the YC description I have a decent idea what the product is, and it seems to be targeting a specific part of the construction process, "pre-construction". There's a clear user pain "millions of dollars" at stake.
"Pre-construction is broken. We're here to fix it. Streamlined workflow and stakeholder management for commercial real estate developers. Maximize your productivity and reduce your costs." As the main headline I'd be thinking about making three tweaks here, which could be applied as general rules to the rest of the copy/site as it develops.
First, I'd shift the perspective from zoomed out, external and abstract, to first person and personal. Notice the change in perspective in those few current sentences. "Pre-construction is broken" this is a zoomed out industry overview pov. "Streamlined workflow and stakeholder management for commercial real estate developers." Now it zooms in a little bit to identify the group of people within the industry. "Maximize your productivity and reduce your costs." Only at the end does it become personal - "you".
Consider how the user, the "you" perceives their world. The whole thing is zoomed in for them, it's their life and experience. They come first. It's not abstract, its not zoomed out. It's personal and emotional, it's a history of mostly bad experiences that are prompting them to seek a new solution. So talking more directly to them on that level will have much more impact. Abstract is fine for investor pitches to people who are not personally involved, but for consumer/user pitches, best to be personal from the start.
The second suggestion would be to flip this way of thinking: "We're here to fix it." I'd recommend not positioning yourself as the hero. You are not the hero, the customer is the hero. It's his journey from pain to comfort, from struggle to mastery, from risk to reward, from lack of control to control.
As a solution provider you're a wizard with a magic wand, a shield or sword, a potent potion or words of wisdom. But they are the hero and we are a side character in their journey.
With this new perspective of them as the hero, and talking directly to their past painful experiences, and their future hopes and ambitions, the third suggestion comes more naturally when we use more personal and emotional language and leave behind the abstract corporate sounding words like "stakeholder management" and "maximizing productivity". When was the last time anyone went home after a successful day at work and told their partner "I successfully maximized productivity for my stakeholders today!"
Conversations with potential users will help establish those more human descriptions of what keeps these folks up at night, phrases that are more relatable and impactful to customers. Make everything more personal. Question each assumption about what's important to the user, personally. Even things like "losing millions of dollars". Whose money is that? Is it the users? How do they really feel about potentially losing millions of dollars? Is it the money that motivates them, or the loss of reputation and future opportunities? As always we're digging until we establish how they describe the feeling of being out of control in this context. And how they describe the feeling of being in control in this context.
Minor: The name "BidSight" feels like the name of a different product than the one described. Could use of "sight" be confusing for a construction product, where the word "site" as in "construction site" is commonly used? My best tip for naming is try to find something that uses alliteration. Naming takes a lot of thought, but a quick example of alliteration would be taking something like "Pre-construction" and calling it "Before the Build".
Measure your reps' knowledge using actual customer conversations. Fabius analyzes your Gong recordings to determine who knows your products, and provides real-world examples to close knowledge gaps. https://www.fabius.io/
While I wasn't familiar with some of the very specific tools mentioned in the YC description, I understand what the product does from the website. You're getting to see which parts of your sales process your reps are communicating or not communicating effectively, so you can correct their delivery.
You know what they are supposed to be saying to customers. Now this tool lets you see what they are actually saying to customers. Like most dashboard type products it's giving you a powerful level of control, an overview, where you can zoom in and out to spot individual strengths and weaknesses or general trends.
This product reminds me of a lesson learned when I was training for a sales position long, long ago. It was probably my first insight into the amount of work that was put into structuring a sales process that worked. The sales process itself was tried and true. It had been put together by the very best guys in the company. Every sales point and every combination had been tested in the field for years. It was highly effectly and relatively fixed, it only needed to be executed by the reps, with a little personality and likability.
The weak link in the process was always the reps (me being one of them). The most obvious reason a rep would not perform was down to the accumulation of rejections. Some reps just didn't have the character to deal with rejection. Other's would get into a slump after a number of missed sales. But less obvious and more surprising was how the high performing reps would often go through a cycle, from high performance to complete failure.
One such rep had gone through his training alongside me. He was an ex-military guy, used to following instructions to the letter. His sales for the first few weeks were through the roof. He seemed like an absolute "natural" but what was really happening was that he was simply following the sales process, as taught, to the letter.
Until about week four. In week four he went from 5 sales a week to zero. In week five he made zero sales again. He was devastated and started to second guess himself, maybe he'd just been on a lucky streak? He couldn't pin point what he was doing wrong. Until one of the old timers went out with him on a couple of sales calls.
What had happened at some point after three weeks of winning, was that this rep had started to believe that he had the magic touch, and he's started to take short cuts. He'd stopped communicating all the necessary sales points, in the necessary order. Because he now knew the sales pitch back to front he had started to imagine that the customer did as well. A fatal mistake. But also one that I saw repeated among other top performers.
It looks like your product solves that problem, for both the reps and the guys who put together the sales process in the first place. And they both have a rich and emotional story that you can relate too. It's not just a story of statistics and charts and performance percentages. Sales is an emotional process for everyone involved. It's a story about the ups and downs of a demanding job, the struggle that affects even the very best reps. And the emotional management of those human beings by those responsible for training and coaching them on a daily basis.
One of your customers may be a bean counter. The numbers may be all that matter to them. But they won't be the only person you have to persuade to buy this product. There's are more human stories to be told to the other decision makers, people who have to deal with the human emotions of the sales process, all the way down the line to the customer. I'd be talking to those guys to uncover more of those stories. They create a foundation of empathy and understanding that allows trust to be built and that generally has to come first, before people start to care about the specific details of any piece of software.
Another factor I didn't notice specifically mentioned was the huge cost of hiring and training reps successfully, in industries that are often very high turnover, because of how emotionally taxing sales can be.
The current positioning seems to be from a management only point of view. "Here's how you can gain more insight into your teams performance". But there's another potential use for this as a self evaluation tool. A "post match" review of your own performance. Self monitoring in the heat of the game is near impossible, but no one is more motivated to identify their own strengths and weaknesses than the reps themselves. An individual rep "view" could empower reps to self monitor, self correct and self educate.
In general you can see I'm just trying to think through who the individuals are, that are involved in this process. There's rarely just one. There's at least 3 in this case, maybe more, each with their own fears, hopes, ambitions. The more we can communicate to their individual needs, the more likely the concept will be accepted, and actually used over time.
AI that tells you which feature to build next. AI that listens to customer conversations to inform product decisions. https://www.vocify.com/
From the yc description I have a pretty good idea of what the product is all about.
"Our AI listens to sales and support calls, reads tickets and CRM notes, and parses through all other qualitative customer data to generate a list of rank ordered features that help close more deals and lose fewer customers. Test a hypothesis by using our AI-powered search to find all customers that have asked for something semantically similar to your query."
There's no working website at the time I'm looking, so I only have the yc description to run with. This sentence is the one that stands out to me the most. "AI that tells you which feature to build next." It stands out for two reasons, it's very clear as to what the product does. But I suspect it will also cause some discussion and controversy amongst product people.
That's neither a good or bad thing, but something worth knowing and running some tests with. A key concept in story telling is making people question whether something is good or bad. It's easier to notice in your favorite movies and movie stars. A 2 dimensional character, one who is either too evil, too perfect, too beautiful etc. is boring and doesn't hold our attention. We can predict how they will behave, so we don't feel involved or surprised by their actions.
In comparison, a 3 dimensional character is less clear cut. They might be a gangster but love their daughter, they might be beautiful but evil. With a 3 dimensional character we are forced to ask ourselves repeatedly "is this good or bad?". That reconciling with our own values creates engagement, we invest in the character, and in doing so become entertained.
The same applies to products or ideas. But that engagment is done publicly through debate. We discuss it with our friends. We argue the pros and cons and in doing so we create awareness. Some people will agree, some will disagree, but everyone will at least be talking about the topic and creating attention.
So that one sentence "AI that tells you which feature to build next." has the potential to create such a debate. It raises two questions, is it AI's place to tell us what to do? And is it the customers place to tell us what features to build into our product? The usual arguements are likely to surface. Was it Ford who said, "If I asked customers what they wanted, they'd tell me faster horses?"
So there's a more subtle way to describe this product. Where we could talk about gathering data from customers so that we can determine their intentions, and understand their underlying struggles and drives, allowing us to make better product decisions. And that subtle narrative is worth telling. But sometimes, in order to gain that initial attention, its ok to make bolder statements that get people thinking, talking and debating, even if they disagree.
We help Pharma companies develop long-acting formulations 50% faster. https://www.persist-ai.com/
"We Formulate Client Drugs Faster" It's pretty obvious from the yc description and the website, what value the company creates.
There are many references to increase speed as the key benefit throughout the text.
I see two main opportunities to quickly tweak the pitch for improved results.
First I'd run through all the copy with one goal in mind, making the conversation about Them, not about Us.
For example, there are several headlines and paragraphs focused on us/we the company. "We complete..." "We build..." "We build..." "We assay..." "We'll develop..." "We can provide..." "We formulate..." "We can test..." "With us..." "We utilize..." "We can target..." "We test..." "We can build..."
But we shouldn't be the hero of this story. We are enabling the user/buyer to become the hero. This is a story about making their lives better. So we can look at each statement through that lens, not what we do, but how our work can improve their lives.
It's no different than any face to face conversation. If we want someone to find us interesting, the less we talk about ourselves, and the more we ask about them, the more interesting they will find us. After all, we are just a means to an end, and that end is improving their life.
Increased speed is the clear benefit highlighted throughout, which is great. But it's always worth asking, what are the secondary benefits of increased speed for our buyer? Never leave "the obvious" unsaid. Improved speed means X, Y and Z for you... Give them all the raw material they need to connect those dots. Layer on the benefits, and the more personal, the better. Ask users what increased speed means for them personally. You may uncover secondary benefits (or dangers) you're not yet aware of.
"Meet Drug Dissolution & PK Targets". Never miss an opportunity to spell out the negatives of not achieving something, and the positives of achieving it. "I always dreaded missing our drug dissolution and pk targets. It means unnecessary repetition and cutting into our department budget, but with this new system we're able to file ahead of time, every time, and focus our energy on what really matters." (I have no idea what these target are, but you get the idea, the more we remind them of the real world personal pains and pleasures, the more motivating any statement becomes.)
When drafting copy we often naturally go through this process of talking about ourselves and the technical details of our product first, and then at the end we talk about the customer and we summarize with a simpler explanation of our product. This is the pattern I see here. The opening headline is very technical in nature. "We complete PLGA microsphere pre-formulation for clients in weeks, not years". While at the end of the page, we find a much simpler headline "We Formulate Client Drugs Faster". A second draft is where we want to flip that order. Simple, customer focused first, more technical and complex later in the pitch. And as already mentioned, rather than talking about "clients" in the abstract, talk directly to the client, they are the ones reading this. You or I. "I'm able to formula drugs in weeks, not years with Persist - A. Client".
Secondly I'd run through the copy again, with a "Suspicious hat" on. Looking at anything that seems inconsistent, or potentially sets of the trust alarms of an overly cautious person who has a lot to lose. (Your customer). Keep in mind that trying anything new is a high risk action for them. It's always easier to not act, than to act, unless you're on fire. So a part of their brain is always on the look out for why any new idea promising large benefits is BS and how that might backfire on them personally.
I'm not familiar with the phrase "scientific intuition" it may be a thing, but it rang an unnecessary alarm in my head. And many of the numbers started to ring bells. They didn't seem to add up, or be consistent across the yc pitch and the website.
"5 years of this effort is spent in pre-clinical development and 5 years in clinical testing. Our goal is to reduce the time it takes to do pre-clinical formulation development to 3 months with machine learning and automation so that the formulation development process is ~50% faster." I didn't understand the math of this statement for example.
"3 months", "In weeks not years", "Within weeks". I'd pick one defendable and believable statement about speed and use it consistently. Numbers are very specific things, sales promises are more vague, be careful when mixing the two or it can destroy the trust we're trying to build.
Minor: there's still some filler text on the website "Provide a general description of the items below and introduce the services you offer. Click on the text box to edit the content."
Berry is a chrome extension that allows teams to co-browse and collaborate in real-time on any website. https://www.berryapp.io/
"Work together on any website in real-time" simple, straightforward.
One question that came to mind is why feature an apple website in your example, for a chrome extension? Being featured by apple or google would obviously be a huge benefit, but which is more likely? As a chrome extension its already less likely that apple are going to want to promote it. So why alienate the chrome/google play folks by leading with an apple site?
Another question would be, how exactly are people communicating? The illustration shows 5 people in the collaboration. But how are they communicating their points? They appear to just be highlighting or drawing/using emojis on the page?
Is there voice? Is there chat? How are the points made recorded and remembered?
"Say goodbye to screen share latency, verbal coordination, and messy document links in chat." How painful a problem are these things? It's hard to imagine the positive alternative at this point because it's not yet clear how this is an alternative, in practice. If this tool allows 5 people to share anything, there's still likely to be some latency no? What is "verbal coordination?" and how many people ever used that phrase? If we want to trigger a pain, we should use the very simple language people use to explain that pain to each other. eg. "Avoid awkward pauses and people talking over each other". What are messy document links in chat? The next point on the page illustrates the sharing of a berry link in chat.
I appreciate that sometimes a piece of software is very hard to explain on paper, it simply works better than the alternatives. But there has to be a way to dramatically demonstrate that. Demonstrate the pain of existing solutions and demonstrate the increased control achieved by the new solution.
"Save 10 minutes per hour long meeting. Get instant audience feedback effortlessly." This doesn't feel strong. Asking people to take any new action, use any new tool, requires enough pain and the hope of enough increased benefit to overcome the perceived additional effort of learning how to use the new thing. Gaining 10 minutes feels like saving 10%, offers like this generally don't move the needle. They aren't a strong enough promise to overcome inertia. Unless you are the guy paying the wages of those 5 people in the meeting, then maybe you care about 10 minutes. Or an hour a day, or 7 hours a week. If you're that person, if you're leading a team doing the same type of collaboration day after day, maybe this is important to you, and you can write a whole pitch focused on and talking directly to that person.
"Just share a Berry link in your favorite meeting tool. Everyone who clicks on it will land on the doc or site you want to collaborate on." Does this mean that none of the other participants need to download the chrome extention? Are there permissions that the app requires people to accept before they can paricipate? (Allow X to access your mic/camera etc)?
Each illustration is showing 5 people on the screen or highlighting stuff on the screen at once. That feels like its communicating something more chaotic, than normal screen sharing. As a user I haven't yet been convinced that everyone being able to communicate at once (still not sure how) equals faster communication.
So this is harder than expected at this point for me to provide useful solutions, other than to notice what doesn't feel quite right at this early stage. At this point it's not entirely clear "How" people are communicating using this tool. I haven't been convinced there's a strong enough pain in the existing tools, for me to imagine the increased control I'll experience using this one. I generally dislike just pointing out what I don't think works, but it is a starting point, from which to dig deeper.
I'd be thinking about narrowing down who the user is, so that I can understand in more detail exactly who is in a great deal of pain using the existing solutions. Who cares enough about the negatives of screensharing to have finding a new solution at the Top of their todo list? When I know who those people are, then it might be easier to isolate what those pains really are, and what benefits they will respond to.
Map3 helps crypto services supercharge deposits. https://map3.xyz/
So these guys sound super smart, and I have to admit a lot of this crypto stuff goes right over my head. The only consolation I have is that I've sat in enough technical meetings where I felt like the dumbest guy on the planet, only to find out after the meeting that no one else really understood what was being offered either. Having experienced that so often I've found that it almost never hurts to give even the most technical products more human context.
The most common way I see technical pitches being created is to start with a website template and fill in the blanks. A technical person will generally start with the features, explain the details of those features, then at the end, add something brief about the customer.
In comparison, a marketer will try to start by thinking about the human beings involved. Who are they? How many decision makers are there? How many different types of users are there? Then try to establish the relevant pains and problems those users are suffering, (the cause of their motivation to care and act). Only then explaining how our technical solution solves those problems and is likely to make those human beings feel better in the future.
That model can be applied to any and all features, and the process will help identify things the humans really care about, which have been overlooked, and things that aren't so important that can be reprioritized.
As an example, let's look at the first feature point on the site: "Transaction Detection. Our SDK surfaces in-flight transactions, delivering a real-time account funding experience. Reduce anxiety for your users."
Now, to be clear I have absolutely no idea what this actually means. I'm not the target customer, so in theory that's not necessary, and it's not a criticism of the copy. But for the sake of demonstrating the principle behind what I'm suggesting, let me take a wild guess and very quickly create more human context for this technical feature, while thinking about how it affects the humans involved...
Imagined problem: "Your users feel uncomfortable starting a transaction, then having to endure an unknown period of time before that transaction is finally processed and their currency has arrived at its final destination. We've very quickly moved away from the days of handing over cash and shaking hands, and there's a fundamental anxiousness that this creates on your platform. To help you remove some of that uncertainty and make your users feel more comfortable trusting in your platform our SDK works with those "in-flight" transactions to create the impression of a real-time, hand to hand funding experience. You user gets to feel like the job has been done, and the transaction has taken place. The loop is closed and they can get on with other business without undue anxiety.
Again, I may be far off on what this particular feature actually achieves, but I hope the intention is visible. We're expanding on "reduce anxiety" to tell a more contextual human, emotional story that more of your potential customers should be able to comprehend more deeply.
When selling a very techincal tool, I always like to imagine that in addition to your technical customer, there's always a 3rd party who will have to approve the transaction. It might be a less technical CEO whose competency is managment, or a financial officer whose competency is accounting. They rarely understand the technical tool as well as you, but may be influcential in the decision. It's our job to help them feel smart and understand the bigger context.
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"Common Paper streamlined our commercial negotiations, freeing up our lawyers and contract managers to focus on more important matters. Our sales team is happy, and we've seen broad acceptance by our customers. Kelly Martin, Managing Counsel, Figma" Love the opening testimonial. The more you can have credible customers telling your story, the better. Including a nice smiling happy human headshot is also a win. Techincal sites tend towards large screenshots of product and tiny pics of happy users, but happy humans are far more motivating.
The "trusted by" customer logo panels, are great, but have quite a low trust level when you can't dig deeper into them. It's a useful goal to turn that list of logos into a complete list of happy customers who can eventually tell your whole story for you. Simply by asking early clients for feedback can be a great start to building those testimonials...
What were you struggling with that prompted you to try our X? What were you able to do better once you tried X? Which featured did you get the most use out of? What could we improve about X? With a few quick questions you can start building those testimonials, getting feedback and maybe opening the door to a more indepth case study that's useful for both parties involved.
I'd be tempted to not bury the key selling points. The basic premise "Let’s agree on what matters" copy is hidden away on the About page. Maybe test moving that to the homepage. It's positions the whole product nicely.
Also consider looking at these page description/links from the users pov. They sound "lawyery" rather than "consumery". "Standards" and "Committee" suggest beurocracy to me. Committee's push papers back and forth. But the overal premise is there should be less of that. By standardizing contracts you can have less "lawyer stuff" and faster, more economical results.
As a consumer I have likely already experienced the pain. And I'd be tempted to double down on illustrating it. You want the user to remember why dealing with lawyers can suck. This is a fine line because you're still providing legal services with a bunch of legal professionals. But there's a very clear and obvious pain that happens when two individuals who want to do business become abstracted and communication starts to be filtered by two law firms. Lawyer + lawyer = good for the lawyers, slow and costly for everyone else.
There's a story that I think needs to be told in a little more detail. There seem to be two elements to the general issue of solving this problem. There are lawyers (good and bad) and there are ways of conducting this type of legal service (systems and products). People generally attach painful or pleasurable emotions and memories more easily to the people involved, not the systems or products. So if you have a couple of bad lawyer experiences, you don't remember the particular systems involved, you just want to avoid "lawyers" in general.
You are already telling a story about a new type of legal system. But maybe it could also be expanded to tell a story about a new type of lawyer. Our systems are different and our lawywers behind the system are different. What is the cause of that difference? Generational? Values based? There has to be something that says - new system + new type of people = new hope.
It may help to devalue the old ways a little more, the ways that caused your customers pain in the past. And that would include talking about things like "committees" and anything slow and bureaucratic.
What's being sold is both protection and a necessary evil. As a necessary evil contracts can be simpler, faster and less costly. But remember the protection element, the insurance aspect, and always connect those dots when talking about individual products. What do they specifically gain in peace of mind and protection for each product?
I love the counter that helps demonstrate the number of contracts that get signed within 24 hours. And the reduction in "counter party paper"...
"Standard contracts get results: 63% of contracts signed within 24 hours. 47% reduction in counterparty paper". I'd be tempted to highlight that on the homepage, especially the 24 hour stat. That's the end goal people want, they want to move forward with business, while feeling protected, as quickly as possible.
"Choose from pre-trained models on our marketplace to get started right away: Marketing like apple. Blog posts like Netflix. Support Docs like Google Cloud." This is great, demonstrating the potential to model great work and get the ball rolling quickly.
"Upload examples and train a model to accomplish any task in minutes." This is the real power of AI's for consumer use, when you are the one teaching it the specifics of your product, voice and about your market. There's a creative process in play here that's human not technical. We model our heroes first, then as we gain enough personal reference experiences (feedback from the market/world) we develop our own unique voice.
I like that there are use cases even if only very brief.
My first question would be, who do you see as the customer for this? At first glance the pitch is targeting two very different types of people. And it kind of raises a question about where you see AI going in the next year or two. And what approach is most likely to win.
I see two types of language being used. Most of the page is very technical, using AI language and acronyms that only a technical person focused on AI will understand or care about.
Then there's the use case section, which briefly but clearly defines 3 less technical customers, to whom AI is just a means to achieve a specific task.
It reminds me a little of the early days of software like photoshop and illustrator and even the mac. You ended up with "mac guys" who were the gatekeepers of the software, you sketched out some creative goal and they operated the software and the hardware.
Those guys almost don't exist now because each new competitor makes it easier and easier for the end user to understand and operate those tools themselves.
I suspect the same will happen with AI tools, but at 100x the speed. The AI tools that will win, won't need tech guys or AI guys as intermediaries. One of the main premises is that we can communicate with these tools using natural language right?
So in that situation, why try to sell it to end users, using technical language?
I'd super simplify all the language for end users, who are only just dipping their toe into AI waters. Make them feel smart, not lacking.
Avoid all generic language "end to end tools for businesses" "Better results" "Better prices", these could be applied to any product in any market. But the features demonstrated underneath seem really interesting. Highlight the basic problem that's being solved here first.
Everyone's played with one or another AI now, and it seems cool, but its generic. It doesn't understand your specific products, way of talking or the style of communication you want to model. So being able to train it, to understand you and your market is great.
The fact that you can model other successful companies is cool. There's nothing new under the sun, and while we should aspire to create our own voice, human's learn by modeling their heroes before developing their own style, so it's a fundamental ways of learning.
And that's what marketing is at its core. Learning what makes your customers act. You're learning about your customers, you're simultaneously learning how to be a better marketer, and now you're learning how to train an AI to be able to process 100x the information you could manage yourself.
Control is a constant element that motivates or demotivates action. Does any AI tool make its user feel more in control of their job, or less in control? So many people are scared to death that they aren't at the helm of these products, and the product itself if going to make them irrelevant. Any AI product has to clearly demonstrate how it gives the User more control.
I think I'd be creating a pitch around those ideas in very simple language. Dig deeper into those use cases with fleshed out examples. Demonstrate how this increases your control and allows you to deploy your AI so that its working for you to learn about your market, and learn about what other marketing is working, and combine those into your unique product voice.
The real journey is not one of "Train - Deploy - Monitor" that's the technical path. The real journey is an emotional human one. From a sense of being out of control in a rapidly changing competitive environment, to one of having more control, and an even stronger, more effective voice, than ever before.
Don't talk about "deepening insights for your language models". What's the before and after? Before: AI is impressive but generic and a little scary, is it going to make my job obsolete? After: You're at the helm, training your AI to understand the marketing you love, and the specifics of your products, and deploying it to learn about your audience, and assist you in completing your daily tasks at a super human speed and scale.
As always, important to remember that AI is not the hero, the customer is the hero. We are not the smart ones, the customer is the smart one. They don't need to learn our technical gobbledy gook so they can join our club, we have to demonstrate how it makes their life better, so they can't wait to give us money.
Dollar banking for Latin America https://www.littio.co/
Nice clear product description.
At the time of looking the website is either down, or not yet created, so I have nothing but the tagline to go off. How could we improve that? Let's break it down, "Dollar banking for Latin America" we have a feature "Dollar banking" and what sounds like a market segment "Latin America". So as outsiders we can imply some value for some market and we have a basic idea what it is.
If we wanted to improve the impact that would have on actual consumers we could zoom in more. We're not talking to a market segment or a geographic location, we're talking to people. How do they identify themselves? I don't know at this point, but we could start by making them people. Swap "Latin America" for "Latin Americans".
Now let's look at the feature "Dollar banking" and ask ourselves what the human benefit of dollar banking is for our individual Latin Americans? I'm going to guess "stability". So let's connect those dots. Stable banking, or stable dollar-backed banking.
What's at risk here? Their money, which is the store of their hard earned labor, and the promise of a better future.
Stable, dollar-backed banking, for Latin Americans.
Stable banking for Latin Americans.
Dollar backed protection for your hard earned money.
Stable banking for Latin Americans.
Dollar backed protection for your life savings.
Stable banking for Latin Americans.
Dollar backed protection for your money, for your family, for your future.
Payments & Treasury Management for African businesses. We help African businesses, startups and emerging market commerce to manage their liquidity challenges, invoices & global payment needs through our APIs and web platform. https://waza.co/
It seems pretty clear what the product is.
The first thing that comes to mind is the sophistication of the language being used. In fields that demand a certain level of credibility, startups often try to sound sophisticated by modelling the language and promises of the established competition. But the real opportunity lies in being more relatable to real customers and their real problems.
When presented with sophisticated language people often end up saying "I just want to do X and I can't because of Y, can you solve that?"
"Access to USD & EUR intermediaries for global payments are limited and in short supply." This is the only hint at a customer problem that I can see, and its surrounded by far more sophisticated language that detracts from the down to earth problems they might be experiencing.
The promise is to "enable" but there's no mention of what's disabling them in the first place. What's stopping African traders using all the tools everyone else does? Where are the problems and pains? How can we emphathise with their struggles first, in a way that makes it clear that the problem is real and not their fault?.. before we promise to solve the problem?
The thing to remember is that people experience their problems emotionally. Not intellectually. It's that emotion that moves them, literally to look for an alternative in the first place. Our advantage as a startup is that we don't have to sound like a stuffy 200 year old bank full of accountants and economist types.
"Treasury", "liquidity challenges", "Intra-Africa", "Illiquid", "We abstract the complexities of fulfiling your payment obligations and managing your liquidity". What are the down to earth, every day versions of these?
There's really 4 distinct pitches here, 3 to the consumers, and 1 to technical folk "developer to developer" and I'd completely separate them. Consumers don't want to hear about API's.
"Traders, large multi-national organisations and other financial institutions" are three very different markets that need to hear that you understand their unique needs, even if its in just a couple of paragraphs. It may be that talking about "treasury management" is relevant to a financial institution, but isn't relatable to a trader. When we try to capture and talk to everyone in a few feature points, we end up being trusted by no one.
I can't quite tell if this is being aimed at consumers directly, or entirely at developers as a kind of wholesale product. (Or both) If the plan is to grow via developers, even their current struggles can be highlighted. How are developers currently attempting to get around these problems? How are their workarounds risky for them? How is this better as a safe business choice, not just technically easier?
Trust, safety, peace of mind, anxiety, risk, threats, security. In general I don't feel any of the emotional drives that people feel when their money is at risk. Once each consumer group is thought of separately, this is easier to establish where their unique pain and pleasure lies. How they process the risks personally.
The digital toolbox for startups. Sorted is the tool to manage all your tools. Startups use a wide array of digital tools - and managing them is a pain. With Sorted you can do access management, cost control, workflow automation and tool provisioning in one place; and it takes just 2 minutes to set up. Long-term Sorted aims to be the headless Head of IT for startups and scaleups. Reducing the need for provisioning, procurement and endless product-demos to decide on the right tools for your SaaS stack.https://www.sorted.tools/
"Discover the tools being used in your organisation with a few clicks. Take control of costs, employee access management and eliminate redundant tools in your stack from one place." This gave me a clearer idea of what the product does than the YC description did.
I like the 5 step illustration of the problem from an onboarding pov, tucked away on the About page. Making the problems clear is always a win, before talking about how you solve them.
There's useful information on the "Product" page.
First thought was that the metaphor isn't quite right. The YC description calls it "a digital toolbox". The website introduces it as "a tool to manage your tools". Those are two quite different things. In a previous life I trained as an Electrical Engineer, so I've carried many a tool box over the years. Tool boxes store and carry, they do very little in the way of managing their contents, they are a dumb tool, not an active tool. I was reminded of my time in trade school, there was a tool room where all the tools would be loaned out. And there was a guy who sat at the window of that tool room. He knew everything about the use and management of those tools. He knew which tools to buy, repair and replace. We called him the tool master, I have no idea what his real title was. But it sounds like he did what this software is doing. Later on in the YC description its mentioned "Long-term Sorted aims to be the headless Head of IT for startups and scaleups." I think this is starting to get closer to the truth.
Second thought was that there should be some distinction between "startup" and growing startup. At first glance I didn't understand the need for the product at all. The vast majority of startups never make it past a handful of people, certainly not enough to care about sofware management. But this was covered in the later description under the test "scaleups" which I think is much more useful a description that implies a size large enough to have this kind of problem. I'd test setting the scene for that problem right at the start - You've survived, you're growing like crazy, everyone is bringing in their own favorite tools, everyone is asking you to pay for different apps, chaos reigns and you've been assigned the job of making it all work together...
Now we can revisit what the title of who that person is. Who is feeling this pain? Is this their official job? Or have they been landed with it? Are they actually the head of IT, or something else?
Thinking about that old "tool master", if there's a desire to make this task seem more important, more interesting, we could call it the Quartermaster position. eg. "Whether you like it or not, you've ended up in charge of managing everyone's software, you're the Quartermaster, making sure your troops have the right tools to communicate efficiently and get the job done smoothly." You could play around with the Q from James Bond idea.
Don't bury the problem you're solving on the 3rd page (About). People expect to learn about the people behind the company on the About page. The problem you are solving should be the first thing new visitors see, that creates the empathy for them to care about everything else. Similarly with the Product page. People care about their problems, not our products. Products are just a means to a people problem.
Rather than listing product features, then working out how they might help the human beings invovled, start with the human beings, start with the painful situations that arise with those human beings. Then talk about how the features help.
What are the key points in the lifecycle of people using apps? Onboarding has already been mentioned and that's a key one, and a time of increased anxiety for new users. Then you have the monthly grind, as the team is growing and the quantity of apps grows your overhead or burn rate is getting bloated, when you need to stay lean and mean. Then you have off boarding or whatever you call it these days when people leave, also a time of high anxiety and a time of increased security risk. Three distinct situations with people, where a clear pain can be illustrated, and a clear benefit can be demonstrated, but from a slightly more human pov. Some of this info is kinda in there already, its just a case of drawing it out into a more human story. Connect the dots for people up front, we have to make them care.
Collaborative ML ETL platform for data scientists. At DAGWorks Inc. our goal is to change how ML teams are staffed and operate. We’re building an open core SaaS platform to streamline development and operation of ML ETLs in a collaborative, self-service manner, utilizing a company's existing MLOps and data infrastructure. https://www.dagworks.io/home
I think it's important to know where you can and can't add enough value to a project to make it worth everyone's while. I think this kind of project is at the edge of where I can add value, which is just a reflection on my skills, nothing at all to do with this startup.
Bridging the gap between technically minded product creators and almost always less technically minded, more emotionally driven customers is where I can add most value. Most technical creators themselves, are emotionally driven when they are consuming, not creating. But there is a point where a product, in a specific field and its customer base is just nerdy nerd stuff for nerds all the way down. :) And that could apply to technicians in any field, not just computer science.
Part of me will always be convinced that replacing generic phrases like "no more spaghetti code" with more specific situational stories of struggle and pain, is the way to go. And part of me wants to believe that every acronym has a cost on sales. The more acronymns you layer on top of each other, the less motivating towards action any conversation becomes.
However, there are domains where the creation of a whole new language that only the operators can understand is just how it is. Only time will tell how well the intended customers of this product can relate to whatever problem it solves. But based on the little info I have access too, I can't see an obvious way to add value, so apologies for that.
Having grown up in the UK, with some cultural influence from our Australian cousins, the name "Dagworks" has some negative connotations. But I'm not sure how much of an issue that would be in this case. Probably not much.
If I can offer anything, it would be to focus on ways to Demonstrate the core promise, which seems to be "Your ML needs will grow in complexity. Your maintenance shouldn't."
What is maintenance like initially, before it's a problem?
When does it become a problem?
What does that problem look and feel like?
How does the individual and the organization start to lose control?
And what do they lose control over?
What's the cost of that complexity? In financial, time and human terms?
What/who else does that complexity affect in the business?
How specifically does your product come into play at this point?
How specifically does it reduce that complexity? Examples, 1,2,3.
What does the world look like now things are better?
How are things smoother, more efficient, faster, less costly?
What are the knock on positive effects for the individual using this and the company as a whole?
How can we demonstrate that maintenance is not just a necessary evil, a necessary overhead, but an opportunity for competitive advantage?
How is maintenance a key way in which an individual and an organization can maintain more control over their world?
Automate and scale electronic invoicing. No matter where you are in the world, Invopop is designed to integrate with local partners so companies can get their invoices where they need them, and in the formats required by customers, governments, and finance teams.https://www.invopop.com/
I have a good idea what's being sold from the existing copy.
I love that a good attempt has already been made to touch on the problem, to highlight the many aspects, tax rates, legal compliance. "hard", "nightmare", "developers hate", "time wasted".
So it looks like this pitch is firmly focused on the developer as the consumer. If that's the case I'd double down on fleshing out the developers journey. Expand even more on the very real risks associated with getting this wrong. We're highly motivated to avoid pain and risk. If a developer is responsible for a cog in the machine that can result in the flow of income for a business drying up, or even worse creating future tax problems, that's a high risk situation, it's not just a technical pain, its a personal weight and responsibility.
On the flip side, there's a heroic potential, if that same developer can improve the flow of cash into the business, and streamline the beurocracies. As with any outside product or consultancy, you're removing risk and giving the hero more tools, more protection and more control.
There are some great sales points under this header "Make it easy for developers, no-coders, and finance teams to convert sales into invoices and forward them to where they’re needed."
If the developers are the consumer, reword these statements directly to them. Don't state them in the abstract. "If you're a developer, or even a no-coder or finance team, invopop makes it easy for you to convert sales into invoices and forward them to where they're needed, so you can optimise the flow of cash back into your organization and secure its growth."
It's fine to start with a feature, then explain what it does, then work out what the human benefit is. But after we've done that, its best to flip the order, so that the first thing the reader sees (and cares about) is how they will benefit.
Eg. "Open schema", "Integrations", "Workflow Engine", "Accessible data". All dry and not very motivating features. But at the very end of those features you've already highlighted what people really care about. "you and your colleagues will love", "if Invopop doesn't support it, ask us, we'll integrate it!", "if it fails, it'll keep trying for you.", "make it easy to deal solve problems." (typo in that last one). The last point being made is the most personal and motivating, so flip how these are presented and use those personal benefits as the headlines.
"Invopop converts your sales into invoices and connects them anywhere you need." It feels like there's a piece of this story missing, a piece that positions the whole task as being more critical to the overall running of the business. No one wants to be just a cog in a machine, they want to be a critical, heroic cog in a machine that's flying to the moon. Find a metaphor that's more complete, that creates a bigger end to the story. Invoicing provides the lifeblood of the business. The oxygen, the energy, whatever. You're part of a bigger flowing system. A hero with a bigger mission. Sending an invoice is not the end. Getting money back into the business quickly, with no delays and no fucture risks, so that the business can thrive and everyone can keep getting paid, that's the end of the story.
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The mission of the company, the product and how it fits into a bigger global narrative are all very clear.
The "without compromise" is a smart positioning. I'm guessing any early craft with this kind of knew technology is initially targeting the private jet crowd for now.
Great that there's an FAQ, facing common and potentially critical questions head on. Always best to face doubters rather than just try to have everything positive.
I'm super nit picking to find anything to improve at this stage without more info on progress, because everything is very well done...
Australia - why is this the most credible place to build? Most US citizens know almost nothing about Australia. Maybe expand a little on the history of aviation in Austalia and the reality of long distances people have to travel.
As well as the large aerospace companies who are established in Oz I believe there's also a thriving small plane community. Build on that history of flying around the bush. What are those small planes called with the incredibly short take off and landing requirements? Are they Australian designed and built?
Connect the dots between the wider aerospace world and Australia. Also maybe to the engineering credibility of Australia. Maybe point out that places like Perth were built from the ground up quite recently by a workforce of very practically minded engineers, makers and doers.
Can we ground the shiny models of what could to happen in the future to what is happening in the present with some real world imagery? Workshop images? Machinary? Engines? Schematics? Engineers? To change the narrative from "this could happen" to "this is happening".
The press article links are great. I'd maybe pull out a headline or positive quote from each, so at a glance the impression is not just that credible people are talking about us, but credible people are saying positive things. Instead of "The Guardian" say "The Guardian - Hydrogen is a truly sustainable solution"
A minor UI downside, is that many of the subheads use a + sign next to them, which makes the headlines look like they could be clickable/expandable, when they aren't.
There was an embedded video that wouldn't load for me, even with several attempts. Minor glitches like this can have a very real unconscious impact in an industry where the expectation is that everything needs to work, every time, without fail. In practice I don't think I've ever found a way to host video more reliable that YT.
I love that the first faq question has an expanded concertina, so there can be no doubt about the user interface, "this is how it works". Good old "Don't make people think" stuff.
Compare and prequalify your mortgage credit. Fast and easy. Holacasa helps you to quote, compare and apply without cost or commitment to your mortgage credit. https://www.holacasa.mx/
It's pretty clear what the product is from the existing descriptions.
There's something about the current design that doesn't seem to clarify the basic messages as well as it could. The page is full of very small pieces of information and very small images. The hierarchy of importance could be clearer. I'd test a design where a handful of much more basic key pieces of information are pulled out and made much bigger and bolder.
Various generic outcomes like "fast and easy", "no hidden costs", "easy and efficient", "save time and money", "safe and private". When you see a page full of these it feels generic, they could almost apply to any product, so the overall message doesn't pull the reader in and feel personal.
In contrast the very last thing on the page is a couple of testimonials. The first one creates a much more specific promise. It's also grounded in what people want to avoid. Which is much more motivating. Compare "Thanks to Holacasa I did not have to waste hours in line at the bank to get my mortgage loan - Miguel" with "Fast and easy". The personal, situational testimonial is far more meaningful. Do more of these.
The first thing I would do is dig deeper into exactly what else the Miguels of the world dislike and are trying to avoid when it comes to applying for finance. I don't know without investigation but let's take some guesses for the sake of illustration...
What does Miguel most want to avoid when applying for finance? Sure he want to avoid waiting in line at a bank. But mostly he wants to avoid the embarassment of being rejected after that wait in line. He wants to avoid being told he isn't elibible. Or he can only raise 60% of what he needs. Or finding out that his credit score is lower than he thought in front of his future wife. He wants to avoid multiple credit applications affecting his credit score.
He starts in a situation of uncertainty, with little control over the outcome. He is asking others, unseen authorities to approve or reject him. He is facing the consequences of his financial decisions over the last several years, or maybe even his entire life. It's a confronting situation in which he feels very little control. He's feels like he's going "cap in hand" asking some faceless bank to approve of his life decisions, intelligence and work ethic so far.
Those fears, conscious or unconscious aren't removed with simple "quick and easy" promises.
Now let's add the context of doing this via a real estate agent. In this situation he appears to have a little more control. He is in a position to say "I want this house, or that house" or "I will go buy from some other agent" but in reality he's seeking approval to pay for his choices. He will still feel embarassed in front of the agent, who will quickly lose interest in him, if he is not approved.
This whole process is as much about managing the emotions, the "ego" of the end customer as it is the financial approval or rejection. Once that is established as the real problem, a more personal approach can be attempted. Because the financial approval, is pretty much pre-ordained. The banks already know whether they are likely to approve or decline Miguel. He's a math equation. There's no real value to add to that equation. Only the process of making Miguel and the agent feel more comfortable about going through it, that's where the real value can be added.
So a general approach to this would be to communicate these benefits mostly through testimonials, maybe half a dozen Miguel's. But to point out what they were worried about first, before communicating the desirable outcome.
"To be honest I was uncertain about my financial situation and was a little unsure about applying for an apartment loan, but my agent was so understanding and introduced me to holacasa, we were able to find out exactly how much I was able to borrow..."
"After building my business for the last few years my income has been limited so I was unsure whether my credit would allow me to get a mortgage right now and I didn't want to be turned away by one bank after another, holacasa helped me find a sympathetic lender who understood my present situation and were happy to invest in my future...
I'm making these up, but the point is, they are real situations, with real human fears and doubts, and we're facing how many users actually feel head on. We want the user seeing a testimonial and thinking "that's me! that's my situation, I am also worried about X, and want to achieve Y". That empathy creates a hope that is specific and meaningful and sets you above any other generic comparison sites, because you are able to give the user what they really want, to feel more in control of the process, and to avoid, as much as possible, rejection.
Rejection makes people feel completely out of control of their life.
For services like this I would guess that the majority of users are in fact "slightly difficult cases". The individual who has fantastic credit, and/or is financially more sophisticated, rarely needs to find unfamiliar lenders, especially through agents. Their own banks, who already know them, are begging them to borrow at good rates.
The second testimonial sounds slightly less impressive "Hellocasa helped me get my credit approved in less than a week, I was able to buy my apartment." It reads like it took a week to get approved, which sounds like a long time for a digital service. Although buying an apartment in a week is very fast. Is the comma in the right place? If it is, in today's fast paced world I'd explain how long it could take first. "I was told by one bank that it usually takes 3-4 weeks for approval, but Holacasa were able to approve my mortgage in less than a week."
I appreciate Miguel and Miranda may be imaginary customers at this easy stage, but even if illustrative, (for now) I'd recommend making them bigger and bolder. Tiny little headshots are not convincing, make them half a page, big bold, real humans we can relate to.
The page was in Spanish, so I'm relying on Google for the translation, and the terms may be slightly different in Mexico, but as a general rule I'd always try to simplify the language, the end user doesn't want to learn financial trade terms for things, they understand the process in basic language. I see the term "mortgage credit" used several times. But to a user the question is not "what is my mortgage credit?" it's "how much money can I borrow for an apartment?" So, state that plainly "Find out how you much money you can borrow for an apartment, in advance." Or "Looking for a house or apartment? Find out how much buying power you have, in advance."
While I've mostly framed this as talking to the end borrower, the same can be applied to seeing it through an agents lens. They don't want to waste time with buyers who can't buy, and they don't want to have to tell users they were not approved for loans either, it's also a pain for them.
Another quick question, in some countries, each loan application will be recorded with credit reference bureaus, and multiple applications can temporarily affect and lower a persons credit score. Is this also an issue in Mexico, and does it affect this process in any way? If its an issue (that users aren't aware of) it could be another reason to avoid applying directly to multiple banks yourself.
Fast and easy code review. Software engineers spend upwards of 30% of their time doing code review. This process is time-consuming because pull requests can be large and complex. Backprop helps ease this pain by analyzing pull requests and breaking them down into small, self-sufficient sections that make reviewing code easier for engineers. https://www.backprop.io/
I like the YC description above, with some caveats I'll cover later. One reason is that any tool which at its core breaks down a difficult task into smaller pieces is potentially very powerful. It might not seem like such an important thing, but marketing is about understanding human nature, and maybe the second most useful thing to know about human nature is the importance of gradual exposure in solving most human problems. And gradual exposure is another way of saying, break a task down into smaller chunks to overcome the anticipated emotional pain.
The first thing I noticed is that the YC description isn't as clearly used on the website itself. The website follows the common more technical (us, our product, you) format of talking about Features, then how the features work, and only lastly talking about the users pain points. Flip it. It's the users pain points that create the motivation to care in the first place. So put them first. Then expain how your features remove the pain. How they do that, and how their world will be personally better for it last.
The website pitch feels a little less personal. The focus is far more on the generic "fast and easy". Yes speed is frequently a factor in anything we have to do, we're human, we have limited time, and time has a cost, especially in a business. But time is rarely as personally motivating as we think. The person paying your wages is likely more aware of how much time you spend on a task, than you are. Instead you (as the engineer) are more aware of how painful the task is. Time is subjective. If you're enjoying the task, you don't notice the time. If the task creates emotional resistance, if its "hard" then the time is going to drag. You don't feel that as a percentage of man hours, you feel it as emotional resistance. That's the part currently missing from the website pitch.
As a secondary benefit in the subheader it says "Navigate large pull requests easily so you can leave better feedback in less time." That could be a useful social benefit. Most tasks are improved by considering who else is involved. So I'd connect those dots all the way. Think in terms of "good for you, good for the people around you". You can do that simply by naming the other people who will benefit (and in turn, appreciate you more). "Navigate large pull requests easily so you can leave better feedback for your collegues, in less time." I don't know who those people are, but the more specific you can be, the more meaningful. It could be "collegues", "fellow engineers", "coding partner" whatever the situation.
So back to the main pain/relief. I'd double down on describing the mental and emotional load that comes with "large and complex" code reviews. Talk to engineers and get them to describe this in detail in their own words. How does it make them feel? What metaphors do they use? Describe the resistance. How do they attempt to avoid the task? What do they find themselves doing instead?
Then think about why this pain isn't their fault. Maybe as a species we're just not optimized for this kind of focus, or this level of complexity. Attempting it isn't optimal, or smart. What is smart is breaking it down into manageable chunks.... Have some authority give credibility to this. Find some quote from Huberman about dopamine or something and the importance of approaching tasks at the right scale to be optimally rewarding.
Then finally explore how the better world will look, emotionally. As well as including the "30% of your time is spent in code review" I'd include the subjective angle mentioned above. Initially that 30% can feel like a lifetime and pain and effort. In the end, it can be a pleasurable flow state as you tackle issues one at a time, creating value at an optimal speed and pace. The overall message is that the increase in control is not just control over your time spent, but control over how the process feels. Whether it feels good, or feels bad. And how confident that makes you feel overall about your skills as an engineer.
You don't just end up with faster coding, you end up a more competent, more confident engineer.
The SV characters in the screenshots are a fun touch. (The calendar dates in the screenshots will quickly date them though.)
Software to speed up internet construction. Clad is building contractor management software for telecom companies. There are >4,000 telcos in the US that rely on 3rd party contractors to do $86B per year of network construction (e.g., laying fiber optic cable, building cell towers). The way they work together is painful and highly manual - reliant on phone calls, emails, and spreadsheets.https://withclad.com/
The practical description of the product in the YC description is very clear.
First thoughts are that the website copy itself isn't quite as clear as the YC description above. If I hadn't read the YC description first, I'd be a little more confused about who the copy is talking to.
It's always useful to confirm right away who this is for. Who you're talking to. Instead of "A better way to work with broadband contractors." Confirm the user is in the right place. If the primary user is the Telco, speak directly to them. "A better way for Telcos to work with broadband contractors."
Now everyone is clear on who's who. We can start two jobs, understanding exactly who the decision makers inside Telco's are. That is, who is motivated to make things "better" and what does "better" look like to them personally?
Once we can answer those questions we can start to get really specific and get the right people to care.
"Responsible for Telco operations? Clad is a better way to work with broadband contractors."
There is an "About" section at the bottom of the page, let's see if we can tweak a few things...
"Our mission is to help the world connect faster." This type of statement is more of a consumer focused thing. It probably won't motivate our decision maker to act. A useful way to test the motivating power of any statement is to ask ourselves, does our user lie awake at night worrying about this?
This is a business tool. Very specific business people, whether they are bean counters, or practical operations types are in some kind of pain. If the existing process is really broken, they are already looking for some kind of relief. Both professionally and personally.
They care less about our mission to save the world, than they care about their effort, pain, and chances of promotion. So speak to them about their problems first.
"At the heart of this construction is the relationship between a telco and the contractors doing the network construction. Despite dramatic improvements in our network technology, this mission-critical relationship remains broken and stuck in the past." Here we're talking about the customer who is going to be reading this, in the third person, and we're telling them that the they way they have worked their whole life is broken and stuck in the past. We then double down on blaming the customer with "Telecom companies waste far too much time and money when working with contractors. And contractors struggle to reliably build a profitable business."
Then we position ourselves as the hero. "Clad is here to change that. We make it simple, fast, and delightful for telecom companies and contractors to partner together. If we're successful, the future of a high quality, deeply connected, world will get arrive much faster."
So, from their point of view: we are insulting their business practices, and then flying in to save the world, with a big promise that we aren't quite sure we can actually accomplish "if we're successful".
I'd test rewriting this, but they are the heroes, and we are a helpful wizard providing a useful tool to help them on their journey. And we need to find someone or something else to blame for the problems they are struggling with.
We could start by talking to as many potential customers as possible, and finding out why they use the tools they currently use. If they suck, why do they still use them? Whatever the answer we'll likely find they have a narrative that we'll need to counter somehow. It might be as simple as "contractors aren't software type people" and "everyone has access to email and excel" or whatever it might be, first we need to undertand why the world is the way it is. And what inertia we need to overcome. Because the default is always to not change, until the pain is unbearable.
People don't like to experiment with new things, there's always a perceived cost, the perceived cost of having to learn something new, something you might not understand, something that might make you feel old, out of touch, stupid etc.
Those old tools, are getting the job done, and have got the job done for most of their career, so if they are to be replaced we really have to lay out the specifics of how they are causing unnecessary pain and how that pain is experienced by the user. And making it really clear how much better their life will be, with the new tools.
And as always we can look at the problem purely from a control point of view. How does the existing system limit the users sense of being in control? In control of all the moving part, the people and the supplies, as well as their time and emotional involvement?
What's the users risk of not updating their system? How do they perceive the risk of not remaining competitive? How do they perceive their competition? Are the threats external, local or internal? That young buck who's climbing his way up the internal ladder and has his eye on their job? Personal motivations are far more powerful than global promises.
Why is this not their fault? How is this a real, secret competitive advantage for them? How will this be incredibly easy for them to understand and operate? Lots of ways to deepen this pitch but they all revolve around the idea of speaking directly to the user and making them the hero of this story.
We're building push-button software for drug design, driven by breakthroughs in generative AI. https://www.diffuse.bio/
Just a couple of words can make a big difference to how comprehendable a pitch is. The YC description talks about the technical details of both biology and AI, but doesn't give any context as to who should care. Right now the website contains only 1 sentence, fewer words than the YC description, but by giving it more context (these technologies are used to design new drugs) the product is 100% clearer.
Expand on that context. The technologies (protein design and AI) are not primary. What they enable (drug design) is not primary. The people who will personally benefit, and choose or decline to purchase this technology are the element that we need to undertand as much as we understand everything else. Who cares about improved protein design? Who exactly is looking for this solution? What exactly do they worry about? What exactly are they motivated by?
Always keep the buyer in mind. We all see the world through a personal lens, so we naturally presume that everyone else experiences the world the same way we do. We presume that they too have been focused on generative AI and protein design for the last 6 years and share the same set of reference experiences as we do. But that's never the case. Out customers have their own quite different reference experiences, creating their own hopes and fears, goals and drives. We have to connect the dots between their personal needs and our general solution.
Workflow automation for construction finances. https://www.inbuild.ai/
The website has one of those "slidey things" (that's a technical term) that lets you calculate your savings depending on a number of factors, like number of invoices, time to process each, and employee salary. I love those things, especially when they ask for enough information to be credible in their estimations. The key thing they achieve is Demonstrability. Most pitches make vague promises about being "faster and cheaper" which have no real impact. Being able to answer "But just how much?" to demonstrate how the individual reading the pitch will get value from a product is really important and far more personally motivating.
There's something missing from the rest of the pitch, but without talking to more real potential users, I can't say what it is yet. But beyond the time/cost savings, which may be enough for a large client, the human element is missing. Maybe issues around accuracy, trust, skill level. I'm not sure.
What's the ideal client size for this product? I'm going to take an educated guess and say that the paperwork for many small construction companies is done by some member of the founders family. Maybe someone who isn't a professional accountant, or wasn't specifically trained to be. Issues of skill and problems with accuracy could be a greater problem.
But if the time/cost savings are real, then it makes sense to focus on those who can make the biggest savings, the fastest. The only testimonial I saw appeared to be a small contractor. The example used was reducing 16 hours of work a month to 4. Testimonials very much help position a product. One that appeals to the small contractor will likely be off putting to the larger contractor. A 16 hour a month problem isn't that painful of a problem, compared to someone who manages an office full of people dealing with a constant flow of paperwork from many sources.
Similarly the mindset of a contractor, or his family member, is not the same as that of a CFO or manager who deeply understand the inefficiencies of processing payments.
The lead headline is pushing "most intelligent" as the key feature. Which implies that a lack of intelligence is the main problem that's causing the user pain. That doesn't feel right. If we talked to a couple of dozen expert users in this field, would they say their payment people were not as intelligent as they needed them to be?
Or would the say they aren't as fast? Or as accurate? Or something else?
I agree that "Manually entering" is likely a key issue. Humans are flawed with any manual process, this would likely fall under the "accuracy" issue. But at least you can ask a real person to check a suspected error. I'm not convinced that describing this tool as "an ideal virtual assistant" is the way to go. That's a very different thing.
"Revolutionizing the Construction Accounts Payable Process" I'd avoid hyped promises like this, unless very specific to one or two benefits. They can actually damage the credibility of other parts of the pitch.
Don't hide benefits behind carousels. If a benefit is important it should be fleshed out fully on the page as a key problem/solution. Random screenshots that don't really demonstrate anything don't add to a pitch.
There's actually a lot of points on the page, some of them repeated, but they don't feel prioritized or fleshed out in enough depth to feel compelling. We could likely half the points being made, but make those fewer points sounds far more important. For instance doubling down on the cost of inaccuracy. Inaccuracy leads to non-payment or misfiling, which leads to constractor disputes, law suits, or being audited. A small problem caused by a staff member, becomes a personal responsibility nightmare for the person in charge (the customer). In a paragraph, rather than scattered bullet points, you're telling a more complete story about something the user may well feel personally motivated to avoid.
These more personal and motivating arguements can only really be made after picking a market segment (size) and talking to lots of users, and really understanding what keeps them awake at night. And what prior problems they are already motivated to avoid. Just those conversations can be the start of more descriptive "testimonials". At least you can demonstrate that you really understand the users problems, which is the first step to making your solution seem like an obvious fit.
Sanvivo builds a multisided platform to enable customers to order medications, get pharmaceutical advice, and book health services at local pharmacies in Europe. Like Doordash for pharmacies. Pharmacies play a significant role in every decentralized healthcare system. With their well-established infrastructure, they provide essential medications and pharmaceutical consultations ad hoc for every citizen. However, using state-of-the-art e-commerce methods, online mail-order pharmacies take more and more customers away from local pharmacies. This is the case even though mail-order pharmacies provide less consultation and slower supply. Sanvivo uses technology to give local pharmacies digital superpowers, enabling them to combine fast supply and high-quality consultation with state of the are e-commerce solutions like last-mile delivery. https://www.sanvivo.eu/
I love that its founded by an actual pharmacist, who is visible, and there's a short video version of the pitch in the context of a pharmacy.
The YC description, above has got some key selling points. (They aren't quite as clear in the website pitch...)
Here's the headline and opening copy summary on the website...
"More time for the essentials
Sanvivo is the easy-to-use all-in-one solution for digitizing your pharmacy. Spend more time with your customers and less time on complicated digital applications. Benefit from no set-up costs and a 30-day money-back guarantee."
My first thought is that the YC description has a very clear and compelling problem that will be keeping pharmacy owners awake at night - online "mail-order" pharmacies are killing your business. That's a strong motivation to care, but it's not being used to lead the website. The website copy defaults to conveniences: time, easy to use, all in one, avoiding complicated apps and the target is "digitizing your pharmacy" which is an abstract technical concept.
When there's a clear and strong motivator, lead with it. That's what's making them want to act in the first place. All the other points are relevent, but secondary.
Pharmacies really aren't driven to "digitize" they are driven to survive. "Digitizing" is a necessary means to that end.
The copy I'm reading is all Google translated from German, so it could be the translation, or it could be local terminology but all the talk of "digitizing" and "digital" sounds a little dated. "Only the most relevant products are displayed in the digital visual selection of the Vivoly app". "Your digital visual choice - display of the top "OTC products" in the shop". Just the constant use of the word "digital" makes simple things actually sound more complicated and technical than they need to be.
What I would suggest though is doubling down on those key pain points first though, before positioning the solutions.
The copy goes straight to talking about the solution:
"The following points are particularly important to me:
My customers should remain mine in the future
Easy to use - no training required
Applications are tailored to everyday pharmacy life"
Instead I'd highlight them as specific problems first. Underneath the general banner of online pharmacies eating your lunch.
Local pharmacies are under attack from well funded, well organized online companies who offer increasingly fast deliveries and provide anonimity and the convenince of rapid ordering. No need to leave the house or stand in line before taking action. The threat to our future is very real.
Everyday I get offers from platforms who want to put our services online, but so far they all have problems...
- My customers are no longer my customers
- The platforms are complex and difficult to use requiring extensive training
- The applications do not fit in with the every day operations of a working pharmacy
That being said, we can absolutely see the benefits of being able to offer our products digitally, where and when it's most convenient for our users. And as highly trained Pharmacies we have the advantage of being able to offer the expert advice that is highly valued by our customers.
With those things in mind we developed a platform that allows you to sell your products online while...
- Maintaining and deepening the personal relationship with your customers
- Using an easy to use, intuitive system that requires no training
- Through an application that's tailored to the reality of everyday life in the pharmacy
- While still allowing customers the convenience of expert and personal advice
That's just a very quick illustration but we've done a couple of things. We've highlighted the pain, before offering the solution. It's all under the main motivating umbrella of "they are going to put us out of business". It's acknowledging that there are some real benefits to online order for the end user. But it's also acknowledging our strength as experts. All in one mini pitch, before expanding into the individual details as has already been done on the site.
I would say there's also some basic details missing of how the product works. A very basic practical overview. The customer does A, the pharmacy does B, a delivery driver does C. I actually have no idea how the process works and what advantages at each step can be highlighted. The "like doordash" aspect of the service seems to be completely missing from the website? Only specific technical details are mentioned. How does the product get to the customer, and how quickly?
If there are already 950 customers, you could have dozen and dozens of testimonials explaining the benefits of this product in the users own voices. The end goal should be to have them tell as much of the story as possible, (both the threats and the solution) its always more convincing than having the creator do it, even when the creator is a Pharmacist.
Quazel is a conversational language learning tool that helps people learn a language simply by talking. In unscripted and dynamic conversation users can say whatever they like into the microphone and the AI responds and carries on the conversation. Learners can talk about anything they want and can even create completely unique conversations using the scene builder. https://www.quazel.com/
"Learning a new language is hard. Even worse, conversational practice, the aspect people care most about, gets disregarded by current digital products." I love that the pitch starts by clearly highlighting the problem.
So we've started with the problem, that's great. But can we go even deeper in empathizing with the user? We've established that "conversational practice" is the "aspect people care most about" but why is it? Why is it disregarded by other products? Or is that statement even true?
I'd say there are dozens of attempts by other companies to connect language learners with language speakers so that one may learn the art of conversation with the other. And we all agree that the conversational practice is critical, because anyone who has attempted to learn a language knows that being able to repeat back phrases is not the same as being bombarded with natural conversation from a real human being. There's a speed and a pressure which make it a totally different situation.
So what is it that makes those other conversational practice options a real pain to use?
- Options where you are partnering with a professional tutor require an increased cost and scheduling, which is inconvenient.
- Options where you are pared with non professionals also generally require scheduling, but people will regularly get scared and not turn up.
- Both options are potentially stressfull. Why?
Practicing any new skill is stressful, because by definition as a learner your skill level is low, most tutors are not that skilled as tutors, and most non profesisonals are even less skilled as tutors. So you're practicing a skill that you're not very good at, resulting in a very high failure rate. Failing generally makes us feel bad. Failing in front of people who aren't skilled at dealing with failure is downright painful.
We end up being constantly corrected, people get frustrated, we get laughed at. We become embarassed and the whole process generally makes us feel less positive about ourselves. The pain of each session builds up, until there's nothing positive to look forwards to and we abandon the practice altogether.
It isn't just hard, its downright painful, embarassing and demotivating. It's very emotional and very personal.
So the first thing I would test is fleshing out that pain, in detail, making it very clear we understand it. Only then focusing on how the solution, our ai, provides the ideal tutor or practice partner.
And it does that by being supporting, correcting and guiding without judgement, without embarassment, without scheduling. It gently corrects and builds our confidence. It allows for the perfect supportive learning environment. It's pain free.
Next point, It's not entirely clear at what level this is positioned and I think that would help a lot. It seems to be that this is not a "from scratch" tool for the absolute beginner? You are expected to at least be able to have a go at conversation, before being corrected?
Clarifying the level its aimed at will help. Expectations are huge. Ideally a tool like this would have enough prompts that you could start with zero knowledge. But that's not entirely clear and the wrong expectations can end up giving a perfectly good tool a poor reputation/rating, simply because it attracted the wrong level of user.
Right now, there's not enough before hand demonstration for me to fully understand how it would work. And there's usually quite a high barrier to getting people to "just try it", even if just trying it is easy. Very few people want to just try something they anticipate they might fail at. Very few people set themselves up for failure. Its not good for our sense of general competence, its far easier to avoid testing our limits, than to get closer to them in any way.
Pricing: "These services get more expensive the more people use them". Unless positioning a product deliberately as the best/premium, which this likely isn't, its best to avoid using the word "expensive". Expensive is translated as "too much".
Simply say that you pay for how much you use the service and how much value you receive. The user doesn't care about our behind the scenes costs. "3 conversation credits" doesn't feel like a lot. We only just start to create patterns with 3 repetitions. If you're trying to sell someone on a idea you really want to think of 7 interactions as a starting point.
Name: Quazel. Names for products are incredibly difficult, and founders generally get so attached to names they've been using interally they are very reluctant to change them. But the only thing that really matters about a name, is will people remember it easily enough to share it? (You remember it because it is the focus of your life. It is not the focus of theirs). There's an argument about invented names from the old days of positioning, when giant corps are willing to spend tens of millions to educate the public on the name of a new product or company. If you told me that Quazel was a new drug, or a character from the old Testement, I would believe you. If you asked me - will a first time user remember it enough to recall it next week, or tell their friend about it from memory, or does it have any intrinsic meaning that adds to the overall feeling of the product? My gut says there are better alternatives waiting to be found. Alliteration is our friend here.
For startups who don't have that cash, the name needs to spread like butter on a hot day. And whenever possible I'd make that part of a structured experiment, not a gamble on the one name the founders could agree on.
The difference in growth between a name that people can remember combined with a positioning statement that really touches on the pain of the problem can be such a multipler, its always worth setting up some experiments to try and beat your current name and tagline, in the first couple of years.
That approach in general is the way to go. For me, marketing isn't a one off best guess, however much experience we have, it's a series of ongoing best guesses, tying to best yesterday's best guess as we understand the market and the individuals in it on deeper and deeper levels. Especially around what actually drives them to take action. Because the second our motivation is to make money and not to learn a language, our perspecive has diverged from that of our users, and it tends to get wider and wider over time, the more our product becomes our business.
BerriAI is a platform that allows you to ingest your data, build, iterate and deploy production-ready LLM apps in minutes. https://berri.ai/
"Build chatGPT Apps in minutes". I didn't have any idea what this was from the YC description, but just by the addition of a better headline on the site, I get it now, and it's far more exciting.
My recommendation would be to continue down that path. Stop talking about technology and developer stuff, start talking about real world problems and solutions. Demonstrate the day to day problems this solves, for the specific types of people who could use it.
The companies that will win with these apps are the ones who allow the CEO to realize the potential of ChatGPT while he's playing around with it on a Sunday evening. Or the head of HR to improve their processes in a year when their budget is down 20%. Or the ambitious intern to dramatically improve the customer service department they're working at over the summer.
"Civilians" solving day to day problems, not just developers solving technical problems.
I'd recommend starting to describe things in terms consumers will better understand. What is the nature of this process? Get back to basics. I've never heard so much hype around a tool as I hear about ChatGPT, but very few people really understand how to benefit from it.
Don't talk about "data". A customer service employee doesn't deal with data, they deal with frustrated users, asking questions in an emotional manner. They need to respond to those questions, in a sympathetic and less emotional manner.
A consumer interested in buying a product has fears and worries, as well as a curiosity for how a product might improve their life. Again this is not data, it's personal.
There's a finite number of "data types" that we can name to better demonstrate them, so that the majority of potential users can better understand how this solves their problem.
Instead of saying "upload your notion doc, pdf or spreadsheet" talk about uploading your user manual, your support documentation, your sales materials etc.
Lay out those most common use cases - what does this app allow them to do? Build a chatbot that can sell. Build a chatbot that can offer support 24-7. Build a chatbot to answer common onboarding/offboarding questions. etc.
Move from document formats and app complications to specific consumer problems and better business solutions.
The user's goal isn't "deploys" (that's your goal). The user's goal is to solve their business problem. But within those 498 deploys should be a wealth of stories about real solutions we could dig into if we start to view this as a problem solving tool. Not just a developer tool. I'd say, start uncovering those stories, start inspiring non-developers with the immense potential of these tools.
Upfront helps merchants sell climate-friendly products by consolidating rebates, savings, and financing all in one place. When rebates and energy savings are taken into account, the most efficient appliances are less expensive than alternatives, creating a win for both the customer, the merchant, and the climate. https://knowupfront.com
"When rebates and energy savings are taken into account, the most efficient appliances are less expensive than alternatives". Clear benefits from the YC description.
We can improve this one really quickly. The context given in the YC description is completely missing from the current website copy. (just those 2 or 3 sentences above. If I hadn't read the YC description first I would have no idea what this product is, who its for and who else benefits.
On the website it isn't clear who the copy is talking to. It isn't clear what the rebates are for. Who the "consumer" is. Or what they are buying. The only clue is a couple looking inside a fridge.
The human brain is efficient, it will never spend time trying to solve problems it isn't highly motivated to solve. Working out relevance is one of those things it won't spend time on. In copywriting we say the purpose of the headline is to sell the sub header. The purpose of the sub header is to sell the introduction, and on and on. Each line deepening the relevance and helping the reader understand the value available to them.
Just incorporate all the "obvious" stuff into the existing copy. Presume the reader has never heard of you before, knows nothing about you, or the product, or even the availability of rebates. Start with identifying who that user is - I presume the store owner - name them, "If you retail consumer appliances and white goods..." (or whatever you call them in the states) so they know everything that follows is relevant to them. Those customers can likely also be sub divided into independent store owners or corporate decision makers for large chains. And then incorporate the rest of those details and benefits mentioned in the YC description.
We’re Milestones, and we’re building the bridge between businesses CRM and their clients. http://www.getmilestones.com
There's so much good stuff in the YC description I'm going to break it all down below.
"Keep clients in the know. We’re Milestones, and we’re building the bridge between businesses CRM and their clients."
This bit I'm not so sure about. It's a puzzle you're asking me to solve. I have no idea why I need a bridge between my CRM and my clients. And my brain is unlikely to free up any energy to find out.
When turning this into a consumer pitch, its often best to start by talking about the customer, rather than about ourselves ("we, we").
"In 2018, Co-Founder, Manny’s wife, was in a car accident on her way to work. The injuries she suffered put her out of work for a few weeks and caused emotional trauma, so she decided to hire a lawyer to get her compensation. During the course of her legal case, she never felt like she was kept in the loop. She didn’t understand the process and always wanted more information."
This is superb. Almost perfect example of how you can tell a dramatic story that demonstrates a need in just a few sentences. Brains are highly engaged by this kind of human story. Notice how specific, human, emotional and dramatic it is. I love it.
If I were fine tuning this, I'd want to move the point at which the emotional pain was emphasized. Currently it's the accident that is causing suffering and trauma. But we're not solving the accident, we're solving the after affects and how they relate to communication. We want to move the pain to the part we are solving. (Or add additional pain at that point.) "She didn’t understand the process and always wanted more information". This is the point where we want the pain to be centered. "She didn’t understand the process and always wanted more information...making her feel even [more emotionally bad and emotionally bad in another way for good measure]."
"When a client wants more info should they always have to reach out? Do you text Amazon to ask them where your package is at? No! We believe you shouldn’t have to text a business to see where your project is at either."
This is also superb. A perfect comparison to being able to track a package. Something almost everyone has experienced. Useful to note what's happening when we track a package - it's the core of what I talk about in the course: Control and Comfort. We feel anticipation and excitement when we order something we really want (positive emotions) when it takes a little too long we start to feel negative emotions, where is it? Did it get lost? Maybe we need to make sure we're at home to schedule a big delivery and keep it out of the hands of those porch pirates. We anticipate loss. The technical process, being able to see, and sometimes interact with the delivery gives us the perception of Control, and sometimes actual control, in a process previously beyond our control. In doing so it allows us to manage our emotional states. More control = more comfort = take my money.
In two paragraphs I have a very good idea what this products gives me (as a consumer), because I can relate it to past first hand experience, and you captured my attention with a human story. So, even if I am a company, and not a client, I can clearly empathize with how my clients might feel.
"A Two-Sided Problem
Clients: In today's day and age it's typical to have all the information we want at our fingertips. Clients get frustrated because they want to know what is being worked on and what comes next.
Businesses: Businesses are often much too busy to keep clients updated with every phase of their project. Businesses often store a wealth of information in their software, but that information is never communicated/available to clients."
Clear distinction between the two groups of people using the product. I'm sure we can go deeper into their problems but this is a good start. On the client end, I love that the emotional downsides are included. "Frustrated". Whenever we do that we can think of it as 1/3 of the equation. What do we turn that frustration into? And who else is involved? (Family members, colleagues etc). On the business side, the clients negative emotions also likely spill over to become our problems. Frustrated emotional clients tie up our phone lines, waiting rooms and give our staff a hard time. (Practical problems we feel) in addition to us wanting to make clients feel good in general. We can flesh out the pain that we feel that's caused by emotional clients in more detail. As a consumer the initially story got me emotionally. Now we want to repeat that process for the business owner, we need to tell an internal, emotional, painful story.
Think about your interactions with various businesses:
Getting a loan
Building a house
How much better would it be if there was a Domino's Pizza Tracker-esque interface for each one?"
I feel a context shift here that doesn't seem to match what I've read so far. I'm not sure where I am in the story, as a reader. I'm being directly asked to connect the dots between a series of specific use cases. So I'm going through the list and mentally saying no, no, no. I can't relate to a solar installation, I haven't built a house etc. As an investor pitch we can be zoomed out, as a consumer pitch we need to zoom in and speak directly to the consumer. Using an example everyone will have experienced (package tracking) we can get an easy "yes, I can imagine that" but a list like this is zoomed out, while actively asking us to zoom in. "Think about your interactions with..."
When transferring this to a website etc. we just need to reword that section. Different usecases are a good idea, just maybe not ask the reader to imagine them all. The business is the primary customer, so ideally we would target individual niche's with individual pitches. ie. If we're doing outreach to Insurance companies, they would only ever see the Insurance company version of this pitch. Then we can get very specific on the details. (I see later that you've started this process).
I'm not sure if adding the dominoes tracker on top of the Amazon tracker examples adds more or makes it more complex? It's really the same kind of example, but if you don't use Dominoes, you're introducing another mental "no".
Moving onto the website:
"Keep clients in the know. Eliminate unnecessary communication and improve customer experience with automatic update notifications."
Without the story, there is no life to this. It isn't clear you're talking to me as a (lawyer etc) and I feel no strong appeal to a pressing problem.
The problem/solution and mechanism to achieve it all sound generic.
Headline: "Taking Your Business to the Next Level" Generic promise.
Headline: "Kill two birds with one Milestone" Subheadlines "Bird 1". "Bird 2". Try to avoid headlines that sound cute, or clever or don't mean anything unless you read the content. The job of a headline is to sell the content below it, or to make the problem and solution clear at a glance.
Without breaking down all the copy on the site, I would say all the benefits highlighted above from the YC description have been lost on the site. The format of trying to sell through bullet points with one word headlines compounds the problem. "Notifications" "Videos" "Application" "Education". There are 14 bullets like this. I don't think that any of these headlines will compel to reader to care what's underneath them, so all that copy essentially becomes invisible. We've moved from emotional human story to generic bullet points.
The product video is ok, its better than the bullets, but it lacks the emotional punch of the YC description. The more formal and the less human, the more generic and uninteresting a product becomes. These product videos start to blend into each other across different products. You can bet your life that your Lawyer prospect is inundated with "software solutions" and starts to suffer the same indifference.
Use cases: So you've already started breaking down individual use cases for different niches that's great. And you're trying to connect with sub-sections of law, specific practices like Personal Injury. That's good.
But that basic pitch is missing from the website and from each of those niche specific pages. All the juice from the yc description has been replaced with...
"Keep clients in the know.
Enhance client communication with less work on your part.
Got news on the case? Message your entire client base in just a few clicks.
Clients are often anxious because they don’t understand the process. Fill your client portal with information, videos and graphics to help them learn what happens in a mass tort case.
Let clients know you are still working by using drip update messages. These text message updates will be sent at whatever frequency you decide."
That's the first thing to fix on the site. Moving away from this bullet led, feature first approach. Finding a way to explain the product in niche relevant ways, with the same energy and emotion as in the yc description.
After that I'd recommend using carefully worded questions to start getting real client feedback, if not on the product, on the problems they suffer. So we can start the process of involving them in the narrative, on the site, not just using our own words. For example, ask a lawyer roughly what percentage of their daily calls are clients simply asking for an update? And how many unnecessary man hours a week does that represent? Now you can use those answers in your copy, as the next best thing to testimonials. "Our team was spending about 20% of our time answering unnecessary phone calls from clients... there's a real hidden cost to that, financially because it costs us X man hours a month, and emotionally because it really doesn't help us or the client actually move the project forwards in a useful way." - A Lawyer.
I think that's enough to get started. The course should help.
If the end of this is making you feel bad, please go back to the beginning and re-read what I said about the YC description, because that's superb. Almost a case study in how to create a narrative around a problem, so please feel good about that! We just need to keep confidently going down that more personal, human, emotional path. For the businesses cases as well as the consumer perspective.
"Stream, store and supervise computer vision data."https://babylonai.dev
Machines that can see are incredibly cool!
OK, first I'm going to give myself a disclaimer. This product is a very specific technical tool for a very specific group of technical people. I want to say its beyond the scope of what I can help with the most. It's definitely not a consumer product. But with that said, can we add value anywhere? I suspect a little...
First of all I looked at the website, and I really had no clue what the product was. It's all written in technical short hand. Now there's an easy argument that I'm not the target audience and that's fine. But... When I read the YC description below, now I have a much better idea what the product is. So it seems like there's an opportunity there...
"BabylonAI (YC W23) enables computer vision teams to stream raw image and prediction data directly from their models deployed on edge devices. Their data pipeline is already helping teams in the agtech space collect production data from robots in the (literal) field. A team of engineers from Harvard and ETH Zurich, the founders have extensive experience in building computer vision systems for the autonomous retail space."
I like to work on the principle that even for highly specialized tech, there's frequently non specialists who are doing to either help or hinder along the way to a sale. Non technical bosses, decision makers, or additional investors. You're always going to be better off if more people can understand what you do. Not just the highly technical end user. And you don't have to sacrifice the technical argument, to improve the overall story. You're just giving it more human and real world context.
With that in mind, there's already some things I can see in the YC pitch that are an improvement on the website.
Context: The basic context of what "computer vision" is, is much clearer in the YC pitch. Mostly because of this line "Their data pipeline is already helping teams in the agtech space collect production data from robots in the (literal) field." I'd flesh that out as a use case, just for more context. Now, even as a non developer I can picture some drone flying back and forth over some fields determining growth progress etc. (I'd illustrate that with an image, not a screenshot of a graph.) Demonstrate the real world context and you open up your tool to a whole bigger world.
Throw in a second and third example. Maybe a self driving car. Or I think you mentioned retail. With real world context you're inventing the future with your tool. It's interesting, it's exciting. The people using it are playing an important role in shaping the world. Not just pushing code.
Technology: (Avoid cleverness). I may be wrong on this, but it feels like the opening headline on the site is trying to be clever using a double meaning around the word "edge".
In the YC description you're giving context to where this tool operates "deployed on edge devices". But on the site you open with "Telemetry for computer vision on the edge". In copywriting we try to avoid anything "clever or cute" because it just interferes with clarity. (A rule often broken). It feels like that's what's happening here, but clarity always beats cleverness.
Harvard: You name drop Harvard in the YC description but I didn't see it on the site. It's worth copying over.
Before/After: There's at least 15 bullet points of "stuff" on the website. All technical, all short. Within them there's probably a list of problems your ideas user is suffering for which your product provides relief. But they aren't arranged in any kind of human narrative. The brain of even the most technically minded person still operates like the brain of the most emotionally driven consumer. We're act to move away from discomfort and towards pleasure. Without obvious discomfort and pleasure, we don't act at all.
I'd be looking to more clearly define the major problems that this product solves. What's the painful "before" that's going to prompt them to care in the first place? When the "before" is more clearly defined, our "after" solution becomes more obvious. And the whole product feels more meaningful to your user.
That's all I've got for now. Check out the course to spark some more ideas. https://paulmontreal.teachable.com/p/the-silicon-valley-copywriting-club
222 is a full-stack social experiences platform to generate real-life experiences at curated hyperlocal venues where we can reliably predict you will like both the people & place. https://222.place
Minor: The domain (222.place) will confuse more regular people than you think. I've found these obscure domains also tend to get blocked a lot more easily by random things like firewalls at work and spam filters.
Minor: Site took a very long time to load a splash page that gives me no information, (15 secs plus) I initially presumed there was no site yet.
Have to make a second click to the About page to try to find out what this is.
I get a list of what it isn't.
"This is not a dating app. This is not a friend-making service. This is not networking. This is not mindless scrolling. This is not random. This is not the metaverse. This is not a distraction. No profiles, no DMs, no scrolling, no swiping. "
I guess this could count as the raw material that is making up the "problem" side of the pitch. We're trying to say "these things are a problem you're suffering..."
"Just say "yes" & explore the chance encounters you'd have never experienced. Choose chance."
The solution/after side of the pitch is threadbare. We're asking for a wild leap of faith, to jump into some unknown "encounter".
I'm thinking about that app for teens where you're randomly connected to a stranger. But from a few images I'm guessing this is real world meetups.
In tiny letters below...
"Experiences are always in public & in a group setting. Each member is vetted before being invited to an experience."
That's all the copy on the site. Right now it makes far too many presumptions that the user can piece this puzzle together. Let's refer back to the YC description...
"222 is a full-stack social experiences platform to generate real-life experiences at curated hyperlocal venues where we can reliably predict you will like both the people & place."
A lot clearer than the website copy. So let's break it down and see if we can nudge it into a consumer pitch:
- "222 is a full-stack" full stack is a very much overused technical term, unless this is a platform for developers, it will have no meaning to anyone else.
- "social experiences platform to generate real-life experiences" ok, so its meet-ups in real life, this needs to be clear in the consumer pitch.
- "at curated hyperlocal venues" curated by who? "hyperlocal" is also a trendy trade term, whilst it's kind of easy to work out, it has no real additional benefit over just saying "local" to regular people. It also relies on density of users in any location, always the biggest challenge with any kind of app that connects people, so its probably making a promise that will be hard to live up to, for no real benefit.
- "where we can reliably predict you will like both the people & place." this is the most important sentence in the YC pitch, it focuses on the user and addresses how they might be thinking about this whole meeting people problem/solution. But we need to unpack this sentence some more because it gets to the heart of the user and their motivations and it's not clear yet how well we understand them...
"reliably predict you will like both the people & place"
Ask me about this sentence alone and I'd say it promises something that people in general want in social situations. Making new social connections is painful for a number of reasons, the main ones being: most people have experienced painful social encounters in the past, because: most people do not formally develop the necessary social skills to make it easier. Most people resort to alcohol as a social lubricant to bypass their own pain, but at the cost of intelligence. Most people are protective of their own values and beliefs and don't want to be judged and rejected by people who hold different values and beliefs, which is an inevitable outcome of social interaction.
We could sum all those things up into a sentence similar in meaning to the one stated. "Meeting people is unpredictable, and therefore scary because they might not like me and they may reject me". The additional fear of not liking the place or social activity adds an extra layer of unpredictability and discomfort on top. "Meeting people is unpredictable, they might not like me and the place / activity might make me even more uncomfortable."
So our statement "reliably predict you will like both the people & place" is a good general solution to how most people actually feel in this situation. What is it promising on a deeper level?
It's promising more Control over an unknown situation, and more Control results in more emotional comfort. The social task generally contains lots of unknowns, unknown places, unknown people, unknown values and beliefs which equal a feeling of Not being in Control. Not being in control is incredibly uncomfortable.
One of our primary drives in any situation is to gain more control and our level of control is experienced through our emotions. We feel uncomfortable or comfortable. Emotions are simply the movement towards or away from things we perceive as threatening, or life giving.
Knowing all this our statement "reliably predict you will like both the people & place" is very very important.
This very very important statement is currently not included in the consumer pitch. In fact, from what little there is, the consumer pitch gives the opposite impression...
"Just say "yes" & explore the chance encounters you'd have never experienced. Choose chance."
Let's break that down and see how it matches up to the winning promise we've identified from the YC pitch.
- "Just say yes". We're asking the user to gamble, take a risk, have faith in the unknown. This is the opposite messaging to saying that our platform will reliably predict the outcome.
- "& explore the chance encounters". Exploration is a very specific skill, exploration is about having high confidence, high openness, high ability to deal with the unknown etc. Chance encounters, again focus on the random unpredictable, risky aspects of meeting people. Its the opposite of our promise to take away much of the uncertainty of meeting people.
- "Choose chance." We double down on the word chance. Making the focus random, luck, unpredictable.
So from this perspective our YC pitch is at odds with our consumer pitch. We're targeting two very different types of people. One who wants a more predictable social experience, and one who wants a less predictable "chance based" social experience. Two very different animals.
There are some difficult questions about who will use any service like this. And we don't know, I like to say "the market decides", all we can do is create and test different pitches that are consistent with clearly defined people within the market.
We can take some educated guesses to make sure we aren't confusing at least two types of potential user...
We can take the "average person" and apply to them all the things that I mentioned in relation to the YC pitch. They are young and driven by basic needs to connect and be social for fundamental needs of friendship and mating. Those drives are competing with their risk aversion, lack of formal social skills, fear of being judged, and the pain of rejection they have experienced in the past. They are driven to make social connections, but are expecting it to be painful, so they don't act. When we target them, we need to double down on the promise that this is the most predictable, most controllable, most comfortable way to meet people who will accept them for who they are and allow them to engage in activities they are comfortable with. They must believe that through this platform being social will become more controllable and comfortable for them.
As an alternative test we could hypothesize that in any group of average people, only the most motivated are actually going to act, and its not our job to convert the masses, but to tip those on the verge of action over the edge into action.
Who might those people be?
- If our "average" group of people were a spectrum of confidence with, on the low end, people with the least social skills and the most past social trauma, and on the high end people with the most social skills and the least social trauma. We could say that only the most confident people, with the least trauma are going to act anyway, so we can target those people with messaging that acknowledges their current confidence level. For this customer, use of words like "explore" and "adventure" may be appropriate, because they are more open to experience, they expect a good outcome, they just want to "increase the odds" of that good outcome.
- We can also look at people who are most ready to act. Who is in the most pain and why? Who has the most urgency and why?
- We can also look at people whose identity is in an "open" and flexible state. An individual who has lived in a city for 10 years and never been social is far less likely to act that an individual who just arrived in the city. A newcomer in fact has a new relationship with the city, or even the country and a new "personality" is waiting to be created. They may have been less social in their old city/country but there is a window of opportunity for them to reshape their social identity in this new place.
There will likely be a few other avatars to establish and test messaging for, but we've got 2 clear ones which currently should be resolved into 2 different messages and tested. I'd call them "average and risk averse" and "more confident and just needing a nudge". Either way use that one sentence we've highlighted as the foundation for expanding the consumer side of the pitch and making the problem and promised outcome clearer. The course (link in hamburger menu) should help flesh things out. Hope that helps.
YC Description: "Scanbase makes it easy for medical companies to convert photos of rapid diagnostic tests into results. We do this by providing a simple API that any medical company can access." https://www.scanbase.com
Opening pitch on site: "The next step in rapid Dx
Scanbase provides an API that allows medical companies to analyze photographs of rapid diagnostic tests and immediately return results. Our white-labeled tech works on smartphones, tablets, or similar camera devices and can be deployed in an app or through the browser."
Opening pitch is a zoomed out overview. I have a general understanding of what it does. But after running through the rest of the page it feels like the copy is focused on the company and the technology rather than the actual buyer and the buyers problems.
What is the fundamental problem being solved here? And which human beings does it cause pain for? I'm guessing at the end user level, when self testing for any kind of medical issue, there's a level of anxiety and stress because the "patient" temporarily feels like they are not in control of their future. They are about to experience some kind of "positive" or "negative" result and have to deal with the real world consequences of that uncertainty.
This increased level of anxiety may result in a lack of clear thinking and more difficulty in interpreting test kit results. "Is that dark purple or mid purple? Was red good or bad? The solution is providing, first of all a level of certainty and confidence when interpreting the results, under stressful conditions, then it has the potential to provide support in the form of "next steps". Either access to medical advice or access to medications.
What happens up the line when this support is not available? Stressed end users? Misdiagnosis. Support calls to the kit makers? A generally less effective "at home solution" making the whole "at home testing" market in general less effective and credible. How do these problems compound up the line to medical companies and their ability to grow this overall relatively new market?
I'm just guessing at all this, but firmly understanding the pain/problem and how it works up the line to make or break a whole market is an important part of a pitch. There's a lot of room to expand on this.
I also have a technical question. It feels like there's some basic "how?" information missing from how the technology works. I'm familiar with covid remote testing solutions where you take your test, then upload a video of the resulting strip. I believe these videos are then manually checked by a Doctor or some approved medical person.
Contrasting that with this solution, there's no obvious information on who or what is analyzing the results of the image your solution is working with. Which raises a couple of questions. How are test results matched to real humans? And who is diagnosing the results? And how valid / legal etc. does that result then become? And therefore how much exposure / risk does the company adopting the technology take on?
On the other hand there's a quickly growing market for all sorts of less demanding "at home" testing kits for all manner of things. Either way, how the results are being diagnosed, manually or technically, and how they are "authenticated" as belonging to the user, seems like a key thing that should be included as a basic part of describing what sorts of problem this can best solve.
The most obvious thing with the copy is the emphasis on "our" and "we" throughout. Even when talking directly to the 3 customer types that have been identified.
"We build...We adapt...We design...We are on a mission...We develop technology that empowers...We've advanced...At Scanbase we deliver..."
And at the same time we're talking about them (the people who should be reading this) in the abstract...
"empowers organizations...increase their operational efficiency...the medical companies that define our way of life will be the ones...aligning ourselves with their mission...understanding what they are trying to achieve"
Great communication isn't abstract. It's a conversation between one human being and another. And a good conversation is about understanding the other persons struggles.
When moving from the abstract nature of investor pitches, to talking directly with buyers we want to create maximum empathy. We want to understand the readers most pressing problems and talk to them directly - "you, your". Connecting the dots between their problems and our solutions in that order. It's not about us and our achievements, it's about *them* and making their life better.
"See your customers for the first time
We're the only company offering a white-labeled, turnkey assay diagnostic application that allows you to capture and control your customers attention at the moment of diagnosis."
This seems like an interesting and important point that has a lot of potential to be fleshed out. But it raises more questions about which market is being targeted. As I try to imagine all these different potential end users and the organizations and groups they belong too, I keep going up the line to the test kit manufacturers. Surely they have all the data on who buys what and why? It seems like they are the most useful group to be targeting directly? My gut says the entire pitch should be focused on partnering with those guys. They are white labelling test kits, your solution could be a value added option as part of that. Focus on understanding what's important to them and they'll identify the market segments where this makes perfect sense, (and their most adventurous clients) and you can ignore the ones that might be a waste of time.
On the website, it doesn't quite feel like they are the target right now. There are 3 identified niche's but none of them are really fleshed out. When a pitch feels like its fishing for anyone who might be interested, it often doesn't appeal to anyone. When starting out we often don't know who will bite, the market is "infinite". That can be a way to go, put an idea out there and see who bites. But in practice I often find it exhausting and hard to scale.
Where possible it generally helps to make the infinite, finite as quickly as possible. If I were looking at this market I'd start with a list of common test kits. Make that list finite. Covid kits, pregnancy kits, STD kits, whatever. Find the number of kits on the market. Establish which type of kit you can reasonably add value to. Now we are starting to get specific. We can better imagine the level of anxiety involved in various test results. About to have a baby that will change your life? About to get fired for that joint you smoked at the weekend? About to miss the holiday you've been looking forwards to for 11 months? The more specific we get, the more we understand the motivating pain of the end user and the inherent value in the market.
Then we move up the line. There are a finite number of companies who manufacture this finite number of test kits. Those guys are our target. Once we can demonstrate to them that we understand the pain of their end user, and we can improve the process, not just technically, but emotionally, improving the overall value of the experience and the market in general. Now we can approach that finite number of kit makers and be taken seriously enough for them to start revealing things about their market that we don't know, we don't know yet.
On a second level I'd expand on that idea of capturing attention at the point of diagnosis. I'm guessing most of these tests are designed to be manually self read at the present time. (Or returned for professional diagnosis?). So there has to be an obvious and real value add for adding a technology to the process in the first place. (I'd enhance that idea of providing certainty and clarity at a time when the end user is anxious). Something more profit centered than just tracking data. Being able to upsell medication, or follow on medical service, seems like a big factor in getting large companies involved. I imagine all the major retailers involved in healthcare all white label the same tests from the same few test kit companies. When the test kit companies want to know why they should offer this as an option "because: upselling at point of diagnosis" should be a key, fully fleshed out answer. Obvious profit opportunities often beat "data collecting and tacking" opportunities where the profit or savings have to be found at some point in the future.
There may already be some other technology companies, who regularly work with those kit manufacturers on supporting websites or other related ideas. Another layer to uncover. But the kit companies will connect you with them. Tech companies come and go quickly and work on a wider variety of projects. The kit companies are finite and fixed and focused, so best to start with a target that doesn't move much.
OK, that's all I have for now. This was more of a live brainstorm, hope I got to some useful points worth considering.
- clarify "how" it works as non-technically as possible
- make the infinite finite, quantify the type of kits, and then the finite number of kit makers
- pick a customer to talk to, for me it's kit manufacturers go all in on parterning with them to white label
- talk directly to them about their problems and opportunities.
- start with the consumers pain, then the mid level upsell opportunities, then the future growth of the whole market
- keep the kit makers biggest clients in mind, (healthcare retailers etc) highlight direct profit opportunities. they already white label, think of it as a value add to that.
Will need more brain time and info to go further. The course might help as a next step.
"Turn Every Rep into a Top Performer. Tennr uncovers what your stakeholders care about and shows you how you’ve won similar deals in the past using conversational AI trained for your business." https://www.tennr.com/
Demo video: "I have a call in 4 mins" makes the tool seem like it can be used quickly, this is subtle and clever. (And the video itself was less than 4 mins).
The AI coming back with a recommendation that Acme tech can be used by governments to track their citizens seems a little sinister and plays into people's fears about psychotic AI. And psychotic governement. And doesn't feel as useful of an example as it could be.
Headlines on the page seem great.
"Turn Every Rep into a Top Performer"
"Be prepared for every meeting."
"Control the quality of meeting prep with pre-call playbooks."
"Know what your buyer cares about"
"Quickly gain context"
"Use your past deals to win the next one"
"Replicate the winning process of your top reps."
"Your post-sale team will love you."
They are user focused, that is they put the human needs first, highlighting clear benefits. They are not focused on generic words or specific tech features.
If I was super nit picking there's only 2 things on the page I'd tweak:
"Reference an intelligent source of truth" (Overused phrase that never quite fits with real human communication which is a lot messier than "truths") and use of the word "stakeholders". (Corporate speak that never feels personal).
I like this from the About Us page "to help them knock out *the work they dread* in a fraction of the time" and would flesh that out in rest of the pitch. Sales is hard, and its the discomfort that's the primary cause of seeking new solutions, so it never hurts to spell out what that discomfort is. The more specifically, the better.
I'd also double down on emphasizing the "trained for your business" aspect. Flesh that out, make it a clearer step in the process. Don't presume people understand how "AI" works as well as you do.
All the human benefits mentioned above are great. We're already seeing this technology through a sales person's eyes, but we're not selling this in a vaccum, every potential customer already has some kind of sales information system in place, even if it's cobbled together. And there's always a huge resistance to moving away from those existing systems. So the onus is on us to demonstrate that this is not just better, but an order of magnitude better.
What it feels like is missing are more specific examples of how the AI can pull in useful information that makes the sales process less painful.
The short overview is good, but the one example it pulled in felt a little creepy. Demonstrability is the key word here. Imagine one of those late night TV infomercials for sharper kitchen knives. You already have kitchen knives, everyone does. To sell a set of new knives you've got to demonstrate that your knives are not just shaper, they're 10x sharper. And to do that you get dramatic and specific. You cut a can in two, you cut a tyre in two, you cut a log in two, then you finely slice a tomato into the thinnest slivers ever seen. With each example you're dramatizing the basic message "this is 10x sharper" over and over. In this case "AI" is just "sharper". It's not enough to just say it, we have to dramatize it, over and over.
Without repeated, specific examples, building on top of one another, the promises get quickly forgotten. It's just another CRM system "with AI".
So how might we do that? I'd go back to the pain and start there. "Dread" what's our sales person trying to sell? What specifically causes the dread? What are the hardest parts of each call? Imagine real sales people selling real products. What comes up, specifically? How can we demonstrate the AI component coming in to really solve this problem?
Create something like a set of dramatized use cases, as if they were (but not pretending to be) testimonials or case studies.
What the reader should come away with isn't just a 4 minute overview of the basic idea, but proof upon proof upon proof that this really does solve real life situations. And really gives the user a greater perception of being in control, and therefore feeling more comfortable before and during and after the call.
(Maybe those are 3 real phases that could be better clarified or emphasized. Pre-call nerves. In call ability to adapt on the fly while under pressure. Post call ability to reflect, learn, identify new or missed opportunities and follow up while the iron is still hot.)
A consumer pitch, on a website, isn't limited by time. We can start with the brief overview, prove relevance, but we can also deepen the pitch, adding layer after layer until the sale is made.
Consider you were writing an article about the benefits of ChatGPT and its ability to write content. You could quickly and dramaticaly demonstrate it writing a speech, a poem, a press release and a short story in the style of 4 famous people or brands. The result is a quick and easy "wow". The perception that you now have the power to write all kinds of stuff instantly in all kind of formats.
We need to flesh out that demonstrable, specific "wow" part of this pitch, to make the user feel the same kind of way. Like they are witnessing an upgrade in their level of control, and their ability to sell with more calness and comfort.
Overall though, the general use of customer focused language through the pitch is a great example of what to do, and quite rare for tech products. Great job so far, just needs to go deeper, its competitive out there.
"The developer-first open source Zapier alternative. We make it easy for developers to create powerful workflows directly in code. Trigger workflows from APIs, on a schedule, or on demand. API calls are easy with authentication handled for you. Add durable delays that survive server restarts." https://trigger.dev/
Initial thoughts: I'm not a developer, so some of the features you mention in the copy may be game changers on their own, and I just wouldn't recognize them. But for context, I have used Zapier for various things, so I have a very low skill level understand of this type of tool. So this is going to be a brainstorm, more of principles than anything else. Let me know where my assumptions are off...
Let's imagine that Zapier was the first "automation" tool to capture the market's attention. Any automation tool that follows has to take customers away from Zapier, or reach a new market that is not aware of Zapier. But in general, especially if you're targeting developers, the market will be aware of Zapier, so we say the market is becoming more sophisticated than it was when Zapier introduced automation as a new idea to the market.
In this second phase of sophistication we'd generally still focus on the basics of what our new tool does, but either demonstrate how it clearly does it better, or ideally, does it better for a more specific group of people. A little bit better often isn't "better enough" to get people to move from tools they are comfortable with. People generally want to see "order of magnitude better" to overcome that inertia.
Just having better features quickly becomes an arms race. (Think razors with 4 blades). An arms race can still be profitable, but personally I prefer a values led arms race. A values led arms race creates a loyal following because we're getting more specific about the types of users we're targeting, and that helps us develop new features they care about.
Volvo (the car maker) comes to mind, but the example may age me and it may be more Euro focused. Back in the day Volvo focused on safety as a core value. Safety appeals to a type of person. And as a leading value gives you a focus for new features. Seat belts, crumple zones, stability, air bags etc. Others will copy the features, Volvo gave many of them away, but the focus on safety belonged to them. If you got married and had a kid and a dog you'd think Volvo, not Ferrari for taking them on the school run. At the same time they pushed safety as an engineering accomplishment, not a fear based position. I remember an interview with an Astronaut / test pilot saying he was in fact not a crazy risk taker and after flying experimental aircraft he would drive home in a Volvo.
"Built for developers" is a position focused on a group of people. But is it a strong enough, unique enough position? I'm not sure. The market generally moves towards including more and more people, because the tools are making it easier and easier to use for less skilled people. Like me being able to use Zapier and not being a developer.
What does Trigger's position mean, if it's developer focused? It's not as simple? It has a level of detail that isn't available in Zapier? Or is it just relying on a couple of features that may not be so important in 12 months?
You can split any market or skill into 3 levels of competence and either target the most skilled or least skilled. Are we saying that "built for developers" means, we're targeting the most skilled top 1/3 of users who want the most control over their automation?
Level of control is always the issue. But it has to be baked in as a set of values, not just a couple of features.
Volvo's focus on car safety creates a very clear increase in my ability to control the safety and wellbeing of my family when going from A-B. A Ferrari's focus on speed/power/wealth provides an entirely different type of control over how people perceive me (mostly around status/sex). But I'm screwed if I hit a tree.
With these things in mind, I'm pretty confident that "Effortless" is not the strongest position to lead with. Nothing is effortless unless someone else is doing the job for you. Effortless also doesn't fit well with the positioning as "for developers" when we contrast it with Zapier.
As a side note: The image next to the effortless headline doesn't communicate/demonstrate low effort either, its 20+ lines of code and 5 steps crammed into a tiny space. The job of visuals really is to communicate the values we're expressing metaphorically, to trigger memories that reinforce what we're saying. As an example, whenever we say something is "secure" we generally show a padlock, which triggers memories of real world experiences of something physically being secured. We feel the words. So if we lead the whole pitch with "effortless" we have to demonstrate that visually, or right from the start we have a conflicting pitch. Thought 1 is - "Effortless - that looks pretty complex/a lot of effort to me."
We have to establish - what do developers really value? On a values level? Compared to what Zapier already offers them. (And all the other existing "Zapier but cheaper" copies.) The value(s) that can guide future features and create some kind of loyalty.
Let's assume "for developers" is the correct group to go after, and let's presume what we mean by that is the top 1/3 of developers, the most skilled, the most serious, those involved with the more important projects...
These higher performers are not focused on doing work with the least amount of effort. They are hired to do the work the other 2/3rd of developers can't do competently, securely and safely.
The top 1/3 of performers in any skill category are the ones who have a higher base level of effort. That doesn't mean their brain doesn't want to be efficient, but it does mean that "effortless" is a less appealing virtue to them.
Compare the top 1/3 of developers to the top 1/3 of athletes. They aren't the ones attracted to "effortless six pack" ads in Men's Health.
So the question of exactly what level of developer are we targeting? Ideally an identifiable group that Zapier does not specifically appeal to? What do those guys really value? Let those values guide future features. Then you become "the Zapier for (serious developers)". The ones who are (working on more important projects.)
Being able to express those values, whether my examples are valid, or not, is important. Being able to contrast with Zapier is important. We have to be able to show Z is good for these people, but if you're serious about a certain type of project and a certain level of engineering then T is the professional choice. Because feature, feature, feature. (proof, proof, proof).
If this type of identification with the right type of user can be established early on, feature development becomes more obvious, a clear niche is carved, and you can start to build real customer loyalty. Rather than having users flip from one service, to the next "better features" competitor that pops up next year.
So I don't know what those values are, and I've made a lot of assumptions above, but I hope they help demonstrate the principle I'm getting at.
To sum it up in an example headline change, with the imagined factors above, we might change it from something like:
"Effortless automation built for developers" to something like
"[1. Automation for] [2. top tier developers] [3. who value security and reliability above all else]".
The more specifically we can define 2 and 3, (and my examples are just guesses) the better chance of carving a long lasting niche, and making it easier for people to identify with the tool, and easier for them to jump ship from Zapier and friends.
Hope that makes sense?
"The easiest way to build and deploy web apps. Pynecone is an open-source, full-stack python framework that makes it easy to build and deploy web apps in minutes. It offers the ease of use and accessibility of low-code frameworks, combined with the flexibility, performance, and customizability of traditional web development. Pynecone is open-source and designed to be easy to get started with for those with no previous web development experience." https://pynecone.io
Minor point: "Reimagined" spelling of common words (Pynecone) can be a real pain. Autocorrects, spellchecks, and human memory, will not be working in your favor.
This will be a short one. I could dig into a bunch of tiny details but I don't think they'll make much difference to the outcome. Overall it seems clear enough. The Docs lay out a simple example that's easy enough to wrap your head around, and it's broken down so the reader should start to feel like they understand what's going on quite early in the process.
It's about easing people into doing something new and making them feel hopeful that they can understand it and achieve it step by step as they progress. Making them feel smart and capable. The smaller those steps, the better. Early wins are essential. You seem to be doing that. Kathy Sierra has written some great stuff on this that I'd only be repeating.
It looks like you already have some traction with people using this, so that would be my area to expand upon. Curating the best people and examples from the "community" and highlighting them as well as the tech itself. There's so much actual work involved in a product like this, you're never really "selling it" in the way you can sell a product which is consumed without effort. The product itself has to be highly usable, enough so that people recommend it. But what you can do is encourage that recommendation and highlight the end goal the user is ultimately seeking.
I see there's a Gallery, which I'm guessing is more examples you've created. That's great. I'd keep adding to that. But also I'd be encouraging and seeking real world end result web apps from the community. Building a web app is just the necessary work required to have a successful product in the market and be a respected, wealthy, developer/entrepreneur or however your target market identifies their end goal.
We essentially want to foster a line of heroes whose footsteps your new users can aspire to follow in. We learn and are most motivated by following people who we can relate to, who have achieved what we want to achieve. (People like us who appear to have more control over their life.) Find those people, within the community. Promote those people. Interview those people. You're not just promoting "you can make apps like this" you're promoting "and be successful like these people". Give people something to aspire to beyond completing today's technical task.
I remember working with an early open source project who made web apps, and one of the first things we did was search the mailing list for interesting domain names. It turned out they had users from Nasa, the White House, over 100 top tier brands as existing users. We were able to turn those into testimonials and credibility which repositioned that company as a serious force in the corporate world. Something they hadn't thought of themselves as previously. They were acquired some time after that.
The hero line starts with community. People ask themselves "Will there be people like me, but just a little bit ahead, who can support me and won't mock my mistakes?" Then it advances up the line to people whose work is really good "look at these cool apps" and at the top, people whose really good work allows them to live a really good life. "Look at the cool life these cool apps provided for these developers".
Find, cultivate, promote those people who are on that journey and over time you create something much more than code, or a tool, based around a particular language. You create a map to success.
As an example consider the path of Jason Fried and DHH and what they did with Ruby and their own brands. Whether you personally like them or not. For a large number of developers over the years they came to represent an ideal. Developers with lives beyond their computers. Skill development that results in life development. They built a cool office they never go into. Jason bought a farm and a tractor to play around with, DHH moved to Spain to drive race cars. The technical part becomes a path to mastery, which becomes a path to success in life. The details of which language is being used, to create what kind of app, becomes almost arbitrary in relation to the larger appeal of more control over ones life.
"Simple Design System Infrastructure. Mirrorful makes it easy to create and scale a design system. Start in 5 minutes today, design at scale forever." https://www.mirrorful.com/
"Design system infrastructure" my first thought is that I needed to watch the example video for me to understand what that really meant. Ideally that short description is communicating some key value or promise that your user already understands and really wants. It should be self explanatory on a very basic level.
What does our user already understand? What is keeping our user awake at night?
"I wish I had more Design System Infrastructure?"
or something more basic like...
"I wish I had more time to experiement with the design of this app, a way to make mistakes and course correct as I learn, before anyone on the team realizes I'm not really a designer."
I don't know? But the first thing we say about the product should ideally allude to something instantly and deeply identifiable as a painful problem, or a pleasurable solution.
After watching the video, I have some idea what it does, but I'm not really feeling any sense of the pain of the initial problem and the relief of the solution. Neither feel compelling enough for me to get excited.
Maybe something as simple as giving more context to the brickful example through the eyes of the developer. In one sense it's good that the example is simple "I have some buttons" but because it's simple, I don't feel any pain. Where's the real motivation for me to go looking for a solution to my button color problem?
At that point, maybe the problem, the pain, the thing driving me as a developer/designer to care, needs more emphasis. "Throughout the app I'm going to deal with A number of buttons, along with B number of other design elements. In total I want to maintain consistency across C number of design elements. It's a major headache in time and effort and grunt work and expense (quantify and make emotional) to maintain that consistency. (Really make the pain clear, in detail).
Then paint a clearer picture of the flip side. How much faster, how much easier, how much more organized, how much more masterful the solution becomes. How I, as the user end up becoming a better person, living a better life, moving towards my deepest goals.
What type of increased control does this tool bring to the table? How does the user of this tool think about this type of control, what words do they use to describe the feeling on being on top of this stuff? Do they value neatness, organization, central control, the power to change 100 elements from a single point?
Make that "power", however its phrased, more personal, not abstract. Phrases like a "central source of truth" hint at this kind of control, but they are more abstract. Buying, using, valueing is always personal. How does this give ME the user more Power? More Freedom? More Predictability?
It's our inherent desire to increase our level of control in all the key areas of our life that provides our underlying motivation. Every tool we're motivated to use needs that underlying narrative, Before: I don't have control in this area, and because of that I feel pain. After: I gain more control in this area and because of that I feel increased comfort and I can go further on my journey towards my ultimate goals.
"Design tokens". I did a quick poll amongst a few of my (world class, top of their game) designer friends. None of them expressed any real understanding or obvious pain around the concept of "design tokens". When they are considering a design, it's just not the thing causing them the most pain, and people generally will always be focused on the thing causing them the most pain at any point in a project.
That isn't to say that this isn't going to be a useful tool, just that those phrases that are currently being used to lead with: "design tokens", "design system infrastructure", don't seem to represent the key problems designers may be primarily thinking about. Establishing where the lack of control and opportunities for control lie should help solve that and make it easier to connect the dots between how they feel and this solution.
There are likely far more basic ways in which designers, or developers attempting to be designers are thinking about the problems they face. How do their design decisions play out over the course of a project? They try something, they make mistakes, they fix it. The being able to make mistakes and evolve a design quickly across hundreds of points may be what is encapsulated in the concept of "design tokens" but laying it out, in basic terms hits harder and deeper. We should always be trying to hit the deepest level of comprehension, not use the most recently created technical phrases. And if we do use a technical term, always explain the fundamentals of what pain that term really represents.
When deep comprehension is the goal, to really move people to act, try to think - what language, what phrases, what metaphors has my user been using for the majory of their life? (As opposed to, what technical term did some software company or consultant, invent just a few years ago? Or even worse, what term did I just invent myself?)
There's also a question (which is really the first question to ask) to establish who the user really is. Is it a professional designer? Is it a developer doing design? What's their level of skill and level of confidence in this area? Consider this carefully in the context of your pricing and the level at which you hope people will pay you. That sets up a whole different base level of pain around how the user perceives the problem, how insecure they are around design decisions, and the potential for this tool to allow them to make mistakes, and course correct quickly and efficiently.
The course might help flesh out some of these questions and pull out that underlying, more deeply motivating narrative.
The AI-powered document editor that helps you write remarkably fast. https://type.ai/
This is somewhat of a brainstorm on the topic in general as I don't have a specific pitch to bounce off...
Headline: "The AI-powered document editor that helps you write remarkably fast." The presumption is that the biggest problem a writer has is that writing is slow. And that this solution gives them more control because it allows them to write faster.
For the sake of argument, let's question that. While speed is almost always a factor in a commercial setting, humans don't really experience "speed" in the same way as we can quantify it after the fact. An accountant or boss can say "it took you 30 hours to write each of those pieces of content" and that cost us XYZ. But the individual writing that content didn't experience the time directly in the same quantifiable way. We experience it emotionally. They may have experienced it as 10 hours of pure procrastination and avoidance, 10 hours of frustrating, confused research, 5 hours of self doubt, 4 hours of writing and one hour of paniced existential crisis before submitting.
We could argue that the stated desire for the writing to be "faster" is really a desire for the writing to be less painful, in a variety of very specific ways. Less painful, and less personally and socially risky.
So an appeal to a writers boss, is more likely to be successful quantifying time spent / time saved. But an appeal to a writer is more likely to be successful focusing on how they experience whichever level of writing pain they are currently stuck at. Often the getting started part. But there's pain at every point that can be identified.
Always the first question is, who is our customer, who are we talking to, and who else does our customer have to take into consideration. The writer has to write. They also care what their editor/boss thinks. They care what the reader will think (and set of readers comprises those who are new to the topic, those who are experts in the topic and may disagree with the conclusion) and they care what their peers will think about their work. And finally they care what their parterns, friends and family will think about their work/position when it all plays out.
It's been said that writing is thinking. And publishing your writing is thinking out loud, in detail, a very vulnerable and socially risky task. In the animal world, the same one we evolved in, there is one voice, that of the leader. To speak out against the leader is to challenge the leader. If a chimp speaks out against the leader of the group they risk losing precious body parts. We feel that risk, when speaking in public and when writing and publishing. It's a high risk, high stress skill.
Right now, there isn't really an existing pitch for the product, there's a rapidly moving hint at a sales letter for the product, that can't be paused or actually read, without going into the video settings. It's demonstrating speed, but not actually selling the benefits of the product besides that.
We could say the presumption from that is that the most important thing is to get people using the product, where its benefits will be self evident.
An argument against that approach might be that people almost never actually buy solutions to their problems (and they don't invest much energy trying to prove a solution works). Instead people buy the Hope that a solution will relieve their discomfort and give them more control. And that hope is usually the result of a recommendation by someone they regard as a hero. Someone they can relate to who appears to have more control over this area of their life.
The fact that a product actually solves the problem is important of course, especially to create new heroes and ongoing recommendations, but importantly it is secondary. Hope is the product people actually buy. There are lots of unprofitable, but well regarded, writing tools on the market.
Market sophistication: there's usually a reasonably slow development of how any product should be positioned. It starts off as a new technology, then has to compete with other similar tools, adding new features, then matures to become more about the user and the lifestyle of the user. This transition used to happen of decades, or years. With AI tools its happening over months. There's already a leader with a huge amount of mindshare and there's never been more competition. Very, very quickly AI writing tools are going to have to be about relevance to the user. The most sophisticated level of positioning. Because the user is the least changeable part of the equation. The problem of writing remains constant (how it makes the writer feel), the solution is developing at a lighting pace.
A common mistake with tech tools in general is positioning the tool as the hero. When really the tool should be positioned as a tool, potion, weapon or guide that makes the User the Hero. With AI, the role of the guide or "wizard" is blurring these lines. The guide is becoming smarter than the hero, which starts to turn the product into something to be fearful of and dismiss out of fear. What makes a good guide or hero? Always relevance. We are wired to model those we admire. We admire those who we can most relate too. People who are just like us, but who have more control over their life, allowing them to perform the task with more comfort. The more relevant they seem to us, the more we are likely to believe we are capable of modelling them and the more we trust them. A good hero or mentor wants to pass on their knowledge to us, to see us succeed, to make us the next hero. Not outshine us. This is going to be a really fine line as AI tools develop. The user has to remain the hero, the user has to feel like they are gaining control of the tool, that they have more control with it, than without it.
How then can an AI tool become more Relevant to its user?
In what areas can it gain more relevance?
- focus on a specific language
- focus on a type of writing
- focus on a style of writing
- focus on a specific topic
- focus on how capable it is of learning/being taught to focus on any one of these things.
In what areas can it gain more relevance around the user and their needs?
- focus on the type of user/job/role/way of thinking
- focus on their place in the writing journey and the emotional pain at each stage
- before: stuck, procrastination, self doubt
- research: overwhelm
- drafting: messy, incomplete
- editing / critiquing: defensive
- polishing: ?
- publishing / feedback: scary
Summary: people don't *buy* better products, they buy the *hope* that the product will give them more control over this area of their life, and in doing so relieve their discomfort. As demonstrated and recommended by someone they look upto as a hero. Someone "just like them" but who has achieved the increased level of control and comfort they seek.
I'd start with targeting specific writing heroes. Establish the part of the journey they struggle with the most. Demonstrate how this product solves that, for them. Use their words to communicate the value going forwards.
Something worth noting about writing heroes, is however famous they are, they all still struggle with the same issues as non professional writers. Knowing where they struggle is the key to getting them to use this tool. (They often talk about it publicly). Similarly with "professional experts" like journalists. The number 1 reason a journalist writes about writing tools is that they are procrastinating themselves on some other writing project. When you have a deadline and you havent finished writing about the thing you should be writing about, you write about your favorite writing tool or you try/review a new one, and you talk about the struggles of writing. Audiences love articles about writing products because at any one time half of them are procrastinating on their own writing projects and desperately looking for that "hope" of a magical solution.
There are going to be 100 faster AI writing tools in the next couple of years. The speed element will become meaningless in a practical sense. Whether it takes 15 minutes or 5 seconds won't matter. What might matter is that this product appears to be the most relevant writing "guide/wizard/mentor" to the largest/most profitable groups of individual users. Relevant because they believe it gives them more control over each stage of their writing, making the expected outcome of sitting down and writing an emotionally positive experience.
- What's emotionally painful about each stage of writing?
- How does this tool make each of those stages emotionally rewarding?
- Told in the words of heroes the writing audience already looks to for guidance.
"Next-Generation Energy Management for Grid-Scale Batteries Better performance. Better returns. Financially guaranteed. We’re commercializing the next generation of artificial intelligence for industry-leading power scheduling." https://www.keelinglabs.com/
From the opening summary I get a clear enough idea what the product is. And the little graphic gives nice visual context. First thing I notice is that its still positioned as if being used in an investor pitch. "We're doing this". Instead of talking directly to the customer you're trying to convince. "If this is you, this is for you". And out of the gate there's quite a few general statements and buzz phrases. "Better performance. Better returns. Financially guaranteed... industry-leading". When a statement could apply to any product, it starts to sound generic and generic is unconvincing.
"With Storage, Optimization Is Everything. There’s constant pressure to improve returns on your battery energy storage assets." This looked like a good start, identifying the real pain that's making the user look for a solution in the first place. But it doesn't feel like its delivering on that promise. The problem doesn't feel fully fleshed out, existing solutions are quickly dismissed as not good enough, with no clear reason why. And the section ends again talking about us and not the customer. "We're building a best-in-class".
I think it would help to flesh out the specific pains in more detail in this section, the reader has to feel it, and they feel it when what we say triggers their memories. Don't jump to the solution until fully empathizing and triggering the pain.
Next section is positioned as "we" again. They don't care about us, only what we can do for them. We aren't the hero, the product isn't the hero, we are going to make them the hero. What ever our stuff is about, its job is to make them better, so we should frame it like that. "Here's how you are going to get a competitive advantage.."
"What is Reinforcement Learning (RL) and why is it different?" It's good that we explained what "RL" is, but then we immediately use RL, an acronymn they've likely never heard before, 3 times in a row. Even though we've just explained it, each time we use it they have to remember what it stood for. We are making them practice the learning of a new acronym in our sales pitch. That forces them to use a totally different part of their brain than the part we want them to use. We want them to be thinking about how their life, their future, is going to be better when our new solution gives them more control and a competitive advantage.
The tone throughout also subtly feels like something we are trying, not something we have proven to work better than existing solutions. "We're commercializing...which we believe...". People buy hope. Hope is what we're trying to trigger whenever we use the word "new". "new" also generally works best in areas where the previous solutions didn't work. Dandruff shampoo is always a new formula, because shampoo never gets rid of dandruff, only a change in diet and stress levels does.
What people want, when they want "new" is "more control". More control leads to less negative emotion, and more positive emotion. So any framing of both the problem and the previous solutions should be framed as how they are lacking in the necessary levels of control and the new solution we are putting into their hands gives THEM more control. I've said the same thing in many AI pitches, there's something inherently scary about just telling people the AI will do it all. "new approach that uses Reinforcement Learning for decision making and bid generation, all on its own".
"All on its own", a phrase used several times - does that make the buyer feel like they are going to have more control? Or less control?
Services are often purchased by enterprise in order to hand off responsibility for decisions, but that's not really what we're selling here. The consultant you hand off the decision too, has to have the credibility to take the blame if they make the wrong decisions, or you still end up responsible for making the decision. AI and specifically this AI does not yet have a reputation, so the idea that it's going to make the decisions all on its own, isn't reassuring that the customer will be in a position of more control, and more predictability. We have to explain what the AI does in a way to emphasize that this will give them more control and make them more competitive.
That might be as simple as using the word "control" and simplifying the language in each sentence. Not trying to sound technical - "Each asset we optimize".
They aren't "assets", to the customer they are "responsibilities". They are "my responsibilities". We need to communicate how reinforcement learning is used to understand their responsibilities and their unique position within the grid, and their unique challenges, and give them more control over those variables.
"We’re here to bring these breakthroughs to your assets." Even though it feels like we're saying something positive, we're still really seeing their world from our perspective. When we genuinely understand their world, they become the focus of each sentence, they come first, we, if we are mentioned at all, come second in the sentence structure.
I like the financial guarantee. But I suspect in reality these things are more complex and the financial aspect isn't the only risk. There are social factors. Other people, other agreements, other staff. Other people who will resist being pushed to one side for 6 months while you try something new. If a user has an existing set-up or relationship with another provider, the complexity of integrating with that solution or putting that relationship on hold could be a bigger hurdle to overcome than the financial risk. Finding a way to solve that problem might create a genuinely novel guarantee that's hard to resist.
What's the potential for running this solution "virtually" alongside an existing system for a number of months, feeding real world data in, and proving what benefits could have been obtained had it been live? ie. genuinely zero risk to them, but 100% live demonstration specific to their situation.
"Accurate revenue forecasting for CROs". "Vector is used by B2B companies to automate knowledge transfer between sales and customer success teams reducing onboarding prep time by 99%. For example, instead of sorting through hours of Zoom recordings, emails and notes in Salesforce, a success manager can use our summary to prep in less than 30 seconds." https://getvector.ai/
The first thing I notice is an apparent discrepency between the YC description and the website headline. "Accurate revenue forecasting for CROs" seems to describe a totally different product than the one on the website? Was there a pivot?
First thing I'd be aware of is how frequently people do the same job under totally different titles. And if we rely too much on those titles a lot of people won't self identify that a pitch is actually relevant to them. Titles and job descriptions are very much at the mercy of fashion and consultants/professors writing books.
There are a lot of people in the target market for this product who I suspect will have no idea what a CRO is, or what "RevOps" is. If a customer doesn't recognize the title we're giving them, they are unlikely to feel like we deeply understand them. It's like calling someone by a different name.
Even a "customer success team" is vague. Throughout the whole pitch there are numerous names and positions mentioned, in short hand that creates a sort of business school puzzle you have to work out to really comprehend who this is for. And I think there's a simpler way to describe the two main groups I think you're talking about. You have people who sell the product, and people who then have to deliver the product. And somewhere between the two, stuff that's important to making the customer happy can get lost.
Onto the website...
So currently the site still feels positioned more to talk to investors than end customers. This may be perfect for the current aims, to raise funding, but I'll point out a few things in the pitch that could hurt getting real customers, so that they can be avoided when that transition is made...
- Blaming the problem on the customer
The pitch start with "Everyday customers tell their vendors exactly what they want, but nobody's listening." And this perspective is maintained in the video. In my words "the current system is broken".
I always believe that for every problem created, there has to be a believable reason why that problem is not the fault of your customer. In this statement, "nobody" *is* the customer. We're directly telling them they aren't doing their job with that opening statement.
It's ok to talk about markets like this to investors, or from our experience working in them, but when the person reading the pitch is now the customer, and they are the ones who built that system and hired the people using it, the problems being highlighted have to be much more subtly explained, and it has to be far more obvious why it's not their fault.
This is subtle, not easy, but kills sales dead. For a human to accept that a system we created does not work so well, is to accept that our view of reality is inaccurate, a thought we mostly cannot bare to hold. There has to be a reason why it wasn't our fault.
After establishing exactly who the customer is, I'd try to establish exactly what their most pressing problem is, why that problem has not already been solved, and *why it's not their fault*.
- Dumb actors
To presume that a sales professional isn't properly recording the results of his zoom meetings seems like either the sales professional is broken, or the recording system is broken or non existent. We have to be super careful what we're highlighting as the weakness, and whose fault it is, or we create the sense that everyone in the current system just isn't doing their job very well, they're all "dumb actors". So again we have to be careful not to insult the actors in the system as well as the system.
- Starting with our experience, not the customers current painful experience (video) When transitioning to a consumer pitch, I'd recommend starting with the customers current experience, the pain they are feeling right now, the lack of control that's prompting them to look for solutions. We, and our experience, becomes far less important. We can still talk about our experience, but nearer the end of the pitch, long after *they* feel understood.
- Talking about ambitious future plans
Similarly, in an investor pitch, what we want to achieve in the future is important. But in a consumer pitch, we don't want to talk about our ambitions, or future plans half as much. All that matters is solving the pain that the customer is feeling right now. When you have a headache you buy the hope of relief in the form of a pill. You don't want to hear its an ambitious new formula or hear the future plans of the pharma company. You want to hear about the one problem, that you have, that they already solved.
- Activating puzzle brain
People buy when they expect (hope) your solution will remove their pain (memories of bad past experiences have to be triggered) and their future will have more control and more comfort (or whatever positive emotion is relevant). It's a process of connecting to memories and imagining the future. That's how decisions are made.
Once made, they are sometimes justified with logic, so that they appear rational, to oneself, or to others who may need to approve them. So what we want to avoid in any pitch is anything that pulls people out of their memories (all the empathy stuff) or stops them imagining the better future we're offering (imagination).
Most things overly technical, or overly logical, or puzzle like, will do this. Acronyms will do this. There is extensive use of acronyms in the pitch. Any words or phrases that the reader didn't grow up using come with an additional cost to comprehension. It might seem tiny in isolation, but each use has a cost and they all add up and weigh a pitch down. Think - daydreaming about a better future vs reading a technical manual.
- Talking about things that sound cool, vs the source of the pain
The ability to put together a promotion based on the number of people who smiled in past webinars sounds really cool. But will it convince a sales person that it solves a most pressing problem they are currently suffering? It feels like a bell or a whistle. The kind of feature that gets a wow in the moment, but not a sale.
The more real world a scenario, the easier it is to comprehend. Rather than talking about a number of people on computers with nothing but different acronymns to differentiate them, I'd try creating a real world company situation that more people can relate too. For example explain the process of a company selling a domestic air conditioning system. Leads are gathered by one team at a stand in a shopping mall, a sales team visits the users home to quote and sell, then an installation team takes over and visits the customer to install the air conditioners. With clearly different characters and locations, it becomes easier to imagine how the process works and highlight the problems that occur when conversations are recorded and information is passed from one step to another. What type of information gets missed, and the costs involved (a large snag team is required to go trouble shoot and deal with complaints and compensation requests). The more specific and real world, and less abstract and business school sounding, the easier it becomes to deeply comprehend.
Again, the existing pitch is likely fine for investors, they won't be sensitive to criticism of the current system because they aren't responsible or invested in it. But transitioning that pitch to a genuinely consumer focused pitch is going to be important at the right time. And finding the right way to describe the problem so that the buyer feels it, without feeling like they are in any way to blame, will be key.
Hope there's something useful in there. Jump on the course to go deeper into this.
To help as many people get started as soon as possible I'm releasing feedback in batches. (YC are adding new companies faster than I can possibly give useful feedback.) If you want some quick and dirty feedback on your messaging and you don't want to wait, drop me a note, I'll scoot you up the list. firstname.lastname@example.org