8 Tips for Writing a Great Startup Company Description

I spent some time at Rise Conference here in Hong Kong this week. The conference hosts a few hundred startups from all across Asia and offers each of them a booth, an opportunity to pitch, and the hope of meeting their next, investor, engineer, or growth hacker.

It was complete startup sensory overload. The talks are only 20 minutes long and as soon as you sit down at one, you are missing two others. The conference floor looks like a real incubator (in the biological sense) with rows of embryonic business plans. The only difference is that instead of dozens of dull eggs, each startup’s logo, swag, and even costumes begs for your attention.

Startup Company Descriptions Should Stand Out
Does your startup’s company description standout? Credit: http://www.bndestem.nl

And therein lies the problem. When your startup is given the exact same amount of real estate to attract attention as all the others, what can you do to cut through the noise?

Here are 8 tips for writing your startup’s company description in a way that demystifies your product or service and illuminates your customer value proposition. These guidelines are not the answer, not a tactic and not a gimmick but just simple copywriting best practices that will help you out.

You might be thinking, “Who are you to tell me what to do? I just invented a cloud-based aquaculture drone bot watch.” To that I say, 1. I’ve spent a lot of time writing for the Web where attention is extremely scarce, and 2. Because your startup’s description looks like this:

“We are HeliFlower.io. We are the first cloud-based, mobile, wearable for automated vertical closed circuit food production. You will never have to receive another push notification from your green house thermostat again thanks to our asynchronous API’s and scalable infrastructure. We are the Uber of non-brassica hydroponic vegetable production.”

Having a succinct and purposeful startup company description is crucial. It is as important as your elevator pitch, your mission statement, and a memorable brand mark. You will used it everywhere from startup conference booths, to pitches, to AngelList to Twitter. The “what” of the description explains why people should care and “how” it is written reflects your startup’s mindset including strength of focus and ambition.

Tips for Your Startup’s Description

  1. Don’t start with your startup’s name. In every case, your startup’s name is written right above your description. And it will be a long time before your startup is featured on Jeopardy.
  2. Skip “We are…” Of course you are. That’s a given. You started a business, therefore, you are.
  3. Don’t explain the pain point. Explain the solution. The people this description is meant for either recognize the pain point or see the viability in solving it. Otherwise, they don’t care about your solution.
  4. Be honest. You’re not the first and phrases like, “an advanced…,”  “the future of…,” and “a leap forward in…,” waste space without saying anything. You only get 160 characters on a Twitter account description so get to the point and stick to the point. Show people how focused you are on your product instead of meaningless distractions.
  5. Be unique. Everybody is a “global marketplace,”  “a mobile first” and “a cloud based platform” If your unique selling proposition describes a category, you won’t be around long. Articulating your differentiation is as crucial as conveying your value proposition.
  6. Hit hard with the words that embody your solution. Make it perfectly clear what your startup does and what market it serves: eg. “In store Retail Analytics” or “Drag and drop API builder.”
  7. Use your this “this for that” IF it works. Don’t be another “UBER For blah blah blah.” You need a good “this for that” and it will make it very easy for people to understand your business but if you can’t come up with one that is precise or interesting, skip it in your startup description.
  8. Don’t listen to any of this. Consider your context. These are guidelines if you need them. Different context may require different descriptions. A single bold sentence may strike intrigue and trigger a conversation. Or among industry experts, digging into the details of your solution may be appropriate.

At the end of the day there are three principles you must conform to.

  • Be unique.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be concise.

Good luck and share you description with a link in the comments!

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