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Silicon Valley’s Tyler Crowley offers advice to Aussie start-ups

Wednesday, 27 February 2013 | By Michelle Hammond

Silicon Valley start-up expert Tyler Crowley has shared his thoughts on how local start-ups can improve their pitches and gain more media attention, as part of a whirlwind Australian visit.


Crowley has been helping start-ups improve their pitches since the first TechCrunch40 events and is involved with the LAUNCH Conference, where he works one-on-one with start-ups.


He is also a co-host of This Week in Startups where he shares insights on the art of pitching.


Crowley is in Australia to host several clinics for up-and-coming Australian start-ups, and work with key players to help them improve Australia’s start-up ecosystem.


His visit to Australia is the result of a partnership between Pollenizer, From Little Things, The New Agency, Event Directors and Mi9.


In an interview with StartupSmart, Crowley shared his thoughts on the following topics.


Improving Australia’s start-up community


“There’s a list of ingredients [to create a successful start-up community],” Crowley says.


“Some of the key ones that do exist here are lots of small tech meet-ups are already happening. That is always sort of the first phase of the organic process.


“Another key ingredient that Sydney has, that other cities would love to have or would kill to have, is an official home for the community… Fishburners is exactly that.


“One thing Sydney doesn’t have is an official monthly meet-up of all the smaller meet-ups.


“Having a key brand that represents the entire community, such as Silicon Beach, [is important] but there are no rules that go along with it.


“If you have an event with 200 people and everyone’s ‘checking in’, that gets out and spreads globally… and gets the attention of other communities of what’s going on here.”


Selling yourself


“[Pitching] is not an integral skill that most CEOs have. Sometimes they’re too close to their own product and don’t know how to communicate it,” Crowley says.


“The first step is to get them to empathise with the audience and see how the audience feels.


“We don’t show children PowerPoints – we tell them stories. It’s much easier to retain information when it’s in a story format rather than a PowerPoint format.


“The default is to be slightly critical and analytical [in your pitch]… Get the audience in a really emotional state… rather than a critical and analytical state.”


“The same strategy [applies when selling to customers]… Try not to be so analytical. Be more emotional and empathise with the person.”


Gaining media attention


“Media folks, when you email them, are very critical. They’re rather dismissive and looking for a reason to say no,” Crowley says.


“One way to get around that is to [keep your email] brief and link to some sort of movie… For whatever reason, journalists tend to be quite visual people and storytelling people.


“They will click on the link and watch the movie.”


“I think a problem a lot of start-ups have is they communicate with journalists in a totally different language.


“When you convert your pitch into a mental movie or story, it shows you’re really doing it yourself and it makes journalists’ job much, much easier.”