It is already public knowledge that we are going to be doubling down on startups. We created forms and all that to facilitate the process from both sides of the table.

The pitches that we’ve been getting however make it abundantly clear that there is still more to be done on our part to help startups understand the process. While we aren’t obliged to respond to any one startup to say why their pitch didn’t make the cut, I found myself doing precisely that. That doesn’t scale for obvious reasons.

So just like we made public the criteria that we use to filter guest contributions to the cabal, I will be sharing “tips” that’ll increase a startup’s chances of gettng featured. As always, nothing is set in concrete, and one needs to take into consideration the standard deviation that comes with the vicissitudes of running a media startup in the middle of the Lagos hustle.

Here are the ingredients of what we consider a standout startup pitch. Feel free sprinkle pepperoni and cheese.

1. Give us an angle. There has to be an angle. A pitch that doesn’t have an angle is an ad, that’s what adwords is for. On the other hand, we will likely write about your startup if:

  • it is a new startup
  • you just hit a a significant product/traffic/whatever milestone
  • you just received funding
  • you just happened on a new amazing insight about the market in the course of executing your strategy
  • some other noteworthy development that I have not contemplated here occurs

And all these prerequisites can manifest in any combination.

2. Give us exclusives. Not that not giving us one will obviate a feature. It’s just that news that everybody else already has is less interesting to us. Sorry, but this is how things work in medialand. It’s TechCabal or the others, and your choice to choose. We realise of course that it is in your interest to get the word out via as many channels as you can manage, so we ask that at the very least, give us a meaningful headstart.

3. Try to give us advance notice. It takes time to crunch through the pitches, so we might miss you if you submitted one for a startup that is launching tomorrow.

4. No boiler plate copy please. This might work fine for the about page on your website. But for the purposes of a pitch, it often comes off as less earnest and more like marketing-speak, and we don’t really like. The more human your pitch sounds, the more relatable, and the more likely that we can comprehend and then retell that story in our own words.

5. Please put in images/screenshots/press kits. There is a portion of the pitch form that asks for links to media that help illustrate your pitch. Though we made it optional, it actually isn’t. Simply put, no picture, no feature. And it’s not just so we can have a pretty picture to stick in the feature, it’s often how we’ll know that the product is real and can get a sense of how it works. Please put as many as you can, we like wading through media.

6. Put in a little extra – This is a bit related to the angle point, but not entirely the same. Verifiable metrics and data about the business, monetisation strategy, big think articulation of where the startup is going with the product? These and more are extra-crunchy tidbits that might tip the interestingness scale in a favour of a feature.

Other things you should know

A lot of these might sound self-serving and elitist. Best believe that they are real though.

Having a well designed, beautiful product actually increases the chances that it’ll be featured. This design nazism is unfortunate but real. It is often for the the best.

Having a blog increases the chances that you’ll get featured, simply because bloggers can derive surrounding context from your startup experiences that are helpful to the narrative. There are other reasons why startups MUST blog, but that’s a topic for another day.

Having a press kit is a no-brainer for startups that want press, but most don’t have them. This is the second time I’m making reference to this, and it is no accident. It’s generally a bad idea to make bloggers dig through five pages of Google images to find a decent logo for your startup.

For startups that already have TC coverage, linking back to your feature on your press page or blog, or putting TechCabal’s logo on their homepage increases the chances that we’ll want to write a follow up.

It is true that the tips to be found here were created for the purpose of TechCabal coverage, but they’ll work pretty much anywhere. I will be updating these guidelines as more things come to me.

In the meantime, please help us to help you…because it helps us, and then we can help you even more. Many thanks.

Pitch your startup here.

Photo Credit: HD Wallpapers

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