How to Craft the Perfect Bio to Market Your Startup
The success of your startup rests in part on how confident people are in you, the founder. The right bio can make or break your venture. Obviously, you can’t invent your experience or life events. But you can be selective and you can present them to your advantage.
In the past couple months, I’ve written two CEO bios, including one for a startup founder. Here’s how we made that bio the perfect sales pitch for the company.
Step 1: We determined the audiences to address.
What audiences did we need to reach? There were three. This bio had to inspire confidence in:
- potential clients, who would put their security on the line
- potential investors and partners, who would put their finances on the line
- potential employees, who would put their waking days (and perhaps even their lives) on the line
This was a veteran-run security company, which would generally hire veterans on the team. We had to keep in mind that they would be that third audience.
Step 2: We determined the key qualities to highlight.
What would impress these three audiences? What would inspire confidence?
Potential clients would be impressed to know that the founder could lead a team and that he knew his stuff. So leadership was key, as was his familiarity with security.
Potential investors and partners would be impressed to know that this founder was good at business. They also would want to know that he knew his stuff.
Potential employees would want to know that he understood security and how to lead a security team. Especially if their lives might in some emergency be on the line.
Step 3: We established five sections for the bio.
To draw attention to each of these three qualities, we planned three substantive sections, one about leadership, one about entrepreneurship and one about the founder’s military training and experience. It was clear that knowing his stuff would shine through in all three sections, so there was no need to create a section for that.
To the three substantive sections, we added up front a short paragraph to introduce him by name, position and company, followed by a summary of what was to follow: ” He is a leader, an entrepreneur and a trained security expert.”
To the end, we appended a paragraph that explained his role with the company and his areas of responsibility (the usual stuff).
Step 4: We sorted his information.
We went through his resume, our email conversations and whatever else he had given us to work with. Anything we could find that would show leadership, we placed under leadership. Anything that showed entrepreneurship, we placed under that section. And all his military experience, we placed in the third substantive section.
Although we were dividing the information into three, so as to highlight three important characteristics, we still wanted the bio to flow well. So we focused the leadership section on what he had done very early in life.
He also showed a lot of leadership in his military career, but for the sake of flow, we included that information in the military experience section.
Step 5: We wrote each section.
Once we were organized, we began writing. Of course, we left a few things on the proverbial cutting room floor. And we went back to the well to develop fuller descriptions of some items.
We wrote like a narrative. We decided to tell the story of this founder, rather than just list positions and accomplishments. People like stories. They can inspire, and that was the goal of this bio.
Step 6: We wrote headlines for each section.
We had begun with working headlines for each section:
- Military experience
We wanted something a little more inspiring. What we came up with also helped move the story along in a time-ordered narrative.
- A born leader
- A born entrepreneur
- A military-trained security expert
To the wrap-up paragraph, we added:
- The company founder
The headlines alone read like a lifetime of experience leading up to this moment.
Step 7: We tweaked and edited.
This bio required more than the usual level of editing. We were telling a story, just like in fiction. But we didn’t have as much space as if we would be writing, say, Lord of the Rings. In fact, the final bio was 655 words long – and even that is long for a bio.
So we edited to make it succinct, and we edited to add energy and a sense of progress through life. We wanted anybody reading this to understand that this man’s whole life has prepared him for this moment.
We began each sentence like the start of a new chapter:
- “They knew NAME would be a leader, even back in school.”
- “Even before high school, NAME showed himself to be a resourceful entrepreneur.”
- “NAME is right at home wearing a helmet and a bullet-proof vest.”
Step 8: We read it.
Yes, when all was done, we read it again. And it blew even us away. If you think a bio is just a summary of one’s resume, you are missing the point. The bio should tell a story. It should blow you away.
A bio is a powerful marketing tool for your startup, and also for an established company executive. It sells you and it sells your company. As with any marketing tool, you have to identify the audience and what it wants before you can start writing.
Anybody can write a bio. Lots of people do. But not just anybody can develop a strategy to make that bio an effective marketing tool. Take the time to do it right, or hire the talent who can.