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Five Key Elements to a Startup Story

2 min read Your story is a critical part of your fundraise pitch. There are five key elements to a startup story and they are the purpose, the hero, the mission, the obstacle, and finally, the plot. Continue reading below to learn more about each of these elements and how to incorporate them into your startup story.


The purpose comes from what inspired your startup. There’s something about the world that you want to change, so you started the company to fix it. Next, connect your theme to a universal principle or truth that everyone recognizes. Now, build your story around that theme.

Show how your startup’s mission reflects your core principles and values in your story. Also, avoid common mistakes such as trying to tell the investor how your product works in minute detail. It’s better to focus on the benefits of what your product does rather than the features.


The hero is the character whose journey the audience cares about the most. In a startup fundraise story, this is the CEO. Most heroes are trusty and likable. The audience empathizes with them in some way.

Your story should focus on the hero and not just the product. Investors are seeking to build a relationship with people. The company takes on the persona of the CEO. If the CEO is trustworthy, then the company will be considered reliable. In your startup fundraise story, think how the CEO fills the role of the hero.


The Mission is the job to be done. It’s the goal of the hero both now and beyond the story. For your startup story, focus on what the CEO is trying to accomplish and how they plan to solve it. Outline how complex the problem is for the customer and how it can be easier. Show how the proposed solution will save time and money for the customer. Talk about the steps to accomplish the mission and how you will bring the solution to the market.  Finally, show how the product achieves the customer’s desired outcome. In telling the startup story, use the mission to set the direction.


The obstacle stands between the hero and the goal. All good stories have a conflict that needs to be overcome. Obstacles could be competitors, lack of knowledge, regulations, and more. The obstacle creates tension which holds the audience’s attention and helps them experience the story for themselves.

For your startup story, show the CEO facing the challenge of bringing the product to the market.  Investors will empathize with the plight as they have been there themselves. Show how the CEO overcomes those challenges as the investors look for grit, determination, and persistence.


The plot is a series of events that leads to achieving the mission. Plots can be set up in several ways and choosing the right model will help make the story more engaging. You could play the David fighting Goliath, the small startup taking on the big corporation. You could tell a Rags to Riches story- how a small startup hit upon a big idea. Or you can position it as a quest by showing the entrepreneur’s journey and the lessons learned. From the story, the investor should see how you, the CEO, had an idea that changed the world. 

Read more on the TEN Capital eGuide: How to Craft a Startup Story

Hall T. Martin is the founder and CEO of the TEN Capital Network. TEN Capital has been connecting startups with investors for over ten years. You can connect with Hall about fundraising, business growth, and emerging technologies via LinkedIn or email:

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