Tech Ecosystem: We Need To Be Bolder In Telling Honest Stories. Recently, I chanced upon an article on TechCrunch that explored the nitty-gritty details of the fundraising process. The writer, Danny Crichton, wrote about how the process of fundraising is often more intricate and chaotic than what is perceived through the lens of tech media.
Funding rounds often take place in tranches and can take the form of multiple financing structures — angel investments, grants, convertible notes, etcetera — and are participated by multiple parties. These rounds can take up to months or even years to complete before they are sent to the process; and then, in a few days, get amalgamated into the ceaseless stream of funding announcements — becoming another footnote in the tech news cycle.
Like most tech media, fuel and feed the public’s appetite for good (and bad) tidings of the tech industry. More often than not, when a company raises a funding round, we only hear about it when their communications team issues a press release about it.
Usually, it will contain a couple of ‘feel-good, pat-on-the-back’ press statements about how the founders are pleased to have accomplished this milestone and how the investors are optimistic about taking the company to the next level. And then some statistics about the company’s growth status and a few words about how they will use the newly-raised investment.
What we don’t often hear, as the aforementioned TechCrunch article correctly points out, is the founders’ arduous and sometimes treacherous path towards hitting their funding goal. Behind the carefully-worded press releases, there is a story that needs to be told: a story of human perseverance.
Convey the good, the bad, and the ugly side of the business
If the near-demise of Honestbee has taught me anything, it is that we as journalists need to be bolder and more assiduous in digging out the full story; we need to hold our ears close to the ground and listen for the distant rumblings that are not so apparent to the eye.
We believe that the media, as cliche as it may sound, plays an important role as gatekeepers (the explosive exposé on Theranos by the Wall Street Journal is a great example). A credible media platform should have the tenacity and fortitude to hold the ecosystem accountable and call out bad actors, even in the face of legal threats.
But besides tackling the shady elements of the tech industry, the media should also not shy away from approaching founders with more incisive, hard-hitting questions — questions that will uncover the honest inner workings of tech companies. 95 per cent of startups fail — yes — but a good chunk of the 5 per cent that made it went through hell and back to get to where they are.
It behooves the media to present the whole picture of the startup journey — warts and all — to the audience. And founders should be forthcoming about their struggles.
If you think about it, a great story is one where the protagonist is relatable; one who has vulnerabilities and setbacks to overcome (haven’t you ever wondered why most Superman films often get a lukewarm response?).
And the statistics don’t lie, a quick check on our Google Analytics page shows such stories are a hit with our audience. Behind the success of a startup valued in the hundreds of millions are sleepless nights, moments of self-doubts and existential angst; there’s no sugarcoating it — the startup life is tough — and we should describe it as such if we are want to be honest to our readers.
These stories go a long way than just being news announcements, and they become evergreen reading material that readers will always find relevant.