When I was a little girl I loved to read books because I loved stories. Back then, I thought stories were made-up things that could only be found on paper. As I grew older, however, I began to see stories everywhere. I realized that anything could be a story, if you looked at it in the right way.
As an innovation hub, MaRS is full of interesting and inspiring tales. It turns out that stories are an important part of business, too. Who knew?! In my second week here at MaRS, I had the opportunity to attend the “Pitching to Investors” workshop, just one of the many resources in the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit. One thing I learned was that every pitch needs to start with a good narrative, something called an “investment story.”
I tend to think of stories as something you take in and think about, but never something you can talk back to. Investment stories are different, though, because they’re a lot more interactive. They tell the tale of how an idea was born, how that idea has flourished and, perhaps most importantly, where that idea could go—if only it had a little push.
That push is where the fourth wall gets broken and where the storyteller steps back to let potential investors contribute. Unlike an author, who writes for a living, an entrepreneur may not consider a story necessary—but an investment story is a tool that can further the ideas and career of that entrepreneur in a way that sets his or her story apart from other kinds of stories. Entrepreneurs must draw their audience in and make them want to be involved, to become a part of the story at the moment when it is being told—and often right as it is being written.
To me, all stories—from fairy tales to biographies—are functional and important; they offer partial and unique views of humanity and the world around us. But I realize that not everybody thinks this way and that not everybody likes stories. That’s why investment stories are special: They’re not optional and they serve a tangible purpose in the grand scheme of a company. In fact, they’re often the very beginning of that company.
With all the exciting and innovative activity here at MaRS, it’s easy to forget about simple things like stories. Well, here’s a reminder: Stories, tales, narratives—whatever you want to call them—are a reflection of individuals and societies alike. They’re easy to find if you know where to look for them, and they can be a good break from the fast-paced world we currently live in.