How we became a Tech Crunch Top Pick
It’s probably needless to say that TechCrunch has been one of the top online publishers focusing on the tech industry for years. Thousands of startup founders try every day to get the editor’s attention on their product. The holy grail is to get featured, which means getting the attention of the leaders in the tech industry and if lucky, opening the door to endless business and investment opportunities.
Except for writing about the startups, TC also organizes the famous TC Disrupt conferences. If you’re not familiar with it, watch the Silicon Valley HBO series and you most probably will feel the desire to become the next Pied Piper.
Last year, we were chosen as a Top Pick in the AI+ML category. This meant an invitation to the conference, our own booth, an interview on stage, and getting featured on the TC youtube channel and website.
How did we do it?
First of all, we’ve built a great product
Sounds cliche, but seriously, we have been building the platform for a few years, completely not following the lean startup way. We applied to TC Disrupt the first time when we felt that we and the product were ready. TC has put us in the spotlight and brought a lot of leads and attention, so it’s essential to be prepared and have a working product, to avoid wasted opportunities.
Secondly, apply carefully and present your product in a straightforward way
We learned over the time that using the words “magic” and “revolutionary” will actually put people off and make them feel like you’re more of a salesperson wizard, rather than a founder with a high-quality product. So no matter how excited we are about cool new features we’ve implemented, like automatic insights or automatic deployments, we make sure they are described in a straight-forward way.
Make sure that your product stands out in its category
This is probably advice for the stage of shaping your UVP, but this is something that will be brought up a lot when speaking to TC, investors and potential customers. We’ve made sure that our approach is game-changing, so we can generate that initial interest from third-parties and keep improving the whole product around the UVP.
Apply or die trying
If you are all prepared, make sure to apply on time. Time flies when you are developing a product, so make sure that you keep working at all the important milestones and just keep trying. If not this year, try again next year when the product is more mature and the UVP more shaped, or maybe the market is a better fit for you.
In 2019, the startups that gained the most attention were the ones producing hardware and robotics. This and next year, this will probably be health, communication, and everything that fits the post-corona times.
If you have never spoken to the microphone or stood in front of any audience, you might find it surprising that doing it is more challenging than it sounds. Pitching in front of a camera and answering the questions- as you go- will surely turn out to be heavier and more sweat- generating than a good HIIT workout. It will also require some serious focusing.
But most importantly, even when you are stressed, if you are prepared well and know your stuff, you are going to be just fine. Right after my interview, I didn’t remember anything about what I said until 2 months later when the video was published. Sure, I could improve some things, as some might have come out confusing. But overall, since I spent some time preparing, watching other interviews and pitching before that, the main message landed pretty well.
Learn and adapt
After TC Disrupt, we have had some great leads and spoke to many investors. But we also realized that our UVP could still can be improved. This was around the time when Corona started impacting Europe, and all the planned events and conferences were getting canceled. We then decided to take our chance and take a step back, in order to take a few steps forward.
In December, we showcased Stormly as a tool that works like a data consultant, where you can find many ready data solutions for any kind of business. However, although the platform is stable and works miracles, tailored solutions still had to be built based on our customers problems. That, in the long run, was unprofitable for us and actually, didn’t deliver on the promise.
That’s why we revamped our UVP and are now focusing on highlighting the most unique element of Stormly — that companies can easily build tailor-made AI data solutions on the platform, using Stormly’s building blocks. What used to take months, can now be built in days.
We’ve created a developer portal with all the documentation and tutorials on how to start building, and released a free builder plan to encourage users to play with it and create solutions in the form of Insights that can be then improved and reused by others.
Overall, it’s been a very interesting learning experience that pushed us forward and got us out of the house. This led to some interesting discoveries and brought us a step closer to where we want to be as a startup. After all, as a Top Pick, we must be doing something right.