If you’ve learned about the importance of having a unique insight in order to attract venture capital, you might be asking yourself if you actually have one yourself. Figuring that out is as simple as deciding if it feels like a secret.
I previously wrote an essay about seeking Alpha in startups and hosted Ryan Hoover, founder of ProductHunt to gain insight into why it’s so important for raising capital. But I still run into founders who grapple with the idea of what a unique insight really is and whether they have one.
Quick recap: With unprecedented access to technology and the growing ease of building, I believe that almost any idea you can dream of has already been thought of by some smart people. If you've thought of something, chances are that someone in the world is in the process of building around it. That's the baseline. Where you have huge opportunities to create value is when you have something truly differentiated and special about the way you think about a problem space. It must be truly unique from what’s already on the market.
However, pinpointing this often-ambiguous unique insight remains challenging for many founders.
To help founders arrive at their unique insight, I’ve developed a straightforward exercise. Imagine you only have one shot to share what you’re working on with a potential investor. What are the core differentiators that make your business/approach unique and separate you from all the competition?
What would you be comfortable prefacing with, “Let me tell you a secret. This is what sets us apart”?
If you're able to preface the description of your unique insight with "Let me tell you a secret..." and not feel silly or self-conscious about it, you're on the right track. However, if your “unique insight” seems too commonplace to warrant such a dramatic introduction, you need to dig deeper.
Let’s go through some examples of “Let me tell you a secret…” in action.
What happens if you can't find anything within your company that you feel comfortable about prefacing with, "Let me tell you a secret..."?
This could be a wakeup call and I think you have some work to do.
Perhaps you need to reassess whether you're building the company you should be, or whether your skills and strategy need an upgrade to capture a big share of the market and/or attract investor dollars. Running this test for yourself can not only help refine the way you pitch your company, but also help you solidify the “why” behind everything you’re building.
Challenge yourself to run through the "Let Me Tell You a Secret" exercise and find at least one secret within your business that truly sets you apart. Use this insight as a springboard to refine your unique value proposition. This is absolutely essential in your ability to differentiate from competitors, attract investors, and tell a compelling story.
Looking forward to hearing what you come up with!