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The first cohort: finding our story

Almost exactly a year after I first verbalised the ideas that would soon form themselves into Breakthrough Labs, our first group of female founders met in Oxford to begin their 4-month journey with us. You can see our smiling faces below, tired and happy after our daylong workshop.

(Learn more about the companies these women founded by clicking their logos on the bottom of our home page.)

Each of these women has a story, and our job on day one was to help them find it. Unlike many other tech accelerators, the theme of storytelling weaves its way through the entire Breakthrough Labs programme. As our expert storyteller Jane Nash of Narrativ told us, the human brain is ready for a story. We naturally recognise stories in the speech we hear and they help us engage with content and understand it in our own context and that of the storyteller.

Stories are important to founders who are fundraising. The popular book for start-ups Get Backed tells potential readers on its cover to "craft your story". The authors dedicate an entire chapter to the types of stories that need to be told when pitching for investment, whether you are tying together the ideas in your pitch deck or explaining an individual slide in your presentation.

It might be easy for founders to recount their company's origin story or to tell a story of how their product helped a customer. But it isn't always as straightforward to tell your own story as a founder -- and our interview with female founders showed that it can be especially challenging for women. It isn't always socially acceptable to speak about yourself in a way that demonstrates why you are the single best person to do this work, and women are less comfortable than men in doing this. However, it's important to remember that investors aren't just investing in your company, they are investing in you as its founder. They need to be convinced that you are the right person to bring this idea to the world. Most importantly, you need to believe that you are the right person.

I'm so excited to hear our founders' stories evolve over the four months we get to work together. I hope this is just the beginning of our story.

I'll end for now with what I asked everyone to consider at the end of our day together:

What is holding you back from telling your story?

Why not you?

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