Case Study

Case Study

Meet the founder of Reno Power, who we’ll call ‘P’ because her startup is still in stealth mode. This is the story of her client journey with My Climate Story, narrated in her own words. 

At the time I first connected with My Climate Story, I didn’t have a lot of confidence around whether I would be able to really put together a presentable product for investors to consider. I knew I had a tendency to complicate what I tried to communicate, and that I could get really wordy. Trying to nail down a simple narrative that can be communicated to potential users and investors has been a struggle. So my objective in working with My Climate Story was for me to build confidence in myself as a founder and my ability to present a compelling narrative, as well as a better sense of what Reno Power’s MVP [minimum viable product] could look like.

The third thing was to get clarity around how I could take this venture forward. I was in a full-time job at the time, so through the coaching program I wanted to get clearer in my mind about whether or not I was ready to go full time as a founder, and on what a transition plan might look like. Through my coaching journey, I realised that I definitely did want to take it forward in a full-time capacity, and I’m working on a transition plan to get to working full-time on the startup within five to seven months.

1. 'Perfect Pitch'

1. 'Perfect Pitch'

P’s first coaching session was with Sandy, a business storytelling coach, and Roger, a business storytelling writer. The goal from this intensive session was to develop a three-minute pitch for Reno Power that, using story-based language, would prove intelligible and compelling to technical and non-technical investors alike. After Sandy facilitated the call, teasing out details of the startup’s ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’, Roger got to work drafting the story. An iterative process then followed via email, with P providing more context and filling in blanks along the way.

My coaching session with Sandy and Roger gave me great clarity on how to pitch Reno Power. What I didn’t expect was all the added insights I’d get from working with them. For example, it reinforced to me how important my values are to me, as well as how I want to show up as a founder. I came to realise that this is about much more than just starting a company; for me, it represents a bigger cause that I really care about, which is more about encouraging more women in to get into entrepreneurship and the climate tech space in particular. 

2. Founder breakthrough coaching

2. Founder breakthrough coaching

Armed with greater clarity on her vision and purpose, P was ready to progress to a coaching session designed to address what had been holding her back from putting herself and Reno Power out there.

My coaching session with Laurie was extremely powerful because she was just very candid and upfront and… well, blunt! It was exactly what I required; I needed the tough questions that she asked me. What I realised from my time with her was that it was really safe for me to start by simply talking about building a company, rather than jumping straight into doing it. I also realised that I had a lot of limiting beliefs about myself, about my ability to pull this off. Through this session, I recognised some of these limiting beliefs that were holding me back. Laurie was really good at guiding me to understand that the challenge I was facing wasn’t necessarily that building a startup is tough, I think we all know that; it was that there was so much holding me back from actually getting started.

What I got from Laurie is something that I think is missing from most accelerator programs. A lot of what founders struggle with is fear and doubt about their ability to pull it off. For me, this was about whether I was building a product that consumers actually want, and whether I have what it takes to be a founder. In just that one session with her, I learned a lot about what was holding me back. Most accelerator programs are so focused on producing a product, rather than shifting founders’ mindsets.

I did a TEDx talk recently, and Laurie and I explored what was holding me back from promoting this on social media. I think that tied into my founder journey as well, in that I’d been holding back from putting myself out there, being seen promoting Reno Power. I had a fear of being scrutinised and judged, and a fear that I wouldn’t live up to the high standards that I set for myself. So while the conversation was about the TEDx talk, I think it represented my approach to my founder journey in general, which had been holding me back from really going at it the full 100%.

3. Science communications

3. Science communications

A full deck is a must for any founder who’s raising capital, so we needed to go into more detail with P than what she was now able to cover in her three-minute ‘Perfect Pitch’. Her coaching intake form acknowledged her tendency to be rather verbose, and Reno Power’s original pitch deck certainly seemed to confirm this. The slides were also very complex, which could be off-putting to many time-poor investors. To make sure we could cut through the jargon when re-designing her deck, and also when creating our explainer animation, we asked P to sit down with our ‘Science Communicator’, Aarati.

Although my initial time with Aarati was geared more towards helping My Climate Story figure out the story that would guide their creation of Reno Power’s deck and animation, I got quite a lot more than that out of it for myself. When I started my founder’s journey, I was under the impression that I had to be good at UX, at UI, and fundraising, and be able to pull together a stellar pitch deck, and find the right team. In handing over my existing pitch deck and telling myself I was ready to embrace whatever the response might be, I felt I was giving up some of my control. This turned out to be really helpful for me because it meant that I got concrete feedback from someone who I could also view as a potential user of my platform. That was really, really powerful.

I would also like to mention that whereas I started off being really focused on utility companies, from talking to Aarati and also to Zoë later on, it become clear to me that Reno Power should shift its strategy to focus on the consumer – the end user, the EV driver – because that will ultimately unlock the potential for us to bring on more B2B customers. This way, we will be able to have more of an impact from an environmental perspective. I did not expect to get clarity on what our go-to-market strategy should be from this conversation, so that was a bonus!

4. Pitch deck design

4. Pitch deck design

Sure that we had a rock solid understanding of what Reno Power is seeking to do, how it will do so and why the solution is so compelling, we were ready to progress to designing the pitch deck. Our designer Zoë kicked the process off by leading a call between herself, P, Aarati and also Robin, who leads My Climate Story’s creatives. She then went away and worked her artistic magic, checking in with P and Aarati from time to time to ensure that she was on track.

The level of one-on-one support I got from My Climate Story in creating the pitch deck is another of the things that is generally unavailable from accelerator programs. An accelerator might give me advice on my deck, but My Climate Story actually helped in building it by being part of the creative process. I was really impressed by Zoë, because some of the details she came up with were things that I told her. It was clear that she did some background research on her own. With most of the accelerators, you get a one-hour session with your coach, and a lot of the time they don’t do any background work on the specific space that you’re operating in. They just giving generic advice on how you’re pitching, or on what your pitch deck looks like. That’s not really helpful! Having Zoë, Aarati and also Robin being a part of the creative process has been phenomenal.

5. Animated explainer video

5. Animated explainer video

Guided by her earlier conversation with P, and also by the pitch deck created by Zoë, Aarati created this explainer animation using the branding colours and guidelines that Reno Power already had in place. The aim was to create a video that could be used for multiple purposes, not only for potential investors, and most importantly it needed to be understandable by all.

Thinking about the prospect of having to meet an investor one-on-one, I still have some discomfort, thinking, “well, I don’t have a product yet!” But, I don’t know, I also hear of people raising money without a product. One thing that’s different is that I feel like I now have ammunition to go into that conversation. It’s not just that I have an improved pitch deck; I have a clear storyline and I have this great animation that Aarati has created, so I definitely feel a lot more confident. I feel that I’ve made progress psychologically, which I can now translate into progress for the business.

6. 'The story you tell yourself'

6. 'The story you tell yourself'

Like most founders, P had been grappling with a range of challenges beyond those of framing her story and pitching it effectively to investors. Some of these, like her climate anxiety, were affecting her mental health and making it harder for her to put her best foot forward. This ‘inner work’ was where our coach Gwyneth came in.

The two sessions I had with Gwyneth were more about myself and what I care about, and the challenges that I’m facing at the moment. So it was about the uncertainty of building a startup and being a founder, but also being in Sydney far away from home, which is Bangkok. Gwyneth was really helpful in helping me to unpack that, and in unpacking some of the anxiety I was going through as a founder. It made me realise that that my fears weren’t necessarily just about starting a company; I think they were much broader than that.

I think these two sessions were quite powerful in helping me realise that a lot of the climate anxiety I was facing was because I was constantly consuming news about how – excuse my language – f***ed we are, and the planet is, and I felt like I wasn’t really actively being a part of the solution. The coaching journey that I’ve had with My Climate Story has helped me realise that it’s helpful to get out of that anxious mode and just do; I need to be able to get out of analysing and intellectualising about the problem and just act, taking one step at a time. So it’s been helpful in shifting my perspective. I think the climate is such a massive problem, and if I continue to think, “I’m just one person, am I going to be able to solve this?”, I will probably give up. But shifting my mindset to focus on one small action at a time, like maybe putting out a pitch deck or an MVP, that’s already working towards my goal, which is to contribute to the climate tech space.

7. Pitch practice

7. Pitch practice

Practising the 3-minute pitch using the new deck.

My Climate Story