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Welcome to Mentor Mondays! Today we welcome Chicago mentor, Suzanne Muchin. 

You landed on a name you can own, secured the web address, designed a logo, and maybe even arrived at a tagline. The process was fun and creative—lots of white board drawing and Post-its on the wall. It was more art than science, which was a nice break from the grind of digging into the numbers, programming, UX testing and fundraising. You can now breathe a sigh of relief and move full speed ahead with your marketing and the all important customer acquisition strategies.

But here’s the thing: if the description above sounds familiar, then you haven’t actually built a brand, and eventually, that problem will haunt you.  Like a piece of pottery that was put into the kiln without properly wedging the clay, your company may look great on the surface, but when the heat is turned up, you’ll be sorry you didn’t apply the right techniques to ensure your brand’s long-term strength and competitive advantage. While there are many branding techniques and constructs that are helpful to early stage ventures, there’s one process that simply must come first:  nailing your Point of View (POV).  So let’s break this down and send you on your way to a more solid brand position.

What is a POV? It’s a hard-hitting, pointed perspective on what you’re up to that captures the essence of your entire value proposition. It nails your story in a way that feels high stakes and distinctive.  A POV carries you all the way from the so what (what’s the problem we’re here to solve), to the so that (when our customers utilize our product/service, they will experience this outcome), to the so then (and that matters because…?).  It lays claim to something fundamental that you believe, and also clearly suggests what it is that you reject (this might be an approach that your competitors are taking, or perhaps a market reality or cultural trend you see as harmful).

When you get this right, it will feel like new lenses that you never take off.  Everything suddenly comes into focus. You’ll see all aspects of your business through this perspective. You’ll find yourself talking about your POV in different ways all day long.  And the pointed part? It needs to be so distinctive that when people hear it, they will stop in their tracks and think about it. It should make some people angry.

Here are a few Techstars’ companies POVs to consider*:

Great video game streamers use our platform to monetize their followers, because everyone deserves an opportunity to make a living doing what they love. – GameWisp

Optimized routes for intelligent pick-up and delivery businesses are great for your bottom line and for the air we all breathe.  Routific

While these may seem like simple statements, they are anything but. Consider the brand promises they are making, the distinctive way they identify their customers, and their clear explanation for why they think what they are doing matters.  

Great brands aren’t built by brainstorming. They are developed with a strategy that insists that founders and company leadership are as focused on what is at stake if they fail, as well as if they succeed.

*These aren’t the official “POV’s” of the companies, but reflect POV work I’ve done with these Techstars teams in Chicago.



Suzanne Muchin Suzanne Muchin
Suzanne is the co-founder and principal of Mind + Matter Studio, a brand strategy firm based in Chicago and NYC, and the co-host of the ‘The Big Payoff’ podcast. She hosts a segment on Women & Business on WGN’s Business Noon Hour. Suzanne is an impact investor and mentor to entrepreneurs at 1871, Techstars and Impact Engine. Follow her @bigpayoffradio.