How to Craft an Exceptional Update About Your Startup

Each week, I receive dozens of updates from startups—everything from founders I’ve just chatted with briefly, to founders I’ve mentored, to companies that have asked GAN Ventures for funding. The purpose of updates from founders is to get their community of investors, mentors, and friends excited about the work they’re doing and to create additional fans who are bought into the company’s vision and plans.

Here’s the thing, though. A lot of these updates…they’re not great. They ramble on and are seemingly done without a lot of thought around content or formatting. Most are sent through plain text email and I have to assume they were crafted at 11pm when a founder finally has a second to shoot something off.

It’s not the end of the world. Getting anything is certainly better than getting nothing. But, over the past few weeks, I’ve been waiting for a truly exceptional update to arrive in my inbox that I could showcase to the world. Something where I could go, “Now here’s a model to follow.”

It finally happened this past week and it came from Andrew Lockhead at Stay22. Andrew’s company went through GAN’s Scale School a few years ago, and I’ve always been a fan of his. But when I saw his latest update (view the whole thing here), I knew I had to share it with the world.

Here’s why I think it’s so exceptional—

The Breakdown

The Header Is Beautiful and Tells Me Exactly What I’m Reading
Andrew did just a touch of design to 1) use his brand, and 2) let me know exactly what I’m receiving. The second I open his email, I feel good. I know that I’m reviewing something from someone who put some thought into their newsletter. But the design isn’t over the top and it doesn’t have to be. It’s just his logo and includes the reason why I’m receiving the email (i.e., a “Monthly Update”).


He Shares the Most Important Thing Immediately
The first thing he shares is what’s most important to his company right now. Stay22 is starting its Series A fundraise.  I know exactly what’s going on and what’s most pressing to Andrew and his company right now. I love that he also made a personal mention of how happy he is. So I feel like I know what’s going on with Stay22 AND Andrew.

 

He Then Shares What He Needs Immediately
Because he started with an announcement about fundraising, I know the context behind the ask that follows. I know he’s making it because he’s likely traveling to all of these locations while he’s asking for money. And, knowing where he’s traveling, I get really excited to find people to connect him to, ASAP.

I Know Exactly How His Company is Doing with Easy-to-Understand KPIs—That Show Trends
I see a lot of KPIs in updates, but I loved Andrew’s for a few reasons:

  • First of all, they’re clear and concise. I understand and see the top five KPIs he cares about.
  • Second, they’re KPIs that I get and understand. There are so many KPIs sent my way that are convoluted or ones that I’ve never even heard of before.
  • He also gave me two great comparisons: Month-over-month and this year compared to last year. It shows me that he has the systems in place to track these metrics and allows me to see how much he’s actually growing. The comparisons also get me excited about all of the work he’s actually done.
  • And, he gave me KPIs that I could easily share with people in my network who I believe would be interested in what Stay22 is doing—like the fact that they’ve increased their revenue by around 300-500% from just a year ago.

There Are Updates That Get Readers Excited
Andrew shared something about the product that he really loves. But he didn’t just tell us in the update; he gave us a visual to demonstrate what the update looks like, getting me even more excited about what he’s built.

A Really Good Marketing and Sales Update
Any investor wants to know how sales and marketing are going. He gave great stats for this. But notice that he did three things in each of his updates.

  • He gave additional KPIs. He could have done this in the previous KPI section but he was smart—he knew including them with all of the stats likely would have overloaded us with info so this was another great place to include some additional ones.
  • He went over very tangible partnerships he has. He could have just given us the number of new partnerships but he didn’t. Instead, he told us exactly who the partnerships are with, which also gets me thinking about who in my network I could connect him to.
  • And, if you’ll notice, by giving us the metrics of what has happened, the highlights of what’s currently going on, and sharing what’s new, he’s basically giving us a run-down of the past, present, and future in the marketing and sales section—without even telling us that’s what he’s doing.

He Was Honest
He gave us some authentic thoughts. Everyone likes working with someone they can trust. One of the last things that Andrew shared was a personal note about what’s good and what isn’t so good. It personalizes the update and helps me have empathy for Andrew.

He Ended His Note Thoughtfully
He closed with a quote. I love it when I see this because these quotes usually show the heart and mind of the founder more than anything else in the newsletter. Reading through the lines, I can tell that Andrew is thinking about and working on perseverance—something that all of us can use a bit more of in the hard world of startups.

I really encourage you to check out more of what Andrew and Stay22 are up to. You can do that here. If it’s anything like this email, you already know they’re up to a lot of great stuff.