BEP 371 – English for Startups 5: Demonstrating Leadership

English for Startups 5 - BEP 371 - Demonstrating Leadership

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for startups and demonstrating leadership.

In the early stages, startup companies are built on the ideas and energy of their founders. These are often smart, creative people with great technical knowledge and skills. And this creativity and technical know-how is crucial to bringing great ideas to life.

But very quickly, a startup becomes more than just one or two individuals. As it grows, it becomes a team of people. And as it changes, or pivots, the original founders need more than just creativity and technical skills. They need to be able to lead their team with passion.

Leading a team might not come naturally to every founder. Or to any manager in any type of company, tech startup or not. But you can learn and practice the skills of a being a great leader.

For starters, you’ll want to know how to be positive and show compassion for your team members. Taking care of your team will also involve responding decisively to needs. And people are depending on you to show them the vision behind all the hard work, and to underline the shared purpose of everyone on the team.

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a startup founder named Quinn, who has recently pivoted his online payments company to focus on business customers. He’s talking with lead developer Jill, and a new marketing manager named Colin. To execute this pivot well, Quinn will have to call on all his leadership abilities to guide his team to success.

Listening Questions

1. How does Quinn set a positive tone at the start of the conversation?
2. What is the big vision, or change, the company wants to make?
3. How does Quinn respond to Jill’s request for help with infrastructure needs?

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BEP 370 – English for Startups 4: Discussing a Pivot

English for Startups - BEP 370 - Discussing a Pivot

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for startups and discussing a pivot.

There are lots of business ideas and tech innovations that sound like good ideas. But the real test of an idea is the marketplace. People might like your idea, but will they buy it? Will enough people buy it to make the business viable? Even if you’ve done your market research, sometimes consumer feedback tells you it just won’t work.

This happens all the time with startups. And the smart ones don’t keep throwing good money after bad. Nor do they give up altogether. Instead, they pivot. When you pivot, you shift your business model or strategy based on the feedback you get from the market. That’s how Odeo, a podcasting platform, became Twitter. And that’s how YouTube gave up on video-dating and became a massively popular video-sharing site.

Pivoting well isn’t easy. It takes some tough conversations about new goals for the company and new needs. And one of the toughest aspects of the pivot is sacrificing some of your old ideas. You also have to remember it’s not just about you and your ideas. When you pivot, you need to consider your team and your investors as well.

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a conversation between a young entrepreneur named Quinn and his mentor, Kira. Quinn has been working hard to get his online payments business going. Now he sees that it would be wise to pivot his focus from individual consumers to business customers.

Listening Questions

1. What does Quinn say is the company’s most pressing need?
2. What is the old idea that Quinn needs to sacrifice to pivot his business?
3. What does Quinn say his investors need to understand?

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BEP 366 – English for Startups 3: Addressing Investor Concerns

BEP 366 LESSON - Startup English 3: Answering Investor Questions

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on addressing investor concerns during a pitch in English.

One of the greatest skills in business is the art of persuasion. Whether you’re running a startup and wooing a big investor or trying to convince your boss to give you a pay raise you need to be able to persuade.

Of course, we often use a pitch or presentation to persuade, especially when looking for startup investment. But the pitch alone won’t seal the deal. The real test is handling questions and concerns after your pitch. Can you anticipate these concerns and be ready to address them? Can you think and speak on the fly? Do you have the confidence to back up what you’ve said in your presentation?

There are several concerns you might have to address. For one, you may have to explain exactly why your idea is unique. And you might also have to show clearly that you’re committed to the idea. One common investor concern is the valuation, or how much you think the company’s worth. You’ll need to justify your valuation clearly, and explain what you’ll do with the investor’s money. And through it all, you’ll be trying to show why you are backable, or deserve the investor’s support.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin Quinn, who is seeking investment for his online payments company called Moolah. In our last lesson, Quinn gave his pitch to the investor. Now he has to address some tough questions and concerns from a potential investor named Mason.

Listening Questions

1. What does Quinn believe shows that he’s fully committed to the company?
2. What exactly does Quinn plan to do with the investor’s money?
3. Why does Quinn believe he is backable on a personal level?

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BEP 365 – English for Startups 2: Pitching to Investors

BEP 365 LESSON - English for Startups 2: Pitching in English to Investors

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on pitching in English to investors.

The world of tech startups can be extremely exciting and rewarding. But success is certainly not guaranteed. In fact, 90% of new ventures that don’t attract investors within the first three years will fail. So if your company has made it through the valley of death, and you’re burning through cash but don’t have any revenue, then you’d better make sure you’ve got a great pitch to potential investors.

In just 10 to 20 minutes, you need to convince investors that they should risk their money on you. Or, more accurately, why they should risk their money on you instead of on the thousands of other companies they could invest in. It’s hard to think of a higher stakes presentation than a pitch to investors. So what will increase your chances of success?

Well, you need to talk about the problem that your product solves, and how your product is truly unique. Of course, in the startup world, timing is everything. So you need to be able to show there’s a market for what you’re offering. And a good startup isn’t just about a good idea, it’s about a solid revenue model. So you’ll need to explain that clearly. It’s also smart to sit down and think about what questions investors might have, and answer them before they have to ask them!

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a presentation by Quinn, who founded an online payments company called Moolah. In our last lesson, we heard Quinn preparing for his pitch with the help of a mentor. Now it’s showtime, as Quinn delivers his pitch in the hopes of attracting investment.

Listening Questions

1. What is the problem that Quinn identifies at the start of his presentation?
2. Who is Moolah’s target audience?
3. What question does Quinn anticipate the investors might have?

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BEP 364 – English for Startups 1: Preparing for a Pitch

BEP 364 - Business English for Startups 1: Preparing for a Pitch in English

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on preparing for a pitch in English to investors.

It’s easy to look around at the economy today and applaud the tech companies that made it big. But for every success, there are a hundred failures. Anyone who’s founded a startup or worked for one knows that new businesses face a lot of uncertainty and a world of challenges.

In this economy, the success of a startup depends on many factors. If you can learn to navigate the challenges, or to see them as opportunities, then you too might make it big. One important factor in startup success is good mentorship. There’s a strong tradition of established business people helping young entrepreneurs find the path to success.

And one of the most important opportunities a mentor can help you with is preparing for your first pitch to potential investors. If there’s any time that you should learn to take advice, it’s at this point. An English pitch to investors can make or break your company. And good preparation, as any mentor will tell you, is key.

Working with a mentor depends on you being open to input. That might mean accepting critical opinions and admitting your own weaknesses. But if you can do this, then you’ll be able to use your mentor to bounce ideas off, and to ask directly for help with challenges.

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a conversation between Quinn – a young entrepreneur – and Kira, his mentor. Quinn is getting ready to pitch his online payments startup to a potential investor. And we’ll hear how he learns from his more experienced mentor.

Listening Questions

1. What strong opinion about his pitch does Quinn have to accept?
2. What weakness does Quinn admit to?
3. What challenge does Quinn ask Kira for help with?

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