Growth begins with words

When you first start your own business, you open up worlds you previously didn’t even know existed — for instance, how do you apply project management tactics as a freelancer?

Growth Supply – Ali Mese

3 min
Vincent Siderius

Growth Supply - Ali Mese

When you first start your own business, you open up worlds you previously didn’t even know existed — for instance, how do you apply project management tactics as a freelancer? 

What do you have to consider when you start a business, which pitfalls can you avoid and which topics need emphasis?

In this series, you read about various themes that are important to new entrepreneurs. Not taken from ‘These are the Nine Things you Absolutely have to do’ articles, but from people. Our people. Six entrepreneurs from StartDock talk about their company and their industry so that you can learn from them. In this part we talk to Ali, he is a storyteller and has half a million followers on his Medium-page: The Startup.

What storytelling actually is

Storytelling is becoming a bit of a buzzword. If you want people to know about your product, use storytelling. But how many people can actually explain what it is and how to apply it beyond explaining what the word literally means: telling compelling stories.

Ali: ‘Growth begins with words. Stories... they move. And moving people is good for business. One powerful way to move people through storytelling is to add the human element to your overall messaging. Think of it as the Golden Triangle with three components: the brand, the product and the people. Many companies end up talking just about their brand or their product, but they miss the third angle. If you talk about your business, you have to make it human.’

Making a company about humans also needs an approach that is not solely focused on the thing they sell. Ali: ‘When we work with a new client we start interviewing the founder, the head of marketing, the head of product, and the designers. We interview everyone we can find because there are so many stories and so much knowledge within the minds of these people. We try to extract all that knowledge, get them to speak about what they know best and turn that wisdom into compelling stories. Customers love that.’

Growth Supply

“Growth begins with words” is the tagline of Growth Supply, Ali’s company. Nowadays he has a team of nine people all working in a different country. The team exists of experts who all have a background in writing, though the emphasis between them differs a bit, from a journalist to a writer and from an editor to a content creator. What connects them is their obsession with words. Ali: ‘Growth Supply is a storytelling studio that grows technology companies through words. We don’t do design or development. We do content - from writing your homepage, onboarding emails, blog and social media posts. We are all words, no pictures. Our job is to turn boring into a compelling story.’

Since Growth Supply grew over the years it created a position of power for itself. Ali: ‘We only accept a few clients at a time and we do have a long waiting list. Such oversubscribed business helps us to focus on delivering quality as our growth is mainly driven by word of mouth. Early on, we realized delivering top-notch work pays off big time - this is one of the reasons we accept only a few clients at a time, we make sure we devote enough time to each client. We saw that if we really spend hours on a single story, we really can make it go viral. We work with about three clients at a time and we do charge premium prices so we can hire the very best talent out there. Our clients are usually big Silicon Valley startups. And our writers also usually work on one client at a time so they can understand how the client works and can build a long-term relationship as our clients stay with us at least quite a few years.

Even if you’re the market leader, there is a lot to improve

One of the clients of Growth Supply is JotForm, they are the market leader in the online form business with two major competitors: Typeform and Google Forms. Ali: ‘I had never heard about JotForm before they contacted me. It was really weird because I soon figured they were the leader in a market where even Google stepped into the ring, a market where competitors like Typeform were announcing million-dollar investment round after another. What’s most interesting is that JotForm reached five million users without a single dime in outside funding.’ 

Ali: ‘They asked our help for the same reason I was surprised in the first place: to spread the news about JotForm so people beyond their customers could also discover them. After months of working together, we uncovered hundreds of interesting stories with their team which brought them millions of readers in our first year alone. Now imagine how many millions of dollars they had to spend if they wanted to bring that traffic from ads. The beautiful side of storytelling is that it compounds, i.e., it turns into your unstoppable growth engine after a few months of consistent content creation.’

Don’t go in storytelling in early stage

If you anxiously think at this point: ‘I need to start writing stories right now’, take a deep breath. You can only do one thing at the same time. Ali: ‘There is so much to tackle in the early stage of your company that you might have to reconsider whether investing in storytelling is right for you at this stage. You need to find a product market fit in the first place and there are so many other things you need to test and figure out. Say, you’ve got only €100 - you might be better off spending that €100 on Facebook ads which will give you a quicker idea on which of your homepage versions performs better. Now compare that to spending €100 on hiring a freelance writer and expecting some immediate traffic after you publish an article - before taking a blind leap, remember storytelling is a long game. Over time you will hopefully have the resources. If you still need to kick it off in the early stages, I recommend setting aside one hour per day for writing as a founder.’

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