SaaS Founder Interview with Bernadette Butler, Co-Founder & CEO @ StoryTap: Creating Video Content to Drive Conversions
Five Takeaways from StoryTap CEO Bernadette Butler’s SaaS Founder Show Interview
Video content is now the rising form of digital communication, empowering businesses and people with the ability to share stories and connect in a more personal way. StoryTap is a platform enabling simplified high-quality video development for more accessible storytelling to help businesses drive conversions. Dive into how the SaaS founder of StoryTap navigates the complexities of balance in the start-up world.
Founder and CEO Bernadette Butler developed the business after experiencing first-hand the difficulties of the video development process in advertising and set out to transform that experience at an enterprise scale. Tony Zayas, Insivia’s VP of Growth, sat down with Butler to learn more about the development of StoryTap’s MVP, raising funds, collaborating with a co-founder, and much more. Below, we’ll break down the five key takeaways from the 45-minute conversation between Butler and Zayas.
#1. Taking Investment is a Marriage
Every growing start-up will require early-stage investment to help them build their business and scale. StoryTap was certainly in this position after they had developed their product and begun to launch their business. Zayas wanted to know how StoryTap pitched itself to investors and how they navigated the investment process. According to Butler, investment is a two-way street, much like a marriage.
Since video content is so in-demand right now, interest was high. For Butler and her team, it was about finding the right investors. “When you do bring on investors, you are getting married,” states Butler. “Fit for us was so critical.”
“We really wanted to choose our investors wisely on fit,” says Butler because she understands that it isn’t just the investor choosing the brand; it is the brand choosing the investor. “ I would say you are also interviewing them. It is not all them interviewing you,” expresses Butler. “Do your reference checks, get critical with it; you are 100% getting married.”
Bottom line: Do your research before you make a deal with any investors.
#2. Accelerators Are a High-Impact Experience for Growing Businesses
Mentorship and a large network are significant drivers of success for a start-up trying to gain traction. Finding valuable mentors with shared experiences and a network in the same industry can be tough, but Butler credits her time with accelerators as something that contributed to her success.
“I would say, do it, do it, do it, if you can get in, it is transformational,” states Butler. After initial hesitancy, Butler and her co-founder found their accelerators to be significant assets for their business. The difficulty of the experience helped bring Butler and other founders of different businesses together. “You go through a program together, and it’s so intense, and it’s really, really challenging and hard. And so you bond over that, and everyone knows each other’s business,” remarks Butler.
Butler says it was valuable to learn from these other SaaS founders. “I think that was really insightful just to see those different business models and SaaS founder setups and how they kind of approached their go-to-market,” observes Butler. She retains that connection with the other founders to this day. You can learn a lot from your peers, so don’t veer away from your network. Embrace it and you’ll benefit significantly from it.
#3. Start-Up Founding Can be Lonely and Difficult but Rewarding All at Once
The start-up experience is markedly different from corporate life, and we often hear the many success stories out there. Like Butler mentions, as a SaaS founder you have to be kind to yourself, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. Zayas wanted to learn more about her journey as a CEO. “I would like to ask what is the closest you’ve come to throwing in the towel and saying, you know, this isn’t worth it?” asks Zayas.
While Butler has never given up, she stresses how difficult it can be running an early-phase company. “You’re never coasting, you’re never standing still, you’ve never got it, it’s constantly evolving. And so that by itself is unsettling,” expresses Butler. “It doesn’t feel normal, it is challenging. And you make a lot of hard decisions.”
However, ultimately, Butler still finds the lifestyle to be rewarding. “So yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, no, have I cried in my car? Sure I have,” says Butler. “But you know what, I get up the next day, I’m excited, I’m excited to take on the next challenge and figure out that new unlock because that’s what it’s about.” Being a SaaS founder can be extremely taxing but incredibly rewarding. It’s a great feeling when you can look back on your progress and see how far your business has grown and evolved.
Butler also shares that she invested a lot in early customer data for StoryTap. “Your early customers really help tell that story too, you hear from them firsthand, you know, what’s magical”. Your customers are the best resource to give you a fresh perspective on your business and what areas need improvement.
#4. Customers and Staff Can Play the Role of Influencers for Businesses
Influencer and affiliate marketing has helped many businesses leverage the reach of social media content creators for their benefit. However, authenticity is now being prioritized. Butler and StoryTap believe that this trend towards authentic opinions shared by real people will continue, with customers and staff playing the role of influencers.
“When you do look at the potential of your real customers and real staff members, give them the tools to help you grow your business in a way that they feel fantastic about,” remarks Butler. “There’s a shift, there’s authenticity and truth-telling.”
Real people telling genuine stories is the driving focus of StoryTap, which positions them well for this shift. “I think it’s just going to be a different landscape. And I think the future is real people telling stories about the brands that they love or are using, they may not even love,” claims Butler. “It may just be that whatever product or service is helping them in this way.”
Customers put more trust in businesses that provide full transparency. And hearing authentic stories is the perfect way to provide them with that. In fact, 81% of customers have reported that trust is a huge factor in their purchasing decisions. Utilizing the customer relationships you’ve established to build your brand’s reputation is a crucial element for your business’s growth.
#5. Finding a Balance with a Co-Founder Makes for a Strong Partnership
When Butler first created StoryTap, she had a small team and was the sole founder. People recommended finding the right co-founder, but it wasn’t until she came across that person that the value of a strong co-founder partnership became clear. One of the biggest reasons for the strength of their partnership was the lack of overlap between roles.
“I’d say, what’s incredible about Shawn is he loves to work on things that are well beyond my scope, and I work on things that he just doesn’t want to. So there’s that incredible balance,” states Butler. “I’m more outspoken, I think in headlines and marketing and sales. And he’s, of course, he’s the tech, he’s the product, He obsesses over that.”
Having that initial balance of skill sets and ways of thinking led to the development of a strong partnership that has helped drive the growth of StoryTap. Having a partnership in a business works best when you have differentiating talents. This is so you can have your own responsibilities without stepping on each other’s toes which may cause conflicts. It’s extremely beneficial when there are two people that can handle different sides of a company harmoniously. Once you find that perfect fit, you’re golden.
This is only scratching the surface of some of the topics covered in the wide-ranging interview between Zayas and Butler. Zayas and Butler dive into numerous other informative areas ranging from bootstrapping to attaining a work-life balance.
Watch the full interview above to get the rest of the powerful conversation on start-up growth between StoryTap’s CEO and SaaS Founder Bernadette Butler and Insivia’s VP of Growth, Tony Zayas.