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The Storytelling Start-Up
From Core-Story to Content Strategy
Workshop, #csforum14
Christian Riedel
@mindcaffeine
Independent Story Architect
I’am fascinated by stories, how they are
structured and how they help people
and companies grow. Currently I work
as an independent story-architect.
My passion for stories started
early. I was born in a small
town in the middle of Germany.
And since I’am not into football.
It sometimes felt really
narrowing.
My story
So every day after school I
escaped and took a trip to the
universe. In front of the TV - 

I was boldly going where no
one has gone before.
My story
I was one of the founding
members of our local fan club.
My story I deep dived into the star trek
fandom. And it taught me a lot
about how transmedia storytelling
works.
One fictional technology in Star
Trek I like most: The holodeck. A
four dimensional environment
simulator that allows to fully
immerse into fictional scenarios.
!
For me the Holodeck is a perfect
metaphor for stories. Stories allow
us to open a door into new worlds.
By using the most powerful
simulation computer - our brain -
we experience and learn new
things.
!
Star Trek for example taught me to
explore new things.
And like the Holodeck is build on technology, stories are
build on structures and narrative techniques.
Structures used in theater, screenwriting and game-design.
Structures rarely used in commercial communication.
!
I explored narrative structures as a media scientist, as a
screenwriter and as a communication strategist. Using
narrative techniques has become my approach to strategy.
Currently
Currently I’am supporting website-creator-service jimdo.com to build a story-
team that will be responsible to empower anybody in the company to tell and
contribute to the companies’ story. The team will be provide branding and
editorial guidance.
!
And I’am working with Protonet as a storytelling consultant. Most recently I
helped the personal server firm on a record breaking 3 Million Euro
crowdfunding campaign.
The Storytelling Start-Up
From Core-Story to Content Strategy
Workshop, #csforum14
„It’s your story,
that makes you special .“
Adventure Plan
01 Context : The Start-Up Dilemma.
02 Inspiration: WTF is a Core Story.
03 Create: Finding your Core Story
04 Discuss: Towards content strategy.
Your start-up idea?
The Start-Up Dilemma.
How to win trust for something
completely new.
A crazy idea.
A prototype.
No investors.
A product.
No marketing
budget.
Growing team
needs alignment.
Storytelling Challenges
Growing user base
and rising
competition
demand
consistent
branding.
SUPPORTER STORY
INVESTOR STORY
AMBASSADOR STORY
VISION STORY
BRAND STORY
I think every step a start-up takes towards growth is connected to a trust-
winning story. And it get’s pretty hard if you need to come up with a new story
every time.
Unlimited stories.
Furthermore there are unlimited stories in the world.
What is the right stories to tell?
If you don’t know who you are - you might fall into one of three traps. 

Trap 1: Content Opportunism
I call the first trap ‚content opportunism‘. You tell something, you know people
like. Even if it is not really connected to your business.
Like this funny movie of a dog who tries to jump on a table.
Trap 2: Egocentricity
The second trap is egocentricity. You constantly talk about yourself, your goals,
your challenges. „We want to change the world“ „We want to be the first in the
market“…
Trap 3: The product will do the trick.
Talking about the product all the time is the third trap.
It might work for a while. However people need some
emotional benefit to emotionally connect to your
business.
Before it has investors, customers, profits, press coverage, or
even a perfected product, every startup has at least one
valuable asset: its story.
!
www.inc.com/.../sara-blakely-how-i-got-started.htm
A bunch of outcasts risking everything to change the world.
David Cohen, co-founder of Techstars accelerator
"We are trying to understand the source of the founders'
passion. Why do you care so much? It might be a personal
connection to the problem or just a strong vision of a
different or better world.
!
If it's 'for the money' or 'because it's a big business,' that's
poor motivation. It won't sustain most people through the
difficulties of starting and scaling a company.“
Simon Sinnek, Start with Why.
People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
And what you do simply proves what you believe.
Dropped Pants.
Drop your pants. To sell your Spanx.
www.inc.com/.../sara-blakely-how-i-got-started.htm
A crazy idea.
A prototype.
No investors.
A product.
No marketing
budget.
Growing team
needs alignment.
Storytelling Challenges
Rising competition
enforces branding.
SUPPORTER STORY
INVESTOR STORY
AMBASSADOR STORY
VISION STORY
BRAND STORY
YOUR- WHY is
your 

CORE-STORY
!
If you know your WHY, your core-story,
you will have a grand narrative to
guide you.
Arr! WTF is a Core-Story?
Revenge. Hippy. Fish.
Read the words.
Did something happen in your head?
Did your mind come up with a story?
George Lakoff and Mark Johnsen

Metaphors we live by.

„Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of
which we both think and act, is fundamentally
metaphorical in nature.“
We organize our world in stories.
!
A Core-Story is the (often unconscious) basic narrative that
structures why we perceive something as meaningful, how
we get around in the world and how we relate to other
people. It is the story you live by.
Fighting is competion.Fighting is dance.
Boy gets girl.
Boy looses girl.
Boy gets girl.
We loose in penalty.
Natural women are beautiful. Any body can get laid.
OK, it’s a little more fuzzy in reality.
The Core-Story of an enterprise* can be an experience, a certain
moment in time or in a belief that shows the real purpose of the
enterprise: Why are you doing it?
*I’am calling it enterprise - obviously I’am a fan of the word. And also the word bridges the concepts of company, start-up and brand.
„Fast food can be fair“
The experiences that Chipotle founder Steve
Ells made with the food industry , have
shaped the core-story of the company.
Ali Hy Berlin.
As a child Protonet founder Ali Jelveh had to
flee from Iran. This experience has shaped the
product idea of a personal server and the
core-story of the company: that people should
be simply independent.
The Core-Story shapes and
guides the reality of their
actions, products and
communications.
Actions
Product-Design Advertising
Stories
Behaviour
Media
Do Stuff Tell People
Help people Inform/Entertain 

People
(inspired by a tweet from @faris)
Actions
Product-Design
Advertising
Stories
Behaviour
Media
Do Stuff Tell People
Help people Inform/Entertain People
A story goes deeper than a mission statement.
Unlike a mission statement a core story
makes you think and feel at the same time.
The Core-Story shapes and guides the reality of their actions, products and
communications. It provides meaning, coherence and alignment towards internal
and external audiences. It is basis for trust and uniqueness.
The Core-Story of an enterprise* can be found in an experience, in a certain
moment in time or in a belief that shows the real purpose of the enterprise:
Why are you doing it?
A Core-Story is a basic narrative to live by.
How to find your Core-Story?
HOW
WHAT
WHY
Golden Circle
by
Simon Sinnek, Start with why.
The Golden Circle by Simon Sinnek is an easy
start to search for your core story. However I
have experienced in many workshops, that it
is difficult to answer the why question without
additional inspiration and thinking.
HOW
WHAT
WHY
Drill down
Reframe your actions into a
unique and consistent story.
In my experience it takes quite some time to
drill down to the core and to reframe
everything the start-up says or does into a
consistent story.
Core Story Canvas (v.2)
An entrepreneurial tool to shape the story of an enterprise.
Over the last 1,5 years I worked successfully with
the Core-Story Canvas. A tool I initially
developed together with Valentin Heyde. It is
inspired by the Business Model Canvas. It is still
in beta. Since I’m still trying to find out how it
works best.
Core Story Canvas
SURFACE
STORY
REFRAMING
WHY
WHAT FOR
IN COMPETITION WITH HOW
(DIFFERENT BY)
THEME CONFLICT BELIEF
HERO ADVENTURE MAGIC WAND
STAGE
PRODUCT DESIGN ADVERTISING
STORIESACTIONS
HISTORY
Answering the fields help to search for your
core-story in a structured way.
Three layered approach
SURFACE!
What / How
STORY!
Story Anchors
REFRAMING!
Slide Surface.
On the surface layer use the most simple words to
describe your thing: What is it you do. SURFACE!
What / How
The Story-Layer is about finding the Why-Story.
Because only the story provides meaning to your thing.
STORY
Thinking about your Core-Story is like thinking about a TV-series. You
search for something that creates emotional impact, holds attention over
time and is flexible enough to tell several stories on different platforms.
STORY
So ähnlich wie eine Serie….
Was hält das Konzept zusammen.
Tabelle aus dem Ipad.
CONFLICT
Good vs. Evil
BELIEF
Evil is in you.
HERO
a chemistry teacher 

with cancer
ADVENTURE
Care for the family
through drug business.
MAGIC-WAND
The blue meth.
THEME
Morale behavior
Story Anchors
In screenwriting there are story-anchors, that help to catch the essence of a story.
STAGE
Albuquerque
THEME
FOOD
CONFLICT
INDUSTRIAL vs.
RESPONSIBLE
HERO
STEVE
ADVENTURE

Deliver 

“Food with Integrity“
MAGIC WAND
Fresh organic ingrediences
BELIEF
Responsible Fast Food
is possible.
STAGES
Restaurant Evil Food FactoriesCommunity Farms
CONFLICT
Data Ownership vs.
Cloud-Dependence
BELIEF
„If you don’t own the
technology. Technology owns
you.
HELD
Ali
ADVENTURE
Simply independent.
Building the world’s 

easiest server to give
people data ownership and
cloud independence.
MAGIC WAND
Personal Server
THEME
Independency
STAGES
Protonet HQ Makerhub
Peoples Desk
Hamburg Protonet Soul
Reframing
REFRAMING!
The Story-Anchors provide a flexible frame to
adjust what the company says or does.
HOW
WHAT
WHY
Drill down
Reframe your actions into a
unique and consistent story.
A crazy idea.
A prototype.
No investors.
A product.
No marketing
budget.
Growing team
needs alignment.
Storytelling Challenges
Rising competition
enforces branding.
SUPPORTER STORY
INVESTOR STORY
AMBASSADOR STORY
VISION STORY
BRAND STORY
YOUR- WHY is
your 

CORE-STORY
!
It’s your Core-Story that provides
orientation and alignment. That makes
your company special.
Towards content strategy.
Case.
Protonet #Choice
Crowdfunding Campaign.
Ali Hy Berlin.
Protonet #Choice
Crowdfunding-Campaign.
CORE-STORY
Campaign Story:
The cloud is in crisis. Your investment is an opportunity to give people a choice: An alternative to the cloud .
Teaser
Video
(28k / 8%)
Business-Plan
Interviews
Social Media
Mini PM
Roadshow
Call to action.
Genre: Crisitunity-Campaign.
Investment
open.
Reach goal
or fail
Croudfunding
website
open.Teaser-
Website
1. Act: Present-Crisis 2. Act: Show opportunity
Vision of change. Theory of change.
3. Act: Take
Responsibility
Investment
open again
(unplanned).
Press-Peak
We planned the campaign based on the
core story using the dramaturgy of a
political campaign.
Story Process (beta) @Jimdo
At Jimdo we are currently working on how the
story team interacts with the other teams to
bring the core story to life. 

What are your experiences about the content-
development- process?
Story Team Process.
one last thing
„It’s your story,
that makes you unique.“
Christian Riedel
Story-Architect
@mindcaffeine
christian@growthbystory.de

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Storytelling Startup: From Core-Story to Content Strategy.

  • 1. The Storytelling Start-Up From Core-Story to Content Strategy Workshop, #csforum14
  • 2. Christian Riedel @mindcaffeine Independent Story Architect I’am fascinated by stories, how they are structured and how they help people and companies grow. Currently I work as an independent story-architect.
  • 3. My passion for stories started early. I was born in a small town in the middle of Germany. And since I’am not into football. It sometimes felt really narrowing.
  • 4. My story So every day after school I escaped and took a trip to the universe. In front of the TV - 
 I was boldly going where no one has gone before.
  • 5. My story I was one of the founding members of our local fan club.
  • 6. My story I deep dived into the star trek fandom. And it taught me a lot about how transmedia storytelling works.
  • 7. One fictional technology in Star Trek I like most: The holodeck. A four dimensional environment simulator that allows to fully immerse into fictional scenarios. ! For me the Holodeck is a perfect metaphor for stories. Stories allow us to open a door into new worlds. By using the most powerful simulation computer - our brain - we experience and learn new things. ! Star Trek for example taught me to explore new things.
  • 8. And like the Holodeck is build on technology, stories are build on structures and narrative techniques. Structures used in theater, screenwriting and game-design. Structures rarely used in commercial communication. ! I explored narrative structures as a media scientist, as a screenwriter and as a communication strategist. Using narrative techniques has become my approach to strategy.
  • 9. Currently Currently I’am supporting website-creator-service jimdo.com to build a story- team that will be responsible to empower anybody in the company to tell and contribute to the companies’ story. The team will be provide branding and editorial guidance. ! And I’am working with Protonet as a storytelling consultant. Most recently I helped the personal server firm on a record breaking 3 Million Euro crowdfunding campaign.
  • 10. The Storytelling Start-Up From Core-Story to Content Strategy Workshop, #csforum14
  • 11. „It’s your story, that makes you special .“
  • 12. Adventure Plan 01 Context : The Start-Up Dilemma. 02 Inspiration: WTF is a Core Story. 03 Create: Finding your Core Story 04 Discuss: Towards content strategy.
  • 15. How to win trust for something completely new.
  • 16. A crazy idea. A prototype. No investors. A product. No marketing budget. Growing team needs alignment. Storytelling Challenges Growing user base and rising competition demand consistent branding. SUPPORTER STORY INVESTOR STORY AMBASSADOR STORY VISION STORY BRAND STORY I think every step a start-up takes towards growth is connected to a trust- winning story. And it get’s pretty hard if you need to come up with a new story every time.
  • 17. Unlimited stories. Furthermore there are unlimited stories in the world. What is the right stories to tell? If you don’t know who you are - you might fall into one of three traps. 

  • 18. Trap 1: Content Opportunism I call the first trap ‚content opportunism‘. You tell something, you know people like. Even if it is not really connected to your business. Like this funny movie of a dog who tries to jump on a table.
  • 19. Trap 2: Egocentricity The second trap is egocentricity. You constantly talk about yourself, your goals, your challenges. „We want to change the world“ „We want to be the first in the market“…
  • 20. Trap 3: The product will do the trick. Talking about the product all the time is the third trap. It might work for a while. However people need some emotional benefit to emotionally connect to your business.
  • 21. Before it has investors, customers, profits, press coverage, or even a perfected product, every startup has at least one valuable asset: its story. ! www.inc.com/.../sara-blakely-how-i-got-started.htm
  • 22. A bunch of outcasts risking everything to change the world.
  • 23. David Cohen, co-founder of Techstars accelerator "We are trying to understand the source of the founders' passion. Why do you care so much? It might be a personal connection to the problem or just a strong vision of a different or better world. ! If it's 'for the money' or 'because it's a big business,' that's poor motivation. It won't sustain most people through the difficulties of starting and scaling a company.“
  • 24. Simon Sinnek, Start with Why. People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.
  • 25. Dropped Pants. Drop your pants. To sell your Spanx. www.inc.com/.../sara-blakely-how-i-got-started.htm
  • 26. A crazy idea. A prototype. No investors. A product. No marketing budget. Growing team needs alignment. Storytelling Challenges Rising competition enforces branding. SUPPORTER STORY INVESTOR STORY AMBASSADOR STORY VISION STORY BRAND STORY YOUR- WHY is your 
 CORE-STORY ! If you know your WHY, your core-story, you will have a grand narrative to guide you.
  • 27. Arr! WTF is a Core-Story?
  • 28. Revenge. Hippy. Fish. Read the words. Did something happen in your head? Did your mind come up with a story?
  • 29. George Lakoff and Mark Johnsen
 Metaphors we live by.
 „Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature.“
  • 30. We organize our world in stories. !
  • 31. A Core-Story is the (often unconscious) basic narrative that structures why we perceive something as meaningful, how we get around in the world and how we relate to other people. It is the story you live by.
  • 33. Boy gets girl. Boy looses girl. Boy gets girl. We loose in penalty.
  • 34. Natural women are beautiful. Any body can get laid.
  • 35. OK, it’s a little more fuzzy in reality. The Core-Story of an enterprise* can be an experience, a certain moment in time or in a belief that shows the real purpose of the enterprise: Why are you doing it? *I’am calling it enterprise - obviously I’am a fan of the word. And also the word bridges the concepts of company, start-up and brand.
  • 36. „Fast food can be fair“ The experiences that Chipotle founder Steve Ells made with the food industry , have shaped the core-story of the company.
  • 37. Ali Hy Berlin. As a child Protonet founder Ali Jelveh had to flee from Iran. This experience has shaped the product idea of a personal server and the core-story of the company: that people should be simply independent.
  • 38. The Core-Story shapes and guides the reality of their actions, products and communications. Actions Product-Design Advertising Stories Behaviour Media Do Stuff Tell People Help people Inform/Entertain 
 People (inspired by a tweet from @faris)
  • 40. A story goes deeper than a mission statement. Unlike a mission statement a core story makes you think and feel at the same time.
  • 41. The Core-Story shapes and guides the reality of their actions, products and communications. It provides meaning, coherence and alignment towards internal and external audiences. It is basis for trust and uniqueness. The Core-Story of an enterprise* can be found in an experience, in a certain moment in time or in a belief that shows the real purpose of the enterprise: Why are you doing it? A Core-Story is a basic narrative to live by.
  • 42. How to find your Core-Story?
  • 43. HOW WHAT WHY Golden Circle by Simon Sinnek, Start with why. The Golden Circle by Simon Sinnek is an easy start to search for your core story. However I have experienced in many workshops, that it is difficult to answer the why question without additional inspiration and thinking.
  • 44. HOW WHAT WHY Drill down Reframe your actions into a unique and consistent story. In my experience it takes quite some time to drill down to the core and to reframe everything the start-up says or does into a consistent story.
  • 45. Core Story Canvas (v.2) An entrepreneurial tool to shape the story of an enterprise. Over the last 1,5 years I worked successfully with the Core-Story Canvas. A tool I initially developed together with Valentin Heyde. It is inspired by the Business Model Canvas. It is still in beta. Since I’m still trying to find out how it works best.
  • 46. Core Story Canvas SURFACE STORY REFRAMING WHY WHAT FOR IN COMPETITION WITH HOW (DIFFERENT BY) THEME CONFLICT BELIEF HERO ADVENTURE MAGIC WAND STAGE PRODUCT DESIGN ADVERTISING STORIESACTIONS HISTORY Answering the fields help to search for your core-story in a structured way.
  • 47. Three layered approach SURFACE! What / How STORY! Story Anchors REFRAMING!
  • 48. Slide Surface. On the surface layer use the most simple words to describe your thing: What is it you do. SURFACE! What / How
  • 49. The Story-Layer is about finding the Why-Story. Because only the story provides meaning to your thing. STORY
  • 50. Thinking about your Core-Story is like thinking about a TV-series. You search for something that creates emotional impact, holds attention over time and is flexible enough to tell several stories on different platforms. STORY
  • 51. So ähnlich wie eine Serie…. Was hält das Konzept zusammen. Tabelle aus dem Ipad. CONFLICT Good vs. Evil BELIEF Evil is in you. HERO a chemistry teacher 
 with cancer ADVENTURE Care for the family through drug business. MAGIC-WAND The blue meth. THEME Morale behavior Story Anchors In screenwriting there are story-anchors, that help to catch the essence of a story. STAGE Albuquerque
  • 52. THEME FOOD CONFLICT INDUSTRIAL vs. RESPONSIBLE HERO STEVE ADVENTURE
 Deliver 
 “Food with Integrity“ MAGIC WAND Fresh organic ingrediences BELIEF Responsible Fast Food is possible. STAGES Restaurant Evil Food FactoriesCommunity Farms
  • 53. CONFLICT Data Ownership vs. Cloud-Dependence BELIEF „If you don’t own the technology. Technology owns you. HELD Ali ADVENTURE Simply independent. Building the world’s 
 easiest server to give people data ownership and cloud independence. MAGIC WAND Personal Server THEME Independency STAGES Protonet HQ Makerhub Peoples Desk Hamburg Protonet Soul
  • 54. Reframing REFRAMING! The Story-Anchors provide a flexible frame to adjust what the company says or does.
  • 55. HOW WHAT WHY Drill down Reframe your actions into a unique and consistent story.
  • 56. A crazy idea. A prototype. No investors. A product. No marketing budget. Growing team needs alignment. Storytelling Challenges Rising competition enforces branding. SUPPORTER STORY INVESTOR STORY AMBASSADOR STORY VISION STORY BRAND STORY YOUR- WHY is your 
 CORE-STORY ! It’s your Core-Story that provides orientation and alignment. That makes your company special.
  • 60. Protonet #Choice Crowdfunding-Campaign. CORE-STORY Campaign Story: The cloud is in crisis. Your investment is an opportunity to give people a choice: An alternative to the cloud . Teaser Video (28k / 8%) Business-Plan Interviews Social Media Mini PM Roadshow Call to action. Genre: Crisitunity-Campaign. Investment open. Reach goal or fail Croudfunding website open.Teaser- Website 1. Act: Present-Crisis 2. Act: Show opportunity Vision of change. Theory of change. 3. Act: Take Responsibility Investment open again (unplanned). Press-Peak We planned the campaign based on the core story using the dramaturgy of a political campaign.
  • 61. Story Process (beta) @Jimdo At Jimdo we are currently working on how the story team interacts with the other teams to bring the core story to life. 
 What are your experiences about the content- development- process?
  • 64. „It’s your story, that makes you unique.“