Insights from a TenbyTen session with Sifted’s Deputy Editor, Amy Lewin

Journalist’s Advice for Startups & VCs

Sifted.eu’s Deputy Editor, Amy Lewin, Offers Insights

If you find an opportunity to hear hard-earned wisdom from an insider of a news outlet, please take it. On August 10th, Sifted.eu’s Amy Lewin spoke with Fora x Buzzbar about trends in journalism as it relates to startups and VCs. She offered useful tips on diversifying VC and keeping on a journalist’s good side – important since reputation is gold in the age of social media.

Challenging Brotopia

The Zoom session host, Paul, kicked off with the elephant in the room: that sexism is a major theme of the moment as people struggle with the “brotopia” culture that seems to have permeated part of the startup and VC space. Lewin indicates it’s worth a visit to a VC’s website to take a look at how many partners, basically the big decision-makers, are women. You’ll quickly see a trend. Even women who do reach partner level often end up coming from as privileged backgrounds as their so-called “white bloke” counterparts.

Changing up the VC Game?

Lewin believes, and she’s not alone in this, as I’ve heard it on Arlan Hamilton’s Your First Million podcast and Sahil Lavingia’s thoughts on Twitter,

“Don’t break your team as you scale.” — Amy Lewin

In her vast experience interacting with startups, Lewis stresses the importance of prioritizing diversity, managing mental health, and treating your team or staff well. She’s a big proponent of ‘taking care of your people’. Lewin warns against becoming known as a startup with horrible culture issues as that image is hard to shake once established.

Good News for Healthtech (and other Trends)

In terms of what trends to look out for, Lewin offers key areas to watch:

“There’s a strong case to be made that Europe can grow some healthcare giants.” -Amy Lewin

Transport: It’s sexier than you may think. It’s a major topic, especially given the need to move around safely and get commodities to people who are staying put due to the pandemic. She cited the UK’s new-found openness to scooters on ‘ancient’ highways.

How to Pitch to Journalists

So you’re waiting for her tips, right? Well, I’ve got good news; it’s a) mostly common sense, and b) Sifted already wrote a major cheat sheet.

  1. If you are a small company and want coverage, again do your homework first. Think about your company from a bird’s eye view. Ask yourself: How does your company fit into larger trends? Provide a journalist with some stats and links about what other companies are doing in your industry and position yourself as part of that ecosystem. You’ve just shifted the focus away from yourself and delivered the backbone of an article. Bravo!
  2. Sign up for the Sifted Newsletter to keep tabs on what topics and when they are covering those, and get in touch with the right person there.
  3. Build your relationship with a journalist. When you reach out to a journalist, acknowledge something you have actually read by them and why it mattered. It’s a two-way street so be respectful and provide value. Don’t just pose ‘asks’ and expect anything to happen.
  4. When asked about how startups should approach funding, Lewin points out that VC’s love being on Medium and Twitter, so go find them there. 💕Get to know their interests and focus areas. Also remember that VCs tend to “soak up information” and take a “never too early to get in touch position,” so they’ll want to get to know you and your track record prior to considering an investment.

The Evolving Startup Narrative

If startups used to be society’s ‘darling,’ where are we heading now? Are startups still trusted? Yes, they are not to be confused with the larger tech giants (ahem, on trial.) Lewin notes there’s a challenge when startups enter the real world after they’ve been living in a ‘bubble.’

Reporting from within a Venn diagram of health, tech and empowerment. Berlin-based. Internationally minded. Comms @ Earlybird Venture Capital

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