Entre-SLAM Ann Arbor: What’s Your Startup Story?

On December 14th earlier this year, I attended the finals of the Entre-SLAM event in Ann Arbor. It’s a business storytelling event. Founders share their startup story with the audience and judges after a year’s worth of honing their storylines. The theme of this year’s Entre-SLAM event was “finding your purpose”. As a Startup owner and a branding person, I can tell you, any Startup going through periods of self-doubt, questioning and the zone of disillusionment. The only thing that keeps people afloat is finding the true purpose and your own internal source of motivation.

Attend our storytelling workshop in Delhi in January 2016 to learn storytelling skills for your Startups and brands. Start here.


entreSLAM what's your startup story brandanew

The event forced entrepreneurs or business storytellers to look within and figure out why they were out there creating something new. As I listened to the various founders, I noted down what worked for the eventual winner and what really does make a story different and unique. It also helped clarify questions we all struggle with at various points:

– What’s the difference between a Startup pitch and a story?
– Why does a story work better than a standard business pitch?
– How does storytelling help you identify your true purpose and impediments?

The event was attended by several local businesses, startup founders, advertisers, writers and overall marketing and business enthusiasts at the Ark, in Ann Arbor. Six business owners who had already gone through earlier video/ in-person rounds of sharing their stories came in for the finale. The entrepreneurs had about 5 minutes to share their stories and connect with the audience and the judges.

The one thing that worked for me strongly at the event was the sheer diversity of the storytellers and the judges on this unique platform.The event began with a local folk artist, Matt Watroba, sharing the value of musical storytelling and the fact that songs are too precious to be left just to professionals. Everyone has a story that makes them unique.

All the six entrepreneurs had gone through previous storytelling rounds and won their respective local events and were competing for the finale, after having gone through some serious coaching through the earlier rounds. What’s the one important story in your life that you can wrap up in 5 minutes and share or connect with your business purpose? One entrepreneur after another, we heard personal stories and struggles. The judges often came up with interesting comments on which stories they would modify or expand on, depending on what they found a connect with. As an outsider, it is naturally easier to see the story that works. As a startup owner, we’re often in love with our products and too close to our storylines to see the difference. The element of a stage with a curious audience added to the drama and the self-questioning. How much information was too personal? Where could the entrepreneurs draw the fine lines while staying personal and connected to their business ideas?

Point B Living founder, Christopher John was chosen as the final winner of the competition, winning a cool $10K in prize money as well as an emotional connect with everyone around. The audience also got a chance to vote as a “fifth judge” and pretty much everyone on my table voted for Christopher. His presence, the stories of impact and authenticity were too strong to be ignored.

I was buzzing with all the new ideas and storytelling energy. Have you found out your purpose and startup story yet?

EntreSLAM What's your startup story

Next year’s entre-SLAM event is going to focus on a new element of Storytelling and promises to be a year full of interesting new stories. Anyone globally can apply. I’ll share more details as they announce the 2016 event.


Upasna Kakroo

Upasna co-founded Brandanew in 2014 for the sheer love of storytelling and authentic connections. She has been blogging and documenting digital stories since 2003.