This article was published on February 26, 2012

Onswipe’s Jason Baptiste on being a CEO: “I am a 2012 equivalent of Dr. Seuss”

Onswipe’s Jason Baptiste on being a CEO: “I am a 2012 equivalent of Dr. Seuss”
Brad McCarty
Story by

Brad McCarty

A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty. A music and tech junkie who calls Nashville home, Brad is the Director TNW Academy. You can follow him on Twitter @BradMcCarty.

Coming to SuperConf in Miami Beach is like coming home for Jason Baptiste of Onswipe, a company that TNW’s Coutney Boyd Myers called “the future of publishing“. He’s a Florida native, who moved with his team to New York City in order to be part of the illustrious TechStars program.

The topic of much debate after raising $1 million during the program, Onswipe has gone on to power the tablet version of some of the world’s hottest websites such as The WIRED store, open a self-service platform and inked a partnership for sites.

Now, Baptiste is back in his old stomping grounds, with a talk that he has said is “2 years in the making”. “Da art of storytellin‘” is Baptiste’s explanation for what he does as the CEO of a white-hot startup. He relays the history of being dead broke with $3,006 in the bank, bootstrapping Onswipe at IncubateMiami and how the company has now raised $6 million, has 24 employees and continues to move forward. He does this because, as he puts it, his role as the CEO is to be a storyteller.

“I am a 2012 equivalent of Dr. Seuss. I tell the stories. The Press, investors and employees are my audience.”

So how do you get the story? Baptiste breaks it down to tips that are applicable to just about every company, no matter how large or small.

Speak in soundbites – The “awesome round” was no accident, says Baptiste. He knew very well that he was speaking in bits that could easily be tweeted and shared.

Have a sexy product – CSS and HTML can be sexy, to the right audience. Find your audience and tailor your talk to what will be intersting to them.

Can you make grandma understand it? – It’s so easy to get lost in the technical jargon. Make sure that, no matter what you do, your grandmother could understand it. Even if it’s highly complex, you can probably break down your idea to something that’s easy to digest.

How will it be worth $1,000,000,000? – This gets you into the mindset of not just meeting, but surpassing, your goals. Consider what you can do to move beyond the next point, even before you reach it. For Baptiste and Onswipe, that billion dollar goal was what drove them to leave the sunny shores in Miami and head to NYC, where their audience of advertisers resides.

Arrington loves a headline – No surprise here, we at TNW love headlines too. It’s really hard to write things that are boring. When you’re pitching your product, yourself or your company, make sure that you’re speaking in terms that are interesting to the audience. If you want to increase your chances of getting written about, help feed us a story that’s worth the headline.

Get others to believe in and tell your story – I’ve hounded on this one over and again, and I’m glad to see Baptiste bring it up. Your product will only matter when other people believe in it and then use it. When they believe in it, they will tell your story. It’s that word of mouth that we heard about earlier today and there’s simply nobody better to tell your story than a customer who believes in what you’re doing.

Demos Rule Everything Around Me – When Baptiste was pitching Onswipe, he says that he never had a pitch deck. Instead, the company had a demo of its product and that was the pitch.

Be on a mission bigger than yourself – Inside the company, outside of the company and everywhere, there’s no better way to drive your team than to have a vision that is greater than the present sum of its parts.

“Startups are incredibly difficult. I can tell you 10 reasons why Onswipe might not work, but I’m going to tell you the 10 reasons why it will. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

Stop pitching, start storytelling – There’s a truth to this that is simply beyond the comprehension of most people. Nobody likes to be sold to, but people love a good story. If your pitch sounds like a pitch, it’s easy to lose people. If your pitch is an engaging, relatable story, you’ll have an audience forever.

So there you have it, from a startup that went from bootstrapped to successful in under 2 years, 9 actionable tips toward telling your own stories.

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