Treble recently hosted a group of cybersecurity CMOs, venture capitalists and go-to-market advisors for a dinner filled with thought-provoking discussions and debates about the state of the startup landscape and the challenges of what lies ahead in 2024.

Over the course of a three-hour dinner in Palo Alto, California, we talked about the constant state of flux that tech startups face, most recently with distinct pressures stemming from limited VC funding. Treble demonstrated how to map PR strategies to investment stages while folks on the front lines of growing their respective businesses gave us some noteworthy insights and reminders.

PR = Public Relations (not Press Release)

Talking with people who don’t work in your particular field always serves as a learning experience and a good lens into how others view your profession. Sometimes it’s something as little as an acronym.

It turns out that when we say PR, we mean public relations, our beloved profession. But more and more often, people outside the industry use PR to mean “press release.” On the one hand, it’s understandable, at least the letters make sense, but on the other hand, it only scratches the surface of what a public relations agency does.

While press releases have historically been a way to share news with the media and public, they are distributed for mere visibility; public relations reaches far beyond that. PR professionals are experts in storytelling, fostering reporter relationships, and strengthening company narratives and strategies to meet unique business goals.

Impact of AI in PR 

While we’re on the topic of press releases, one topic of debate during the event was the impact of AI on crafting a good press release. To say it bluntly, press releases are often written poorly, so it is not surprising that some believe they can be written using artificial intelligence. 

Jin Woo, Director of Media at Treble, brought up a good point, “AI has yet to prove that it can deliver a well-crafted press release due to the lack of context, positioning and understanding of the intricacies of the announcement that goes into writing impactful announcements.”   

Evaluating Startups: The 3 Ts

The final key takeaway from the discussions is the importance of understanding how investors are evaluating startups, and how to successfully map strategy and GTM accordingly. 

Investors often utilize the 3 Ts — Team, Technology and Total Addressable Market — to evaluate startups:

  • Team is perhaps the first thing investors look at. It is important that startups show executive leadership, industry expertise and momentum in employee growth.
  • Technology (products/software/etc). is important. A solid GTM strategy coupled with PR to help drive messaging and differentiate competitive offerings will further attract VC funding interest.
  • Total Addressable Market (TAM) is a great point of reference to understand who your technology can service. Investors are looking deeper by asking about Serviceable Available Market (SAM) and Service Obtainable Market (SOM) to get a more precise understanding of the opportunity companies are able to address based on their technology and team.

If there was one thing that stuck with me as I reflected on the event, it's that regardless of growth stage, industry or company size, we can all learn something from one another. Roundtable discussions foster an opportunity for debate, conversation and advice. I am looking forward to the next event!