What Your Startup Has in Common with The Bra Recyclers

What Your Startup Has in Common with The Bra Recyclers

Your startup has something in common with a Phoenix startup called The Bra Recyclers. How you share your credibility has a huge impact on how your story is perceived. Here’s a great example.

Last week I conducted a marketing strategy workshop for 30 entrepreneurs at the CEI business incubator in Phoenix. To kick off the workshop, I had every entrepreneur stand up and introduce their startup or small business in 30 seconds. This exercise is always fun and challenging.

There was a diverse crowd of companies, including a “big data” analytics software for genome sequencing researchers, a same-day power car door repair company, a handyman, an online mattress company, a haircut membership barbershop ($25 a month unlimited haircuts), a mobile app for meeting people in coffee shops and more. Some were small businesses, but most were ambitious startups that aimed for national or global reach.

Another crazy entrepreneur with a big idea

Elaine Birks-Mitchell The Bra Recyclers

Elaine Mitchell, founder of The Bra Recyclers

One woman stood up to introduce herself with a big smile on her face. “Hi, I’m Elaine Mitchell. My company is ‘The Bra Recyclers’.” She paused for the chuckles. “We recycle bras and donate them to women in transition.” She explained a little bit more, then we moved to the next entrepreneur.

Throughout the workshop, Elaine asked several questions and we spent some time learning more about bra recycling. She and her husband collect used bras and find ways to donate them to charities or services that help women in need. Her company is called The Bra Recyclers.

  • When people donate used clothing to Goodwill or other charities, they don’t donate as many bras. Women in need who depend on second hand clothes – in all parts of the world – struggle to get inexpensive secondhand bras.
  • Most women have extra bras that are old or don’t fit in the back of their underwear drawers. They don’t know what to do with them.

OK, I understood the need and how there might be a niche business here, but could that be a real business someday? Elaine seemed smart, eager and committed, but who knows if this business is going to make it or not?

The workshop finished and Elaine was first in line with more questions for me. We explored a few ways to tell her story more powerfully when she said something remarkable:

“We have recycled over 1 million bras and we have over 80 donation partners, including major clothing retailers.”

A new set of glasses

One million bras. That changed my perspective immediately. This was a real business that was already moving fast.

The Bra Recyclers could be a major global brand leader the new bra recycling movement. I could imagine The Bra Recyclers partnering with the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation, promoting with catchy Facebook viral photos or even appearing on Oprah.

What was the difference that made me change my view instantly?

Credibility. She shared an irrefutable fact that proved this idea was already big and mainstream partners were on board.

It’s like she gave me a new set of glasses to see her business and everything she said in a whole new light.

If she had simply said “one million bras already” in her business introduction, the whole crowd would have seen her as a rising star rather than another passionate entrepreneur with a crazy idea. A global business with positive social impact instead of a struggling non-profit.

The difference between being viewed as crazy rather than successful is the credibility you bring to your story.

Elaine is looking for a marketing agency to help refine the messaging, improve the website and create promotions to help them get to 10 million bras in two years. Do you think she’ll get more interest from the right marketing advisors when she includes her credibility in her story? Few agencies want to help a crazy entrepreneur with a bad idea, but every agency wants to discover the “next big thing” and create a national brand.

Your credibility is a part of your story – don’t leave it out

Your audience is always asking the question “Why should I believe you and take you seriously?” We’re all skeptical, for good reason. Most can’t say “millions served” like Elaine can, but every startup has some credibility they can use to be taken more seriously.

What one irrefutable fact could you share that would make your message be heard with the most power?

What are the possible proof points you have already? Here are some familiar examples:

  • Used by over 100 customers who didn’t cancel
  • Used by a big, well-known company
  • Over $2 million in revenues this year
  • Growing at 50% per year
  • The founder has been in this industry for five years and is a recognized expert
  • Raised X million dollars from a venture capital investor
  • Recently featured in the Wall Street Journal or local newspaper
  • This person tried it and said it was amazing

Any one of these would increase credibility in the right situation. Everyone can create some credibility and craft how they communicate it for maximum impact.

Put your best foot forward when you communicate your story by sharing your credibility every time.