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Friday, March 24, 2023

How to Make Deep Tech Sexy?

When you think of science and research, usually the word ‘sexy’ does not come to your mind first. But in order to succeed, you have to be able to communicate and present your product or service as very appealing to the target audiences and get them excited about you and your mission.

One of the key topics at NORDEEP Nordic Deep Tech Business Summit was branding and storytelling. Even though your idea may have the very honourable mission to save the world, the message has to be straight to the point, well-structured, well-relayed and a few more of those well-well-well. That’s why we were glad to have one of the leading creative houses, MacWell, hosting and splendidly handling the track “How to Make Deep Tech Sexy

Here are some takeaways from the track:

  • Product is now, Brand is forever” – the recipe from MacWell for long-term success
  • A message can be transferred both vocally and virtually
  • Simpler is better
  • Find an easy and clear path to walk through your idea with your audience
  • First, you capture a good understanding of your idea, and your technology and then start selling it
  • Metaphors are great and also you can count on artistic licence when it comes to explaining complex concepts
  • Let your tech’s magic build a fanbase to spread the news
  • You brought your technology into this real life by manipulating physical matter. So it is already charming and cool and deserves to be out there in the spotlight. Make it visible as much as possible so it can make a really good impact on the world’s wellbeing

Introducing your technology may be harder than coming up with the idea itself

MacWell, NORDEEP Summit 2022, Andrew MacDonald
Andrew MacDonald from MacWell – How to Make Deep Tech Sexy track at NORDEEP Nordic Deep Tech Business Summit

CEO of MacWell Andrew MacDonald started the session with the definition of sexy as a word and why make deep tech sexy. He addressed the word as attractive and exciting and underlined the fact that your product, your idea does not have to look like an overcoloured, far-fetched expensive-looking thing. You just have to focus on portraying your idea in the best possible but simplest way.

A message doesn’t have to be only conveyed verbally. To sell your idea, you don’t need to climb mountains every single time. No one has that much time and energy to understand and act on it, really though. Simply showing it is sometimes the best way to tell your story. Andrew set an unexpectedly simple but effective example for it: Finland’s national bird, the swan. Interesting, right? When you look at a swan, you never -okay not never, but rarely- think of the DNA and other fundamental necessities for what makes a bird a swan.

That’s the point of view Andrew portrayed for us. If we answer someone asking what a swan is with a technical definition of it would be highly perplexing. Yet, like in Andrew’s example folding a piece of paper to make a swan, or as I say asking for Uncle Google’s opinion or simply pointing out a swan that is swimming in a lake during that time would be much more easier – yes, and romantic. Once you capture the interest of your target audience who can be an investor that would be a great support to your deep tech or talent that might upgrade your company’s value, then you can go -maybe- extremely boring and complex details of your idea or technology. Remember! You might get only one shot to sell it.

“You’ll better be able to get your message across quickly and clearly. Common saying is to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. So invest in your message and how you’re portrayed and then people will take your message forward for you.” says Andrew MacDonald during its introduction speech in the How to Make Deep Tech Sexy track at NORDEEP Summit.

MacWell, Henrik Axlund, NORDEEP Nordic Deep Tech Business Summit
Henrik Axlund from MacWell – How to Make Deep Tech Sexy track at NORDEEP Nordic Deep Tech Business Summit

Andrew left the stage to his business partner, Creative Director of MacWell Henrik Axlund for the second session of the track named Celebrating the Magic of Science with Simplicity. He started with a quote that has an impact on him and on which his presentation was based.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke, English science fiction writer (most famous for the script of 2001: A Space Odyssey which he wrote with Stanley Kubrick, American film director).

Henrik drew attention to this quote to show how we can use it as a lens when we are trying to visualize technology and processes. The magic here is creating miracles even though we started to normalize what happens around us every day because all those things have happened slowly and cumulatively. If we go back in time and actually pay attention to what we achieved so far, we may see miracles. We discovered that we live on a planet which is surrounded by others and we landed on some of them multiple times. We figured out to talk to those people during their journey to outer space. We experienced some tragedies rising from horrifying diseases that haven’t been seen in years since technology led to a cure for them. Even today, we are witnessing maybe the end of the world – at least this is the feeling we experience – but in no time with deep tech or in some other way we will start to normalize an astonishingly beautiful and healthy world which now sounds unrealistic to some people.

As Henrik states, we achieved all those amazing things by bending the rules, situations and processes on which science and technology are based.

“I think it can serve us well to embrace this sense of wonder and greatness when we try to visualize technology.” says Henrik Auxland, Creative Director at Macwell during his keynote speech at NORDEEP Summit.

Showing people how amazing an innovation is without all those fancy covers is one of the powerful ways to pitch the idea. If one can impress someone with the real beauty of the technology, you may not believe how quickly it is introduced to others since it will automatically create a fanbase like a rockstar. But the trick here is to use a language that every person can actually understand. You may have become too familiar with its structure during the construction of that technology. This may make you think that it already has an understandable appeal as it is. However, this structure can be very complex for someone who might have trouble understanding even simple technologies but still be interested in your technology. Therefore, presenting it in the simplest way as much as possible will not only help them to understand the product but also enable you to sell it.

If one is not tech literate, some technologies sound or look too risky to leave a comfort zone for. If they cannot apprehend it, they might not purchase it. So it is already essential to go down to the smallest form of the thought if you want to reach all kinds of audiences which means heading to a larger market, accordingly larger margins. You can think your idea as a rocket that launches to reach an outer destination. It has to leave some of its parts behind to arrive at the final field safe and sound even though it needs those parts to activate that launch.

MacWell, Henrik Axlund, NORDEEP Summit 2022
From Henrik Axlund’s keynote speech at NORDEEP Nordic Deep Tech Business Summit

So Henrik offered some steps that you can follow to simplify complexity and unveil beauty in clarity:

  • Get to the core
  • Stick to the truth
  • Show it at it’s most flattering
  • A good metaphor is true
  • Artistic License reveals the Truth

To get to the core, you can simply define the core ideas and functions of a process in one or two sentences. If a step or a function does not contribute to your idea, mind your distance and leave that out immediately when you are talking to a person who is not that into tech but definitely interested to invest any source in. Even though you are dying to polish your idea, referring only to the truth is always better. If your idea is needed and working well, then it already sells itself. Those who would like to avoid telling too much must definitely stick to the truth.

And conveying your message in the shortest way is kind of a sign of intelligence which is always impressive and captures the audience’s attention. As a literature lover, I might add an impressive example here. Ernest Hemingway, the American novelist, bet everyone at a bar table one day and dared them to come up with the shortest story ever written. Everyone put ten bucks to the table and told theirs. Of course, Ernest was the one who won the bet. With only a six-word story… How can you tell a story in six words and still convey the message in a hard-hitting kind of way? Like this: “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”

“A metaphor can be textual, but it can also be visual. Developing a metaphor requires deep understanding of the topic at hand. You have to really thoroughly understand it to come up with an easy way to explain it.” says Henrik.

Let’s say you did your best to shorten your presentation but it still looks like calling a yawner. Then you can bring a spotlight on the process itself to avoid all the talk and provide a walkthrough for the audience. Of course, it would be still complicated and boring if you show the real one or it may not be visible to the eye. Then you should rely on a metaphor that represents the process in the best possible way like showing how fast the Flash is by drawing bright lights behind the character. An artistic licence allows this. It hands over the right to alter the facts or reform a specific way of expression to make a work more interesting or beautiful.

“What you guys do that work in tech it’s magic and it is wonder. Remember that and that your work deserves to be shown in the best possible light. Getting other people to believe in your magic is the shortest path to charging the world.” adds Henrik Axlund while finishing up his speech.

The track continued with the keynote speeches of Mirva “Mimmi” Saarijärvi, Head of Ecosystem Marketing and Communications at Wirepas and Christoffer Wahlberg, CEO of HEBLA Consulting. In the session From Tacky Techy to all in Branding, Mimmi talked about through her experiences how one can abandon their techy words while promoting their technology. She even brought mom to the topic. As for Christoffer’s speech in the session The Secret Science of Storytelling: How to Discover and Communicate Your Uniqueness, he discussed that your presentation would be more charming if it is rational or emotional. Guess what he used for comparison? Google Chrome ads! You should definitely check them out.

At the end of the track, there was a panel session where Andrew MacDonald and Henrik Axlund from MacwellJussi Mäkinen from Varjo, Mirva “Mimmi” Saarijärvi from Wirepas, and Christoffer Wahlberg from HEBLA Consulting discussed on Taking a Stand Makes Deep Tech Sexy.

Click here to watch the whole track.

Click here to read more about deep tech.

Nurcin Metingil
Nurcin Metingil
A permanent student, a passionate first reader and nowadays doing master’s degree in Publishing Management. Beside these, I am up for games! I have been playing games since I was 6. Now, I am whispering "Business. Business. Numbers. Is this working?"

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