Writing For Silicon Slopes.
Why Write For Silicon Slopes
Silicon Slopes exists to empower Utah’s startup and tech community to learn, connect, and serve. Consistently producing quality, trusted journalism is paramount to our success as an organization — and, more importantly, to Utah’s growth as a startup and tech community.
The most important thing you can do as a freelance journalist for *Silicon Slopes *is remain true to your unique voice as a writer and maintain your independence. We do not publish press releases. Concentrate on the parts of a story that you find most compelling. Aside from your editor, do not let anyone tell you how you should write your story. Which leads us to…
How To Publish On Silicon Slopes
- **Get a Medium account. **In order to publish on Silicon Slopes, you must have a Medium account. If you don’t have an account, signing up is simple — here’s how.
- Let us know. Once you have an account, reach out to Chris Rawle (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Meg Walter (email@example.com) and ask them to add you as a writer to the *Silicon Slopes *publication.
- **Write your post. **Once you’ve signed up/signed in, you’ll write your post in Medium and save it as a draft. We do not have a restriction on length or word count. You’ll just know when your post is complete. That said, 500–700 words feels about right for most posts. The most important thing you can do as a *Silicon Slopes *writer is remain true to your unique voice and maintain your independence.
- **Add an image (or images). **All Beehive Startups stories will typically feature a title image that is 1400px, preferably in the .jpg, .png, or .gif formats. Try to avoid using a logo as the title image. Try to find the best image possible for your post. **Inline Images **are those within the body of the article. Oftentimes, pure text with no flourish is the best way to communicate your story. However, inline images are encouraged when they are relevant to the post.
- Submit your post. submit it to the *Silicon Slopes *publication. Click here for details on how to submit your draft to a publication (scroll down to the “For unpublished drafts” section).
- Tag your post. Make sure you include four tags relevant to your story.Click here for more details on tagging.
What Should You Say When A Subject Asks To See A Story Before It’s Published
No. They will turn your beautiful, perfect gem of a story into a press release. We’re interested in educating, entertaining, and reporting relevant, important information to our readers; they’re interested in making themselves look as awesome as possible. Assure them that you will be fair and accurate, and ask if they have any specific concerns about the story. Talk through those concerns. Hug them and tell them everything is going to be okay.
No one wakes up in the morning thinking, “Man, I can’t wait to read about some startup acquisitions today!” Our job is to make only mildly interesting news compelling and funny (when appropriate). This could mean writing poetry, using an over the top voice, or being self deprecating. Just remember to be accurate, fair, include all the facts, and avoid of making fun of anyone other than yourself. And also…
Consider Our Audience
Our audience consists of entrepreneurs, investors, executives, and those who are generally interested in startups and technology. Investors, entrepreneurs, and those whose employment relates to the startups tend to be some of our most dedicated readers. BUT, making each story interesting and engaging means we can attract readers from outside that niche demographic.
Crossing Our T’s And Dotting Our I’s
We follow the AP Style Guide with only a few exceptions, so anything not covered below can be found in the AP Stylebook
Use American spellings, as specified by Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Use the first spelling listed.
For foreign words, use the Random House Dictionary.
Spell out numbers up to 101 (for example, ninety-six), as well as large round numbers (for example, two thousand). Numbers in post titles should not be spelled out.
For percentages, use numerals and spell out “percent” (for example, 20 percent).
Spell out all numbers less than 10. Keep all numbers 10 and above as numerals.
Correct: I have 11 style guides, four of which are irrelevant.
Incorrect: I have 11 style guides, 4 of which are irrelevant.
Incorrect: I have eleven style guides, four of which are irrelevant.]
For story titles/headings, we capitalize every word other than brands or names of companies that purposefully incorporate lower-case letters (e.g. iPhone).
For subtitles, we only capitalize the first word and always end the sentence with a punctuation.
- Use American spellings, as specified by Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Use the first spelling listed.
- For foreign words, use the Random House Dictionary.
- Capitalize all words following an internal punctuation mark (for example, “Silicon Slopes Style Sheet — The Final Version”)
- Spell out numbers up to 101 (for example, ninety-six), as well as large round numbers (for example, two thousand). Numbers in post titles should not be spelled out.
- For percentages, use numerals and spell out “percent” (for example, 20 percent).
- Spell out all numbers less than 10. Keep all numbers 10 and above as numerals.
- Correct: I have 11 style guides, four of which are irrelevant.
- Incorrect: I have 11 style guides, 4 of which are irrelevant.
- Incorrect: I have eleven style guides, four of which are irrelevant.]
Italicize titles of books, newspapers, periodicals, movies, TV shows. Some details:
- If a magazine title must be followed by “magazine” to distinguish it from other publications, do not italicize “magazine” unless it is formally included in the title (New York magazine vs. The New York Times Magazine).
- For magazine titles, italicize the article if it is a formal part of the title (The Nation).
- For newspapers, do not italicize the article (the New York Times).
Titles of short works (poems, songs, TV episodes, book chapters) take quotation marks.
Use the **serial comma **(also referred to as the Oxford comma) before the conjunction in a series (x, y, and z).
In most word processing programs Em dashes are formed by typing two hyphens ( — becomes — ). In Google Docs, this must be changed to do so.
Menu>Tools>Preferences> Replace — with —
Close quotation marks should:
- Follow periods and commas (“x.” and “x,”)
- Precede colons and semicolons (“x”: and “x”;)
- Precede question marks and exclamation marks, unless those marks are part of the quoted material
When a colon introduces:
- An independent clause (a clause that could stand apart as its own sentence), the first word of that clause should be capitalized
- A dependent clause (which could not stand apart as its own sentence), the first word of the clause should not be capitalized
Punctuating bullets: No ending punctuation (no periods, commas, or semicolons) unless they are all complete sentences.
Acronyms do not require periods (with exceptions; see a dictionary if unsure), whereas abbreviations do.
**Brackets: **Square brackets should be used for interpolations in direct quotations: “Let them [the poor] eat cake.” Parentheses would imply that the words inside them were part of the original text from which you are quoting. If a whole sentence is within brackets, put the period inside the brackets.
Dates & Times
Dates are expressed as numerals. The months August through February are abbreviated when used with numbered dates. March through July are never abbreviated. Months without dates are not abbreviated. “Th” is not used.
Commas are not necessary if only a year and month are given, but commas should be used to set off a year if the date, month, and year are given.
Example: The meeting is on Oct. 15. She was born on July 12. I love the weather in November. My birthday is June 15, 1921.
If you refer to an event that occurred the day prior to when the article will appear, do not use the word yesterday. Instead, use the day of the week. Capitalize days of the week, but do not abbreviate. If an event occurs more than seven days before or after the current date, use the month and a figure.
The exact time when an event has occurred or will occur is unnecessary for most stories. Of course, there are occasions when the time of day is important. In such cases, use figures, but spell out noon and midnight. Use a colon to separate hours from minutes, but do not use :00. Examples: 1 p.m., 3:30 a.m.
Citing Sources and Creating Links
Citing something in a *Silicon Slopes *article (and in journalism in general) is different from a research paper or a wikipedia article. If you would like to quote, for example, GOED Director Val Hale’s statement to the Salt Lake Tribune about the latest scandal, you simply quote his statement and provide a link to the original source. Here is an example:
GOED Director Val Hale, in a statement to the Salt Lake Tribune, said, “We will beg, rob, and steal in order to bring as many jobs as possible to our state.”
Create a link that makes sense, and don’t be afraid to give the linkee some good SEO juice. We play nice.
There are, however, some sites to which you should not link. Avoid any site of low quality.
When you first mention a company in an article, provide a link to their homepage (do not link to their site on subsequent mentions). It also common to link to an individual’s Twitter page on first mention. If the individual does not have a Twitter page, you should link to their LinkedIn profile. If they have neither, you can link to the appropropriate (usually the “About Us”) page of their company site.
On first mention, use the individual’s full name. On subsequent mentions use just the surname.
The Startup Language
The United States of Startups has its own vocabulary, and to convince readers that you know what you’re talking about, you need to know and use some important startup and venture capital terms. The following are copied and pasted from this site.
Acquisition: When one company buys controlling stake in another company. Can be friendly (agreed upon) or hostile (no agreement).
Agile: A philosophy of software development that promotes incremental development and emphasizes adaptability and collaboration.
Angel investor: Individual who provides a small amount of capital to a startup for a stake in the company. Typically precedes a Seed Round and usually happens when the startup is in its infancy.
B2B: Business to business. This describes a business that is targeting another business with its product or services. B2B technology is also sometimes referred to as enterprise technology. This is different from B2C which stands for business to consumer, and involves selling products or services directly to individual customers.
Benchmark: The process by which a startup company measures their current success. An investor measures a company’s growth by determining whether or not they have met certain benchmarks. For example, company A has met the benchmark of having X amount of recurring revenue after 2 years in the market.
Board of directors: A group of influential individuals, elected by stockholders, chosen to oversee the affairs of a company. A board typically includes investors and mentors. Not all startups have a board, but investors typically require a board seat in exchange for an investment in a company.
Bootstrapped: A group of influential individuals, elected by stockholders, chosen to oversee the affairs of a company. A board typically includes investors and mentors. Not all startups have a board, but investors typically require a board seat in exchange for an investment in a company.
Bridge loan: Also known as a swing loan. Short-term loan to bridge the gap between major financing.
Buyout: A common exit strategy. The purchase of a company’s shares that gives the purchaser controlling interest in the company.
Capital: Monetary assets currently available for use. Entrepreneurs raise capital to start a company and continue raising capital to grow the company.
Capital under management: The amount of capital, or financial assets, that a venture capital firm is currently managing and investing.
Capped notes: Refers to a “cap” placed on investor notes in a round of financing. Entrepreneurs and investors agree to place a cap on the valuation of the company where notes turn to equity. This means investors will own a certain percentage of a company relative to that cap when the company raises another round of funding. Uncapped rounds are generally more favorable to an entrepreneur/startup.
Convertible debt: This is when a company borrows money with the intent that the debt accrued will later be converted to equity in the company at a later valuation. This allows companies to delay valuation while raising funding in its early stages. This is typically done in the early stages of a company’s life, when a valuation is more difficult to complete and investing carries higher risk.
Debt financing: This is when a company raises money by selling bond, bills, or notes to an investor with the promise that the debt will be repaid with interest. It is typically performed by late-stage companies.
Disruption: Also known as disruptive innovation. An innovation or technology is disruptive when it “disrupts” an existing market by doing things such as: challenging the prices in the market, displacing an old technology, or changing the market audience.
Due diligence: An analysis an investor makes of all the facts and figures of a potential investment. Can include an investigation of financial records and a measure of potential ROI.
Enterprise: The term enterprise typically refers to a company or business (i.e. an enterprise tech startup is a company that is building technology for businesses).
Entrepreneur: An individual who starts a business venture, assuming all potential risk and reward for his or herself.
Entrepreneur in residence (EIR): A seasoned entrepreneur who is employed by a Venture Capital Firm to help the firm vet potential investments and mentor the firm’s portfolio companies.
Equity financing: The act of raising capital by selling off shares of a company. An IPO is technically a form of equity financing.
Exit: This is how startup founders get rich. It’s the method by which an investor and/or entrepreneur intends to “exit” their investment in a company. Common options are an IPO or buyout from another company. Entrepreneurs and VCs often develop an “exit strategy” while the company is still growing.
Fund of funds: A mutual fund that invests in other mutual funds.
Ground floor: A reference to the beginning of a venture, or the earliest point of a startup. Generally considered an advantage to invest at this level.
Incubator: An organization that helps develop early stage companies, usually in exchange for equity in the company. Companies in incubators get help for things like building their management teams, strategizing their growth, etc.
IPO: Initial public offering. The first time shares of stock in a company are offered on a securities exchange or to the general public. At this point, a private company turns into a public company (and is no longer a startup).
Lead investor: A venture capital firm or individual investor that organizes a specific round of funding for a company. The lead investor usually invests the most capital in that round. Also known as “leading the round.”
Leveraged buyout: When a company is purchased with a strategic combination of equity and borrowed money. The target company’s assets or revenue is used as “leverage” to pay back the borrowed capital.
Liquidation: The process of dissolving a company by selling off all of its assets (making them liquid).
Mezzanine financing: A form of hybrid capital typically used to fund adolescent and mature cash flow positive companies. It is a form of debt financing, but it also includes embedded equity instruments or options. Companies at this level, which are no longer considered startups but have yet to go public, are typically referred to as “mezzanine level” companies.
NDA: Non-disclosure agreement. An agreement between two parties to protect sensitive or confidential information, such as trade secrets, from being shared with outside parties.
Pivot: The act of a startup quickly changing direction with its business strategy. For example, an enterprise server startup pivoting to become an enterprise cloud company.
Portfolio company: A company that a specific Venture Capital firm has invested in is considered a “portfolio company” of that firm.
Preferred stock: A stock that carries a fixed dividend that is to be paid out before dividends carried by common stock.
Proof of concept: A demonstration of the feasibility of a concept or idea that a startup is based on. Many VCs require proof of concept if you wish to pitch to them.
Pro rata rights: Also known as supra pro rata rights. Pro rata is from the Latin ‘in proportion.’ A VC with supra pro rata rights gives him or her the option of increasing his or her ownership of a company in subsequent rounds of funding.
Recapitalization: A corporate reorganization of a company’s capital structure, changing the mix of equity and debt. A company will usually recapitalize to prepare for an exit, lower taxes, or defend against a takeover.
ROI: This is the much-talked-about “return on investment.” It’s the money an investor gets back as a percentage of the money he or she has invested in a venture. For example, if a VC invests $2 million for a 20 percent share in a company and that company is bought out for $40 million, the VC’s return is $8 million.
Round: Startups raise capital from VC firms in individual rounds, depending on the stage of the company. The first round is usually a Seed round followed by Series A, B, and C rounds if necessary. In rare cases rounds can go as far as Series F, as was the case with Box.net.
SaaS: Software as a service. A software product that is hosted remotely, usually over the internet (a.k.a. “in the cloud”).
Seed: The seed round is the first official round of financing for a startup. At this point a company is usually raising funds for proof of concept and/or to build out a prototype and is referred to as a “seed stage” company.
Secondary public offering: When a company offers up new stock for sale to the public after an IPO. Often occurs when founders step down or desire to move into a lesser role within the company.
Sector: The market that a startup companies product or service fits into. Examples include: consumer technology, cleantech, biotech, and enterprise technology. Venture Capitalists tend to have experience investing in specific related sectors and thus tend not to invest outside of their area of expertise.
Series: Refers to the specific round of financing a company is raising. For example, company X is raising their Series A round.
Stage: The stage of development a startup company is in. There is no explicit rule for what defines each stage of a company, but startups tend to be categorized as seed stage, early stage, mid-stage, and late stage. Most VCs firms only invest in companies in one or two stages. Some firms, however, manage multiple funds geared toward different stage companies.
Startup: A startup company is a company in the early stages of operations. Startups are usually seeking to solve a problem of fill a need, but there is no hard-and-fast rule for what makes a startup. A company is considered a startup until they stop referring to themselves as a startup.
Term sheet: A non-binding agreement that outlines the major aspects of an investment to be made in a company. A term sheet sets the groundwork for building out detailed legal documents.
Valuation: The process by which a company’s worth or value is determined. An analyst will look at capital structure, management team, and revenue or potential revenue, among other things.
Venture capital: Money provided by venture capital firms to small, high-risk, startup companies with major growth potential.
Venture capitalist: An individual investor, working for a venture capital firm, that chooses to invest in specific companies. Venture capitalists typically have a focused market or sector that they know well and invest in.
Vesting: When an employee of a company gains rights to stock options and contributions provided by the employer. The rights typically gain value (vest) over time until they reach their full value after a pre-determined amount of time. For example, if an employee was offered 200 stock unites over 10 years, 20 units would vest each year. This gives employees an incentive to perform well and stay with the company for a longer period of time.
Any terms not covered in this list can probably be found in the Entrepreneur Dictionary for Startups.