Deep Feedback Primes a Pitch

Harrison Smith, President and Co-founder of DearLife


DearLife helps people celebrate the lives of their loved ones by using written, photographic, and video memories to create beautiful, meaningful, and immersive cinematic experiences. The company grew out of the founding team’s own experiences with grief. Harrison says, “We want to respectfully improve the ability to celebrate lost and living loved ones. This is 100% a play at improving people’s lives.” 

Harrison and DearLife first connected with Clarity Studios when we worked together in a group program run through Volta, Canada’s East Coast innovation hub. 

DearLife wanted to improve their ability to pitch to investors. Harrison used what he learned in SCS to change DearLife’s pitch and was able to secure funding to take his startup to the next level. 

Harrison’s coaching journey has enabled him to think differently about how he evaluates draft communications and to act as his own writing coach.

Resetting expectations

New to working with Clarity Studio, Harrison at first assumed that the SCS program would be a standard course, focused on a static curriculum. He quickly realized he’d set the bar way too low because SCS offers a uniquely personalized learning experience. He explains:

Dawn took time to individually look our pitch deck and our one-pager and offer substantial and insightful comments… it was 10x more than we had bargained for. 

During Harrison’s first session with Dawn, he immediately recognized the difference in the Clarity Studio approach, which he describes like this: 

Dawn brings this wealth of knowledge and experience that is unparalleled. Usually, the feedback we get is a mile wide and an inch thick. With Dawn it’s a mile wide and a mile deep.

Through the feedback he received, Harrison has recalibrated the process he and his team approach drafts. DearLife was already investing significant time in revising documents, but they were spending a lot of time tinkering with surface changes. Now, they have an evaluation method that goes both wide and deep.

Harrison now challenges his team to take a step back from any message or document so they can first identify “the why,” the goals they want to achieve. This helps the team keep their focus as ideas and phrasing evolve. (Improving writing can turn into an endless series of minor changes if you let it!)

Building in-house capacity for persuasive communication

One of Harrison’s biggest takeaways from working with Clarity Studio was the learning. Yes, he found the feedback process efficient—with a single round of comments, he was able to transform his pitch deck into a document that wowed investors. But the process also helped him develop as a writer. In his words:

"Dawn doesn’t simply suggest edits. She helps you understand why something needs editing. That’s extremely valuable."

Having benefited from Clarity Studio’s coaching method, Harrison is now thinking like a writing coach and guiding his team to write more efficiently. Rather than just diving into a draft and starting to make random changes, they now start by taking that critical pause: “We figure out: why does this need improving?... And we come to an answer a lot sooner.” 

Moment of Clarity

We asked Harrison if there was a “Moment of Clarity” while working with Dawn, a moment when it all just clicked. Harrison knew exactly what we were talking about. He recalled working on his pitch deck with Dawn:

 We were trying to communicate the problem, and Dawn came in and offered this really, really interesting insight that no one else would have been able to offer. She completely changed the way we communicated ourselves to investors, and they ate it up.

Insights like these happen when you evaluate writing by going deep as well as wide. Paying close attention to seemingly small details, like individual words or the tone of voice, can suddenly reveal the path to clear and effective communication.

Clarity Studio loves working with innovative companies like DearLife, and we’re looking forward to seeing them grow. 

To explore ways we could help with your mission-critical documents, book a free consult.