Hello! Share background Credibility Today we’re going to be deconstructing the elevator pitch But first, a question….
Can you really sell your idea in 2-minutes?
The truth is, probably not. But what you CAN do is get second meeting.
This is an IMPORTANT distinction The elevator pitch is part of your story, but it does not have to be the ENTIRE story
Seeing the elevator pitch in context of the typical investor communications is important for 2 reasons:
You’re relieved to know you don’t have to tell you entire story in 2-minutes It helps you focus on the IMMEDIATE goal of getting a second meeting and not the ULTIMATE goal of fund raising
This is a good thing. Because when you only have 2 minutes, you’re limited to 250 words. That’s not a lot of time to tell your story.
So today we’re going to dig deeper into the ingredients of a great elevator pitch READ SLIDE So let’s start with structure…
In a 2-minute pitch, you have to kill off a lot of what you might have in your more detailed flat deck or investor conversation These 5 elements are the most critical pieces someone needs to hear to generate enough interest to get them to look at your flat deck. TALK ABOUT EACH ONE MAY NOT BE IN THIS ORDER
And here’s how much time I suggest dedicating to each of these areas.
Now, I know this might seem easy, but I’m telling you, SO MANY PEOPLE mess this up.
Others don’t mess it up; they just don’t give it the attention it deserves…
David Cowan is a partner at Bessemer. In the ebook pitching hacks, he says this about the importance of elevator pitches.
So let’s break down every section of the pitch to talk more about it.
Ok, I know this sounds crazy, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a startup on their pitch, and they forget to tell me what their product IS. One VC I worked with called this “naming your product category.” Another expressed the idea this way: “Not being able to clearly and easily explain what exactly their product/service does. You have to assume that the investor knows nothing about your space so you have to be able to explain it in a manner that is easy to understand.” This is so obvious that we miss it. And I think it’s especially challenging when you’re talking about technology because you can’t SEE the product
You may not use this exactly as-is in your pitch, but having it written will help you when you go to develop your pitch.
And there’s a wide variety of language you can use to describe what your product is. One tip I like to give startups is to choose terminology and stick with it. Is it a platform or a solution? Is it an engine or a database?
Some people take the route of naming their own product category A great example is ”digital therapeutic” This term has really only been around since 2013, but now several companies use it to describe health-programs and treatment methods that use a combination of digital tools like smartphones, apps and sensors to encourage behavioral change.
You can name your own product category, but you have to be aware that it can be risky – especially if you don’t have a GREAT description to pair with that new term.
This is the simplest template for ID’ing your product category. I like to use this one with tech companies because it forces them to think about the terminology they will use to describe their product.
This template is a little different. It focuses less on the naming of the technology and more so on what it can deliver. It reads a little more like a tagline or a headline you might see on a website. I like to use this with companies that deliver services.
But as you can see, it also works with technology solutions.
The great thing about this template is that it forces you to be pithy. And pithy, simple statements are great in an elevator pitch. They’re easier to remember and repeat, and that is what you want the investor to do.
You can also take the route of writing a complete value prop, as shown here. This is something marketers do all the time. The Value Prop expands from simply the product category to defining your customer and the key benefit delivered
What do you notice that is a bit different about this value prop than the other two we just looked at? Less clear on the audience. More conversational language. Using the value prop template will help you write it in a more complete way… ….but when you go to SPEAK it, you probably want it to sound a bit different. That’s where conversational language comes in to play. With this company, we had two versions of their elevator pitch: one that was WRITTEN and the other that was SPOKEN.
To develop the SPOKEN version, we pushed ourselves to get more creative in our choice of language. STORY: Data analytics company We wanted to explore an analogy. PROMPT 1: Today, business intelligence is like… [FILL IN BLANK]
Here is what we came up with
Then, we built off our original prompt with a new one. PROMPT 2: But with us, it’s like... [FILL IN BLANK]
Here is what we came up with You can see some of them go together to make great contrast The printed Zagat guide vs. Yelp on your Phone. GPS without traffic updates, GPS with predictive notifications
Ultimately the one that ended up in our elevator pitch was inspired by ”having a conversation with a mime”
Next, let’s look at the Problem Solved section.
The second mistake companies make in an elevator pitch is they make the problem too complex. This is really tempting to do because chances are you have become an expert in your field as you’ve been working on your product. You know A LOT and you want to share that knowledge But for someone brand new to what you’re talking about, this becomes a mouthful. Especially in an elevator pitch.
There are 3ways to solve this problem First is to narrow down to the hardest hitting stat The other approach is to focus on the opportunity The third is to tell a story
Here’s an example. For this company, we picked two stats that really summed up both the opportunity and the problem. First, 98% of construction projects are over budget or delayed. That sets the stage that this is a problem many people deal with.
Then, we double click into the average project budget to show that labor, which makes up 50% of costs is something that no one is really solving for right now.
What about flipping to the opportunity? Here’s an example of how one company I worked with did that. Sometimes the stronger story is about a NEED a DESIRE. It may even be one they don’t know they have.
So that’s the problem. What about your unfair advantage? This is really you telling the person in your conversation why you are uniquely qualified to do this.
There are a variety of possibilities here….
Have you had a successful exit before Have you secured a large customer Are you an industry insider Is your IP patented Are you the first to market Is the timing right?
STORY: Tell FRDM story around new regulations in the UK and US regarding slave labor in supply chains
So choose the thing you’re strongest at, and amplify the heck out of it.
Proof is really another word for traction, but I prefer it because I think it lends itself to a wider definition Especially when you are early stage… …Using the word traction can make you feel like you need to come up with some numbers….
Which brings me to another mistake investors talked about. Don’t make up a traction story if you don’t have one. Be honest with yourself and honest with your audience.
BUT, just because you don’t have paying customers doesn’t mean you don’t have proof that people want what you have.
When you’re thinking about proof, ask yourself this question:
Here’s just a few examples of proof You’ll notice it’s not all quantitative Quotes are a great form of early proof
Sometimes the biggest kicker is not the quote itself, but the job title of the person. In this case this was said by the VP at a ENR Top 20 General Contractor For a firm working on construction tech, someone of THAT stature saying this is a really big deal
Here’s another more detailed quote the same company received from the head of operations at a smaller construction firm In this case, the job title wasn’t as impressive, but what he said really supported their core value propostion.
Finally, you’ve got your ask. This is a place where so many people waffle and it makes for a really poor ending to your pitch.
An investor wants to know: What’s it gonna take to do this?
Now, in an elevator pitch you might not be ready to share that information, but what you CAN be ready to do is ask for the next step:
Take a look at my deck An in-person meeting
Having a strong close strengthens the tone of your talk….
Which should be one of CONVICTION.
STORY: Chris Sacca meeting the co-founder of instagram: Kevin Systrom He had a lot of hesitation around the product but Kevin spoke with such conviction that he invested
So these are the 5 elements of your pitch But they don’t necessarily need to be in that order.
Your pitch is something you’re going to work on over and over It’s first prototype And ask you work in it, you’re going to uncover the structure that works best for you
The difference between a good pitch and a great pitch is in how you arrange and present your material.
This is the sparkline discovered by Nancy Duarte and written about in her book Resonate She discovered it after looking at many, many speeches from MLK to Steve Jobs Conflict + Resolution What is/What could be
Selling Your Idea (in 2 minutes) w/ Stephanie Patterson
(in 2 Minutes)
What we’ll cover today
• Pitch content and structure
• Common mistakes and fixes
• Prompts for idea generation
need, desire or
25 seconds 25 seconds 25 seconds 25 seconds 20 seconds
“I know it sounds a little crazy, but I’ve come to
believe that a clear, compelling elevator pitch is
essential to growing a business. And I’ve paid
dearly for the evidence.”
What it is; who it’s for
[PRODUCT CATEGORY] for [NEW DOMAIN]
Rhumbix is a labor productivity
platform for construction.
Growing user base
Track record of
First to market
Size of market
“Conviction about the inevitability of
success is contagious.”
“Your pitch is your
-Baehr & Loomis, Get Backed
The secret to a
great pitch is how
you arrange and
present your ideas.
Complete these sentences...
The standard approach to [PRODUCT/SERVICE NAME] is [CHALLENGE TO OVERCOME]
But what if you could… [HOW YOUR COMPANY WILL CHANGE THE WORLD]
Introducing… [SINGLE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION]
It’s like… [METAPHOR/ANALOGY]
Now is the time and we are the team, because… [UNFAIR ADVANTAGE]
If you’re ready to be part of this, then… [CALL TO ACTION]
Nancy Duarte’s sparkline
The call to
What could be
rather than a practice in intentional value creation.
Most people think of seed stage
investing like panning for gold…
What could be
to the character and skills of the founders
that will build the company.
We look beyond the analytics and
number crunching of a smart
What could be
• Use creative prompts to begin generating content
• Unclutter your problem
• Don’t fake it
• Use contrast to your advantage
• Make it a conversation; read your audience well