As a startup founder, you will frequently have to explain just what your company does. This is where the Elevator Pitch (or, Lift Pitch) comes in as a brief summary of your business, the work you do, and why it matters.
It is a short, yet comprehensive, explanation of your business to your customers and investors. The analogy of time involved is drawn with that of an escalator ride ranging up to around 2 minutes. Ideally, every owner of a business, big or small, should be able describe it in 2 minutes or less. For startups, it's even more important because it might be a tool to open the doorway to that meeting with a VC, or it can spark the dialogue that gains you that acquisition deal you were hoping for. The concept is based on the presumption that if you happen to be in a lift with the potential target audience, you should be able to generate enough interest before they reach their floor. Here’s what you should know:
- The Sales Guy: entrepreneur, sales force, evangelists, policy-makers or project managers
- The Format: verbal
- The Location: literally elevator, business events, offices, parties, travel, your target can be anywhere; keep aiming
- The Length: 30 seconds to 2 minutes, delivering approximately 150 words per minute
- The Preparation: keep some variations ready; rehearse them well in front of a mirror or webcam until it seems coming naturally to you
Here is how a Pitch helps
Time and Space Constraint: Decision makers often face information overload and economical yet effective communication stands out. This is especially relevant for startups as the industry spaces are crammed up, leading to a short attention span of your target audience. The challenge is to divert a part of ‘that’ brief focus towards you. A smart elevator pitch helps you do that.
Opportunity Creator: Every instant has to be treated as an opportunity to battle your way to an already busy front. Try to convert the wait time to “claimed”. Be ready for “anytime anywhere” flash explanation of your business. You will hopefully soon be asked for more details.
Numerical Edge: Numbers are the quickest route to conviction. This aligns with the emphasis on the brevity of an elevator statement.
And, here is how to make it stick out
Business Summary: Introduce your agenda. It can be you, your product/service, concept, organization, project, or event. Uniqueness needs to come across right here.
Processes: Quickly mention what you do and the key processes affecting the turnover.
Value Proposition: Entrepreneurs often may do a decent job of explaining what their business or creation does, as well as offer what they think is cool, but then forget to address value. Pivoted on the financial angle, value proposition is the turning point of any business pitch. Correctly describing the value of the business is crucial. The next step is connecting how you resolve an issue to how you earn money. Talk directly of profit or indirectly indicate the potential for the same. Basically, you project what is in it for the investor or the buyer. Boost this section with the numbers that matter, with a logical explanation of why are you investing to grow them.
Objective: Now, clearly state what you are looking for and how your audience can help you get there, while reaping measurable benefits. Basically, the listener should end up concretely informed and their interest should square with yours.
Realism: Don't go overboard. This is the golden rule of pitching. Your investors are experienced industry people and are used to seeing hundreds of pitches thrown their way. They can see through any window dressing. Be ambitious, but be realistic.
Seeking an expert’s guidance helps you understand the strategic what, why, and how of your business. S/he can highlight and enhance your winning points. Strategists inculcate the application angle in the business environment, to help you inch closer to the deal you are seeking. As a result, you get an organized and factual view of your business, backed by your now known strengths & opportunities and an insight into the ways to overcome the weaknesses or threats. Clarity and information empower. Once equipped with them, brief or detailed, you will know how to negotiate your way forward.