Anyone who knows anything about the real-world benefits of the startup elevator pitch understands that the ultimate success or failure of a business enterprise is not necessarily dependent upon the ability to describe that business in ten seconds or less. It is also true, however, that there are in fact times when such descriptions are invaluable.
Savvy entrepreneurs recognize the need to be prepared for those times with a perfectly crafted, concise pitch that can capture the attention of venture capitalists and other potential investors.
If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to briefly explain your own business to some random stranger at a barbeque, you’re not alone. Still, it’s one thing to stumble through a conversation like that in an informal setting. In a face-to-face meeting with a potential investor, that sort of awkward presentation will instantly kill any opportunity for a deeper conversation about your startup.
The goal of the pitch
To avoid that sort of embarrassing presentation, you have to understand what you’re trying to accomplish with the elevator pitch. Chances are that you already know why the presentation is known by that term, but it may be helpful to review its origin. At its core, the term’s meaning is self-explanatory: think of it as the pitch you would present to someone who asked about your company as you shared a thirty or sixty-second ride in an elevator.
Obviously, that short amount of time is insufficient to completely explain the intricacies of your startup. In fact, odds are that your audience’s attention span may not even encompass the entirety of those thirty to sixty-seconds. The simple truth is that you really only have ten or fifteen seconds to capture your listener’s interest.
With that in mind, the goal of your pitch must be to generate enough interest to ensure that your audience asks you to elaborate in greater detail.
Developing that interest-grabbing pitch
There are a lot of different theories on designing the perfect thirty to sixty-second presentation, but they all boil down to one simple formula that encompasses three essential elements: your target market, that market’s problem, and how your company solves it.
In its most basic form, your presentation will very succinctly explain how your company solves a problem that is causing pain to a substantial target market – while at the same time touching on the value proposition involved in providing that solution.
In the end, it’s never enough to simply tell a potential investor what you do. Every smart investor wants to also know that there is a large market for your solution, and that there’s a tangible value attached to the entire enterprise.
One simple formula
The formula for the short pitch is as simple as “We help [define the target market] to deal with [define that market’s pressing problem], which enables them to [define the benefit your solution provides].” You just take that template, and add your own details to it. You then follow that sentence up with a brief note about how your solution adds value to your startup.
That value-added part of the equation is critical, because it’s designed to catch the listener’s interest so that he or she asks you a question. That in turn opens the door to a lengthier explanation that can enable you to go into the type of detail that can turn a simple startup elevator pitch into a real opportunity for obtaining investment capital, new partners, or other business relationships.