Everyone has heard stories about the “Elevator Pitch”-the incredible, brief window of opportunity where an entrepreneur has an investor’s undivided attention to describe their venture.
Implausible as it may be, the successful entrepreneur needs to be prepared to make a compelling case for their business in 60 to 120 seconds, whether it’s in an elevator, at a trade show, or in line at the coffee shop. In the unlikely event that you do find yourself in an elevator with a venture capitalist, you’re going to need to be prepared for it. Here are three keys to hitting a home run on the elevator pitch.
1. Most companies make a product or provide a service. Entrepreneurs must be able to clearly define and explain what exactly your company does to make money, and more importantly what the benefits of product/service are. Focus minimally on how the product works, especially if it’s a complicated piece of technology. Tell your soon-to-be investor what kind of value your product adds to your customers.
2. Compare yourself to an existing company. Many entrepreneurs are afraid to mention similar companies fearing that acknowledging competition will make their startup look like a poor investment. This is flawed thinking for two reasons. First, your company isn’t an exact clone of the other company. Second, if it is an exact clone of a much larger competitor, you might need to rethink a few things about your business.
When you’re “in the elevator,” don’t be afraid to mention another firm. But don’t stop there-you’re dead in the water if you leave it at that. You must now explain why you are different and how you’re going to beat them using that difference-that’s how you will get a VC’s attention.
3. In your last seconds, you need to make the case that the market needs you. Drop a fact or two as evidence that the market has needs that are not being met. You, the entrepreneur, are going to fulfill the need that none of your competitors are fulfilling.
Armed with these tips, there is one final piece of advice – practice. You should practice your elevator pitch over and over so you are able to give it as clearly and concisely as possible.
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