Our earlier article on how to pitch big new clients touched on the importance of a good elevator pitch, and how this 30 - 60 seconds of info can mean the difference between success and failure.
I wanted to follow this up by showing how real-life entrepreneurs and startups used their own, unique elevator pitches to win new business or capture valuable publicity.
What's struck me as interesting about the examples I collected was how different they were from each other. Each pitch was successful in its own right, but clearly there isn't a single right or wrong template (other than generic features, like short, clear, simple, direct).
An elevator pitch is a succinct summary of a business proposal. It should convey information about what the business will offer, why it is valuable, and a call to action - such as an investment request.
For my money, here are the most important things to consider when putting together your own pitch:
- Understand who your are pitching to and customize the pitch to suit those people
- Be able to summarize the value offering of your business in one (at most two) sentences
- Be clear about what you want to get out of the pitch
- Explain why investors should do what you ask
There are also a few useful pointers for pitching your startup to investors that you might want to take a look at. Otherwise, here are some examples of successful pitches...
The following pitch came from Lance Walley, CEO over at Chargify, a billing software company with a focus on helping clients manage recurring payments.
I got your email address from **** *****.
My co-founders and I founded Grasshopper and Engine Yard, in which Amazon, Benchmark, and NEA invested. Our new company, Chargify, is a simple recurring billing management tool.
We’re looking for angel capital to fill in some gaps. Maybe you’re interested in such an investment?"
This pitch, sent to celebrity investor Mark Cuban, ended up with a response within the hour and ultimately investment by Mark.
This pitch was submitted by Matt Bremerkamp from Pressed, a time management app.
"Pressed is an intelligent personal assistant designed to keep people focused on whatever goals they have; like working out, eating healthier, or even just drinking more water.
Want to run a 5k? Pressed will learn that your office isn’t the place to remind you to train. However, it may notice you’ve been at home for a while and may have the time to get out there and break a sweat."
The pitch resulted in coverage in a blog called DIY Active, and most recently the Harvard Business Review.
The following pitch was submitted by Lisa Baker-King, an author and family coach.
"Zebecs is creating a movement to connect families, celebrate children and change companies by breaking the rules; teaching children to love to learn and adults to recognize what is right about them."
The pitch resulted in TV Network Affiliate News (ABC/FOX) appearances as well as a recent national network show appearance on the CW. In addition, Lisa was able to secure a book signing event at Barnes & Noble and guest appearances in pod-casts and several guest blogging opportunities.
This pitch was submitted by Miriam Diwan from NowMoveMe, a neighbourhood discovery app.
"NowMoveMe is a neighbourhood discovery platform, allowing users to find real estate based on their personality, not just zip code & price range."
The pitch got them a meeting with the head of Zillow M&A.
I think it's also important to note that a successful elevator pitch doesn't necessarily lead to investment (or some other positive outcome). There is still a long journey ahead when it comes to working with investors. Due diligence, personality issues, equity sharing, and a host of other potential snags need to be overcome.
But, as Gary Hamel said, "Out there in some garage is an entrepreneur forging a bullet with your company's name on it". Remember, you're the entrepreneur forging the bullet.
Have you recently pitched successfully? Anyone fail dismally? Share your experiences in the comments below and tell us about the lessons you learned that might help others in the same position.