Pitch Perfect Elevator Pitch

10 May

Elevator for your elevator pitchI worked with and advised a lot of small and startup companies over the past couple of years. When meeting a new founder, I ask what they do. Often times they ramble on for a while and I have to discern what it is that they do. So, I try to head off the rambling and ask them to tell me their “elevator pitch.” If they’ve been in the startup-community for more that a few months, then they should know what that means—often they don’t.

The Elevator Pitch

What is an elevator pitch? It is the statement that you could make to a chance encounter in an elevator—the person who might be your first investor—and finish before they get off the elevator. Everyone should have an elevator pitch that they can recite without hesitation. The goal is for that person to invite you for a longer conversation; not to tell them everything about your venture.

Elements of an Elevator Pitch

Since you never know how long the elevator ride will be, you want to make sure to cover the most essential elements of the pitch, first. Start with a 30-second pitch (perhaps even less!) and make sure you cover these points:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What is their “problem” or pain-point?
  • What is your solution?

If you are in the elevator with someone with the means to finance you, then your ride will be longer. Extend your statement to include more detail:

  • What is your “special-sauce”?
  • What is your business model?
  • What is your “traction” and/or revenue?

With more time, you can cover:

  • Your team
  • Competition

You should have practiced different length versions of your pitch: 15-seconds, 30-seconds, 1 minute, 3 minute. Any longer than that probably involves an invitation rather than an elevator ride—in which case, you should follow Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule from his blog, book, The Art of the Start, or talk. Practice your pitches so that they are articulated crisply and with confidence without sounding mechanical. Be sure that your passion comes though.

Another good summary on the broader topic of presentation preparation: How to Present and Pitch.


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