5 Keys to a Great Elevator Pitch

A great elevator pitch could be the thing that launches your startup from obscure garage-based business to a fully-funded market-busting mac
July 01, 2010

A great elevator pitch could be the thing that launches your startup from obscure garage-based business to a fully-funded market-busting machine. It's a precious few minutes where you have the undivided attention of your dream investor, and he or she is interested in hearing about your business.


So you probably want to perfect it before you run into them.


Unfortunately, the elevator pitch presents a few obstacles that bring down many entrepreneurs.


Rambling, adding in pointless information, and being boring are just a few common sins entrepreneurs commit. And they're not going to get you anywhere with a wizened investor who's already heard hundreds of pitches.


Don't screw it up! Here are five important things you should remember as you're crafting your elevator pitch.


1. Find a good hook. Grab your investor's attention with a compelling hook. Make it funny, compelling, shocking  -- whatever genre, just be sure there's a clear tie-in and transition to what your company's doing.


2. What's your mission? You need to be able to sum up the greater scope of what your company is trying to do in just a few sentences. Nate Westheimer, co-founder of AnyClip, gives us this example: "[We] almost always start by stating our mission, 'To index every film ever created so people can search for and find any moment from any film.' From there, most people understand the scale and importance of our project, so our work is done."


3. Tell them what makes you different from your competitors. Clearly lay out how you're different from anyone else in your target market. Now is also a good time to mention the the caliber of the talent you have on your team. Feel free to brag -- it's crucial to clearly communicate why they're worth investing in, as individuals.


4. Back it all up with real data points. Few things impress more than hard data that clearly demonstrates your potential. You can't argue with numbers, and they paint a much clearer picture than mere words. Make sure the pieces of information you're using are the ones that matter to your investors.


5. Keep it all under 60 seconds. No more than a minute! Yes, it's tough: you're passionate about your company and you think it's the biggest thing since Twitter. But if you haven't grabbed your investor's attention within a minute, it won't help to keep talking. And if they want to hear more (which, hopefully, they do) they'll ask you to elaborate.


6. Practice. Lots of practice. Your pitch is just like any other presentation -- you have to be prepared. Lots of practice will make sure you're comfortable and relaxed when you finally pitch. And you'll make sure you can fit in all your most important, curiosity-sparking details within a minute.