If you’re serious about raising venture capital, you’ve got to master the art of the elevator pitch. The prototypical pitch is a 30-second (or less) description of what your company does, why it’s unique, and what type of problem it is trying to solve. The best elevator pitches are memorable and attention-getting and set you apart from all the other companies in your industry. Easy, right?
In many ways, you can think of an elevator pitch functioning much like a movie trailer for an upcoming Hollywood blockbuster movie — studio execs want to show just enough of the “good stuff” to get people excited about seeing the movie. In any movie trailer, big explosions are good. So are big-name Hollywood stars. If a major media outlet has already said something like, “This is the must-see movie of the summer,” they will be sure to include that as well. And movie trailers are also able to tell a story in very basic terms that anyone can grasp in just 30 seconds: “Bad, scary evil guys are going to take over the world. Our superhero saves Planet Earth and, along the way, must discover a dark secret that has remained hidden for centuries…” (You get the idea — it’s big on the drama, not so big on all the details.)
So, if you apply this same logic to an elevator pitch, it’s easy to see why so many people talk about elevator pitches as if they were “stories.” There are even handy little templates that you can use when crafting these stories. One of these is the origin story. For example, something along the lines of, “The founder of our company is a cancer survivor, and she decided to launch this company to help bring a revolutionary new medical therapy to a much wider group of people.”
Often, these stories start with an attention-getting hook, such as a mind-bending fact or statistic (“Did you know that 80 percent of people are interested in using an AI-powered robot caregiver to take care of an older family member?”) This is just an example, of course. Robot caregivers are prominent in Japan right now due to an aging population, but it’s unclear whether anyone has carried out a survey on the topic in the United States. But that implies the following — you need to do a certain amount of research to make your elevator pitch as compelling and credible as possible.
One big thing to keep in mind is that you have to work very hard to keep out all the industry jargon you probably use daily. That’s especially true within the technology sector, where it’s almost impossible to go more than 30 minutes without hearing about technical standards and device specifications.
So remember — it’s called an “elevator pitch” for a reason. Imagine walking into an elevator, seeing a potential investor, and knowing that you only have 30 seconds (or less) to make your case. You’re going to have to keep your pitch very streamlined and very focused, and that means going very light on the jargon. Your elevator pitch should be short, to-the-point and memorable. What one thing do you want a potential investor to remember when they step off the elevator?