Many student entrepreneurs are interested in learning how best to present their business idea to potential investors. I have listed below some of the most commonly accepted ways to create and deliver a winning elevator pitch, which is a brief summary of the business opportunity being presented. The short time period represents the time you’d have to share a long elevator ride with a potential investor.
1) BEGIN WITH AN END IN MIND: What is it that you are looking to gain? Most often the pitch is used as a tool to capture enough interest to warrant a formal presentation.
2) SELL, SELL, SELL: What are you really selling? You are selling yourself! You’re selling your dream. Be confident and show your passion.
3) KEEP IT SIMPLE: You should deliver a clear, compelling and simple image of your opportunity that is easy to remember and repeat. You want the audience to say, "I get it!"
4) IMAGE IS EVERYTHING: The pitch must implant a clear image of your opportunity in the mind of the audience.
5) ADAPT YOUR PRESENTATION TO THE AUDIENCE: The same pitch you use for an investor might not be the same as to a supplier. (For the sake of simplicity, the term audience is used in a generic sense to include an investor, supplier, employee, customer or even a judge in a competition.)
6) LAY OUT THE BENEFITS: Demonstrate how your business will impact consumers and showcase the return to the investors.
7) DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM THE COMPETITION: Focus on outlining the special features of your product/service that gives you the edge over the competition. Time permitting, summarize the competitors and insert facts or statistics where necessary.
8) DON’T FORGET THE NUMBERS: Depending on the audience, you need to insert a snapshot of your financials and other critical data. For example, "In year three we expect to capture 3 percent of the market, giving us $30 million in sales revenue." Investors also want to know the amount of investment you need and the return on investment (ROI).
9) BE MEMORABLE: Use your creativity and imagination. Put a tag on it! For example: Chevy – Like a rock. Nike – Just do it! BMW – The ultimate driving machine.
10) CONCLUDE WITH A CALL TO ACTION: For example, "Thank you for the opportunity to pitch my idea. I’d be interested to provide greater detail over a lunch." The best pitch is useless without any follow-up action.
11) PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! While there are always a few naturally gifted speakers out there, the more you rehearse your pitch the more natural it will flow and the more confident you will appear. Remember that showing confidence and passion helps sell your idea.
12) DON’T GIVE UP: Some people may not understand your opportunity at first, so don’t get discouraged or quit. Walt Disney pitched his idea for Mickey Mouse to more than 300 banks before he received funding.
Formatting the Pitch
No matter what your business opportunity might be, you need to have a format for the pitch. While there are certainly countless ways to format the pitch, I strongly urge you to consider the following example. It’s brilliant!
I only wish I could take credit, however it was presented by renowned business strategist Geoffrey Moore in his best selling book "Crossing the Chasm." You may have noticed that many TV commercials currently use a rendition of his format.
For <target customers> who are dissatisfied with <current alternative>,<our product> is a <new product category> that provides <key problem solving opportunity>. Unlike a <competitive substitute>, we have assembled <key whole product features>. We will initially target the <quantity> <specific customer> since they <unique problem that they face>. <Your product> solves this problem by <unique functions>. Also, these <specific customers> frequently influence <our next target customers> by <how they do influence>.
Example – Palm Pilot
For traveling executives who are dissatisfied with Franklin Planners, the Palm Pilot is a personal digital assistant that provides rapid access to phone numbers and appointments. Unlike the Sharp Wizard, the Pilot can easily synchronize your data with your PC and fits in your shirt pocket.
We will initially target the 83,000 pharmaceutical sales reps in the U.S., since they are mobile and must frequently reschedule appointments, where each missed appointment equates to $2k of lost revenue. The Palm gives them access to their business contact list and appointments at their fingertips. Also, these sales reps will introduce the Palm to doctors, our next target customer set.
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