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Elevator Pitch at Boston ENET

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Last Tuesday I had the chance to give an elevator pitch for ArtistBomb at Boston ENET.  (The pitch was recorded, so I can post a link if it gets uploaded somewhere.)  I’d like to share the formula I used so that you can adapt it for your own work.

What’s the Goal of an Elevator Pitch?

You want to convince someone in a very short amount of time to do something helpful to your business.  At last week’s ENET meeting, I had 90 seconds.  If I were actually in an elevator with someone, I’d have between 5 and 30 seconds.

I know the pitch I gave was effective because the three investors in the room, who got to make one comment or question after I spoke, didn’t use their moment to ask for clarification or to suggest a refinement.  Rather, they each asked a logical follow-on question, indicating that they had understood all that I had said.  If the format of the meeting had allowed for me to answer them, I would have engaged them all in meaningful conversation.  What more can you ask for at a first meeting?

Generic Outline of an Elevator Pitch for Investors

ArtistBomb exists in the live music universe and does this great thing for these specific people.  Unlike all of our competitors, ArtistBomb is different in this one significant way.  This matters because those other companies are missing something.  

For $30/mo, our customers can use our service, which solves their problem.  We solve their problem by doing X, Y, and Z.  This helps them make more money with less risk.

ArtistBomb just recently hit a significant milestone.  We want to raise $X in the next couple of months so that we can hit the next milestones B and C.  

If the investor to whom you’re speaking is interested, that’s all you need to say.  If they have money and like the idea, they’ll express an interest.  If not, they may ask a question.  Or if they really don’t like you or the idea, they’ll say, “Well, good luck!” and that’s your answer.

What’s so Special about that Formula?

Imagine I started my pitch with paragraph three.  The investors would have been distracted by their own internal interrogation, “What’s ArtistBomb?  Should I already know what this is?  Why don’t I know what he’s talking about?”  That’s why you lead off instead with a broad statement about your company’s space.

What if you didn’t include a differentiator early on?  Now your investors are distracted by a different internal monolog, “Oh great, another XYZ company.  Just like that other one I don’t like.”  You want to let your audience know why you’re different and better.

What if you didn’t include a firm price?  Now you leave your audience wondering whether you have any monetization strategy.  Most investors prefer to invest in businesses that make money.  Otherwise, finding any net profit is going to be pretty tough.

The rest of the pitch adds to your credibility by providing details and indicating recent progress.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below.

How to Tackle Someone in an Elevator

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I’ve been going to meetings for the Boston Entrepreneur’s Network for a while now.  I like the group a lot and have found the meetings to be very well moderated and timed.  (This is a big deal for me; it means I know the guest speakers have had a chance to say what they wanted to say.  Hearing them is the primary reason I attend.)

Last night they had three real VIP’s: two partners at venture capital funds and one director of an angel fund.

I laughed at Art Fox’s presentation.   He gave a formal introduction about the kinds of things he looks for at a startup (passion and enthusiasm, intelligence and expertise, honesty and integrity, people skills and likeability).  He summarized this introduction by saying startups were about three things:

  1. Management
  2. Management
  3. Management

Later on he plugged Toastmasters.  He said they had helped him get over a stutter.  His slide said, “Practice, practice, practice.”  To which he added, “I still like saying things three times.”

After the meeting, the speakers were swarmed, as always happens.  There was no chance I was going to fight my way in, and I think it’s rude, anyway, especially when they just gave two hours of their evening to the audience.  So I talked with a few folks I had known from previous meetings, then headed for the elevator.

One of the speakers had escaped the throng and was hurrying — smiling, professional that he is, talking to everyone who assailed him — in a harried way towards the elevator.  He got in, dragging the crowd with him.  I got in after the speaker and plugged the entrance, which closed on the crowd, the speaker, and me in the elevator.  I handed him my card, on which I had scrawled “business plan/exec summary,” and offered that if he wanted to give me feedback on the one-pager, I’d greatly appreciate it.  He asked what I did and I gave him — wait for it! — the 10 second elevator pitch.  

Smiling and waving, he sprinted out the doors and into the night.

Usually this “write on the card, let them escape” tactic works decently, because you haven’t been too pushy.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

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